The impact of disruptive technologies was brought home to me when I recently attended a couple of sessions at the Melbourne Writers’ Festival. I had just read a book by Gideon Haig called The Deserted Newsroom, which describes how the digital age has changed news media. Haig was on the panel of one of the sessions and he provided anecdotes about his experiences in newsrooms and press boxes. It painted a picture of an industry in turmoil unsure of what the future holds; where the news will come from; and who will pay for it. But print news media is only one of a number of industries to be disrupted by technology; companies that were established in film, cameras and phones have all had their worlds turned upside down. The Kodak and Blackberry stories are sobering examples.
There are two sides to the coin of course. Technology can provide a competitive advantage to one company while being the cause of major disruption, and even a disaster, to another. Newspapers used to be rolling in money from classified advertisements then along came Carsales.com and Realestate.com. These, and other similar web sites, tore the rivers of revenue from print media causing them to shed staff they could no longer afford and face the prospect of a very uncertain future. To make matters worse, on-line options meant that we, their readers, reduced or stopped buying, newspapers.
The lesson to be learned is that technology is no longer a way to simply improve business processes or streamline operations. It can be the way to steal a march on the competition by generating a new business model. At Fenwick we are continually watching for new developments that might provide our customers with new opportunities or a business advantage. One of the most rewarding aspects of Fenwick’s business is being able to provide a customer with a system that expands their business and puts the competition on the back foot.