Things change. That is inevitable. Whether for the better or worse is generally a matter of perspective. For example, on one hand, the price of goods that used to be outside of the buying power of the average household or business 50 years ago has generally come way down and, thus, affordable to millions who otherwise would never have even considered such a purchase (think cars, computer hardware, software, or mobile phones). However, on the other hand, prices on some of these goods have been suppressed heavily through the use of cheaper overseas labor and, more recently, automation which has lead to job losses in once formidable sectors of the economy. How you perceive this change in the economic landscape is mostly a matter of where you look at it from – as a consumer who can afford incredible things once reserved for wealthy people and corporations or as a former producer who lost their business or job because of the ways things changed.
That being said, shifts in economic trends happen all of the time, pushed by the forces of technology. If you aren’t paying attention and educating yourself constantly in preparation for them, then it is almost a certainty you will eventually find yourself or your business obsoleted by the competition, regardless of your industry. These types of dramatic changes used to happen over periods of decades, such as the decline in the steel industry or railroads, which generally allowed for people and businesses to have enough forewarning to update their skills and infrastructure over time. But the pace of these shifts has sped up abruptly in the past several years due to a number of factors, including the most recent recession which has left companies scrambling to cut costs by any means possible and the advent of on-demand computing platforms such as “the Cloud.”
These forces and resources are the reason why we are seeing a sudden shift to technologies that can adapt and scale up or down based upon current needs, versus the technologies of yesteryear with huge upfront and ongoing maintenance costs, even if your business need or level of use decreases dramatically. The problem with the latter scenario of yesteryear is that these older style systems have the same (or even greater) costs over time without any consideration for how much use of the system is actually occurring. It’s like the computing equivalent of having three of the five members of your family move out, but you’re still stuck with a six bedroom house for life that you have to maintain indefinitely on your own – oh, and did we mention it has cracked walls, lead paint, and leaky pipes? That doesn’t make a whole lot of economic sense to continue to maintain, but companies still do it with their legacy IT systems instead of choosing to migrate to something far more modern, secure, and cost efficient. It could be the other way around as well. Imagine your five person family suddenly becomes ten when the in-laws move in, what then? An on-demand, scalable system will grow with you easily, but the older way of going about things will require thousands, even millions, in extensions, patches and enhancements to accommodate the increased demand.
We, as business owners and employees alike, have to accept that we live in an era of almost constant technological evolution and it requires that we build our businesses, processes and systems with this flexibility in mind. Adopting or developing software, products and computing systems with near limitless potential scale that can be essentially streamed on demand to end users on a month-to-month or even day-to-day basis has become far more of a competitive advantage in this landscape, one which has made the difference between merely surviving and thriving for many. Those people and companies who have gained this fluid adaptation response to technological change are the ones who typically come out ahead of everyone else in the market. So, is your use of technology as flexible and efficient as it should be to ensure your success? If you aren’t so sure, perhaps it’s time to bring in a professional in this area to make a quick assessment (which we can do for free or at very low cost).