Technology Alone Does Not Make A Company Great

Regularly, entrepreneurs approach me with jaw-dropping technology, pleasant to look at from an innovation perspective but many times hard to envision as a standalone sustainable profit center. So what technology makes a successful company?

Technology is rapidly becoming a commodity. Think about it from a macroeconomic perspective. Information technology is the instrumentation, not the differentiation of customer businesses. World’s largest retailer, Walmart, does not rely on technology to be successful, as technology was barely available when Walmart started. Walmart built a compelling business model and, in-house, continuous to shape technology to support the business model. No packaged apps, or technology silos here.

Technology companies do become successful when their technology drives, usually with incremental improvements, the evolution of a marketplace. Google is successful because it optimized the online advertising business model and increased its effectiveness. It’s all about marketplace principles, not technology (BTW: which average user can tell the difference between Google and Yahoo! search). eBay is successful because it empowers free-market principles and supports true meritocracy in the sale of goods.

Bottom line:
1) Investigate defunct, constricted, or outdated marketplaces and build technology that improves their effectiveness.
2) Find capital from investors who understand the marketplace opportunity and appreciate technology, not the other way around.

Evolutionary principles are never wrong; technology implementations to support them often are.


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