First Adapter’s Advantage

Corporate dinosaurs, it’s time to ‘Adapt (or Die)’

I recently spoke about the concept of ‘Adapt or Die’ on the importance of ‘dinosaur organizations’ adapting to new technologies and integrating innovative ways to do business. The reality is that the world around us is evolving at an exponential rate — 3-D printers are enabling medical professionals to engineer organs and tissues, live-streamed surgeries and are now accessible through virtual and augmented reality, blockchain technology is on the rise and providing a whole new level of security and transparency for global transactions. The possibilities are endless when it comes to new technologies integrating into our daily lives.

Technology startups are challenging the status quo by developing innovative ways to disrupt traditional markets, yet the corporations that resist this advancement will succumb to their ever-growing competitors that adapt to these changes. However the biggest challenge is, as human beings, we do a lot of our learning in our younger years. We become less open to adapting new technologies, environments, policies and procedures as we get older because of “how things have always been.”.

So how would you begin to integrate new, and innovative technology into your organization?

“If it ‘ain’t broke, don’t fix it” right? Wrong.

We live in a day and age where entire generations are growing up not having known a world without the Internet and not having the world’s knowledge just a few clicks away. In fact, we now have generations that will grow up not knowing a world without having a supercomputer in their pocket.

The momentum and force at which younger demographics (particularly Millennials who were born in the Age of the Internet) are adapting to new technologies, augmenting their daily lives and disrupting the way things are traditionally done is mind-blowing and advancing at an exponential rate.

There are a few realizations that must be considered by both the younger demographic and Gen X to Baby Boomer executives to prevent their corporations from going extinct:

Embrace new technologies to safeguard your influence within your company

It’s funny enough how in our personal lives, people will adapt to new technologies and embrace it as our friends, family, and kids start to adopt particular apps and tools. But in our work and professional lives, we put our guard up, and we start to refuse to adapt. We refuse to integrate new technologies because either we say, “this is how I’ve always done things”, or assume the fear of looking incompetent when we have to admit we don’t know how to use the new technologies or even understand them for that matter.

The reluctance to have to re-educate ourselves on new procedures and concepts is holding all of us back. The reality is that if you don’t adapt and embrace new technologies, you are just opening up opportunities for your current and future competitors to come and eat your lunch. Moreover, you will lose your company’s and your peers’ trust in your abilities to reach your customers and/or stay competitive and relevant.

A perfect example is the emergence of blockchain technology, which Fortune recently published an article on how blockchain will change the world. A select few well-established organizations have realized the power of blockchain technology and have quickly jumped to the forefront as industry leaders. Most discussions around blockchain technology have been tied to the financial industry, but other industry leaders have taken notice and have begun to explore ways to adapt to the changing landscape this technology will bring.

Seamless integration of new technologies will not happen overnight

The challenge with integrating new technologies into a corporate workforce is sometimes the younger demographics don’t understand that there is a reason why things are done in triplicate or run through certain channels. In turn, the older guard must learn from the younger guard and embrace change and accept that there may now be more efficient ways to do things. We must look at how to integrate these new technologies with existing policies and procedures — all the while educating and working with the younger team members to help them understand why certain processes and safeguards were placed under the “old way of doing things”. The old processes and safeguards may now be obsolete thanks to the new tech, but they may also prove to be even more critical now with new tech. The key is the opportunity for both old and young to learn and educate each other.

Social media tricks aren’t just for kids

In the case of Snapchat, while it may seem complicated on the surface, it’s surprising how those fears quickly disappear when more of your peers begin to use it. By thinking “I don’t understand this technology — I’m never going to get it — I shouldn’t bother learning it,” you’re doing yourself a disservice because the opportunities to learn and enjoy the benefits of these new tools has never been easier. New technologies (particularly on social media) are being designed to be easier and easier to learn, and you have no excuse other than your own ignorance or denial.

Adapt to the channels of communication that empower your customers

In 2002, I owned several Dairy Queen franchises in Vancouver. I recognized that my customer base that ordered items for the office, particularly, ice cream cakes, were my highest margin customers. When I opened a location in the downtown core of Vancouver, I recognized that only a limited number of customers who were in office buildings would commute to their nearest Dairy Queen to order our ice cream cakes and take them back to their offices. Due to factors such as time, parking, and preserving the quality of the product as ice cream cakes will begin to melt 30 minutes after leaving the restaurant, there were limited means for providing efficiency for these customers.

To serve our customers better and to reach a wider customer base, I adapted to the environment around me and explored ways to do on demand online ordering and delivery — a system which did not exist in the traditional restaurant/franchise business at the time. I had cobbled together a system that would take orders online, fax the order to the restaurant (yes, we used faxes back then), and at the same time, schedule a city courier company to come and pick up the order and deliver it to the customer within 30 minutes. That was my first foray into realizing that, for my business to succeed, I needed to adapt to my customers’ needs and could utilize technology to do so.

To succeed in business, you must listen to customers — adapt to where, how and why your customers wish to consume your product and be open minded to the new possibilities, opportunities, and experiences that new technologies can bring.