IMAGE: Forbes

Tech companies, doncha just love ’em?

A couple of days ago I talked about how companies like Google, Apple, Facebook or Amazon were instilling fear and dread into traditional business managers, but it seems those concerns are not shared by the vast majority of users, who consistently rate them highest in popularity rankings.

We can accuse tech companies of not being transparent, of wasting their creative talent in frivolities instead of trying to save the world, or even of focusing on creating the next machine that will put us all out of a job by creating machines that program machines and do so better than humans, but the simple truth is that on the whole, the vast majority of people still like these companies, constantly use their products and believe they make their lives better. Leaving aside their lobbying, their giving away bananas and their huge investments to obtain the favor of legislators, or proving that they generate jobs, that they are not out to rule the world and that they are positive for society as a whole, the fact is that society overwhelming sees them as a force for good.

Think of a brand you use all the time. In an economy-fiction exercise, imagine your bank, your insurance company, your car, or the moisturizer you slap on you face. For a growing number of users, the reasons why those brands are still around is either consumer inertia or force of habit, or the fact that none of the technology brands have yet launched a product or service that truly competes with those of these traditional companies. How many, if we were to choose, would prefer to entrust our banking or our insurance policies to a tech company? Wouldn’t you change to Apple Bank, Google Bank, Facebook Bank or Amazon Bank? How many of us would be tempted to change our car for one made by one of those companies? And if a technology company suddenly turned to making cosmetics… would you not expect superior products or perhaps higher levels of personalization? There must be any number of sectors the tech giants could turn their gaze to. Over the last ten or twenty years, tech companies have come to occupy a very special place in the collective consumer mind, building a reputation for being able to exceed our expectations, improve our lives, and consistently come up with products or services we like.

The positive image the tech companies have created, despite the innumerable problems that come from permanently exploring new areas, often ill-defined and related to disruption, has not come about by chance. Tech companies have developed management practices and communication in areas of activity that, after many decades of no competition, now resonate with the general public and where they have set themselves apart. They will do what they do better or worse, make bigger or smaller profits and generate criticism fairly and unfairly for their monopolistic approach, for their tax evasion practices or for their treatment of privacy and personal information, among many other things… but they continue to lead brand and reputation ratings, are able to attract talent better than most traditional companies while improving their products and services day by day, in a way very few traditional companies are able to match. They have many critics, and probably always will, but they continue to plough on, and will do for many years to come.

What’s more, they haven’t achieved this by brainwashing the market. If they are successful, if they increase their stock market value consistently and if they grow continually, both in terms of turnover and customers, it is not by chance. It is for other things. Think about it: what do those companies do that yours doesn’t?

(En español, aquí)

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