You’re Not A Tech Company.

Let me guess, you’re calling yourself a “tech” company now?

Have a slide in your office? Doesn’t mean you’re a tech company (photo credit: Business Insider)

As some of the biggest companies develop branding, 10Ks, investor presentations, and marketing materials for the year ahead, that’s the next thing —they’re now “tech” companies.

Except they’re not.

As “tech” becomes a suffix for how you describe your industry — fin-tech, manufacturing-tech, auto-tech —let’s stop and question what’s actually happening.

You’re differentiating against competitors by adopting technology.

Technology is the fastest and cheapest way — via automation, productivity, scale, and efficiency — to pull ahead. And, as the WSJ’s Christopher Mims writes, “many businesses that should have the resources required to build the next big thing often fail to do so.” Yes, you’re special, but…

…adoption itself does not make you a tech company.

Here’s a great explanation of what is and what is not a tech company from former Twitter, Simple, and now angel investor Alex Payne (2012):

“ You are a technology company if you are in the business of selling technology….most of the companies…are not technology companies. They’re just, well, companies. These businesses might use technology, or develop technology, or even be run by people who used to work at technology companies, but they don’t exist to create and sell technology.

I’d take this a step further. If you’re selling software and this makes up a majority of your business, you’re a tech company. If you’re using it to increase productivity or user reach, you’re not.

A lot of companies are not adopting technology.

Unfortunately, a lot of the U.S. is behind in terms of technological adoption. In a recent report, McKinsey & Co. shows a growing disparity between “the haves and have-mores.” The economy could benefit from adoption. So could companies and workers — those that refuse to invest will meet their self-inflicted end.

There’s a public policy role to play, at least for workers (education, skills, etc.).

What about companies that don’t keep up? Adios. Read “Japan Must Let Zombie Companies Die” on what not to do.

In the meantime, as a company that invests in technology, but is not a technology company, show your true thought leadership and talk about what’s really happening: technology is making you better off and non-adopters worse — that’s hurting everyone.

And, admit it, you’re not a tech company.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.