Failure to keep up with technology is destroying major companies

Technology has become the new giant killer. Last month Kodak declared bankruptcy, Sony’s share price is a quarter of its value a decade ago and roughly where it stood in the mid-1980s, and Blackberry’s future is uncertain.Now Forbes predicts that Google and Facebook may be gone in the next five to eight years. Liza van Wyk, CEO of AstroTech Training Group said, "The pace of technological change is breath-taking."

Some pundits suggest that in the next seven years there will be as much change as in all of the 20th century. That’s hard to get our heads around, but consider this - the Internet only emerged in 1994, Google only came online to the public in 1999. Change since has been astonishing.

"South Africa is technologically advanced, but many major businesses are not keeping abreast of advances. Our IT courses are persistently full, and often we are disturbed by the lack of basic knowledge among delegates. Or we find great IT specialists who are frustrated because their bosses delay technological advance.

"It is the one cost that companies that want to advance dare not skimp on - whether on new computers, software, smartphones and aps or social media.'

Van Wyk said: "Nowadays it is not just awareness about computers, but advertising on the internet, tracking search engine optimization, knowing how to build and use smartphone apps.

"At a major business travel conference in New York last week the biggest issue was companies updating policies to take into account the use of smartphone apps by business travelers. Your business traveler today uses smartphone apps to make travel bookings, access key phrases in the local language, book hotels, use maps and find a great restaurant or discounted shows.'

Van Wyk pointed out that Kodak failed because it was slow in moving to digital. Sony, which led the world with the Walkman in the 1980s, had the technology to produce ITunes before Apple, but they ignored it. Blackberry, which gave us emails on our cellphones, was called the Crackberry, a handful of years ago, but its share price (Research in Motion) has dropped 88 percent since June 2008 - they failed to anticipate the importance of smartphone apps. And although apps only came onto the market in 2007 with IPhones and Androids (2008), smartphone applications have grown rapidly with an estimated 500,000 apps and some 10 billion downloads by October 2011, according to Apple. CNN in a review of smartphones this month noted: "no matter which smartphone you have, it's the apps, not the features, that make your phone unique.'

A just-released study in Canada, Japan, South Africa, the UK and the US by the Computing Technology Industry Association said that 80% of organisations reported business had been negatively affected by failures to keep up with technology. CompTIA said the biggest impacts were on staff productivity (41%), customer service and engagement (32%), and cyber-security (31%).

Most organisations surveyed plan to train or retrain staff where skills are lacking (57%), outsource work (38%), hire new staff with the desired skills (25%), or support programmes that encourage students to enter technical fields (6%).

Van Wyk said Forbes recently pointed out that there have been three generations in IT:

• Web 1.0 (companies founded from 1994 - 2001, including Netscape, Yahoo!, AOL, Google, Amazon and eBay,
• Web 2.0 or Social (companies founded from 2002 - 2009, including Facebook, LinkedIn, and Groupon,
• and now Mobile (from 2010 - present, including Instagram).

Forbes reported: "With each succeeding generation in tech the Internet, it seems the prior generation can’t quite wrap its head around the subtle changes that the next generation brings. There just doesn’t seem to be the capacity of these older companies to shift to a new paradigm.'

Van Wyk says: "But multiple new paradigms are the order of the day, a company that has not integrated IT into every facet of the way it thinks and operates, is a company that will not last.'

AstroTech is a provider of Social Media Marketing Training. AstroTech is presently undertaking a major website redesign. In March AstroTech began giving courses to delegates on Amazon Kindles.



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Press release written by Charlene Smith