Remember the first time you saw someone using a cell phone? If you’re old enough, it was probably the size of a toaster and carried in a shoulder bag.
How about the first time you saw someone use one of the original Blackberry devices? Or the first time you saw someone use an iPhone or some other “smartphone?” How long was it until you got one of those things for yourself?
If you’re running a business today – of any size really, but especially a small or midsize business – it’s important to understand that the technology shifts of yesteryear continue today. In fact, things are changing faster now than they ever have before. And, as they always have, some companies fail to keep up.
The pace at which new technologies are adopted is called the “Diffusion of Innovation” by academics. It’s far from an exact science. Indeed, it’s one part math, one part social science and, probably, to be truthful, one part intuition. But while there are a some examples of companies or individuals who jumped into new technologies too soon and wound up drowning in an expensive fad, there are far, far more stories of companies that waited too long to adopt new technologies, or to adapt their operations to accommodate new technologies and ended up losing market share, bleeding off revenue, or failing outright.
Whether your company is an early adopter of technology, a laggard, or something in between could determine your long-term success or failure. Wherever you are on the spectrum, here’s one huge tidal shift to be aware of: the move to mobile.
New Report Shows Growing Shift to Mobile
A new report on the state of the global internet and telecommunications industry from the United Nations International Telecommunications Union (ITU) included some eye-popping numbers – at least for those who don’t monitor such things regularly. Among the highlights:
- The world’s population will reach 7.25 billion people this year.
- The world’s Internet population (those with ready access to the Internet) will hit 3 billion this year (41.4 percent of the total global population).
- 730 million of those 3 billion Internet-connected residents of Earth have access to fixed (location-specific) broadband Internet connections.
- 2.3 billion (or 76 percent)of those 3 billion Internet-connected residents of Earth have access to mobile broadband internet connections.
- 55 percent of mobile broadband users come from “Developing Nations.”
- 78 percent of people in developing nations don’t yet have mobile broadband access.
- But mobile broadband access is the fastest growing segment of telecommunications, with double digit annual growth rates globally.
That’s a lot to take in and understand, so here’s a quick summation to help: Mobile broadband is quickly gaining on conventional fixed broadband as the most popular method for connecting to the Internet at high speeds.
And in Developing Nations (where 5.8 billion of the world’s 7.25 million people live) mobile broadband is growing so fast that it can be generally expected that something approaching 90 percent of the world will simply skip the fixed broadband phase of Internet development and go directly to the mobile broadband phase. Mobile is a big deal, folks, and companies need to be optimized for it very soon.
Upshot: Companies Need to Ensure They Can Engage Customers via Mobile
All businesses would be wise to plan their IT approaches and budgets with the understanding that they will see an ever-increasing percentage of their business flow to them via the mobile broadband environment.
They should not neglect or abandon the fixed broadband world because significant percentages of business, and even bigger percentages of revenue likely will continue to flow through that channel. But mobile broadband undoubtedly will grow significantly as a channel of commerce and revenue. Thus, businesses need to devote IT resources today, and over the next few years, to position themselves to operate cost efficiently and effectively in both the fixed and mobile broadband environments.
Of course, for most small and midsize businesses, figuring out how much of their IT resources need to be devoted to the fast-developing mobile broadband channel is a daunting task. As a function of their size and limited budgets, few such companies can employ the kind of IT experts who have the necessary experience and foresight to make such plans. So it makes sense to engage advisors with expertise in network management and IT security, convergence, and IT resource planning.
While it’s understandable that many small and midsize companies don’t want to be early adopters of new technologies and business methods because of the high risk and high costs involved, those who wait too long to adopt new, innovative technologies and practices run the risk being late – maybe even tragically late – to the party.