Winners, losers, or bystanders

Winners, losers, or bystanders

It's time to get serious about finding the best way for us to prosper from technology and innovation

No matter how talented your organisation is, if you don't have the right strategy, particularly in these tough times, you will have to live with sub-par performance. The creep towards strategic gridlock often is hard to catch because many business leaders view problems -- such as unexpected changes with customers, low sales, and integration difficulties -- as isolated issues.

Innovative leaders are seen as the corporate heroes of today. They are companies that job-seekers want to join and other companies try to emulate. These are companies where new products, services, and processes are successfully pushing the boundaries and exceeding customer expectations.

The ICT industry sees itself in many respects as a bellwether for the knowledge economy. We have been innovation-driven throughout our history. Everyone who works in ICT, whether they're in hardware, software, or communications, knows we're only as good as our next release. We compete in a high stakes, global marketplace and everyone who runs an ICT company knows we're only as good as the people we can find to create, sell, and support the innovations that keep us in business.

Our industry has had more than 50 years of this. We think that has taught us a bit about the elusive nature of innovation. We're kind of passionate about it because so many of us have staked our careers on it.

There is also a concern among our industry-watchers about our inability to grow many companies to the point where they can be meaningful players in the global high-tech industry. One of the reasons for this is that many are purchased by foreign companies -- mostly US companies -- at a relatively early stage and become integrated into their worldwide corporate frameworks.

So what's next and why is it important? This is a question everyone from tech executives to investors wants answered. But the answers aren't easy.

The technology battlefield in the next wave will be far more formidable than any wave in the past. India and China will generate large numbers of well educated graduates and both countries are already directing substantial capital investment into what they see as crucial new ventures for their own economies.

The beauty of it all is that our industry somehow finds room for all players. If they know which way the wind is going to blow, they can prepare for it. Sometimes their agendas overlap, but frequently they don't. What they share, however, is that each must cope with a slow economy and nervous buyers who are warily eyeing every ICT expenditure.

The challenges for us are immense, but so are the opportunities. We do need to get serious though about to how we can prosper from technology and innovation. Innovation is the buzzword of the moment and for good reason. In today's business environment, the need for companies to reinvent themselves repeatedly and rapidly is the way to ensure long-term survival.

Len Rust is publisher of The Rust Report.

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