The end of tech companies

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We’ve been hearing for years that tomorrow all companies will be technology companies. This is perfectly put by Jeff Immelt, GE’s CEO :

“If you went to bed last night as an industrial company, you’re going to wake up this morning as a software and analytics company,”

Tesla like Apple

And yet…

Very few people noticed it but in early february, Tesla Motors announced it’s going to change its name to Tesla Inc.

Does it remind you of a similar move ? In the beginning of the 2000s, Apple Computers removed the “computers” from its name to become Apple Inc. What looked trivial at this time for most people made a lot of sense when Steve Jobs unveiled its digital hub strategy. It made even more sense when Apple started to sell music, then phones, then apps.

If computing is first about usages no one can accept to be nothing more than a hardware manufacturer except if being downgraded to the least valuable part of the value chain looks like an acceptable strategy. But I expect no one would like to have to deal with heavy investments and low margins. Ask the telcos what they think about it, since it took them a lot of time to realize that owning the pipes and leaving the value of content to others was suicidal.

Technology is a lifestyle

Remember Nicholas Negroponte and his famous “Computing is not about computers anymore. It’s about living”.

Today we can say the same for internet, software and technology as a whole. Technology is being consumed, it disappears behind its usages and the services it supports, behind experiences. It’s being commoditized and has less and less importance as such since it’s not the goal but the means.

Today, tech companies are looking for a wider purpose to describe their mission. Tesla is reinventing mobility, Uber too, in another way, Apple reinvented our lifestyle for a digital world.

“Big transformative goal”, experience chain and job to be done.

Today no business can be happy with being defined as a software or hardware company. It must find a wider purpose, closer to usages, closer to social issues.

Do you remind of Kodak ? There are many reasons that explain the decline of the decline empire. One of them is that Kodak focused on its product while overlooking its mission. While the company was trying to make the best films, it did not realize that what customers wanted was to keep a trace of the moments that matter. In one case the future is about films, in the other digital is the logical option.

So it’s all about the “task to be accomplished”  by the customer, what is essential in a disrupting world. Taking photos and keeping traces of the greatest moments of one’s life there’s a huge gap/. That’s the famous “job to be done” that many businesses overlook to favour a product driven culture. Starbucks also understood that their client’s job to be done was not to have a coffee.

Beyond the “job to be done” we find the will (or the need) to have an impact on the world and the society. Since some bright leaders started to claim such ambitions as the purpose of their business, it’s a must have for every business leader. To be successful, one needs a vision but a vision that changes the world. Then it can be translated in technology.

Then comes the experience chain that is slowly replacing the value chain. The technology experience does not come from the technology but the usages it makes possible. So tech companies not only investing vertically on their value chain but more and more horizontally to bridge the gap with adjacent sectors and turn their technology into experience conveyors.

Tech companies with non tech purposes

Technology is everywhere, geeks have become consumers (for the better and the worse), so tools are not an end anymore. Customers are not satisfied with an intrinsically performing machine or software, at the top of the state of the art, if the usages do not follow. They expect it to improve or change their lives and their awareness of the social usefulness of technology also creates new social expectations.

Technology companies are not dead since technology is at the heart of nearly any industry. But technology cant’ be the purpose, the reason for being of a company anymore.

Geeks must be aware of the world they live in.

Photo Credit : Fotolia.