Technology adoption – do our habits hold us back?

Everyday we see a new technology coming to light that will influence our everyday lives. At the moment it seems to involve a plethora of new electric vehicles each with more intelligence (nearly always not AI) and a more efficient remedy to ‘range anxiety’.

Bubbling along are developments in domestic heating which will significantly accelerate the drive to zero emissions and further enhancements to e-bike capability.

It seems that mobile phones and other IT hardware have plateaued and all we now see are incremental improvements or faddish ideas.

If, like me, you are more of an early follower than adopter, there’s always the niggling doubt that you might choose the wrong option. I loved my Betamax video recorder but was glad that I didn’t choose a 3D television.

When I look around the house I see lots of stuff that is yesterday’s tech. A television aerial on the roof, a can of petrol for the lawnmower in the shed, a bookcase full of CDs and DVDs including Blu Rays and to pay for this stuff, a cheque book or even cash.

Clinging on to this takes up space and it’s probably never going to be an antique (didn’t mention the VHS recorder in the attic). In some cases it holds one back using new tech as there’s the sense of maximising the value from what you have.

Of course in emerging economies there isn’t this choice. Those of us that had the old SKY TV satellite dish for the Astra satellite in the early 90s will remember that it was populated with German TV channels. The reason for this was that the SES / Astra platform was supported by the German government to find a quick and simple way to upgrade broadcasting systems after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the demise of the DDR. They missed out expensive upgrades to land based stations and went straight to satellite.

In parts of Africa the first real bank accounts customers have had have been provided by mobile phone tech. Customers can pay for things and transfer cash balances, they have never used a bank branch or cheque book.

Of course in China, platforms such as WeChat have revolutionised payment systems.

The UK is somewhere along the curve with all of these emerging technologies with a mix of early adopters but also a significant percentage of tech sceptics who see no reason to change or even actively resent it and see it as an invasion and assault on their values. I do have a relative with a fax machine (they don’t get sent many).

With our infrastructure tied up with servicing old tech, as well as attempting to integrate the new, we start to lag behind the emerging economies. Just look at the outrage when a bank (remember these are commercial entities and not institutions) decides to close a branch in a small town or village which is no longer viable. The main protests come from those who don’t internet bank. I do acknowledge the proportion of the population that its excluded from tech adoption through perhaps disability or poverty but they aren’t usually the ones writing to the local newspaper. Oh yes, that’s another industry that technology has overwhelmed.

The danger of all this, is that the mindset spreads and UK industry starts to lag behind the rest of the world through the adoptions of new technology, either through lack of investment, sometimes driven by not wanting to take on any debt or more worryingly a risk avoidance view that what they have currently is good enough.

The fourth industrial revolution, Industry 4.0, demands a new way of thinking and old legacy systems will simply not “plug and play”. Companies which do not invest will find themselves excluded from fully digital supply chains. It’s a high risk investing in technology that may be quickly superseded or available at a much lower price if a purchase is delayed but  it’s essential that businesses are at least early followers if not early adopters in order to remain globally competitive.

Now after all that it’s time to warm up the amp and put some vinyl on the turntable……..








This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *