Pivoting in Response to Inevitable Automation

In his book “The World Is Flat”, Thomas Friedman prophesies of a global leveling of market competition, due largely in part to the rapid pace at which technology is advancing.

Today, nine years later, the evidence of a “flat world” surrounds us. Innovative technology is barreling towards proving Zuboff’s first law of information technology – “Everything that can be automated, will be automated.” 

Due to the wide-spread availability and adoption of global communications technologies, geographic location became less and less of a corporate barrier, and suddenly, the idea of a 24/7 workforce was not only possible – it was a requirement to compete on a global level.

The right outsourcing strategy meant better results, in less time, and at a much lower price. And all industrial era businesses rejoiced.

Friedman focused on relaying a message surrounding the impact that continuous innovation and education would have on the United States’ ability to compete in this new flat / global economy.

But as technology advanced, we realized that competition wasn’t only growing between countries. Rather, a new, near cannibalistic type of competition was forming within our local economy between startups / small business and big business.

Suddenly, startups had access to the same tools, platforms and social influencers as their multi-billion dollar corporate competition. Accessibility coupled with the fact that startups have less to lose and flexibility to pivot as needed made it clear that the stodgy industrial era megacorp was in trouble.

So that’s where we stand today.

The megacorp’s strategy for fighting this rise of the tech-savvy, innovation-driven, nothing-to-lose startup is to acquire and integrate or acquire and destroy the competition. And the decisions made today will have a lasting effect on the viability of the business going forward.

Because if everything that can be automated, will be automated…technology hasn’t reached the goal yet. And the challenges coming next will truly change and further challenge the landscape of our local and global economy.

Companies that make a specific product or technology the key differentiator in their business will soon enter a fight for survival against automation.

And businesses unwilling or unable to pivot to address their reliance on areas that can and will be automated will be crushed along the way.

So the big question for every business betting big on the products and technologies of today today is – How will you compete tomorrow?  And maybe more importantly, once you know how you’ll compete, how long will you wait to pivot?