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Horizontal Integration in an Age of Diverse Technologies

Since the discovery and popularization of the world wide web, the pace of technological discovery has increased exponentially, and the world of business has consistently lagged well behind the curve. In many industries, the pattern is the same: The largest players have the assets and financial incentive to pour massive amounts of resources into keeping abreast of new technologies. Meanwhile, the mid-range and smaller companies have neither the need nor the inclination to change, and both companies and customers become accustomed to the status quo.Nowhere has the technology gap become more apparent than in the realm of communications technologies. This is primarily because technological advances never cause more inconveniences than when they straddle the line between analog and digital technology. Companies generally take one of three approaches when confronted with the transition between analog and digital technology.

The Three Types of Businesses

First, some businesses weathered the onset of the digital age without so much as a blip on the radar screen. While the local gas station or the community water supplier might be able to utilize new digital technologies to improve their companys efficiency, they did not need to change the basic service they provided their customers, nor the methods by which they provided it.Conversely, the second group of businesses either sprung up as a direct consequence of some new digital technology such as an communicationscompany like this company, or centered their entire business model around a new corner of the digital market. The majority of tech- or web-based companies founded during the last twenty years (like Facebook, for example) have no pressing need of past analog technologies in order to be successful.But for companies whose business model was based squarely around an analog technology, the range of reactions to digitalization has been diverse. This is why we see industries such as cable television and telecommunications in such a state of disarray: the integration of analog technology with new (and often times better) digital upgrades is a complex problem with no ready solution.

Network Size Trumps Tech Smarts

Science fiction author John Brunner once wrote: There are two kinds of fools. One says, This is old, and therefore good. And one says, This is new, and therefore better. In a world of increasingly diverse digital technologies, there are no easy answers for which digital technologies to utilize, when to make the switch from analog to digital, and how to integrate the established way of doing business with new and different models.But one thing is certain: businesses that feature slow, steady technological innovation occurring at regular intervals have all but disappeared from most industries. Waiting for a major manufacturer to release new top-of-the-line equipment could make sense for buying a car, but the world of digital technology integration now follows a much more complex and variegated model.The bottom line is that the rules have changed. The companies that offer the most advanced technological solutions are no longer built around an idea of linear progress. Instead, the most innovative businesses offer horizontal integration. No one business has the market cornered on every single digital technology, especially in fields like telecommunications and data management, where the pace of change is incomprehensibly rapid.Nowadays, the companies with the best technology solutions dont boast about the intelligence of their employees; they boast about the size of their network.

Posted in Newspaper Post Date 10/15/2016


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