Why All Companies Are Now Tech Companies

By now, most CIOs understand that digital disruption isn’t going away anytime soon. Yesterday’s mind-blowing innovation is tomorrow’s yawn-a-thon. Employees and customers expect innovation at an ever accelerating rate. Leaders see clicks, traffic and dollars increase. Laggards breath the digital dust.

Of course, IT is the engine that delivers results. And while there’s no shortage of advice streaming in from conferences, webinars, articles and colleagues, there’s a simple thing that often winds up completely overlooked: technology is now your brand.

It’s doesn’t matter whether you’re selling bread, bolts, salami or semiconductors, you’re now a tech company. Moreover, your brand image is inexorably linked to the way your website, e-commerce systems, apps and automation perform (or don’t perform).

Today, CIOs must think long and hard about how products, solutions and features link to the brand image. It’s easy to dismiss marketing a brand as something strictly for the CMO, but app interfaces, functionality and performance are just as important as any message or promotion.

As a consumer, I gravitate to companies, websites and apps that make business and interactions incredibly easy — even frictionless. On the A-List? Apple, Starbucks, Delta Airlines, Uber, American Express, Square, OpenTable, Groupon, Expedia and Charles Schwab & Company.

I also have a positive glow about IoT devices from Belkin (a WeMo light switch), Rachio (sprinkler controller) and Harmony (a software remote on my iPhone for my home entertainment center). These devises are set-and-forgot. They just work. Period.

However, these companies tend to be the exception rather than the rule. I could list a dozen other major brands that are incredibly frustrating to do business with because IT systems and apps do not support key functions and features — or things just don’t work right.

In some cases, you also can’t get decent technical support when something goes wrong. E-mails go unanswered, phone representatives aren’t equipped to solve anything more than basic problems, and wait times and transfers lead to disconnects and unresolved issues.

Here’s the thing: doing business today is incredibly difficult. Building an IT framework that supports business is beyond challenging. But that’s the world we now live in and, in a pragmatic sense, it all comes down to one basic thing: your technology is your brand.


Samuel Greengard
Samuel Greengard
Samuel Greengard writes about business, technology and other topics. His book, The Internet of Things (MIT Press) was released in the spring of 2015.

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