The information age part 3

We are living in an information age when technologies change at a very fast pace. It is difficult to see the impact of technology changes unless you are working in the technology area. Most people only see change when it happened and impacted their lives. The same also happen in business, many owners do not see changes until it is too late. If a company is not prepared and be able to adjust to changes quickly, it will be left behind. In this competitive world, stay behind means failure.

Today innovative technologies are emerging, creating new industries, new companies as old industries and old companies crumble. New way of doing business is threatening old way, it is no longer company with large capital can dominate the market but company that has the latest technology will control it. For example, Apple is no longer just a computer company; with iPod and iTunes, it has emerged as dominance force in the music industry. Apple's iTunes online store has destroyed most music stores that sell music CDs, DVDs. With iPhone, Apple is threatening Nokia, Blackberries, Motorola, Sony, and Samsung. It is predicted that in three years, only few of these companies will remain. With computer technology, Skype allows people to talk across the globe at minimum cost and destroyed many established phone companies. Today over 85% of people in the world are using Skype for international phone calls. Ten years ago, Borders was one of the largest books selling companies in the U.S with several thousand bookstores. When Amazon started to sell books online, Borders ignored the online business until too late then bankrupted. Kodak was the most profitable photography company in the world. When digital camera technology emerged, Kodak did not know what to do then eventually shutdown. Each year, there are thousands of companies failed and there will be more as technologies continue to disrupt business. It is predicted that most printed books will be gone in the next ten years because electronic readers such as Kindle, Nook, Nexus, and iPad are transforming printed book into e-book. Newspapers and magazines will also be gone, being replaced by online newspapers and magazines.

Looking into the future, we can expect more changes as new technologies will lead to new products, new challenges for both business and individuals. New situations and new business will continue to change our way of thinking and doing business. That is why it is important for students to learn about these trends so they can take advantage of technology instead of ignoring it. Since future business will be different from what it is now, students must be prepared so they can adjust quickly to innovation changes. For example with the advancement of nanotechnology that can change molecular structures, businesses in the future might be able to offer products that have exactly the properties customers want. With biotechnology, scientists have gained insights into the role of genes in health and disease and open up a new era of personalized healthcare with treatment tailored to patient's genetic structure effectively.

Since future businesses will be depending more on technology innovation. Companies will need knowledge workers, who have both technical and business knowledge to help them manage innovation. The issue is today each field of study is separated in college. Technical students are not taught about business and business students are not taught about technology. In this connected information age, the need in college education is to create a cross-disciplines area where students should learn about both the business and technology as well. Last year, top U.S business schools such as Harvard, Stanford, and MIT etc. require all of MBA students to take computer courses to build their technology knowledge but few years earlier, the computer schools already created the Information System Management (ISM) where half of the program is in technical and the other half is focusing in business. The purpose of this new movement is to develop knowledge workers to meet market demand of the 21st century. Currently ISM is one of the hottest fields in college with a large number of enrollments.

Advancing in communications such as smart-phone, and broadband internet are making online business the new way of doing business. As the demand for online store management increases, companies do not want to hire business graduates since they do not know about technology or computer science graduates since they do not know about business but prefer hiring someone who has both technical and business knowledge such as ISM graduates. As more online stores are opening, the demand for ISM graduates is increasing. With Cloud Computing and Software as a Services trends, more companies are expanding and need people who have both technical and business knowledge to manage new business to meet market demand. In this fast changing world, companies will have to adapt quickly or vanish. The emergence of social media has made people more knowledgeable and companies have to pay attention their expectations. With globalization and highly competitive environment, every company will require a different focus on management as customers are more diverse and technology-savvy.


  • Blogs of Prof. John Vu, Carnegie Mellon University