Paul Simon wrote a song called Kodachrome. While film is making a minor comeback, it's a tiny percentage of what it was. That song was released on at least vinyl and CD. Viinyl is another example of older technology that is making a minor comeback, but again as a tiny fraction of what it was. The whole music industry has changed  I-Tunes has given up on trying to compete.

And that's all relatively recently. Cobblers and whip makers are now very rare breeds. No industry has been untouched by technological developments. To remain competitive it is necessary to appreciate what developments are taking place in the industry and to what degree they apply to any particular business. How long since you last took a serious review of your industry?

Performing a comprehensive review of an industry's emerging technology may involve attending industry-related conferences, reading and researching various publications, and networking with friends and colleagues familiar with the industry.

Process and deliverables

Step 1 - Research industry publications and online portals

The Internet contains a vast amount of information. Use a reliable search engine to search for the industry's latest developments, including mentions in articles. Several research portals list hundreds of information sites by industry.

Industries usually have representative journals that discuss technology trends among other things.

Step 2 - Locate and attend industry-related conferences/trade shows where possible.

Attend sessions that focus on where the industry is headed. Visit any exhibits on show to check out the latest developments.

Step 3 - Gather information from those familiar with the industry

Talk to friends and colleagues who are familiar with the industry about what is happening in technology. Discuss team members also - you may find someone who is abreast of what changes are coming and how they will drive change in the industry.

As a tool, it may be useful to consider the issue along two broad dimensions - external and internal. Areas to consider under each include the following:

1. Marketing - advertising and promotion, e.g. web presence, outbound direct marketing, market analysis and segmentation tools
2. Sales - order taking and processing especially if it involves custom design / configure products, e.g. kitchens, home loans, voice automation for taxis
3. Distribution and support - product delivery tracking, delivery of electronic products, customer support and service, customer feedback and surveys
4. Suppliers - ordering, payment

5. Managing - monitoring, reporting, communicating, e.g. video conferencing
6. Team - policies, forms, reviews, training through HR portals, remote access to business tools for telecommuting
7. Production - scheduling, production for electronic products

Consider negative implications as well as positive ones, e.g. the threat of disintermediation to traditional channels such as to music retailers from MP3 and Napster, and local travel agents from online direct competition.


A written report that:
1. Describes your client's industry's current and emerging technologies
2. Identifies possible opportunities for boosting performance in external relationships or cost savings and efficiency gains from internal applications
3. Identifies possible longer-term threats to the business or where it may be lagging behind its competition
4. Provides a high-level view of the cost of updating to the latest technology when available.


Adequate industry research. You will find a lot of free information on the Internet or in industry journals.
Try to assess the take-up of new technology in smaller businesses and determine what competitive advantage it brings to that level of business.
Think laterally about ways in which the investment in technology could be minimized, e.g. sourcing from a third party on a user-pays basis or forming a broader user group that shares the cost.


Get carried away by supposed advances in technology that have yet to be widely adopted in the industry. As with any new product (and particularly with technology) before it reaches mainstream acceptance it needs to be accepted by the “early adopters” - the pioneers. A small business will rarely be in that category. Often you will be able to observe and learn from what has happened as a result of larger firms taking the plunge.