Things That Keep Me Up At Night* – Kurt Sippel

Here are two stories out of Milwaukee that chill me to the bone — because I’m afraid I may have a few clients like this.

One story comes from a friend whose uncle owned a small grocery store in the 1950s. He scoffed at the store that opened near him that provided SHOPPING CARTS for its customers. That “technology” was totally unnecessary, he thought. What was wrong with the small shopping basket his customers used? No one needed a cart because everyone shopped everyday and a basket hung over your arm was enough. Plus there was no room for a shopping cart in those small aisles.

Well, we know how that worked out.

The second story is much more recent — in fact just last week. A new business was setting up office in downtown Milwaukee and the owner wanted to know what type of computer to buy. After I advised him, I overheard him also ordering two, five-drawer file cabinets! I have a company with 65 employees that has been in business for almost two decades, and we have four file cabinets — none of them full.

I tell these stories because I worry about companies that resist technology. They do it at their own peril. Companies need to adapt to the times, move to the cloud, go mobile, adapt to the Internet of Things.

One of the best examples is Nokia. They started out making rubber boots and ended up making groundbreaking telephony technology. The smartest bicycle repair shops and blacksmiths evolved into car dealerships.

What can your company become if you embrace technology fully? Are you going to be making buggy whips while your competitor supplies autos? Are you going to try to still sell whale oil while your competitors are selling gasoline?

Thanks for reading.

Kurt Sippel

* Kurt Sippel is president of Applied Tech and offers his musings on the changing world of technology in this occasional column.

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