Do You Really Know What Business You’re In?

Do You Really Know What Business You’re In?Stop and think about the computer you’re carrying around with you right now. Not your laptop, your phone. Actually, maybe calling it a computer is selling it a bit short.

Check this out:


The picture is from here, and it raises several important innovation points:

1. Your market is never stable. Did phone makers think they were in the camera business in 1993? What about camera makers? We’ve seen an incredible collapse in categories as many different industries become increasingly IT-based. When something like this is happening, you need to be thinking about your business model. As your market changes, it opens up new opportunities for collaboration and value creation, as well as new threats. There is a pretty good chance that your business model will need to change as the boundaries of your market shift.

2. We’re all in the knowledge business now. The control room for a mine looks identical to the control room for a space shuttle launch. Construction companies now are more concerned with getting the right data to the right people at the right time than they are with traditional logistics. Again, this means that you need to be thinking about your business model. It’s getting increasingly difficult to build a competitive advantage based on keeping your customers ignorant (think of the way cars were sold pre-2000 or so). Even if you’re making stuff, knowledge flows are really important.

3. It’s pretty cool! I don’t know about you, but I think it’s pretty cool to have all that capability packed into one device. Yes, it has downsides. It’s dumb to be checking email right when you wake up like I nearly always do. But that’s also part of figuring out the best way to use new tools – do dumb stuff until you find the best applications. Even though some say that we’ve run out of big ideas, I think that we live in pretty amazing times.

The transition from brick-sized handsets to palm-sized supercomputers would have been unimaginable for most of us in 1993. On the other hand, as William Gibson said, the future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed.

So what ideas that will be transformational by 2033 are here already? What impact will these ideas have on the business that you’re in right now?

image credit: confused businessman image from bigstock

Wait! Before you go.

Choose how you want the latest innovation content delivered to you:

Tim KastelleTim Kastelle is a Lecturer in Innovation Management in the University of Queensland Business School. He blogs about innovation at the Innovation Leadership Network.

Tim Kastelle




Five CV skills of a business-minded individual

By Hubert Day | September 21, 2023

Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash The skills listed on a CV help employers quickly understand your suitability for a…

Read More

Four ways you can ensure employees take accountability for their work

By Hubert Day | April 5, 2023

One of the most important driving factors for any successful business is a high-performing team. Having people working for you…

Read More

No Comments

  1. Roy Luebke on May 2, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    Leaders need to ask:

    1. What business are we in today and are we growing our profits

    2. What business SHOULD we be in next

    3. WHAT do we need to start doing NOW to create the future

    4. WHEN are we going to achieve the future


  2. Salvael Ortega on May 4, 2013 at 10:46 am

    Tim, you raise a great question. My team and I here at BYU looked at this in terms of how companies could better react to these conditions. I summarized our findings on this article, published this last month. I think it answers very well the issues you raised. Would love to hear your thoughts.


Leave a Comment