Innovation is often the key to success in business. However, we often innovate in a linear fashion, meaning that we just create a new version of something that we currently have. Let me give you an example: If you find carrier pigeons too slow to deliver messages you simply start breeding faster flying pigeons. At one point, you almost inevitably will find that you are reaching the boundaries of what is possible. In this case, for instance, the speed with which a pigeon can fly. So, if you want to make the next step, you need something else if your demands for speedy delivery grows.
You might say that this is a silly example, since no one uses carrier pigeons anymore in business to deliver messages. And, yes, you are right. But there are still things we cling on to that are, when you look at it, almost as outdated as carrier pigeons. Take for instance the still omnipresent business card. We still use a very old school method to exchange information with people: a piece of paper with information on it. It is, however, proven technology in the sense that it always works, does not need a power source and everyone understands it. You simply present your business card to someone. For lack of a better solution we still stick to the business card. That does not mean that there were no initiatives that innovate on the purpose of business cards: exchanging information between two parties. In 2007, about the time that Yenlo was founded, it was almost impossible to go to a conference without getting a Poken. This usb device (with NFC chip) was meant to be used to exchange information by simply bringing two devices in each other’s vicinity and the information was bidirectionally shared. The poken never caught on as a replacement of the business card. There are many reasons for that, the fact that you needed to insert it in a USB port of the computer to upload /download the data together with the network effect of finding a person who also has one (the value increases when new users also use it) made that the poken failed as a replacement for the business card.
A device everyone has
If you want to replace something like a business card, and you want to use technology, aim for a device everyone has. That is right, I am talking about the smartphone. But even there, what technology should we use? We could go for NFC technology but not al smartphones have that capability and not all of them have NFC turned on. LinkedIn, the business network (acquired by Microsoft in 2016) has created something that really works and that can help phase out the business card. In your LinkedIn profile, there is a button to either scan a QR code of another LinkedIn user or present your own QR code for the other person to scan. You will receive an invitation to connect. It is simple, uses a smartphone and camera (something almost everyone has) and is almost as simple as handing over a business card. Of course, there are somethings that you should have, like an account with LinkedIn and the willingness to connect to a person but other than that it is reasonably foolproof. The fact that you need to do something to connect (more than just taking someone’s business card) might also be beneficial for the quality of your connections.
Faster pigeons or new technology
Regular readers of this blog know that I’ve written in the past about our tendency to add technology to our IT landscapes but hardly ever say goodbye to old ones. Analogous to the carrier pigeon or business card example there might be technology inside your organization that you would like to replace since you are pushing the boundaries of its capability. This is now a great opportunity to introduce ‘new technology’ to replace the old stuff, e.g. replace SOAP with API’s, introduce microservices and so. But it might also be that you are not ready to say goodbye. In that case an integration layer can help you extend the lifespan of technology a bit more. Whatever your plans are, moving to something new or extending the lifespan, our selection guide Enterprise Integrations solutions will help you select a solution that is right for you.