There is an old expression that goes 'necessity is the mother of invention'.
Ever hear it?
Nothing could be further from the truth.
In point of fact, the world works in exactly the opposite way.
New inventions come along uninvited and create havoc. They upend established businesses and established ways of doing business. When they arrive everyone generally just wishes they would go away.
Once people realize they won't go away, they simply take the new invention and plug it into old ways of working. This is generally the worst thing you can do, but the easiest.
For several hundred years, the generals of the world had gotten used to the idea of fighting wars by lining up their forces and marching them at one another. This had been the established method of winning wars since the time of Alexander the Great. Napoleon brought this to a science - a high art, but it was essentially the same idea. Line up the troops and march towards one another, either on foot or horseback. A lot of qualities like courage and élan became central to the concept of battle.
Then, at the end of the 19th Century, a new piece of technology arrived - the machine gun.
Suddenly, it was possible to fire off hundreds of rounds at a time, instead of just one after another. The British proved the technological value at the Battle of Omdurman in Sudan, where they killed or wounded 23,000 Sudanese to their 47 casualties. What a great piece of technology!
The British were not the only ones to see the power of the machine gun. The Germans also sent observers to Omdruman and in 1914, the British found themselves facing German machine guns in Europe.
The technology of battle had changed, but the tactics - based on hundreds of years of experience, had not. The British simply reverted to old habits and lined their soldiers up and marched them into the machine gun fire - again and again and again until the casualties could be measured in the millions and the gains in inches. It was idiotic and pointless but neither the British nor the French nor the Germans could think of anything else to do. The technology had outpaced their ability to adapt.
Today, you see the same kind of thing happening as new and very efficient technologies such as the iPhone appear. Like the machine gun, in some ways, they do the 'job' faster, better and cheaper. But media companies, with many many years of experience in working in the 'old' way, cannot bring themselves to altering their 'ways of working', even as they pay lip service to things like the Internet or iPhone video capabilities.
Television news is a classic example. There are fewer more conservative companies in the world than NBC or CBS or CNN. Let's take CBS. They pay their anchor a mind-boggling $14 million a year to read the news every night (that would be 22 minutes of work reading what someone else wrote for you). No matter. If we were instead to hire, say, 140 journalists and pay them $100,000 each and give them iPhones and iPads and place them all over the world, we could not only build the world's largest digital video reporting force, CBC would also be able to feed the web and their TV shows and phones and everything else all the time with great content - all for the cost of their 'anchor'. But they won't. The technology is there, but they insist on working as though it were still 1974.
In the long run, technology drives businesses, not the other way around.
Andrew Grove, former CEO of Intel said, 'listen to the technology , the technology will tell you what to do'.
Those that have the courage to listen to the technology and hear what it has to say will thrive. Those that don't, won't.