Strategy : Technostrategies

Daniel Burrus is a leading technology forecaster and business strategist, and is the author of six books, including the highly acclaimed Technotrends, which has been translated into over a dozen languages. The New York Times has referred to him as one of America's top three business "gurus" in the highest demand as a speaker.He produces a number of audio and video learning systems and is the publisher of the TechnotrendsĀ® Newsletter.

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Technology is driving business change. The question is, will you be behind the wheel or languishing in the back seat? A key strategy that I personally use and have been sharing with the world for over fifteen years is: "Don't compete! Change the rules with honesty and integrity."

Get Wise -- Technostrateg-ize

The easiest way to change the rules is to use new tools. Why? Because technology has the power to redefine what is possible. Whether it is putting a man on the moon, as we did some thirty years ago, or selling books online, innovative people have been using technology to redefine what is possible ever since man set foot on the planet.

To help unleash the innovator in you, I have put together a short list of seven technostrategies that will help you turn today's emerging technologies into products and services that will propel you far ahead of the pack. I call them technostrategies because technology enables each strategy to become a reality.


Globalization in today's world means selling your products and services globally. With the Web, even a small company can reach around the globe for new customers, new suppliers and new alliances. The problem is that's what everyone else is doing. Let's change the rules. Instead of selling products and services globally, globalize your products and services so they will have a worldwide interest and demand. This strategy stresses modifying current products or developing new products with the emerging "global customer" in mind. For example, Ford, using Internet-based global alliances, created the Contour, the first car designed to have worldwide appeal.

Take this strategy a step further by adapting your products and services for the country, people and culture you are selling to. No matter what country you are in, if you buy a Mercedes it will be just like all the others, with the exception of the placement of the driver's wheel. If you buy a Toyota, you will find they are all different. For example, in Asia Toyotas are designed for shorter people compared with vehicles sold in North America. Ask yourself.- Is there a way we can globalize our current products or services?


With a Web-linked network of experts and colleagues, your company has access to the world's leading experts in virtually any field. The days of the unanswerable question are over. One example of this is Arthur Andersen's global knowledge base of experts. Ask yourself: What other experts could you connect to and share knowledge with?


Technology is rapidly obliterating the old rule that a business has to spend more and charge more for made-to-order products and services. Customers are more than happy to tell you exactly what they want and how they want it. For example, Dell and Gateway sell customer-customized computers. The more you know about what each customer wants the better you can serve them in the future, and the more likely they are to continue to buy from you. Ask yourself: Can we use the Web to allow our customers to order our products or services in the exact configuration they want?


Miniaturization should not be confused with virtualization. Virtualization is the elimination of atoms altogether. The online virtual bookstore is a good example. Miniaturization is about reducing the number of atoms as much as possible, with the goal of increasing the product's value. The computer -- which soars in speed and memory as it shrinks in size --is a metaphor for modern technology.

While it's true that smaller isn't always better, in many cases it is. If it adds value to make a product smaller, the additional benefits are that it also becomes cheaper to make, while surging in power and productivity. For instance, a surgical laser, which was the size of a trunk yesterday is the size of a deck of cards today -- and it's more useful.Ask yourself: Is it possible to reduce the size, and therefore increase the functionality or value, of any of our current products?

Virtual-ize, which has more than 2.5 million book titles online, is an excellent example of virtualizing a business that was traditionally tangible. In the eyes of the customer, the bookstore exists only in electronic form. In reality, a virtual business thrives with minimal office space, factories, warehouses, stores and salespeople. It leverages all the advantages of information and communication technology to serve the customer directly with lower costs and fewer delays. Ask yourself: Is there a business or tangible entity that has not been virtualized?


It's no secret that the microprocessor is one smart little piece of silicon. It offers an almost infinite number of opportunities to intelligent-ize your product or service. A few examples include "smart" shoes that can tell you how far you've walked; "smart" shirts that can tell the dry cleaner the owner of the shirt and how many times it's been washed; "smart" tires that send a signal to your car's dashboard, letting you know it's getting flat; and, "smart" cars that anticipate the failure of a part and send a message to the owner to schedule the repair. Ask yourself: Is there an everyday product that you could make much more valuable by making it intelligent?


The global adoption of digital technology enables businesses to connect nearly anything to anything. Countless opportunities beckon through integration. One example is Nokia's new digital telephones, which not only have paging and voice-mail but are also Internet-capable with e-mail and custom news. Make a list of as many digital productions as you can think of and then invent the future by putting different combinations together until you come up with that new "must have" combination.

Remember: Don't compete! Business success belongs to those who methodically nail down these strategies and leverage emerging technologies into breakthrough products and services that will propel them far beyond their competition.

Ā©1995-2003, Burrus Research Associates, Inc.

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