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Adapting to changing times and technology in order to survive in business

It is vital for business to monitor changing trends and adapt to these trends or risk sinking to obscurity. If technology enables the same thing to be done at a quicker time without much supervision and labor, then it makes sense to use them.

If a business, regardless of how long it had been in operation continue to do things the old way- without being cost effective, then it cannot survive anymore.  Of course, utilizing labor would mean that more people would still have jobs but in the long run, they would lose theirs when the company goes bankcrupt.

An example I want to share is with the shops that we go to develop photos. When I was young, the only way to show off our photos were to pay money to develop them into film. Then we would be given the negatives to keep in case we need to develop some more.

But that change as photo sharing sites start to flourish. It started with Webshots, then Multiply, Friendsters, Flickr….and of course, Facebook- the one that we know so well. Today, literally everyone from a primary school child to grandmothers would likely have a Facebook account.

When photos can be online for an indefinite period of time, who needs to develop photos anymore?

I remember about the shop that I used to go to develop my photos years ago- we used to need to wait for ages to get the photos because the demand was so good.

As photo sharing website blossomed, gradually the shop start to lose business. It could no longer compete with changing times- because the primary business of the shop was to develop photos- it sold some cameras but the models were old and no one wanted to buy them. And their photo frames and albums were more expensive.

It got worse as another competitor set up another photo shop nearby offering photo solutions at quicker time. If I go to the old shop- I need to wait for few hours to get my passport photo.

But when I went to this new shop, the photos were prepared in less than 5 minutes- all it took as a DSLR camera, a blue backgroup and camera lights. My photo was snapped, loaded into a computer and if adjustments were needed, then the staff would use some advance version of Abode Photoshop to process.  Then it is burned into a CD and I get to keep the CD. Cool.

Aside from that, this new shop also seemed to move with changing times. It has installed a series of self-service photo developing terminals (the white coloured PCs above). It can accept photo sources from SDHC or minute Scandisk reader as well as CD/DVD and thumbdrive. I saw a middle aged man putting in the order of his photos by inserting his camera’s memory card and gingerly selecting the photos that he had wanted to develop. Viola, the photos are ready in less than 10 minutes.

Even though this shop had to invest more initially in computer software and self service equipment, in the long run, the cost is lower because the self service terminals can operate at lower cost. You do not need that many staff to man the shop as things can get done pretty fast.

Of course, the shop also sells up-to-date DSLR cameras and Smartphones. To lower the cost, they even share with the rent  with another non competing business. That was why the shop could survive.

In the past, a lot of paper work and submissions were done via physical carbonated forms and lots of paper. Today, more and more transactions, including our income tax submission can be done online. It is the way to go because it save costs and makes things convenient for both the user and the customer.

Business are all moving at a frenzy pace driven by technology. What is used last year may be obselete now. Those days Smartphones were a luxury- today, about more than 30% of Americans have some sort of Smartphones.

Therefore, constantly being on the alert and anticipating market trends, embracing it instead of denying it can save the business in the long run.

If you are a chicken rice seller who sells the town’s most delicious chicken rice, then regardless of what changes, your business will be packed to the brim because you are offering something that the competitor can’t- these groups are probably once of those who would never worry about changing trends because a delicious plate of chicken rice is constantly being sought after. Trend or no trend, we all have to fill our stomachs- and those canned franscise would never taste the same with traditional recipes. The only worry the owners may have is that their offspring would usually refuse to take over their business, preferring to work in corporate for a living instead.

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