What do Netflix, Zipcar, Mint.com, Nike+, Amazon, the Nintendo Wii, and the Apple iPhone all have in common? They all take advantage of four technologies that once were scarce and expensive but are now plentiful and cheap. These technologies can be combined in numerous ways, and we are just starting to see companies really taking advantage of the possibilities. These four technologies will have a disruptive impact on your business, almost regardless of which industry you're in. The question is whether you will choose to adopt them before a competitor does.
What are the four technologies?
Before we look at them in more detail, let's look at Zipcar as an example of what can be done when you plug them all together.
Zipcar is a car sharing service that allows people to rent vehicles for short trips around town. Members reserve a car via the website or their mobile phone. When they get to the car, they wave their membership card over a sensor on the windshield (the card and sensor communicate wirelessly), which triggers a wireless query back to the company's database to make sure the user is OK to take the car. If everything checks out, the car's doors are unlocked electronically and the member drives off.
As the member travels around, the car's location is tracked via GPS. If an accident or breakdown were to occur, Zipcar knows where the stranded driver is. When the car is dropped off, the member's account in the database is updated, and the car's mileage is updated (triggering service if necessary).
Zipcar is a great example of how you can create a new type of business, enhance a user experience, and find cost and operational efficiencies by cleverly employing these technologies. Let's look at each of them in more detail.
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AVP of Marketing Strategy Adam Richardson is the author of Innovation X: Why a Company’s Toughest Problems are its Greatest Advantage. His book is the manual for leaders looking for clarity about the emerging challenges facing their businesses. You can follow Adam on Twitter @richardsona.