When my daughter, Temi, was preparing for one of her examinations during her first year in secondary school about two year ago, I took time to go through some of her school books. Her Basic Technology notebook had the definition of technology. It reads: “Technology is the application of scientific knowledge to solve life’s problems.” The aptness and conciseness of the definition stuck with me.
From the above definition, the reason most countries in Africa are behind relative to the Rest of the World is glaring. Simply put, Africa has become the ‘repository’ of virtually all problems known to man because of the dearth of scientific knowledge (required for technological evolution). African leaders forget that only monies invested in scientific knowledge has the potential to solve human problems.
After writing my last article Entrepreneurship Made Simple, the responses from readers made me to start thinking of a follow-up article just so that those who took time to read the article can come to terms with the necessary steps to take in their entrepreneurial journey. This was when the idea of writing about the enduring relationship between entrepreneurs and technology came to mind.
Entrepreneurship and Technology
Entrepreneurship is about making things better or making better things. From the definition of technology above, it can be inferred that the tool with which entrepreneurs make things better is technology.
The famed Austrian American economist – Joseph Schumpeter – said: “Profit making is a long-run concept; only innovators make profit in the long-run.” Technological innovation enables entrepreneurs make long-run profit. In effect, without the aid of technology, an entrepreneur is not going to be in business for long.
Examples abound of businesses that have been consigned to the archives simply because of the evolution of new technologies (a concept known as ‘destructive innovation’). Olympia typewriters and mainframe computers vacated corporate offices with the advent of personal computers and smart servers; the emergence of digital cameras caused the demise of Polaroid cameras; many more examples abound.
Attributes of Technology
Most of the things an entrepreneur desires in the human workforce are what technology offers on a platter of gold. The negative attributes of humans are decisively dealt with through technology. For instance, laziness, absenteeism, and boredom are not key concerns in technology-driven business environment. Some of the attributes of technology are:
3. Speed and precision
Technology and Human Life
There’s hardly any aspect of human life that has not been positively impacted by technology. I am sure you can mention two or more recent technological innovations in agriculture, manufacturing, healthcare, information and communication, housing, security, education, transportation, entertainment, etc.
Now for a moment, imagine life without the innovations you have in mind. What do you think, unimaginable? That’s the point!
Benefits of Technology
Referring to technology as the application of scientific knowledge to solve life’s problems gives a broad description of what technology is about. In order to fully appreciate the critical role technology plays in the entrepreneurial journey, we need to look at specific contributions technology has made to the betterment of human life. In this sense, technology:
1. Dignifies business activities
Technology is fast depleting the pack of demeaning jobs by restoring dignity to them. With dignity comes passion. When an entrepreneur is passionate about his vocation, there’s no telling what he can accomplish.
About three and a half decades ago, the most despicable job belonged to the collectors of human waste (called ‘agbe-poo’ by the Yorubas). The people in this line of business prosecuted their ‘trade’ in the dead of the night so that they wouldn’t be seen. It is however a different story today because technology has come to their aid.
In Lagos, one of the most populous cities in the world, human waste collection is big business. The industry players are proud of what they do. They not only carry on their business in broad daylight, they even have branded cars! DMT Mobile Toilet – the industry’s first mover – is so blatant about what they do that their motto is: “Shit business is serious business.” Though it sounds distasteful, the truth in the statement is indisputable.
The same can be said about other industries like food, logistics, etc. It is not strange to find MBA grads from reputable colleges selling groceries. However, instead of the traditional supermarkets, they take their business online with the aid of the right technology platform.
2. Enhances productivity
That technology enhances productivity is an obvious statement. In short, technology shortens product development phase (time-to-market), improves product quality, increases output, minimizes wastes, and facilitates prompt and efficient customer feedback.
My first attempt at having a Blog was in 2009. Even though the website was set up, it didn’t go live because of the sheer number of things I had to do to publish an article. The only thing technological about publishing an article then was that I typed the articles on a laptop; everything else was tantamount to manual labour!
However, by 2012, it had become a different story. My new web developer set up a user-friendly website with the aid of the right technology. Publishing articles for me became delightful – that’s how I came about over 75 published articles even though my article writing has slowed.
3. Extends business / product life cycle
With technology a firm can defy the business / product life cycle and maintain its relevance for a very long time. Any technological innovation that prolongs the maturity phase of the business / product life cycle is particularly desirable because the firm’s earnings are at its peak in this phase.
Technology – a Game-Changer
It bears repeating that the introduction of a new technology in any industry changes the business terrain permanently. A Nigerian entrepreneur saw the awkwardness of people carrying two mobile handsets. His response was to explore a possible solution in liaison with some Asian technology freaks. That singular effort gave birth to dual-SIM mobile handsets. The benefit for the said entrepreneur in terms of financial reward is sizeable, to say the least.
Thinking technology opens up a new vista in the entrepreneurial journey. Interestingly, almost every area of human life can be improved technologically, even now. If the task is repetitive, for instance, people will be too glad to see any technological innovation that takes over such monotonous task. It is instructive to note that Google (presently the most valuable company in the world) is exploring the introduction of driver-less cars!
Entrepreneurs make things better and also make better things. To accomplish these feats, entrepreneurs make technology their indispensable ally. In the murky waters of entrepreneurship, successful entrepreneurs think ‘technology’.