How Rapid Technology Changes Can Harm Us

Michael Harrison

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Beware the fast advances in technology.

How technology is changing the way we have to work.

I have very close friend who is facing the ravages wrought from the effects of new technology. This friend found a market and went right out on a limb to start a business that became very successful. For a period of time.

About 20 years ago he borrowed vast amounts of money to exploit the current technology for duplicating sound onto cassette tapes. We all used cassettes for playing our favourite music, listening to books, following training courses etc. As the business grew they realised there was higher margin to be made by concentrating on the spoken word as opposed to the cut price music reproduction.

The capital cost of founding the business was huge. He prepared a business plan, got participants’ from the industry involved and secured the capital to get the high cost high technology equipment to start the business.

There were early sticky moments but they overcame them and because they had bought the most technically advanced equipment they were able to offer superb spoken word reproduction quality. This led to the business becoming the leader in UK duplication from spoken word master tapes.

Employing the then cutting edge technology and recording services they worked with many notable people including Margaret Thatcher reading her memoirs. The business prospered and all of the loans were paid off. Peak performance came about six years ago shortly after the introduction of more new technology - Compact Discs.

From about 6 years ago a steady decline in volumes started as CD's became more established. Because of the high capital cost of investing in CD plant they decided to ride the cassette business as far as it would go. The new CD reproduction technology really took hold in volume terms in 2005 and volumes for cassettes have now slumped to unviable levels. Yet we also hear that CD volumes are declining as music downloads from the internet are becoming more popular.

The purpose of relating this is to indicate in this fast moving world successful businesses come and go and we are at the mercy of change. It's essential that we keep our skills and knowledge upto date while staying abreast of the changes in technology. Where do you stand?

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