King Canute was Right

King Canute was Right

August 5th, 2015 // 7:57 pm @

640_london-taxisKing Canute we were told sat before the incoming tide and ordered it to stop, he actually did this to demonstrate to his followers the limited power of even an absolute monarch, but we are told the story anyway as children.

King Canute got his feet wet because he could not stop the unstoppable. In our business world with radical technological change all around us that technology is changing the very nature of some markets and the business models that work within them, and trying to stand in the way of that change is as useless as Canute trying to stop the sea.

It is difficult for companies to accept that the business model they are pursuing and have been for many years will not only change but be destroyed by changes in technology.

To deal with such levels of apocryphal change needs, foresight, intelligence and huge amounts of courage. Human beings do not easily embrace or even accept massive change; we hang on to what we knew because it feels safe.

This level of change is not fair, and is often massively disruptive to people’s lives, but it is real and if not dealt with will simply run over those who did not embrace change.

For example the London Taxi, where every driver has an encyclopedic knowledge of every street and lane within London, making them a highly efficient means of transport in town.

This has developed into a licensed association with very high standards and strict rules for entry, but based on the years of training to build the database in the driver’s head of the London streets.

The problem is my $100 phone now has the same knowledge, and as systems develop will even have access to real time traffic levels so it can alter route dependent on traffic levels.

There will be strikes of taxi drivers across the world as I am sure there will be in London, and they will talk rightly of the years they spent learning their craft. There will be fights and stoppages and much anger. Governments will try and soften the change, and make it more palatable for licensed taxi drivers. However the change is unstoppable, painful, perhaps even morally wrong, but inevitable.

The actual business model strangely has not fundamentally changed; one will still have vehicles for short-term rent with the knowledge to take you quickly to where you wish to go for a fee.

But the next step will be vehicles you hail via your smart phone, driven by people earning much less than present London taxi drivers, and with navigation by Google. And that is only the stepping stone to driverless taxi’s, which are close to technologically, possible now.

I will miss the London taxi driver, but their fate is as certain as Canute’s

Organizations who are facing this level of cataclysmic change will in the majority die, as few management teams are capable of implementing the very intense levels of change required, even if their shareholders will allow them.







Category : The Future

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