Plan To Disrupt

Plan to Disrupt or Plan to be Disrupted.

Your Company IS a Tech Company

Most Companies Don’t Realize they are a Tech Company

TLDR; A deeper look into HOW your company gains its competitive advantage, might reveal that in fact you are a tech company.  The next disruption in your market will likely come from a technology company.
Indicators that you may be a tech company can be found by answering these questions:

  1. How is your product delivered?
  2. How are new products developed?
  3. How does your back office work?


Click Bait?

Yes the title is a bit of click bait. The fact is that most anyone that is reading this article is working at a company that at least in part is gaining competitive advantage by leveraging technology. Many companies are deeply invested in their technology. Some have their entire company based in technology. The irony is that no matter to what extent that your company leverages technology, they probably do not identify themselves as a tech or software company. In the next few paragraphs I will discuss some of the indicators that your company may in fact be a tech company.

The next disruption in your market space will come from a tech company


Where Do You Gain Competitive Advantage?

competitive-advantageQuite often in the business world, being the best product (and/or service), the most features, or event the best price is not the biggest contributor to your competitive advantage. There are many other factors to the equation that are often overlooked. Many of these, at their core are based in intellectual property concerning custom software or technologies. If your competitive advantage is based in intellectual property centered around software or technology, isn’t that knowledge your business? McDonald’s doesn’t have any real intellectual property about making a hamburger or fries, after all, they let high school kids do it. They do have IP about logistics, marketing, and franchising.  Without that expertise, aren’t they just a mom and pop hamburger stand?  Other companies have embraced this model entirely to become hugely disruptive businesses in their market space. Uber, AirBnB and Alibaba are huge tech companies that do not even have a product of their own to sell.

Technology companies recoup their investments by selling their product.

Product Delivery

One of the easiest indicators that your company is a tech company is in the answer to the question, “How is our product delivered?”

  1. Special DeliveryIs your product or service is delivered via the internet? You are a technology company. It doesn’t matter if your product is software, music, photography, or poetry. If it is delivered via the internet, then you have intellectual property around the digitizing, the storage, and the licensing of your product. You are a tech company.
  2. Is your product is delivered by your company?. Many companies have custom software or processes within their fleets that that give them a competitive advantage. If this is the case, you may be a tech company.
  3. Is your product shipped via 3rd party? Many companies have special shipping or handling protocols that involve warehouse and fulfillment software. If you are one of these you may be a tech company.

Product Development

Manufacturing companies are exceptionally good at missing the fact that they are technology companies. Their focus lies as it should squarely on the product they make, but they overlook the huge investments into the technology and the in the competitive advantages they gain because of the investment in their technology. Here are a few areas of product development that often point to the company being a tech company.

    1. Is your time to market increased by a custom software package?  Your company is probably technology company. I have seen companies that claim their number one competitive advantage is the fact that they can go from concept to product faster than any of their competition. In all of these cases they were companies that at some point (usually distant past) invested in building a custom workflow tool that guided the product development through their process. If the software package was responsible for their number one competitive advantage, then the upkeep and health of said software should also be their number one priority.
    2. Is your product development computer aided?  Cad SoftwareYou are a most likely a tech company. Computer aided design means much more than just having a version of AutoCad and engineers that know how to use it. If you are gaining any competitive advantage from computer aided systems, you most likely have custom process around versioning, storage, and requirements gathering. All of these are indicators that you likely are technology based


Finance is an area that loads of technology is used. Often the value of that technology and software is overlooked or taken for granted when trying to figure out a companies competitive advantage. A few things to consider in the finance arena

  1. Do you have any automated EDI like systems? You might be a technology company.  It is estimated that every single invoice a company handles inits AP department costs $10.00 to process. If your company has developed software to automate these (and lower those costs), they most likely have had to fight the battle with EDI or some other standard. That intellectual property has incredible value and that system has become a priority to your company.  What would happen to your company if it went away?  If your company is heavy leveraged against any of these data transfer systems, you are likely a tech company.
  2. Is your company using its data? You are a most likely a tech company. Big data, BI, Machine Learning all mean one thing–Technology.  If your company is purchasing based on trends, marketing based on research, or trying to convert more sales based on predictive modeling, you are definitely a tech company.

As you can see, there are a lot of indicators that show that your company may in fact be a tech company. While proving you are a tech company to upper management may be a non starter, there are a lot of things that can be learned and incorporated into a company with a tech company attitude.  I will follow up with an article that discusses that soon.


The next disruption in your market will come via technology, is your company a technology company? ~ Tal McMahon


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