You are Not a Technology Company
The other night, I watched Ugly Delicious - chef David Chang’s new Netflix series. The first episode is all about pizza; and in it, restauranteur Chang spends time in a New Jersey Domino’s pizza restaurant, scarfing down pizza and making delivery runs.
At one point, he gestures toward the multiple mounted screens and systems that ensure perfectly crafted and delivered pizza, and says “I don't think of Domino's as a food company. I think of you guys as a Technology Company!”
In that moment, I cringed a little. I’ve heard many companies in service industries claim the same about themselves. “Sure, we sell puzzles….but we’re really a Technology Company.”
I beg to differ.
You might argue that Domino’s is a Convenience company. You could say it’s an Entertainment Company, with that groovy pizza tracker. It’s a Time Savings Company. It sells yummy pizza in 34 million different combinations (who knew). And they have clearly mastered technology on many levels.
But Domino's is not a Technology company, and neither are you.
To frame a business this way is to focus on vanity metrics. Companies must be cautious about defining their purpose outside of a customer context, because more than anything else, they're about humans.
If humans can’t afford your product; if the service isn't remarkable or different; if it doesn’t solve a problem or create value in ways people care about– technology can't and won’t fix that.
I believe your customers don’t care that you’re a Technology Company - and that if they don't care, then neither should anyone else.
Whether helping people be financially independent, offering safe transportation, supporting someone's recovery after a natural disaster, or delivering a nutritious meal when they’re too tired to cook – we’re all in the Human business.
You may work for a purely technical product or service - maybe you get to say you’re a Technology Company. But even then, there’s a grander purpose that I bet you can ladder to pretty easily.
I'm talking semantics, but words affect behaviors and beliefs. The words “We’re a Tech Company” amount to naval-gazing - and we need more customer-gazing.
I'm for making We're a Human Company a worthwhile claim to fame.
Holly Chasan-Young is Chief Troublemaker with Wonderbolt Labs.
Photo by Alex Knight on Unsplash.