TwoWayTrafficSignWe are not living in relaxed times. The rapid pace of innovation, the ability for instant—and constant—communication and the regular introduction of “disruptive technologies” have mutated many of us to become impatiently addicted to instant gratification. We want any and every entertainment available with a swipe and a poke, information at our proverbial fingertips and maximum return with minimal investment.

I have Facebook friends who gleefully and regularly post their top-speed data transfer rates, colleagues who call to ask why I haven’t responded to the e-mail from an hour ago and customers aghast that I can’t repair their instrument while they wait. (Dude, I’ll download diagnostics as soon as you show me where the USB port is on your saxophone.)
You’d think we were spiraling headlong into some dystopian future, to hear some people react. But whether you’re excited or repelled by the ever-increasing, technology-driven pace of daily life, it’s not going away for us any more than it did for a generation a hundred years ago that was scandalized or enthralled by automobiles.

The question becomes how—and how much—do we reinvent our businesses to keep from being left behind? The difficult part is that the answer isn’t just a checklist of technologies to adopt. We have to analyze our goals, our market and our resources to make what can only be considered a “best guess”—and we have to be ready to modify that guess on the fly as new information presents itself.

The first thing I look at isn’t technology but, rather, human behavior. I can’t stress enough that knowing our customers—or our target customers—is the core of any success we might have. For my store, there is no homogeneity. Of course we need to be on Facebook, but I also know a large chunk of our customers don’t use it. There’s even a segment that looks askance at OUR use of it, as if we’re somehow engaging in salacious behavior just by being there.

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