Speaking with My Business ahead of his presentation at the recent Intuit Australia’s QuickBooks Connect conference, Steve says it is important for businesses owners to be measured in their approach to incorporating new technologies into their business.
Some, he says, can be a lifesaver in the financial and time savings they deliver, while others are greatly overhyped in their ability to bring meaningful efficiencies.
“Just ‘cause you see a bit of new tech doesn’t mean you go out and buy it – there has to be a cost benefit to it,” he cautions.
“It is going to cost you to acquire it, but at the same time you’ll either be able to get new business from it or do your current business model more productively.
“If people don’t understand the cost to implement and train staff, etc. for that new piece of technology, then they probably shouldn’t be in business.”
There’s no room for nostalgia
As Steve points out, there are plenty of examples of established businesses struggling to adapt to disruptive newer models, so no business owner should feel alone in this challenge.
“Look at Gerry Harvey versus Amazon, that’s a really good example of that … Look at taxis versus Uber, it’s a watershed moment. Airbnb versus every hotel.”
The key, he says, is to forget nostalgia and embrace change.
“Everyone wedded in the old way of doing business [is in trouble],” he says.
“People need to constantly embrace new ways of doing business, whether that is through technology or through business processes. And don’t hold onto the past: lose the ego and move on.”
As someone who succeeded as a tech entrepreneur and then became a prominent investor, My Business was eager to hear what Steve rated as the most overrated technologies he had come across.
“For generally being overhyped, I would say that blockchain, which is the technology behind Bitcoin, is probably the most overhyped I’ve seen,” he says.
The other, he says, would be the scope of what can and can’t reasonably be achieved with artificial intelligence (AI).
“There’s a lot that can be delivered through artificial intelligence – and will be – but it’s been overhyped. It will deliver a lot, but people are applying it so widely,” suggests Steve.
“I’m a huge fan of AI. I just think in every pitch deck I see now, people use the word ‘AI – artificial intelligence’. I’m like, ‘Really? Go to a hotdog stand and they’re almost using artificial intelligence?!’
“People will seize these trends in order to try and make themselves relevant, and I see a lot of that.”
Determining what lives up to its hype, and what doesn’t
“If you want to be an early adopter, then you’re going to probably get that wrong more times than you get it right. But you just hope that the efficiency it brings makes up for all the times you got it wrong,” explains Steve.
“So the best way to do it is to lag a bit there, sit back – you don’t want to lag for too long, but if you’re seeing other people using something or you’re seeing other jurisdictions around the world where maybe the uptake is faster and there’s advantages coming through.
“But if you want to be on the leading edge, it’s also called the bleeding edge – the theory being that you’ll get some things wrong, but the things you get right will be game changers for you. So the only way to be sure is to hold off a little bit, and then it comes down to how intent you are not to be wrong, so how long you hold off for.”
Steve has also revealed to My Business his thoughts on how best to attract investors to fund your expansion, and the business strategies he sees as integral to success.