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Transcending Technology

July 11, 2011

The Economist recently published a short editorial noting that IBM is about to celebrate its centenary.  Most companies don’t last more than a few decades, so how did IBM do it?  According to the Economist, IBM was able to adapt to changing technology because it focused on “an idea that transcends any particular product or technology,” namely packaging whatever technology happens to be coming over the transom for businesses.  Those that don’t survive lose out because they tied their fortunes to a specific technology that lasted only for a single generation, after which it was abandoned for something newer.  According to this theory, Apple, Amazon, and Facebook are likely to last; Dell, Cisco, and Microsoft are not (because they are married to a specific technology).  It reminds me of a statement attributed to Napoleon, that the pen is mightier than the sword.  But it relates to innovation and to our own campus as well.  Because of a number of far-sighted faculty, staff, and administrators on our campus (and I don’t claim to be one of them), we are doing a marvelous job of exploring how learning can be promoted most effectively using new and emerging technologies.

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