Opportunity, Risk, and the Technology Gap



You know them well – ready-to-go-technologies to leverage and disrupt.

Let’s just call them big-data, cloud, web-services and mobile-OS, although each term has been hijacked, scrubbed and polished to sell you something much less than the technologies really have to offer.  You have to be savvy enough to see far beyond the hype.


…The technologies themselves don’t really matter, because there will always be something new.  Who cares?  Just pick up the next innovation as it comes.  It’s about continuous disruptive evolution.  Give me a problem to solve and I’ll solve it fast, today.  I have a full technology toolbox and I’m looking for business problems to solve, and if your business model is fat, dumb and happy, I’m going to disrupt you and take away your customers.  Go ahead, start a project; I’m leaner, I have smarter developers and I want to put you out of business.

Welcome to the New Normal.


Opportunity and risk are the result of the technology gap and closing that gap should be your number-one priority.

–  Risk is doing nothing.
– Opportunity is exploiting everything
You think you know your competition?  Think about this: your competition is two students coding fast and furious on laptops out of their dorm room.   They’re just looking for that lucrative business model that everyone may think has already been solved, but they’ve figured out a way to do it better, faster, cheaper.  And that business model may be YOURS.

What to do? Act. Now. You can and should close as much of the gap as possible by leveraging service-based solutions that don’t provide any differentiated value.  This is commodity work; let someone else do it.  Delegate it, give it to someone who is really good at executing a project plan.  But get it out of sight so that you can use your brain and your talented staff to implement the differentiated technologies that will move your company forward and disrupt your competition before they disrupt you.

Example:  TV remote-control units have been mostly infrared units, requiring line-of-site to your video/audio system.  iRule, a Detroit-based startup (disclosure-we are an investor), saw the opportunity to create a remote-control app that leverages equipment you already own (smartphone, tablet, wifi) that not only creates a better user-experience (you can now put all your equipment out-of-sight) but also a cheaper alternative to the really expensive, proprietary systems.  They saw the technology gap in the older business models and had the brains, brawn and well, intestinal-fortitude to take on the risk for the sake of the opportunity.  They’re succeeding by not only continuously exploiting the technology gap but disrupting the competition’s business model.

I could go on and on, but so can you.  First, take a look at the technologies available.  Research them, then learn them, then, take a look at your own business.  Are you exploiting these technologies?  If not, take a REALLY close look at your competitors and ESPECIALLY start-ups.  If you see the disruptive threats, and chances are you will, get moving.   If you don’t see them, still get moving and disrupt yourself!  The Old Normal was about complacency – the New Normal is about cadence, continuous change at a continuous pace.

But, most importantly, make sure you have the technical talent on your team who deliver disruption to the marketplace.  I’ll talk more about this talent and what they’re looking for as we further explore the New Normal.


About Paul Czarnik
Paul is the CTO of Compuware where he provides technology strategy and investment leadership. A venture-technologist and programmer at heart, his hands-on experience and technical diligence model help with M&A activities and incubator/startups. Contact him at @PaulCzrnk to chat about IT Transformation (even though he hates that word), agile delivery, lean startup methodologies or music.

Paul serves on the boards of, iRule, the Motown Museum and the Admission/Retention Committee for Wayne State University.