Most Americans have seen Scott Adams’ comic strip Dilbert. Dilbert is the quintessential techno-geek. If a new technology comes out, he’s going to be first in line to get it. New technology relies on the Dilberts of this world; if a product is going to be successful, it has to get out into the hands of its target audience. The Dilberts who buy the first run products contribute to its success in two ways: they get the product out into the world, and let it stand or fall on its merits, and if it’s successful, they help reduce the price. First-run products carry lots of overhead, and as the manufacturer gears up for high production, the cost per unit comes down, but only after the first few runs make the product a success. We owe a lot to the Dilberts: they find the new trends, and weed out the duds, and make products worth having affordable.

Are You A Dilbert, Or A Luddite?

So, as a business owner, are you a Dilbert? Do you rush to buy the new technologies in your line of business as soon as they hit the market, or do you wait? Being a Dilbert is risky, but so is waiting. If the technology is hot, you may find yourself out in the cold until you upgrade, and you could lose substantial amounts of business by being cautious. On the other hand, if you are a Dilbert, you can lose a fair amount of time and money on a new technology that flops. What do you do?

You walk a fine line between being a Dilbert and being a Luddite. As a business owner, you should be staying on top of the technological developments in your industry. You can generally determine if a new technology is one you’re going to want before it ever hits the market, and you can also determine if a new technology is one you should wait to adopt. Take the computers with which you run your business. Do you immediately upgrade to the next great operating system, or do you wait until the bugs are worked out and the software you use is certified to run on it?

My money is on waiting for this one. Even if the new operating system is a technological breakthrough, such as when Apple brought the Alisa software to market as the first Macintosh operating system, it’s still a good idea to wait a bit. If the technology coming out promises to speed up your manufacturing process by a significant amount, or to greatly enhance your customers’ experience using it, you probably want to be a Dilbert in this case. It’s a gamble, but you can make significant gains if it succeeds, whereas if you wait and it’s a hit, you’re behind the eight ball trying to catch up. Of course, if it falls on its nose, you’re not out anything: that’s the gamble.

We owe a lot to the Dilberts; they take the chance on the new technology, and if it’s a dud, they keep the rest of us from spending our money on it. If it’s a hit, by purchasing the first runs, they help reduce the costs for the rest of us, so the technology becomes affordable. So thank you, Dilberts: we owe a lot to you, the techno-geeks, and we should show you we appreciate what you do for the rest of us.

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