John D. Sanders, Ph.D.,
"An Exciting Time to Be Selling Technology"
I just finished reading an article describing how businesses that produce digital technology equipment are thriving at the same time as the selling prices of the equipment are plunging. It's an ever-increasing pace of technology enhancements that is driving new products and services. While these price phenomena can quickly obliterate the profits of many companies, they can also produce exciting positive results in countless new and old enterprises alike.
Price plunging doesn't occur with products like cars that are built from such bulk materials as steel. However, it sure does with computer hardware and softwareÑ and even with the electronics systems in cars. And, it's not just that performance is advancing while the price is declining; it's also the speed at which these changes occur.
Some business considerations that immediately arise: How do you develop a long range plan? How much is a technology worth if it's going to be superseded before morning? Can you justify spending lots of dollars and a couple of years for air -tight patent protection? Should the owner of a technology wait for the "best deal"?
No! No! No! Don't start with those questions!
How about: What new products and services can be developed? How quickly can we get a new product to the market? Who's got the marketing muscle? Will this make a positive change in people's actions? Is this going to enhance the performance of an existing product or service? Find an entrepreneurial company for me with the resources to "jump on this."
The truly exciting element to me is that the current younger generation doesn't know what status quo really is. They are accepting this change as normal. They expect the price of a new electronics product to decline. Buy Version 1.0 of a new software program and expect to be notified of version 2.0 (or at least version 1.1) to be available by the time the registration card is mailed.
So, does the value of new technology go up or down with success in the market? Here's "New Technology Economics 101"Ñ demand - availability - access - purpose. As the markets adjust to new products and services, the demand just keeps increasing. Look at fax machines, wireless telephones, fiber optics, small satellites, personal computers, online databases, microwave ovens, digital watches, infinitely variable automobile transmissions, and even small "direct broadcast" TV antenna dishes. Price/performance drives changes in business processes and in individual habits. We "re-engineer" our lives, as well as our companies and our government. A prime example of this marketing reality is the distribution of virtually free cellular telephones when combined with access service contracts. Change the users' habits and build the long term loyalty.
What a great spot for technology transfer executives to be inÑ the opportunity to be a part of this expanding business universe utilizing new technologies. Transferring technology is a truly exciting business.
In summary: Get excited. "Accent the positive; eliminate the negative; and don't mess with Mr. In-between."
For excellent contact with buyers of technology, let me suggest that you participate with regional councils of the Association of Technology Business Councils. They are ideal resources for involvement with 6,000 results-oriented entrepreneurial technology companies. The list of Councils is in the regular ATBC Update to Industry featured quarterly in Technology Transfer Business magazine.
For additional information on the ATBC and its regional business councils, or Technology Transfer Business magazine, call John Sanders at 703-848-2800, ext. 151.
prepared for the April, 1995 Issue of the Federal Laboratory Consortium NewsLink