Thursday, October 25, 2012

My Birthday and Technological Advantages

Today, October 25th is historical for two reasons, my birth date and also the anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt where the English monarch Henry V defeated the numerically superior, better equipped, rested and better trained French army.  The battle occurred on Friday, 25 October 1415 (Saint Crispin's Day), near modern-day Azincourt, in northern France and is immortalized in Shakespeare's Henry V.

Every year I think of this historical event around my birthday.
Today it makes me think of all the startups which will eventually eat the lunches of larger businesses and how much technology change has created opportunity for more of this cycle to happen.

For the English to win they needed to have advantage. They had none. They were downhill from the French and outnumbered, weakened by travel, sickness and fighting. On top of that as a final insult it had been raining on them as they tried to leave France.

Opportunity was not seized upon but happened organically as the battle unfolded. The result was unexpected to all.

The battle field was a cleared field with woodlands on either side of the downward (To English location) sloping field. With all the rain the fields had become saturated with water. When the horses trod down the recently plowed field they started creating a deep muddy mess. When troops marched on the field they formed enough mud to lose traction and create suction on their armored feet. English did not have armored foot wear and did not have suction issues when their troops moved. The French delayed by constricted movement and mud allowed Henry's long bows more time to strike a target with their new armor piercing arrows delivered by a new stronger long bow. This allowed the English to pierce the new thicker and harder French armor. 

As the French troops fell and stumbled further chaos ensued for the French as troops backed up upon previous waves of troops and tripped over dead bodies.

The victory is not only one of the English longbow but the poor French tactics and battle management.

Summary: due to weather, poor management, new technology and the problems with the new technology of France. Technology which under normal circumstances would have given advantage to the French. They lost advantage because of their failure to enact a timely response to environmental and tactical conditions. In addition, the French failed to recognize their deficiencies and see the disadvantage they were under fast enough.

I see this now in business as older companies fail to recognize the marketplace shifts. The advantage they perceive in reality is not as advantageous as they want to wage business. A smaller more nimble company with a lean management style is able to pivot or address needs faster has advantage. A company which uses technology and social media has advantage over those that spend money on traditional advertisement and infrastructure.

Companies which embrace a cost structure and management style which creates a sense of opportunity for employees, investors and customers have advantage over the old no matter what they sell. Brand management and customer interaction is not really the strong suit of many new businesses and that is where their disadvantage lay. It is incumbent upon all entrepreneurs to focus their attention in that direction as well as trying to grow the company.

Often we focus so intently upon growing or bringing in money we forget our advantage is in having a faster response time and responding to changes needed.

In this decade we will see technology shift again as media such as News Papers, Broadcast TV and telephone services (including cell phones) gives way to new technology and the internet as the preferred delivery system. I see Skype cell phones with video capability, Internet TV Networks removing the need for old style broadcast TV Networks which have affiliate and local programming costs. Lastly we shall see a need erode for daily mail delivery and costs associate with keeping that home delivery service going.

There will be tremendous opportunity. It’s time to start doing and thinking again. It’s time to recreate your life.

For further reading on Henry V, I have added links below.

On Leadership of Henry V