81% of people who responded to our poll said ‘yes, technology is essential to entrepreneurial success’. We asked an associate professor who researches digital innovation and an app founder and CEO what they thought of the question. Here’s what they said

Carsten SorensenCarsten Sørensen is Associate Professor (Reader) within LSE’s Department of Management and has worked at the LSE since 1999. He studies digital innovation with a particular focus on mobile information technology and digital infrastructures. Visit him at:carstensorensen.com and digitalinfrastructures.org

Much entrepreneurship engages in defining new forms of conversations and relationships previously not feasible or imagined. Such conversations and engagement are more often than not based on the application of information technology relying on analogue data being made available in a digital form. Modern GPS navigation was made possible when not only the coordinates were available from satellites, but also the maps went from print to download. Google’s success in search rests on the dramatic increases in digital unstructured data. The company facilitates a new kind of conversation between users and this sprawling corpus of ever-changing data. The success of Facebook is also one of establishing new kinds of conversations and relationships whereby micro-acts of posting, checking-in and liking generate data previously not available in a digital form, and in many cases not available at all.

Digital technology facilitates inexpensive scalability of a broader variety of conversations and relationships through the trinity of user-friendly gadgets, fast network connectivity, and powerful servers. This architecture is increasingly common when entrepreneurs seek to facilitate new relationships. It enables cheap, highly personalised, yet largely automated, relationships, as individual end-user becomes an active part of the service by contributing, configuring, and personalising it.

It is, therefore, not a surprise to me that the large majority of the people responding to the poll agreed that technology is essential to entrepreneurial success. We may, of course, think of other types of entrepreneurial activities than those concerned with new types of conversations and relationships, but the current technological architecture has, for better and for worse, in many ways merged the social and the technical. It has brought technology into intimate social settings, and also rendered the social increasingly digital.

 

josh Mora headshotJoshua Mora is the CEO of Handpick, a shopping app for London’s best boutiques & vintage shops. You can read his earlier post on the importance of universities integrating into local start-up ecosystems here. Here’s what he said about the question:

Famously, Steve Jobs characterised the computer as a “bicycle for the mind.” What he meant was that, as humans, our evolutionary advantage is not speed or strengths, but the intelligence to build tools that multiply our natural abilities. Today’s technology, particularly computers, provides its users with a historically unprecedented multiplier.

The Tube network, the Eiffel Tower and the first moon landing were all created without modern computers, so clearly great things are possible. However, when it comes to business, out-competing rivals is inherent to success. And speed is an essential part of competition. Forgoing the multiplying effect of today’s technology can hobble a nascent business, while effective use of technology (even for a non-tech business) can accelerate progress profoundly.

So, yes, effective use of technology is essential.

 

Featured image credit: Josh Graciano/ Flickr