In numerous discussions with clients and peers about technology – more specifically social media – I’ve often said that change is not about the technology, but rather about the philosophical and cultural goals behind the technology. I still believe that. But watching the transformation by Ford in recent months into a financial success story – and leader in adopting cutting-edge, social technology – shows the powerful combination of technology and culture.
Indeed, Ford’s new Sync technology manages to link users to the Internet, symbolize a dramatic turnaround in innovation and make Ford products cool again. As described in this Fast Company article, Ford has turned its cars into sophisticated smart phones on wheels…smart phones that allow you to connect to numerous applications through voice commands (ideal for driving).
Beyond the amazing capabilities of the Sync platform (developed in partnership with Microsoft), the Ford story also serves as a good lesson on the ability of even the most conservative and risk-averse company (and decrepit industry) to leverage innovative technology and recreate itself. As described in the article:
To hear Ford executives tell it, the […] rise of Sync presented an opportunity to redefine the company. At its core, that meant meshing the slower, bigger teeth of the car business with the smaller, faster-spinning gears of the high-tech world. “These [high-tech] companies work at a very different clock speed than Ford,” says Fields, “a much faster clock speed. We had to jump in. We had to learn.” So in that new embrace of an open system, what had changed at Ford? “Simple,” he says. “We started thinking like a software company.”
If Ford can create and lead a new category, there’s no excuse for other organizations to not explore the benefits of new technology.