What’s exciting and scary about technology and digital transformation is that it’s a never-ending work in progress: stop and admire what you’ve done today and you can be sure your competition will have caught up and passed you by tomorrow.

That’s why the big tech companies like Amazon, Google, Facebook and Apple are always looking for a new frontier, looking for new ways to engage and delight existing customers, as well as entice new ones.

These are companies that have staked their reputations and, to a great degree, very existence on forging new paths and creating better products for their users.

In the past year alone, we’ve seen each of these organisations launch numerous major new products or features designed to take them forward and keep them at the very forefront of transformation and innovation.

4 major tech launches in the past 12 months:

  1. Amazon Prime Air began trial runs for customer delivery using drones on 7 December 2016
  2. Google Home smart speaker and personal assistant launched in the US in November 2016
  3. Facebook launched its Augmented Reality Camera Effects platform for developers in April, as a means to let developers build new AR experiences for FB users
  4. Apple announced a slate of new products and improvements on existing ones at its recent WWDC event

These companies are also continually and radically rethinking and reconfiguring products and features that maybe didn’t hit the mark quite as hoped or expected. They have plenty of hits but also quite a few misses. There’s an appreciation within the culture of such businesses that calculated risks are part of the deal – you can’t score big unless you gamble something.

I can already hear some of you saying, ‘But these companies are among the biggest and richest in the world, with vast resources available to them to take wild punts on all sorts of projects!’

And you’re right. Most CEOs could only dream of the war chest at the disposal of Jeff Bezos. Or the sheer brainpower on tap at Google or Facebook. Or the army of creative geniuses working overtime to make Apple’s products so appealing to its millions of fans.

That’s not really the point.

The point is that regardless of the size of your business, you need to look at how tech is forever shifting around you and what that permanent state of flux means for you.

  • You need to be thinking about how the ever-expanding tech and digital frontiers (IoT, AR and VR, AI and machine learning, etc) are changing who consumes your product and how they consume it.
  • You need to be thinking about how the world around you is going to inevitably change how you produce your product, as well as how people perceive your product and business.

In essence, the CEO of today needs to have not only a map of where their business has been, but also be drawing up in real time the map of where their business is heading. Like so much of digital technology, that future map is interactive and constantly reacting to the world around it.

This is something the world’s biggest tech companies know. And it’s something all CEOs and executive leaders need to incorporate into their thinking if they want to stay relevant in the years ahead, whether you think you’re a tech company or not.