Howzat! What Can Technology Buyers Learn From Newspaper Reporting Of The Ashes?

Every two years the great sporting rivalry between England and Australia is re-ignited as the proud nations fight over the miniscule trophy in The Ashes. The conquest has run since 1882 and invokes huge passion in players and supporters alike.

The hosting of The Ashes alternates between each nation, and hence each hemisphere, with the current series being played in Australia. For the keen English supporters this means some very early mornings if they want to catch every ball from the UK. But for most of us, it is a case of turning on the radio, or the television to catch a news update at 7am, “A good day for the Aussies” or “a great stand by the English batsmen”

For more detail we would then tap on the iPad and open the BBC News app, and get a bit more information on the night’s events before heading off to work. This is the world of instant news that we live in.

This causes a problem for the traditional newspaper industry. Although distributed information had been around since Roman times, the first published newspaper appeared in Germany in 1609. Newspapers provided a valuable service distributing information much faster and much more accurately than word of mouth.

Because the ‘grape vine’ alternative was so slow and so inaccurate, time was not an issue. If it took a day for a journalist to file his story, and the newspaper went to press that night, and then the paper was taken by carriage the next day and reached you two days later – you were still way ahead of any of your non-newspaper reading friends. Critical news such as the sinking of the Titanic, or the end of the First World War might have taken many days or even week’s to reach people.

Newspapers today are pretty slick machines, but even they have to push the “Print” button at some point. And an event like The Ashes shows how at risk the industry is. On the first day of this Test Match the English put in a sterling performance, nearly wiping out the Australian batsmen in a single day. On the back of a previous test win everyone was very excited – the series was in site. As the newspapers go to press that evening tales of galantry and success and gleaming photos cover the back pages.

And yet over night the classic English collapse – snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Having bowled the Australians out for a ‘match winning’ 268, the English were then bowled out for a soon to be match losing 187.

Waking up in the morning you have two options for your news. The actual news on the television, radio and internet, or the horrifically out of date over excited newspaper press that is now not news at all.

Snapshots versus constant innovation

I spend a lot of time explaining to buyers of technology that Cloud Computing is not just about moving what is here to over there. It is a whole new way of innovating and developing technology in an agile way. When you buy technology that has a number like 2003 or 2008 in it, you are buying a newspaper that was printed based on available information at that time.

When you buy Cloud Computing such as Google Apps or Salesforce.com you are buying in to the here and now. Google Apps release hundreds of micro updates a year. Salesforce.com release three big upgrades a year.

What you have tomorrow will be better than what you have today – at the same price. You own an appreciating asset.

What version of LinkedIn are you on? What version of Internet Banking do you use? We don’t accept these terms in our home life and we shouldn’t in our work life. If you find yourself in a technology buying decision and you are having to decide whether to jump in now, or wait for the next version to be released I would urge you to stop, think about the newspaper industry and decide whether that is the best way to run your business.

Charlie Cowan inspires and enables partners at NewVoiceMedia, a Salesforce Appexchange partner routing inbound calls based on CRM data. Unusually for someone in the IT industry, Charlie holds a degree in Rural Land Management from The Royal Agricultural College. He lives and works in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, with his wife and three children.