Technology is like a banana. Yes, you heard me right, a banana. Just like technology, a banana has very distinct phases. Understanding these phases and taking action on them could be the difference between your company being king of the jungle or being caged in a zoo scraping flattened Junior Mints off the ground for sustenance.
Eating a green banana
You know the drill. You head to the grocery store, snake up and down the aisles pretending that you are the one in control of your choices and not the marketers. When you finally hit the produce section, it’s a welcomed reprieve from the cardboard, plastic, and aluminum. When you get to the bananas, you say, “Hmm, these look a little green. No biggie. They’ll be ripe within a day.” So, you grab a bunch and off you go.
They say that all humans are basically the same, regardless of ethnicity, gender, or religion. What happens next is a ritual that transcends all of mankind – a self-indulgent lie that occurs millions of times every day in all corners of the Earth: You talk yourself into trying to eat an unripe, green banana. You struggle to peel it, but you succeed. As you take that first bite, you realize something is wrong. Something is terribly wrong. You were expecting a fine wine and you got vinegar. You try to stay composed, but you can’t control yourself. You burst into a fit of fury and curse the heavens. The anguish is unbearable. You wish you were never even conceived.
Eating a green banana is like introducing a technology for which people aren’t ready. It looks good and seems pretty cool. But, when you try it, it’s a disappointment. Either the customer isn’t ready or the technology isn’t ready or the market isn’t ready. Remember when the first tablet computers were introduced? They failed. They were a green banana.
To see a brown, slimy, unwanted banana is a horrible experience. Just days ago, it was spritely, firm and full of potential. Now, it’s a pitiful has-been of a fruit. It’s hard to even look at. It’s starting to leak a little and stink. It’s that same uncomfortable feeling you get when you visit an old-folks home.
When your technology is out of date, prospects and customers get the same feeling. They may not write you off, but it’s definitely a struggle for them to take your technology seriously. And, it gets harder when they get marketed to by new, shiny competitors. It’s like putting a new, firm bunch of bananas on the counter next to a couple nasty, rotting ones.
When you peel back the perfect banana, time seems to stand still. The world is beautiful, easy, and calm. You chomp down and confirm this wonderful feeling.
When your technology is not too young and not too old, when it’s in the prime of its life, it’s a magical thing. It just works and your customers get it. We come across web sites and applications like this all time. You know them when you see them. They feel right. But, you also know when it when you see technology that is old or technology that is not yet ripe. They don’t feel right.
In your business, make it a priority to have the right technology, even if it’s just your web site. Don’t make it too “out there” and make sure it doesn’t look too old. Your prospects and customers will tolerate green or brown bananas for a while, but eventually they’ll move on to the next tree where the fruit is ripe. Don’t let this happen to your business.
Bob La Loggia is the founder and CEO of StormSource Software, maker of Appointment-Plus online scheduling software. He is a veteran of four startups, has over 22 years in technology, and has seen a lot of bananas. You can contact him directly through his website or email.