It's traditional, at this time of year, to look back over the past twelve months to highlight the poignant, remarkable and significant things that have taken place. However, as this year comes to a close - one that's been, well, pants in places - I'm drawn to look back not over the past twelve months but the past twelve years and more.
It was during my tenure as the Technical Adviser for the BPIF that I first became aware of the concept of the ten year technology timeline - the notion that from launch to mainstream a technology typically took ten years to mature and find mass-acceptance. I was incredibly fortunate to have held that position just as the historically mechanical printing industry was faced with the realities of switching to being wholly digital.
Print, bless it, was too slow to adapt and adopt everything digital had in store for it. Print's demise was partly down to the long term financial commitments associated with high volume production and partly, yet more significantly, down to a belief that digital change would come about at the same speed as it always had done. However, a force completely outside the walls of the print factory was about to make its presence felt and this force was the worldwide web.
The full force of the web wasn't felt at first, attention fell upon dotcom businesses which existed in a bubble that ultimately burst but had opened the way for new entrants to enter the marketplace. Things settled down for a while and attention turned to web browsers' capability and market share but quietly, in the background, a giant was awaking.
The cellular phone was changing where and how business was being done and at its heart was the airtime contract. Had it not been for the mobile phone contract we'd probably have just bought a mobile phone and stuck with it until it broke - just like our mechanical landlines of old. But we leased the things and the telecoms companies knew that, in order to win our business for subsequent years, they'd need to woo us with new deals so we began buying 'tech'. By the time smartphones hit us, phones were so expensive and sparkly that we could only afford them when the contract we signed lasted for two years.
No longer do we invest in technology and look forward to a long and happy life together; from the moment we sign our new two year airtime contract we're already looking ahead to our next handset and all the sparkly megapixels it'll be able to offer us. Upgrading's easy, all our data's in the cloud and easy to reconnect to and as we upgrade we leave behind us 'old' software, 'old' web browsers, 'old' operating systems and old ways of connecting with the outside world. Our bodies renew themselves every seven years but our phones are renewed every two years and it is this two year upgrade cycle that's driving digital change on a scale that the print industry and other business sectors that got comfortable with the ten year technology timeline never saw coming.
Encouraging people to upgrade software is a continual battle but because so much has shifted onto the mobile device and because this entire device gets replaced every two years, the pace of change has accelerated. Every two years your phone could being doing so much more and we now eagerly await the biennial bounty that a new phone brings such that we expect other things in life to be upgraded at the same pace: PlayStations; flatscreen TVs and cars; are all sold to us for the short-term - we don't own stuff these days, we subscribe to and contract with things because, soon enough, we'll be able to upgrade to something fresher, bigger, better and faster! The web browsers which we used to have to manually update now check for updates and install the new version seamlessly in the background.
In short, our digital business potential is no longer held back by old technology.
Our Customers aren't immune to this two year cycle and, over the 14 years we've been in business, developing cognitive designer websites, we've noted that, on average, our Customers want to change/upgrade their website every four years. Four years is an incredibly long time online and the things we can make a website do today would have made our eyes water four years ago. But Sub@omic's never been a business that gets sucked-in by fads and trends and never will. Our reputation's been built upon building long-lasting websites that are standards-compliant, high quality, high performance and high ranking business assets.
As we say goodbye to 2016 we'll not be turning our back on websites that we designed because there's something new and sparkly to play with in 2017. The websites that we built two, four, eight and even twelve years ago are still running, still performing well upon any device you choose to browse them on, still ranking well on Google and still making the businesses who commissioned them look different and better than the rest. So, our message as we move into 2017 is 'stay with the old and in with the new'.
In 2017 we'll signal our commitment to building websites that last by introducing an unrivalled 5 year warranty with every website we design and build. Consumers may now be comfortable with change every two years and Sub@omic's Customers may now be comfortable with an upgrade every four years but, regardless of what consumers browse with or how long Customers choose to keep their websites live for, we can assure all concerned that our websites will last a digital lifetime.
Sharon & I would like to offer a very big thank you to the Customers we've had the privilege of supporting and whom we've helped grow over the past 14 years; we wish you all a very prosperous 2017 and look forward to looking back in another 14 years time.