THE BASIC NOTIONS OF INNOVATION: ROLE OF TECHNOLOGY

ROLE OF TECHNOLOGY

The role of technology in the marketplace has been profound, so much so that business organizations that fail to maintain technological innovative momentum will be overtaken by more youthful and vigorous ones. As Twiss (1993) argued, a comparison of today’s market leaders with those operating over two decades ago reveals how many of the once great names have declined in importance or made extinct from the business environment due to their inability to anticipate the effects of new technology.

The use of technological innovation could be traced to the period of industrial revolution of the 1800s (Wells et al. 1995). Industrial talents like Morgan, Rockefeller and Carnegie built enormous factories using latest technological innovation of their time. New products were created and state of the art transportation networks were established to deliver these products. This was followed in the 1900s by industrial geniuses like Ford and Watson who opened the door to mass production with new innovative technologies. Rather than reduce its pace, the Second World War of 1939 to 1945 had a significant and even more positive effect on technological innovation – this time in the military. Newer technological innovations emerged in the form of war equipment. CRM analytics

The Germans for instance developed automobiles that required no carburettor. Many factories in the United States became the hub of innovative war technologies as Tanks, Jeeps, artillery and ammunition and fighter bombers were produced (Wells et al., 1995). After the war ended, western economies witnessed a new phase of technological innovation -the emergence of a new range of technologies founded primarily on microelectronics and information technology.

In many organizations and most especially the banking industry, technological innovation has been central to the achievement of organizational goals. The banking industry all over the world has embraced all forms of technology namely information technology, computers, automated teller machines to mention a few. Scarbrough and Lannon (1989) averred that major British banks were enthusiastic about the adoption of sophisticated technologies and that they were among the first financial institutions to automate the ‘the heavy work load of back office operations’ fuelled by the increasing volume of bank operations in the 1950s and 1960s. Since then the use of information technology has grown rapidly. It has played an important role in the delivery of fast and efficient financial services to customers and has been the source of competitive advantage (Barney, 1991; Clemons, 1986; Clemons and Kimbrough, 1986; Clemons and Row, 1987; 1991; Feeny, 1988; Feeny and Ives, 1990).

More precisely, the use of innovative information technology has resulted in the proliferation of electronic cash dispenser networks. Today, customers no longer carry cash around as they now withdraw cash using the Automatic Teller Machines (ATM) which have been strategically distributed at various locations round the country. Unlike the back office automation systems of the 1960s and 1970s, the Automatic Teller Machines (ATM) technology promised competitive and immeasurable benefits (Scarbrough and Lannon, 1989) to customers and banks alike. While, banks no longer spend time preparing cash balances across the counter, customers carryout bank transactions withdrawing cash through the ATM at any place and at any time (even over the weekend). In addition the use of innovative information technology has provided the benefit of constant access to certain core services reducing the need to interact with bank staff for many people (Devlin, 1995)

Another major technological innovation in the banking industry is home and telephone banking, pioneered in the UK by the Nottingham Building Society (Devlin, 1995). Innovative technology has triggered the development of home and telephone banking systems. Customers can now carry out banking transactions, privately in the comfort of their homes and offices. Further technological innovations have stemmed and reduced the cost of entry into certain retail financial services markets by reducing the dependence on the existence of a branch network to distribute product offerings (Devlin, 1995). Through innovative technology, the banking industry in Britain moved rapidly towards increasing the ability of its customers towards transacting business online (Mullighan and Gordon, 2002).

Many banks’ customers now interact with their banks online transacting business through the internet. In the comfort of their homes, offices or even under mobile circumstances, customers can now transfer funds from one account to another through the internet. Such transfers can be done internationally, between one bank in one country and another bank in another country.