A college friend of mine, Mike, is more concerned about the real forest fires (wildfires) these days. His neighborhood was partly destroyed by the Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado Springs in July. His home escaped the fire that completely burned 56 homes in his neighborhood. His home was a few streets over from the burn area. You’d think that means his family was back to normal, but it was not. His family was displaced for two months due to the soot and smoke that infiltrated his home. While 56 homes in his neighborhood, and over 350 homes in the Waldo Canyon fire were burned, there were many times more that suffered soot and smoke damage. And many more where the temperatures inside the house melted appliances, pipes and the like. And now he tells me that the burned mountains will not hold the water and he might see flooding of his home in a years time. Colorado was hit pretty hard by the wildfires this year.
I had a chance to see the neighborhoods up close when I visited last in August about two months after the fires were extinguished. Whole neighborhoods were destroyed, houses were reduced to ashes and then the ashes were reduced to ashes. So many personal lives disrupted. As I visited, I noticed the inevitable signs of regrowth. There were construction vehicles and equipment on every block. The houses and infrastructure will be rebuilt and the neighborhood will be different. Some neighbors will be back. Others will not.
In looking at the damage, I was not surprised that there were many vehicles that were destroyed in the fire. From afar, it is easy to ask why would people leave their vehicles in harm’s way when they could have easily moved them out rapidly? Of course they could, given enough warning. The warnings were a bit shorter in the case of the Waldo Canyon fire because of the fast-moving firewall. But the warnings were still there in time for people to gather up possessions and flee in their cars. All the cars. But some were not prepared or thought they had more time. And then by the time they reacted, it was too late.
This is the issue with the digital forest fire in business. Some businesses do see the fire in the horizon, but think they have enough time to adjust to it or that the fire will miss them. Sometimes this is just wishful thinking. Modern businesses must assess how changing technology will affect them. If they cannot think clearly about the implications, then they should result to seeking the advice of third-party individuals who can call the future without prejudice.
Think about your business. How could changing technology affect you? I read a story about how drivers licenses may be obsolete by 2040, since car makers are already making cars that could drive themselves. If you are a drivers training company, how would you react to this? How should long haul trucking companies or taxi companies adjust? Of course, this is a long way off, but there are other technologies that will impact in a shorter time that companies should address now. How will micro payments by smartphones affect your business? As advertising continues to shift from traditional media such as terrestrial radio/TV and printed newspapers, how will this affect your business? These are just some of the questions each business must answer for themselves. And they must do it in time be able to successfully react.