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Joakim Hedlund

Web enthusiast

What defines a tech company?

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There are two types of companies; the ones that use technology and the ones that are based on it. The distinction isn't crystal clear to most people, so I'll try to briefly explain what I'm referring to.

  • Companies that use technology
    Picture a sawmill. I'm sure they have technology for accounting, stockkeeping, and logistics. Hell, they might even have robots doing the labor! This is not a tech-company. They have little interest in creating technology to solve peoples' problems. If they want to improve processes, they gather a list of requirements and approach a company like KUKA to build the solution.
  • Companies that are based on technology
    Obviously, the companies that made the accounting software owes their whole existance to the premise that there is technology. They develop technology that others use to be more productive.

But what about an online store such as Zappos? That's just a shoe store that has a website instead of a physical location, right? Or, could it be that their whole existance and success is based on how they use technology to solve everyday problems for their customers? I'd argue the latter; Zappos' idea is not just to sell shoes. They sell shoes over the internet to provide convenience to their customers by allowing them to shop whenever they want, from whereever they want, and to browse shoes in a more organized manner than "Here's a bunch of shoes on a shelf. There's another shelf over there."

These two distinctions are important for whether a company needs an inhouse engineering department or if depending on consultants to implement your accounting software and building that flashy website will suffice. If you're building a business that relies on technology in order to have any worth whatsoever, you'll want to hoard as many developers as possible.

If you believe you only need to build feature A and B and then you're done, you likely aren't looking very far into the future of your company or, possibly, you believe your company will have a very short lifespan. Regardless, I wish you the best of luck with your endeavours and will be sitting in the sidelines eating popcorn while you try to make your Microsoft consultants work with your PHP consultants work with your system administrators work with your hosting company.

Business is iteration, not stagnation.