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Who would have conceived a little over a decade ago that automated machinery that replicated the highly detailed work of skilled technicians and outpaced the production output of several employees in a single day would be commonplace? Or that once highly valued positions and departments would be completely eliminated because mechanization has replaced those manual labor skills? Digital technologies have ushered in an era of amazing progress but have brought with them extraordinary new challenges, new opportunities, and sometimes-unpleasant side effects. That should come as no surprise. History is littered with the dichotomies of the positive and negative results of progress.
However, for those caught in the vortex of rapid change, the unprecedented speed of today’s innovations makes maintaining a successful business difficult. How do you craft a business strategy for tomorrow when yesterday’s business plan had to be jettisoned because of market fluctuations and uncertainty? Do you decide to wait until the market stabilizes and matures before recalculating your direction? On the positive side, this strategy saves capital and prevents work disruption by allowing others to take the lead and experiment with those new technologies launched onto the market. In the meantime, you wait and analyze the best strategy to take and move later to exploit it. The downside to this approach is the risk of being left behind as the market constantly readjusts and shifts.
Or do you become an early adopter, experimenting with any new technology introduced to the market that seems to make sense for your business model? On the positive side, this adaptive strategy keeps your business at the forefront of market changes and keeps you knowledgeable about what works and doesn’t work. On the downside, being on the forefront requires considerable financial investment and the strong possibility that some of those large capital investments will either become obsolete within a short time or no longer fit the sudden shifts in the market.
Perhaps you structure your business in such a way that your strategy can be fluid, allowing you to react and reinvent to a changing market and move quickly to take advantage of strategic opportunities as circumstances dictate. If well-executed, the upside of this strategy is that you are always in a position to adjust your business to the market. The downside is maintaining the ability and vigilance to stay ahead of that curve.
For the majority in this industry who now augment production with digitally automated processes, the path dental technology has been set upon offers no fork in the road nor is there a foreseeable end. It is a journey that will continue to unfold as the market shifts, matures, and shifts again and as technology becomes an increasingly important factor in servicing a growing patient population. There may be twists and turns along the way and dead-end side trails to be avoided. But for those who persevere and are able to successfully negotiate the passage, the journey will become easier the further down the road you go. The only certainty in this odyssey is that sitting still is not an option.