US technology neo-imperialism

I admit the title is dramatic, but I used to make a point – for some time there has been a view from the US that whatever technology they think is the best or coolest is automatically going to be used elsewhere.

I first saw this in the late 1990s at Digital Equipment when it was assumed that the benefits of 64-bit technology, used by a few US mega-corporations, could be easily transferred to and understood by smaller businesses in South Africa. It happened again in early 2000s at JD Edwards (JDE), when a few US companies began to use SOA (service oriented architecture), so it became a mantra at JDE that all businesses internationally should be looking at application integration, even if the processes, infrastructure and skills could not support it. It came up again recently with the hype around the Apple iPhone and iPad – many US-based (and some European-based) commentators took the view that everyone should using the iPhone, and ignored the fact that “the North American market has zero predictive value for the rest of the world“, which is dominated by Nokia. Now I’ve seen it again in a post coming via a CRM conference, that businesses should scaled back traditional customer management processes and approaches, and get on the social CRM bandwagon.

I think its worth reminding the US that trends and attitudes that start in New York or California do not translate across the world as quickly as they think and may not be adopted in the same way. As was mentioned to me by contacts in Canada, Australia and the UK, there are many mid-size company directors who have never used Facebook or Twitter and whose customers and suppliers don’t use them either. So a business trying to market to those directors would be foolish to focus too much of its marketing effort on social media.

The fact that I have this blog, and participate on other social media platforms, should show that I have got into the social networking culture, but I am realistic that the vast majority of people (including many of our customers or prospects) don’t turn to social media for any major business purpose. I would be interested in other perspectives, especially from people in developing countries – does the US have a mis-belief in the value and spread of its technology?

Update: if you want to see how social media is used around the world, the maps from Ignite Social Media show how localised social media really is to specific areas of the world.


6 thoughts on “US technology neo-imperialism

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention US technology neo-imperialism « The Manticore blog --

  2. perhaps you should check with the kids. my nieces/nephews in SA are all blackberry/iphone — nowhere near a nokia which only the old farts use. maybe its an old/yound thing, not a USA/developing-world thing?

  3. I agree that social media might not be applicable to every business, right now. It’s true that in many cases companies and their distributors or even direct market are not using these mediums for business communication–and I wouldn’t suggest, by any means to put all your eggs in the social media basket.

    However, social media and the ideology falls out of it is simply something that businesses should consider for future sustainability. It’s demonstrating a shift in culture between companies and consumers, and while you shouldn’t get all wrapped up in the semantics of “social media” there is change happening, and social media has been one catalyst.

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