Often times when we think about technology, we think that specialization is essential. While focus is key and valued generically, leading technology companies prove that multi-disciplinary is how to gain and maintain a competitive advantage.
Currently, there are 4 massive technology companies that are valued at more than $1 Trillion dollars. These companies serve as a blue print for what the next generation of technologists should focus their energy on.
For many years, Apple was a consistent developer of computing solutions for the personal & education market. However, what was under-appreciated for many years was just how well designed Apple products were. As a seismic shift began towards more consumer products, Apple’s hardware, software and design prowess established their leading position in the technology first economy.
What started with the iPod and then birthed the iPhone/iPad, Apple has established unprecedented leadership with the consumer products space. This leadership has also led to increased sales in both personal & business computers.
What started as a site to sell books, quickly developed into the leading e-commerce site on the planet. Amazon sells everything imaginable. Their initial leadership in software and design ultimately transitioned to their biggest money maker, a cloud computing solution, - Amazon Web Services .
While many might think that this confirms their software and design capabilities, there is actually quite a bit of design & engineering that goes into the hardware used for their cloud based solutions. Just because we don’t often see their massive server farms, designing for the millions of people that utilize Amazon’s Cloud services on a daily, weekly, monthly basis is not an easy task.
The company that started as a developer of a well designed operating system, Windows, for personal computers is now a leading cloud solution provider as well. Historically, Microsoft focused on building solutions that paired with other providers hardware.
However, as the world began to shift towards cloud based solutions, Microsoft quickly developed a very competitive solution. Similar to Amazon, we should not underestimate the difficulty in developing a solution for millions of users to reliable access Microsoft’s cloud.
Initially, Google began life as a search engine. It’s primary goal was to organize the world’s information. As a result of the elegance of their software solution, Google quickly established it’s lead in search along with the corresponding business model - digital advertising.
However, Google did not simply rest on its laurels as has developed Gmail, Office Solutions, Calendars along with a host of other web-based productivity & efficiency solutions. In fact, most businesses likely use some form of Google Web Services on a daily, weekly, monthly basis.
If most businesses are a customer of Google, that means that their customers are also utilizing Google solutions.
Similar to Microsoft and Amazon, Google has an amazing cloud business that serves applications like Gmail. The millions of customers who utilize this service along with the other one demonstrates that Google also has a deep expertise in hardware.
While we might often think of Apple as the only hardware business amongst the trillion dollar technology companies, the reality is that Microsoft, Google, and Amazon all have amazing hardware knowledge and capabilities that help power some really big businesses. For those who are looking to get maximum leverage within their careers, they would be wise to learn how to build with technology across the entire stack including hardware, software and design. Technologists with these multi-disciplinary capabilities will be in high demand.