LETHBRIDGE: The city's economic development group has a warning for city businesses: learn how to leverage the internet or you'll be left behind. The message came from two high profile entrepreneurs, who spoke in Lethbridge Wednesday about the web and its impact on modern day commerce.
"This is an era where human beings have changed more in 15 years than any other point in history. With that comes different behaviours, different kinds of companies, different people," new media expert, Leonard Brody told a crowd of 300 business people. Brody highlighted the similarities between today's era and the birth of the industrial age, saying this period skyrockets far ahead of that past technological surge. He said it's a process that's leaving everyone over the age of 30 breathless, with a healthy dose of fear.
"It reminds me of the Victorian era. If you go back and look at Victorian newspapers, parents were freaked out at the invention of the sofa because they thought their kids were going to sit and read all day instead of going outside and playing," said Brody. His talk meant to serve as a reminder that with the world the way it is today, businesses can't afford to be scared of web and new media technologies. "This is a natural evolution. It's a change that's been very fast and jolted, but you're either in its way or you're out of its way. And at this point you don't have much of a choice."
It's comments like this that are part of the reason why Economic Development Lethbridge organized the event. They wanted area business owners to see firsthand that integrating new internet technologies is the only way to stay competitive in today's market. "Lethbridge has so many traditional major industries -- agriculture, agri-food, manufacturing, that kind of thing. I think what we were really trying to do was get someone to come in and bring some perspective on how technology affects that going forward," EDL chair and CEO, Cheryl Dick told Country 95 News. "Because it's the impact of the web that's really starting to change business."
Dick, who also spoke at the event, says the biggest challenge going forward is creating policies and approaches to keep pace with how rapidly web technology is changing. "Adaptability is going to be the real challenge. That, and integrating all the young people in our community into our businesses to help us adapt, is going to be a key thing. So we'll see how that works out over the next couple of years too," she said.
Brody offered several suggestions on how to keep pace, whether through rebranding the city of Lethbridge to attract more business and technology companies, supporting young entrepreneurs, and creating online advertising strategies tailored to a person's "virtual self" while they're surfing online. Dick says anyone who wants more information can access it at www.chooselethbridge.ca.