Resolution No. 1 Featured

7:00pm EDT January 2, 2007

There’s a lesson to be learned from this year’s holidays. One that, left unheeded, could spell doom for businesses around America. It’sa lesson from a typical 12-year-old that you can only learn if you spend more time with your kids.

We’ll use Samantha, the daughter of Mirifex’s Bill Nemeth, in this example.

Samantha’s Christmas list looked typical of any soon-to-be teen. An iPod Nano in hot pink along with a Bose SoundDock Digital MusicSystem. A Dance Revolution Universe on Xbox 360 with downloadable songpacks. And a Sanyo Katana Cherry Blossom camera phonewith a super-thin sculpted body.

Some say play toys are high-tech gizmos with little purpose other than to occupy the ever-dwindling attention span of today’s youth.But Nemeth says they’re serious business.

Smart Business asked Nemeth, the president and CEO of Mirifex, why.

So what does a technology wizard like you get for Christmas these days?

I got a tie. And some socks.

We understand that your daughter’s presents — like most kids’ — were quite a bit more sophisticated. You say there’s a lesson businessesshould take away from that. What is it?

I’ve got two daughters. Taylor, 8, and Samantha, 12. Both had the most electronic holiday ever. When I was young, it was dad witha box full of bicycle parts, a wrench, an instruction book, and some choice words. Nowadays, it’s the kids showing dad just how thingsgo together — without so much as glancing at the manuals.

The tech age has become second nature to our kids. They get to collaborate, communicate, interact at anytime and anywhere using awhole range of devices (cell, PC, laptop, World Wide Web, IM, Internet phone, chat, blog). And they use the right and available methodin a truly interchangeable way.

Business does not get that yet. We don’t yet creatively adapt and utilize consumer-common technologies for the benefit of our businesses. But it is soon to come. Because our kids will be running our businesses tomorrow. And in essence, what we see as play toys todaywill soon be the very platform for commerce.

What are the new technologies that businesses should pay attention to?

Because of all the hype and gadgets out there today, you might think it’s the wireless boom. And indeed, we’re just now scratchingthe surface of what businesses can do with technology by untethering people from their offices and making a remote work force moreproductive. But the wireless trend is just the beginning. I believe that, more than anything, it’s part of a bigger picture of how businesses will come to rely on consumer technologies for their survival. Remember, the wireless revolution began as a consumer-drivencraze over cell phones. It’s a migration of consumer technology to the business sector. So it’s my belief that businesses shouldpay attention to the technologies just now beginning to take hold of consumers.

Give us some examples.

Let’s use my daughter’s iPod and YouTube, for instance. One’s audio-based. One’s video-based. Both have become sweeping phenomena. What’s to stop a business from using an iPod device or a YouTube format to broadcast employee training, or product demonstrations,or customer instruction videos? It’s akin to desktop publishing — great quality without the high cost. And by deploying it in the sameway people interact with these things now, user adoption rates would soar.

Myspace.com is another example. But don’t just think of it as a place for people to publish their daily diaries. Think of the same structure beingapplied to a corporate intranet. Its amazing architecture is so simple to use. A version of it is likely to soon become a standard framework forintra-office communication. Those are just examples of repurposing technology we use today.

What of tomorrow? In South Korea, for example, there’s been a breakthrough whereby they’ve jammed a gigabyte of memory into acell phone. That’s a thousand times more than what we have today. In the near future, it means media-rich applications — full video —can ride on your cell phone.

Imagine what that will do to the cable and phone companies.

And that’s just for starters.

So what should the average business do to keep up?

First (in all seriousness), find people with a ‘kid’s-eye view’ of your business problems and opportunities and look for opportunities to translate consumer-common technologies to the benefit of your business.

Second, realize that the horizon of technology gives you a good excuse to spend more time with your kids.

And finally, be sure to ask Santa for the newest PlayStation next year.

BILL NEMETH is president and CEO of Mirifex, the nation’s fastest-growing privately held business and technology consulting firm. Reach him at (440) 891-1210, ext. 201, or wnemeth@mirifex.com.