business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Michael Sansolo

The most powerful and important technology, as we’ve argued here before, isn’t a function of capabilities, bits, microchips or anything similar. Rather it’s whether the technology is actually useful. Otherwise, it’s just bells and whistles.

I recently encountered a new - and extremely useful - technological leap at an Ace Hardware store (though I’m sure they aren’t the only ones to employ it).  My wife and I are painting some rooms and wanted to make sure the new paint colors match what we already had, but sadly we didn’t have leftover cans from previous work to guide us.

What we found at Ace is their ability to take even a small chip of paint (and trust me, we made a very small chip to get it) and place it in a machine that can then reproduce that exact color. It even worked when the paint in question was made by a company whose product Ace doesn’t sell.

As I watched this process play out at the hardware store I could barely contain my amazement that technology produced such an incredible and practical tool. Quite honestly, if - or, more likely when - this tool is turned into an app it’s one I can imagine having great success for anyone looking to better match everything from wall to nail polish colors. 

Heck it may even be able to help Neanderthals like me better match a shirt and tie should the occasion ever call for that again.  (I'll need another app to remind me how to tie a tie.)

None of us know what technological leaps are coming next, but I’d love to think that developers would continue to examine what human problems we have that their technology will solve. For instance, I’m already seeing articles suggesting that one likely widespread use of Artificial intelligence will be in menu planning, especially for those families dealing with everything from food allergies to specific eating habits (think vegans).  My guess is that someday soon we’ll have an app that can take a picture of the items in our fridge and give us recipes that simply use what we have.

But no matter what leap comes next or no matter what app you might be thinking of using in your business, make sure to ask the vital question: how does this improve the customer experience. If there’s no good answer to that, question why anyone would use it. 

Even the coolest technology doesn’t matter much if it isn’t used or useful.

Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at

His book, “THE BIG PICTURE:  Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available here.

And, his book "Business Rules!" is available from Amazon here.

For information about hiring Michael to speak at your next meeting or conference, click here.