The technology world worships at the Church of the New—and for good reason. Disruption, invention, and paradigm redefinition are exciting stuff. Better still, capture the religious fervor behind the buzz words, and your company might fetch a higher valuation.
Yet it’s worth pausing to consider the value of the old, or at least the old-fashioned. Take, for example, an article in the current issue of Fortune Magazine—don’t even get me started on the still-powerful virtues of print media—about a California company called PCH International. Erin Griffith describes the unique career of CEO Liam Casey, who has built a business by being the go-to source for device makers needing to navigate the confusing waters of Chinese manufacturing. Nifty ideas and fancy marketing aside, if you can’t get your product made you can’t sell it. That’s why so many call Casey for some old-school door-opening assistance.
Another case in point is the rejuvenation of Electronic Arts (EA), the first-generation video game company. Andrew Wilson, the youthful veteran in the CEO job, has turned around the company by doing something unusual, even archaic: he’s listening to customers. By focusing less on Wall Street and more on the people who buy EA’s games, Wilson has revived the company’s fortunes. (VentureBeat’s Dean Takahashi wrote a thorough review of moves by Wilson, who spoke about his efforts at Fortune Brainstorm Tech last month in Aspen.)
Technology behemoth Samsung (SSNLF) provides one more example of old thinking applied to new problems. The company plans to raise $1 billion in U.S. capital markets, its first U.S. listing, for a new company called Samsung Bioepis. The new entity makes so-called biosimilar versions of biotech drugs coming off patent. Samsung Bioepis, in turn, is controlled by Samsung Biologics, a contract manufacturer of patented “biopharmaceuticals.” (I visited the Incheon, South Korea-based Biologics unit in June while researching a profile of Samsung Group’s de facto leader, Jay Y. Lee, a proponent of the health IT push.) Samsung’s rationale for being in the business is that it can apply its world-class manufacturing prowess to a new industry.
This is all proof, perhaps, that an old dog can learn new tricks. It’s also a powerful statement that the old dog’s tricks are worth learning.
For more about Samsung, watch this Fortune video: