Monday, October 10, 2016
Technology changes the game, customers change the rules !
In the early 90s, the initial days of email it was fashionable to have a personal tag line at the end of the message over and above the signature; it used to be a famous quote or a witty one liner that represented the persona. Unaware of the profoundness of the statement as a youngster I had the following going for almost 5 years: “My interest is in the future, because I am going to spend the rest of my life there”. I don’t know the source from where I picked it up as it was before the advent of the browser, contemplating it now feels awkward !
The future is here and how ! We aren’t done with technology evolution, we keep anticipating new disruptions and welcome them. Technology disruption over the last century or more started with electricity and then continued with transportation and electric appliances which change the way we live and travel today. Today when we think of technology and its power of disruption we think about the last two decades and the impact they have had on us and business with disintermediation and customer engagement.
A famous venture capitalist and Angel investor once wrote about “Why software is eating the world” which outlines the technology led disruption to almost every industry. Old and even new economy companies have been threatened by software evolution and software led disruptions. The concept of software is applied in a broad sense with computers and related technologies being clubbed. That does not in any way reduce the impact technology has created across industries as captured by the author.
Mobile phones have been around for a while now and so have smartphones; but the newer devices are stretching the limits of compute in our hands thus providing enterprises new ways of engaging their customers. Be it services or products, every company wants to use the primary consumer device to push all kinds of notifications, track locations, access contacts, store cookies, at times to the extent of becoming a pain; today almost every service is available via an app and so is every fathomable product.
Multitude of channels bombard the customer from physical to digital to mobile assaulting the senses through the day and night. Every visit to a website, an app opened, store visited, mobile wallet used, credit card swiped, destination searched on maps, every action leaves indelible bread crumbs which are picked up. For the customer fatigue starts setting in when gamification offers freebies in return for action once again creating a short lived surge of activity while everyone catches up to the game with me too offerings.
Every person has a trigger point, some short where consumers don’t tolerate anything that is not aligned to their interests; they research options to shield themselves from the barrage and shut off all possible triggers they can and broadcast these to their circle to follow suit; activist behavior marks this segment of consumers who love to be served at their terms and are cautious of their privacy. They are opinion leaders and shapers who people listen to and take action because it feels right and good.
However, the majority tend to maintain status quo while being subjected to all kinds of incitement, and at times irrelevant messages; the effort to change appears high and thus inertia keeps them going until an incident – direct or hearsay – provokes them to take action. This segment is tolerant to being hounded ignoring small indiscretions thereby once again landing in the same state from where they started. They play the game with their brands of choice until they become tormentors and fall off grace only to be replaced by others.
A minor and growing segment plays the game becoming the protagonist to beat business at their own game. They know how to exploit the system, get best of deals, hack into models to find value and distribute to whosoever may be interested. Predominantly millennials who love the technology connect and take disruptions in their stride. At times they are the source of ideas that send shivers down established conventional business entities. They are inventors wanting to change the world and thus lead change in the rules of engagement !
It is unimportant to enumerate the list of disruptors and the disrupted across industries, the most talked about being the hospitality, transportation, photography, music and music distribution, gaming, media and advertisement, logistics, education, healthcare, the list goes on. Every new idea gets copied to death threatening the original and at times succeeding in uprooting the innovator. Customer expectations continue to change as they love the adulation of the wooers who compete for the same segment.
Keep innovating, stay hungry, stay connected !