We are in a frontier environment. The frontier has many fronts – data, technology, global supply, social & cultural; all with revolution and evolution occurring. Some very large companies still to die (driven by short sighted shareholders and managers) and there are some very small companies to become very large.
Many established orders are turning on their heads – marketing agencies becoming data & technology providers, tech companies becoming media platforms, retailers becoming data providers, publishers becoming marketing agencies, software companies becoming social platforms.
Yet what effect is this having on the people that matter most – your average Joe or Wendy? It is creating a fast paced, overwhelming, and fragmented landscape with very different levels of experience & value.
Right now, where the application of technology is driving innovation and revolution; it is easy to create opportunity and value for people by breaking down barriers previously erected (retail based shopping, mobile payments, social networking, cost of health care, access to capital, product comparison, etc).
Through the application of technology to make things faster, easier, more connected – a business can establish a value for customers that creates differentiation and advantage. There has rarely been in the last 50 years such a large technology gap in implementation and innovation between companies traditionally viewed as competitors.
But things are changing – there is a realisation that just because things CAN be done – it shouldn’t always be done. The paucity of real engaging content & marketing in the digital space, and the mediocre and sometimes comical use of technology are examples (I highlight the utility company who’s ‘app’ sends you to a non-mobile optimised site to view your account for the update on the meter readings you just entered into said app).
As things progress in the near future, I see two key focuses for business – but then a third long term challenge.
1. Those that are are innovating with the use of data & technology today will have to work harder to use this to bring real meaning to people’s lives. It can’t be done for the sake of it, this will not help you stand out – you will need to use it to create real value in a more holistic way.
2. Those that have been slow in innovating and using technology will need to play catch up, not understanding the changes in business models, markets, and behaviour that this has wrought – will bring about the deaths of these laggards. It will become the expected level of product and service delivery. The upside? By focusing more on the application and experience rather than the implementation of the technology itself, these companies can provide more meaning and more collaboration.
3. The future must be simpler, as the technology, data and analytics become more ubiquitous – the skills broader, and the application smoother – people will want a more connected, less fragmented boundary. In this environment, the challenge will be on how to differentiate; creating wall gardens of innovative customer experiences will not work – you will have to work with your competitors, partners, and suppliers to create connected and unified platforms.
Creating real value in a meaningful way will need to be defined more clearly. What will people value? Consumer relationships based on depth? Transparent supply chains? The collaborative creation of value delivered through the filters of true human capital (financial, educational, physical, social, emotional,etc)?
I believe that a simpler world will evolve, technology and data will play a greater unseen and supportive role – but in retaining a competitive advantage – businesses will need to give some real thought and listen to what is really valued.