In June of 2007, Gartner analyst were warning all IT managers to stay away from Apple’s iPhone concluding that it wasn’t ready for business environments. In April 2010, the same advice could be heard about Apple’s iPad. What changed since then? Overwhelming customer demand.
Technologies such as Cloud Computing, Mobile (smartphones and tablets), Social Media have infiltrated businesses and have had an impact on how consumers and employees use technology, how they interact and engage with others, and how they create, use, and digest information. These trends are as much social as they are economic and technological.
CUSTOMERS ARE NOW IN CONTROL
At one point, you as the CEO or CFO of your organization and your IT manager could dictate how employees and customers could do business with you from a technology standpoint. That’s just not the case any more. Now, technology based products and services are designed with the consumer in mind and businesses will just have to figure out how to use them within their organizations. As an example, simply look at the fact that according to IDC research, tablets will outsell PCs in the 4th quarter of 2013.
KEY CONCEPTS FOR YOU TO KNOW
Below are a few ideas to consider that could help you stay ahead or on pace with the intersection of technology innovation and business growth.
- Understand what is expected of you: the technology that customers and employees use at home or in their personal lives is so easy and sophisticated that when they do business with you or when they work for you, they will “demand” and expect more choices, instant responses, greater personalization, flexibility, and functionality.
- Customers want increasingly more control and access – not less. The trends is moving with customers, you will that they will want to own their own information as well as gain access to their work applications. And if the can’t do that, then frustration will set in.
- Technology use by customers is social context driven not just business: In other words, the wave that is moving the adoption, expectations, and use of technology is about how we as a society are using technology. Therefore, it is not going to stop, its going to get crazier and for those who ignore it and try to keep doing “business as usual”, it could be disastrous.
The recent issues surrounding the Affordable Healthcare Act’s website exemplify these concepts. People expect to have a website that works like Amazon when ordering their books or Facebook when posting their kid’s photos. If your technology is not live and working 24/7, it could be serious blow to your reputation (or poll numbers if you are a politician).
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
The good news is that the same technology innovation driving you crazy from a business standpoint could also be used to help you serve existing and new customers in new ways that are both beneficial to them and to you as a business.
Here are a few things you can do:
- Determine how your customer are using technology now? Are they using PCs, tablets, smartphones? Are they virtual? Do they still use paper or are they going digital?
- How can you give your customer more choices? Can you let them control what messages they receive from you? Can you give them access to parts of your internal information that could help them in their business? Can you share more info with them?
- Do you have the right infrastructure in place to accommodate your customers? Do you have systems that they can access securely and via the devices they use such as mobile (smartphone, tablets), desktop, etc. Can you share with them easily and securely?
- Are you proactively planning how you can get a head of the curve (and competitors) and researching how you can use mobile, social, and personal devices to do business with your customers?
Another thing to consider is outsourcing your technology. A good outsource IT provider could managing your IT environment in such a way that it will save you money and allow you to focus on your core competencies as well as meet your customers expectation by ensuring that your systems run smoothly.
However, just as in important, choose a provider with the thought leaders or innovation expertise that could help you stay ahead of the technology curve so a leader in your industry and not playing catch up with competitors.