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The Wrong Way To Think About Technology

January 23, 2017

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Posted by: Peter Marcum

The Wrong Way To Think About Technology

We’ve been building “digital things” for businesses for over nine years and those engagements have given us tremendous insight into how people view their digital journey. How an individual or an entire organization views the use of technology is the determining factor of value either gained or lost. Another way to put it is you never want to spend time and money building something for use without having the end game in mind.

Four key themes have emerged from listening to over 900 businesses that have come to us asking for digital enhancements of one kind or another. These four themes represent consistent challenges in how people and business leaders need to think about the very purpose of spending time and money developing digital technologies:

1) Many businesses spending time and money on creating new technology without understanding how the customers and employees, users, will gain value from its use.

Many companies are beginning their digital journey in the wrong place and are focused on internal operating improvements. That might not sound logical but without having a clear understanding of how those internal operating processes interact with “customers”, internal and external, technology may only make thing worse.  In fact, most companies have mapped out the customer (internal and external, journey and identified roadblocks, time wasters and opportunities to do things faster, better and at higher value propositions). Some of this is complicated but most of it is simple—all of it is incredibly valuable.

2) Smart companies are using customer experience as a catalyst for change.

If you study the most successful companies who are using technology to make huge advances, you will find that they don’t start with the technology. Rather, they start working to define a good experience from the consumer’s perspective and working backwards from there. Too many businesses don’t have a true understanding of their customers. They try to put themselves in the customers’ shoes, and end up skewing the data. Enabling people, internal and external, to engage the way they want, instead of forcing them to engage the way we think is best.  

3) Don’t leave out mobile customer journey no matter what technology you are building.

If you haven’t noticed, mobile has become the central point of people’s lives. Google has even coined a phrase to describe the moment that people automatically turn to their mobile devices to do something, learn something, watch something, or buy something. Google calls these “micro moments” and they are essential for every business in terms of creating that cohesive “customer” experience. To ignore this only means you’ll be running after a solution sometime soon because your competitors are stealing your customers.

4) Don’t do the same thing better; instead create a brand new way of doing things that creates more value.

Technology can make a lot of things better but that isn’t good enough. That is called iteration. The better approach is to create a whole new way of doing things that creates more value for the end user which means more value for the supplier. That is called innovation.  

If you haven’t noticed, we are living in an era where innovation is disrupting the status quo and ushering in all things new. New thinking, new experiences, new paradigms and all of this is sweeping across all private and public sectors. So, the new normal is a brand new way of creating brand new things, new experiences, and new ideas. Unless you look at technology as the enabler of the “new normal” then you’ll end up using it to try and make the old normal a little better. A little better isn’t good enough anymore.

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Steve Little

January 27, 2017

Good counsel. Thanks for sharing. I would add that too often we view technology as the solution, when in fact it is just a tool, often a very powerful tool. It's value lies in how effectively it is used. If you don't address the challenge of activation and engagement, your technology investment will languish.

Karen Vander Molen

January 27, 2017

Peter, Thanks for pulling together your years of experience to distill these important elements that need to be addressed to create an optimal technology experience for all users. Very helpful!

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