The Technology Association of Georgia’s (TAG) Annual Technology Summit, Fueling the Innovation Economy: What’s Now and Next, was a great opportunity to engage with more than 1,000 technology leaders. It’s exciting to hear the conversation transition from visions of coming-of-age technologies in action, to actual, live use cases in play in dozens of businesses across the state. We live in exciting, historic times, and it is still “TBD” how technologies will revolutionize businesses in every industry.
What we now see is that technologies are transforming companies from “vendors” into “innovators.” The savvy players are leveraging technology - first - to better understand their customers and – secondly – to deliver new products and services in original ways.
One thing’s for sure: emerging technologies will turn businesses of all kinds on their heads. Here are some key insights/recommendations from the event that can help you steer your organization to a brighter, more competitive future.
Become more customer-centric than ever.
At Amazon, the customer is the beginning and the end of every business activity. Business today starts with understanding the customer. But the days of interviews and focus groups with a sample of representative customers discussing their purchase behaviors are over. Using big data, companies can leverage real customer data from demographic profiles to purchasing patterns and in-store behaviors to gain a deeper, more complete understanding of customers and their actual behavior. With this insight, companies are then designing solutions that appeal to their target markets.
Take risk; learn from failure.
Amazon’s success is legendary, but did you know that they have a list of abominable failures? There are dozens of completely failed projects that no one has ever heard about. Amazon doesn’t view these initiatives as “failures,” but rather stepping stones and learning opportunities that contribute insights to help craft the successes. By understanding why certain products or services were not successful, it is possible to better design a product or service that will be successful. With the speed of innovation today, companies must dive in, take risks, and start innovating, even if there are some unknowns.
Look for new business applications for technologies.
Successful companies are leveraging technologies both for back-end operations, as well as to deliver a better customer experience, sometimes in ways never before imagined. Consider some examples:
- IoT is collecting signals from around the customer to better assess their needs at the time. For example, by collecting real-time weather data and location, a retailer can serve up a promotion for a frozen drink at a local store on a hot summer day.
- Drones are being used in warehouses to monitor and improve safety on the back-end of the operation, but are also now used to deliver orders directly to customers’ homes.
- Blockchain is being used to protect consumer data while delivering cash-back rewards programs for customers.
- Virtual reality now provides customers and patients with pain management in the form of a diversion, shifting from traditional, medication-based remedies. Other brands are using virtual reality to offer immersive brand usage experiences.
These are not pie-in-the-sky applications, but examples of technologies being piloted and rolled out by companies today. A glimpse of these applications at the TAG Summit reinforced the importance of engaging with your customers and finding new ways to deliver a more personalized, more meaningful experience, regardless of your type of business. “The customer comes first.” This mantra holds true now more than ever. Are you reshaping your business around your customers?