Demystifying Technology

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Every year, the rate of technological innovation increases exponentially, in fact the number of martech providers alone has sky-rocketed from 150 globally in 2009 to over 8,000 in 2019. While businesses understand they need technology more than ever, it’s easy to see how complexities and confusions in this landscape of constant upheaval throw clear decision-making into disarray.

Whether a business is looking to invent new digital platforms or develop existing ones, it’s difficult to know where to start. Add the inevitable budgetary and technical hurdles into the mix and what seems like a straightforward decision can quickly become a daunting task.

While the challenges can be great, the benefits of demystifying technology can revolutionise your business and help you realise its full potential – but only if you take the right approach.

Changing behaviours and expectations

The way people engage with technology, whether B2B or B2C, has changed. Today, there’s an expectation of getting to your customers’ goal as quickly as possible.

Technological advancements over the past 15 years have driven this level of change. Devices are no longer single-use, and while cost has decreased, and ease of use has improved ten-fold. Taken as a whole, these shifts have flipped the world soundly on its head.

Given the mass adoption of technology, consumers now drive the brand agenda, using the channels that they feel most comfortable with and expecting 24/7 access to their services. The norm is, well, quite frankly…no longer the norm.

On the contrary, in our increasingly algorithmic society technology has become the enabler for consumers and brands alike, bringing their two spheres into closer alignment. But, when considering any digitech-first strategy, you have got to ensure the role of tech is truly considered from a UX perspective. Ultimately, great design and ease of use will make or break consumer uptake. Tech for tech’s sake is the biggest mistake a brand can make, a balance between tech and UX has to be found. The former has to solve the journey and the latter needs to ensure it is frictionless.

Loyalty is a new challenge

Companies and brands can no longer be prescriptive regarding how they want consumers to engage with them. To build loyalty and advocacy, brand companies need to add additional levels of value, relevance, incentives and adaptive services to maintain relationships with consumers.

Data is now its own virtual currency, but it must be used correctly to understand, plan, predict and deliver relevant offers and services in the correct channel. So, once you have your channel open, crucially – you need to consider the right frequency of consumer engagement along with a comfortable level of personalisation, as too much or too little of either can put customers off. Finding the right balance among all of these factors is key to driving loyalty between a customer and a brand. That in itself is a challenge.

Overcoming barriers to change

Regardless of industry, most businesses face the same core problems when attempting to demystify and adopt the most relevant technology. These range from legacy infrastructure frustrations to dated and siloed digital strategies around mobile, and of course fear of the complexity of change.

Whatever your unique challenge, it’s important to unpack and take a look at all of the components in your tech stack and where the airgaps are, because it’s by solving these you can potentially do three things: 1. Take out cost, 2. Improve conversion efficiency and 3. Increase yield. Then the next step is to establish the journey and roadmap required to achieve your goals. But don’t try and eat the elephant all in one. You need to phase transformation, stopping the factory to retool it is riddled with risk and in most cases, you can identify and adapt current elements of services as a first step.

Then, you can work collaboratively with internal and incumbent agencies to establish a 100-day plan. This could be anything from re-engineering your total digital footprint to creating a mobile-first strategy. Naturally, get this right and you increase productivity, as well as having a fair chance of achieving 1, 2 & 3.

When looking at wider goals, it’s important to remember that internal KPI’s between sales, marketing and IT teams can often conflict. Sales is, well selling stuff, marketing is about increasing customers and brand awareness while the key driver of an IT team (outside innovation) is to drive efficiencies and install cost-effective technology. Quite often, these visions can be at odds.

As such, it’s important that sales, marketing and IT work together to align direction.

So, Where To Start?

With all the hype around AI, data, blockchain, voice and next-gen technology, the most common question is often the simplest: “where should my business start?”

If you find yourself asking this question, it is advisable to begin by ensuring that any innovative technology or platform you use has UX at its heart. This will help drive and scale mass adoption and turn your service into a utilitarian-based one that consumers can’t live without. Define your business challenges (based on the things that achieve 1,2 & 3 above) then build a swift business case, match emerging tech solutions to your requirements and run pilots in sprints to create confidence.  Taking this approach will ensure that innovative products reach mainstream adoption faster and more efficiently than ever before.

In terms of specific technology, it’s important to be mindful that single-use devices are now a thing of the past. With the blend and merging of technical services, today’s digital devices now harness multiple functions in the same item. Smartphones, smart TV’s, IOT, voice, smart speakers – you name it. Each share a common characteristic – the technology offers more than one service. They are a funnel if you like streaming information and data from billions of sources.

Given this truth, it’s important for brands to continually review customer feedback, make sure they watch the horizon for emerging tech, and ensure the brand’s omni-channel touchpoints provide consumers with the service they need.

By taking a holistic view and ensuring technology is used to solve real-world problems, you can continue to evolve and adapt while driving value for shareholders and customers alike.

Dominic Murray

Digital Director at Initials
Dominic Murray

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