The world of technology remains saturated, as always, with on-trend buzzwords, writes Jiten Lala, head of sales: solution and portfolio at T-Systems in South Africa.
The cloud “revolution” is here to help connect the Internet of Everything (IoT); while Big Data stacks up alongside wearables, location-based services, biometrics, predictive analytics, virtualisation, sensoration, near-field communications and gesture tech.
However, these new technologies, converging in these new ways, often distract us from the most important reasons for it all: adding value to our lives, solving problems, and creating opportunities. Too often technology companies are engineering-driven – building new innovations from new technology and then squashing it to fit into a consumer segment or demand.
This is the reverse of how it should work. The best companies – the likes of Apple, Tesla, or AirBNB – start by understanding a customer need, an unmet desire, and build solutions from there.
More recently, we’ve started seeing nuanced changes in the way this process happens. From the beginnings of an idea, we’re seeing the spirit of crowdsourcing becoming more and more of a mainstream reality, with many companies calling on a community of close partners, stakeholders and customers to co-create with them – refining and evolving the idea until it becomes a polished, final product. The wonders of modern technology also leads us to want to overcomplicate things. By constantly repeating the mantra of ‘simplicity, simplicity, simplicity’, product and solution developers can continually pare down every aspect of a solution to its raw essence, its most important features.
Consider, for example, the simple nature of consumption. Do people really want to buy a drill? Do they want to buy a very expensive drill? Or a drill that has been marketed in a flamboyant manner? The reality is that all the consumer wants is, in fact, just a hole in the wall. By over-engineering and over-thinking, we often forget these simple bytes of reality.
From a business perspective, technology should be employed to simplify the customer’s experiences. Today, excellent customer service should be merely a hygiene factor – and no longer a differentiator. Digitisation allows an organisation to mould itself in new ways, to engage with specific customers in different channels. All of this in real-time, and with low levels of disruption, frustration, or error. Using the form factor of a mobile app is rising to the fore as one of the most convenient engagement mechanisms for Generation X, Gen Y, and Millennials.
But it isn’t enough to simply create a mobile app. One needs to look towards creating sophisticated apps that consider context, location, need, and the nature of the customer. With advanced analytics and a clever tracking of user behaviour, companies can present themselves with different cultural nuances – creating the kind of “human touch” that many are forgetting about.
For example, an organisation can cleverly integrate customer purchasing data to provide more personalised sales service. A hospitality company could use location-based marketing to send personalised mobile coupons to customers as they near a facility – and then track the uptake in real-time, and make adjustments to improve the success of the campaign.
The best companies of the future will lead transformation through mobility – enabling enhanced, mobile-first experiences, and then managing complexity with a range of automation tools. Ultimately this will allow the organisation to focus on strategic tasks, and delegate real-time transactional data analysis to technology.