The End Is Near. 70% of Fortune 1000 companies will be replaced in the next few years. 40% of the Fortune 500 companies in 2000 were no longer there in 2010.
– Edward E. Lauder, Built For Change
Perhaps you’ve heard the expression, the early bird gets the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese. I believe that emerging technology and our personal fascination with it is creating a fervor of “early birders” and not enough “second” mice.
What’s the difference?
Early birders often fall into a technology trap which causes them to develop shiny object syndrome. They jump from trend to trend, missing the opportunity to develop new and promising touch points. Second mice tend to avoid traps by observing the mistakes of those before them, keeping their eye on the ultimate goal or outcome.
As a digital analyst, my job is to study disruptive technology and its impact on business. I then work with organizations to unite business objectives and technology strategies. I typically am hired by champions and eventually I work my way through executive row to communicate impact and benefits by using the language of the C-Suite. My real work though starts when I apply the findings of technology research with a balanced study of customer and employee behavior – think digital anthropology. Real change only takes effect once I (or you) can translate the inspiration champions feel around new technology and its capabilities to business objectives and priorities.
Tell me, does this look familiar?
Let’s go! Twitter. SecondLife. Blogs. MySpace.
Time to expand! Facebook. Twitter. Youtube. Apps.
Oh wait!? Foursquare. Pinterest. Instagram.
Ugh. Get more budget and people! SnapChat. Vine. Instagram Video
On any given day, strategists will survey the technology landscape to identify new trends and consider how to implement these new discoveries into their plans for customer and employee engagement. While teams, agencies, and consultants are scrambling to employ social and mobile media initiatives across companies; executives, stakeholders and shareholders are watching the bottom line and investigating ways to increase efficiencies, optimize processes, scale, all in the name of increasing revenues and profitability.
A disconnect exists – a gap between technology’s promise and current business directives. Champions, however, must be warned that their fixation on technology isn’t the catalyst to bring about business transformation. In fact, living the digital lifestyle blurs the lines between function, utility and recreation, creating a technology trap that blinds the vision necessary to see what the promise of innovation truly holds for us.
While we’re excited personally, we must consider how technology combined with purpose and resilience facilitates or begets relevance.
Let’s take social media for example. Charlene Li, founder of Altimeter Group, and I recently published a revealing report that found…
- Only 34% of businesses feel that their social strategy is connected to business outcomes.
- Just 28% of companies we studied feel that they have a holistic approach to social media, where lines of business and business functions work together under a common vision.
- Only half said that top executives were “informed, engaged and aligned with their companies’ social strategy.”
Strategists believe that technology holds the key to not only increased and meaningful engagement, but also earned relevance. As customers and employees become part of Generation C (C = connected), they way they discover, share, and interact changes the dynamic in how they relate to businesses and organizations that they value.
Connected consumers and employees not only expect great brand experiences, they believe they’re entitled to them. Indeed, companies must adapt to meet new customers in the communities where their attention is focused, where they’re emotionally vested, and in ways that demonstrate personalization, value, appreciation, and resolution.
Executives on the other hand, recognize that technology is important, but they often question the novelty or longevity of it all. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Android vs. IOS vs. Windows Phone, washes over them like a dense fog that strips away the logic of behavioral evolution, hindering vision, creating frustration, and cultivating a “wait and see” mindset.
Leadership organizations then succumb to the safe zone of process and people management.
Technology isn’t the answer still. Technology is merely a means to facilitate connections, provide direction, learn, and remind people why they (and you) matter… their way. It’s tempered with empathy, purpose and aspiration, to do things better than how we did them yesterday.
On the other side of the chasm, scale is a target, but it’s meaningless without a vision and method for improving relationships and experiences today, tomorrow and three years from now. That starts with recognizing that how things are and how they should or could be are in fact dissimilar or worse, contrasting.
No matter how far we go with new technology, whether it’s social, mobile, big data, wearable, et al., it won’t matter unless we temper our philosophy, aspiration, and purpose with empathy, and align what we are looking for in the numbers with a bigger mission, doctrine, or ethos. Otherwise, we’re simply managing business and chasing growth the way we always have.
New technology coupled with an old way of thinking inhibits progress.
This is a time to look beyond technology, to think over and above mobile-first and social business strategies. The future of business comes down to tying business-level outcomes and objectives to the promise and purpose of what disruptive or emerging technology represents. Insight and prescription materializes when you distinguish between trends and opportunity to achieve those goals while improving customer and employee relationships and experiences along the way.
In a world where the relentless barrage of social networks, screens, apps, and devices now define our way of life, guiding behavior now becomes a focal point as a result of technology’s impact on influence and decision-making, not necessarily its popularity. Technology traps are now prevalent and are contributing to state of commodity and not directly establishing a competitive advantage.
As someone pushing for change, start with a vision that articulates how you will earn relevance and preference among connected customers and employees in addition to those who have supported your growth thus far. Then use technology and corresponding strategies to bring that vision to life. This not only helps you avoid technology traps but this sense of higher purpose also contributes to a culture of innovation where resilience and relevance become byproducts of a more connected, human and empathetic business.
What’s the Future of Business by Brian Solis #WTF – YouTube
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