Gartner garnish.

Creating digital morals, the “everything customer” and online shopping!

It’s fifty years since the birth of the internet and 30 years of the world wide web and yet analysts predict we’ll develop more in these next 5 years alone than the previous fifty! Technology and data are evolving so quickly, that what’s considered innovative today will be traditional five years from now. As someone who started her working life as a computer operator at the age 18 back in the mid 80’s when back ups were done on large spools every night and downtime was a weekly occurrence, I’ve witnessed the evolution of computer technology, the arrival of the world wide web and the all familiar sound of the internet dial up!

Our digital lives are so interconnected, I can manage my entire home on my phone in a different country! My daughter called today “Mummy the heating’s not on yet and its cold” – one touch of my phone from thousands of miles away and I’ve created heat in my lounge. So, if technology is due to evolve even faster in the coming five years, what will we be able to do then?

As a marketeer working in the industry, I found the answer fascinating, insightful and exciting. But as a parent, I was a little concerned. AI, robots, virtual worlds, driverless cars, virtual assistants – the list goes on – but is it really the world I want for my daughter? It reminded me of a Disney film entitled Wall-E where robots controlled the spaceship and the humans onboard. Scarily similar, but what frightened me even more than this analogy was the reason they were in space – earth had been destroyed. Which got me thinking about all this data, to manage all this technology and how it will be powered? Fossil fuels, renewable? How sustainable will this “digital future” be? In not one of the sessions I attended (and I sat in many over the three days), was there any mention of this topic, not once. How responsible will these technology giants be? What will their carbon footprint look like? What other industries will suffer in order to provide enough energy to power this global phenomenon? Sustainable development is something that every business, big or small, needs to consider. Change is Coming. A young Swedish schoolgirl has turned these three words into a global phenomenon, with campaigns across the globe, garnering support for her sustainable vision. Doesn’t appear to have made it to Gartner!

One topic that was big at the conference, the “everything customer” – the customer that wants to be included but also left alone, they want privacy but be able to connect with everyone and they want you to listen to everything they say and don’t say! In this new era, we need to calculate the expected and the unexpected journey of the customer. We need to predict what these “everything customers” may or may not do and adapt our business to suit them. For example, a pizza company has more than 15 ways that their customers can get into touch and order food! Pre-empting the “everything customer” and how they want to connect, making it as easy as possible from whether they are and whatever device they have available at the time, to order a Margherita with extra mushrooms!  But is this feasible for all businesses and if we don’t compile, how much revenue and customer loyalty could we potentially lose? In certain areas in Asia you can literally place an order online and have it delivered to your door in 30 minutes!! That same supplier has created an eco-system so intertwined with suppliers and buyers from a wide range of industries, that they even have their own credit scoring system, using data from their own platforms! Bizarre or good business?

At big events like Gartner, there’s always a new buzz word – TECHQUILIBRIUM – a marriage of technology and equilibrium – finding a balance between traditional and digital that’s right for your business. How do we develop from a traditional service provider to a strategic digital leader? No two companies will have the same answer, so how do we find ours? The digital journey that so many companies will need to undertake in the next 24 months in order to stay ahead, is all about invention, but not just physical technology, other elements that could have far reaching consequences. We need to create digital morals and lead with good digital ethics. If we can get it right now, we’ll look back 10 years from now and realise that these were the best years – the years when we did our best work for the future of our children.

Article by Tracey Pewtner, Head of International Marketing