Brian Solis from Altimeter Group was the starting keynote, talking about disruptive technology and how businesses can undergo digital transformation. One of the issues with companies and change is that executives don’t live the way the rest of us do, and have to think of the shareholders first, but may not have sufficient insight into how changing customer attitudes and the supporting technology will impact their profitability, or even their ability to survive. “A Kodak moment” is now about how you go bankrupt when you ignore disruptive technology: not something that you want to capture for posterity.
Customer experience can just happen by accident, or it can be something that we design in order to achieve a “higher purpose” of being customer centric. That doesn’t mean that we have complete control over that customer experience any more, since our brands are made up of what we put out there, and what other people say about us. Customer experience is not about what we say, but about what we do, since that’s what will be examined under the social media microscope. Altimeter’s research shows that almost all companies undergoing their digital transformation specifically because of customer experience, but that few of them really understand what the problem is. 67% of buyers’ customer journey is now done online, consulting 11 different sources for information even if they purchase IRL, and your online customer experience is the difference between surviving or not. Part of this is omni-channel presence, since almost none of those pre-buying search journeys happen on a single device. You can’t force customers to do business your way: you have to do it their way. And in order to do it their way, you have to understand what that is (that sounds kind of obvious, but may companies don’t get that). You have to think through the eyes of your customers: as Solis said, “Think like a customer. Act like a startup.”
Solis’ message, in short: if you don’t disrupt yourself, someone else will do it for you. Innovate or die.
(Cross-posted @ Column 2)