Keep Your Eye on the Horizon, It is the Ball

How much time do you spend thinking about where we are going with technology and how it will affect what you do for your customers and for your company?  If you don’t spend some time thinking about where things are going, you are going to be very surprised.  Think back 5 years to where we were with mobile and social technology and now just extrapolate the next 5 years.  That is probably undershooting where we will be, but you get the point.

So, how do you keep up with technology trends?  Do you have access to the latest mobile device to hit the market?  What about new social platforms?  Do you sign up for an account and play around alittle?  Do you dedicate some time each week to reading up on what the newest and greatest things?  OK, you are busy, so I will at least tell you what I think about where we are going.

Ubiquitous Network, Ubiquitous Computing

There has been a trend over the last few years where your screen and your computer are getting closer and closer to you.  Your iPhone is as powerful as your desktop computer was a few years ago, and it is always on you.  Google Glasses takes that one step further, and while I am a bit skeptical on whether that platform will work for the mainstream user it is definitely a harbinger of things to come.  The oft-rumored Apple iWatch is another divergent path in the wearable computing realm (Darcy Travlos from Forbes talks about the iWatch).  I think early offerings like Pebble are showing the way that Apple might go.  I don’t know if I am convinced by the iWatch rumors, but Apple has really never been first-to-market, but they have definitely embraced a “best-to-market” strategy.  So with technologies like this, we have a computer on us all the time.

High speed wireless networking (4G, LTE, the next big thing) is more and more pervasive.  I think there will be a move to make it as widely available much like the rural electrification movement of the 1900s.  You will have instant access to all the information in the world on a computer that you have on you always.  Add in technology like pico projectors or display connectivity and why would you ever carry a laptop again?

When your customers have this (and to a certain extent, many of them already do) what will they want to do?  Better yet, ask yourself what you will do if the only computer you ever carry is your mobile device.  Once you have an idea of where this might go, do a bit of planning on how your brand will leverage that.

Other Trends to Watch

If you aren’t planning for the mobile device to replace the traditional wallet, you are behind the curve.  Forget the question whether it will be NFC (Near-Field Communciations) or some other technology, or whether Google or Apple will rule.  You need to be considering how this changes your business.  If you are dependent on which one wins, say those in the retail industry, I think hedging your bets with multiple research and pilot projects may be the answer.

Video Calls?

This is one place where I am still not convinced that we will be there.  I am probably wearing blinders and playing the old-guy card, but I don’t see it.  However, there are many users that like it and with ubiquitous computing / ubiquitous networks I think there will be a larger and larger segment of the user base that embrace it.  So, how are you changing your customer service model to support that?  How do you staff your contact centers?  Is there a play here to reduce your manpower overhead costs?  Gone to a McDonalds in Hawaii recently?  Your order may have been taken from a centralized location in California (old news but still interesting).

The other thing that I recently saw was AT&T’s commercial featuring their network.  What they also showcased was Hertz’s ExpressRent kiosks that allowed customer service in remote locations without the need to have someone there physically.  Here is the video of the commercial, and a promotional video from Hertz talking about the same technology:

People have thought about things like this for years, but what happens when I don’t need a kiosk?  Is your business ready to service their customers this way?  Will you be looked at as that quaint business with the olde tyme technologies and ideas?

So, not much insight here today.  The takeaway is that you need to stay in touch with what is happening in technology and where it might be going.  For the developers out there, this is a pretty easy task.  For your lawyers supporting your efforts, this is a bit harder.  If you find a lawyer who is as much of a technophile as you are, embrace them, have coffee with them, and be their friend.  It will pay off in many, many ways.

Come back tomorrow for Part 2 of my series on Social Media Promotions.

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