Thursday, May 10, 2012

How can companies stay ahead in the 21st Century?

Business life is hard right now and even the large corporates are having to examine everything they do to stat ahead. Here’s some of my high-level thoughts on the trends andapproaches that are shaping the modern digital workplace and therefore how competitive edge can still be maintained:

1. Digital DNA
Online is not a 'bolt on' to the customer's life, it is howthey live their life now; digital has become part of the customer DNA. Theyadopt, use and integrate technology all the time, to either save time or wastetime. Businesses therefore need to put themselves in the mind of thedigitally-savvy customer or just think like the customer they actually are.This is especially true of the newer generation (Generation Y / Millenials /etc.) who are ‘Digital Natives’, for whom most cannot remember a time beforethe Internet and the use of multiple screens is an everyday occurrence.
The aim is therefore to create understanding, encourageinnovative & agile ‘web 2.0’ thinking within a company and learn how to apply this within the modern working environment.

2. Customer-centric 
The concept of ‘User Centred Design’ has been successfullyutilised for over a decade now to create online experiences that put the userat the heart of the process, rather than just being a passive node that has todeal with whatever interface the system creates at the end.
This turns some business processes on their heads, as theway some corporate departments and product catalogues are structured are notnecessarily the way that users want to browse, search, consume, etc.
Be prepared to turn things upside down if it means thedifference between doing what you’ve always done and what needs to be done tomove forwards.

3. The connected corporate ecosystem
As more systems become interconnected and as we all learnthat data does not have to be re-entered if it already exist online in someform…. This will provide the opportunity for some data (e.g. inferred from auser’s browsing history) to be integrated with other data (e.g. explicitknowledge about a user’s age, purchase habits, etc.) and to significantlyreduce human errors such as those from simple data re-keying. The semantic webis almost upon us, is your business ready?

4. Use of Data for insight
Thanks to the Internet, every 2 days the human race nowcreates as much information as it did in its entire history up to 2003. Thisgrowth in ‘big data’ creates its own challenges (e.g. the storage and abilityto quickly access the right data, re-posted mis-information, etc.) as well asits own opportunities, such as an unprecedented amount of useful data on userbehaviour.  This therefore facilitates afar greater level of personalisation and supports various real-time activities& incentives such as individual offers and rewards (perhaps the very reasonwhy mega supermarket Tesco used & subsequently purchased DunnHumby forcustomer insight and data driven marketing purposes) plus then the future predictivecapabilities that may come from this.

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