Not so long ago if you wanted to know the weather forecast you’d have to buy a newspaper, or maybe wait for the end of the news on the TV. Now mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets can give you minute-by-minute updates from any part of the globe.
Smartphones, social media channels, QR codes, Augmented Reality, iBeacons, whatever. As business owners and marketers it seems that all we’re concerned about is how technology changes the ways we do things.
But are we all getting too worked-up about the technology, only to forget what’s at the end of it?
Technology continually changes. I use to have to put a record on my turntable when I wanted to listen to music. The deliberate actions of selecting the vinyl, taking it out of its 12-inch sleeve, cleaning it, and putting it on the platter was as much part of the event as the sound that would finally emerge. Today I either rip CDs, download files over the internet, or even use a streaming service such as Google Play Music or Qobuz. But at the end of the day the music is still music.
I used to put a roll of Kodachrome into my Canon F1n, take 36 photographs, and send the film off for processing. Today, I use a digital camera, or the one that’s in my phone. Yes, the technology has changed – I can edit and share my images just seconds after taking them – but at the end of the day I’m still taking pictures.
VHS gave way to DVD which gave way to Blu-Ray and (now) to online streaming and download, but take away the Dolby surround sound and 3D gimmickry and I’m still watching a movie in pretty much the same way that I did when I was a kid. It’s the same with books, newspapers, ideas, and pretty much anything else that can be digitized (i.e. pretty much anything).
It’s not about technology itself (sorry, IT people). It’s about what the technology enables us to actually do. It’s about access – to words, pictures, sounds, ideas. Ultimately, it’s about people.
A Technology Business Isn’t About The TechnologyPerhaps your business relies on technology to provide products or services to your customers. If it does, I’m betting that the reason why your customers buy from you and not from the competition has little to do with that technology. It used to be the case that companies could buy market share by investing in technology. Today, everyone has the same tools. More worrying is that companies that relied on getting business because they were the only guys in town with an “Okey-Cokey 2000” are disappearing faster than a fart in a fan factory.
More than that, simply having the tech doesn’t guarantee success. History is littered with companies creating incredibly innovative technology but couldn’t wrap it up in the pretty, easy-to-swallow pieces that their customers expected. Even enterprise software giants such as Oracle and SAP now employ psychologists and user-experience (UX) designers to make their applications more friendly and easier to use. Why? Because a growing number of their customers are starting to expect it.
Marketers and business owners seem to be continually fascinated with the Next Big Thing in technology, that they can use to push out to their audiences. They want to be first. They want to seem hip and trendy to their peers. When the campaign bombs, they’ll blame the tech, or the audience, or the economy, or sunspots. But they’ll never blame themselves. If your message is unappealing, unclear, or unmemorable, no amount of gaudy baubles or flashing lights will succeed in disguising that fundamental fact. A pig wearing lipstick is still a pig.
Technology is a facilitator. It’s an enabler. It’s not about Big Data, Virtual Reality, or chatbots. It’s not about how many Likes, Friends, or Followers you have. It’s about what you choose to do with the opportunity.