Hold-on to your hats. Technology is doing it again: changing life as we know it, personally and professionally. Business relies on tech to ensure communication, operations and information are timely, efficient and comprehensive. Without a computer or a smart phone, today’s professional is compromised.
I remember when tech was young…
Though the first computers were invented almost two hundred years ago, it’s only in the last thirty years that the technology has gained in confidence and actually come into its own. Kudos to the geniuses who kept the faith, inspiring others to create and innovate. At first computers were relegated to science fiction. But, when marketers captured people’s imaginations, the world sat up and took notice.
The eighties saw tech change every aspect of life. Electronics and automation made changes to office processes, and people feared losing their jobs to computers and automation. There were supporters and detractors everywhere, even among tech believers. Opinions were divided between the relative ease of the IBM compatible PC and the creative marketing genius of the Apple Macintosh. Change was all around us.
The nineties were about re-branding, as brands focused on reflecting their readiness for IT and the world after IT. Media, consumables, and multi-brand retailers got a make-over to prepare for the future. There was a healthy respect for the computer and its potential to drive the future. It was with a sense of awe that media and IT professionals marvelled at how technology may even change the way we live in the future.
Brands in the grip of technology, believed tech was the key to unlocking market share. As things stood, the next big thing had arrived and it demanded a new vocabulary to inform and educate the market. Advertising agencies and creative writers rushed to find a new turn of phrase and the right tone. Brands worked hard to propagate tech talk and find new ways to kindle customer interest. In this first wave of IT transformation, the objective was to inform, educate, and raise awareness about computers and their role in transforming business.
Market research felt the first impact of tech. With computers and algorithms to crunch the numbers, analysis was faster. This helped quantify market information and brought the demographic profile to the fore. With this new knowledge, advertisers began to refine their message, so data and direct marketing became the new big thing. Though we did not know then, this was the forerunner to in-bound marketing, or letting the customer make their way to you.
Today’s customer is clued in to the market place and more open to trying something new. Customers try new experiences with gusto, and take the time to share their likes and dislikes with friends and acquaintances. What people say about your brand on Facebook or Twitter could have more of an impact than seriously planned print or electronic advertising.
Today’s start-ups have more real time information about their customers and buying patterns. This makes it easier for them to pick up on trends and leverage changes quickly. Most start-ups and IT driven firms handle advertising and marketing communication in-house, over the Internet. Today’s start-ups rely on the information online and their own understanding to straddle across all these functions and connect with the customer.
Customers return to the fore. All the information points to the fact that customers are human and better motivated by emotion. So where a few decades ago, brands focussed on state-of-the-art technology to attract customers within a specific local area, today brands reach out with heart to people across the world. Tech is no longer the height of innovation. It’s now a universal platform and medium for business, communication, and social connection.
Brands and business return to their roots. The customer is once again in the driver’s seat. Brands focus on bettering themselves as they communicate and connect with their customers in relevant and personal ways. Tech today enables people to be more aware, informed, and empowered to share their opinions. That is the true value, new media and technology adds to business.
Talking tech to the common man is not difficult. You just have to understand that while the IT industry has grown, a large part of business is still clueless about the jargon and the tech talk. Without the expertise and market experience of the advertising professional, tech has come full circle with its communication needs.
As it was in the beginning, there is once again a need to:
Inform customers about new products and services
Educate the market about the benefits of these innovations to business
Simplify messages to reach more people without further explanation
Acknowledge customers’ opinions are respected and valued
All this while social media provides a plethora of possibilities and the customer is once again the center of attention. Happening times indeed.