Callum Gill, head of insight innovation at drp, talks risk aversion, innovation and tech in modern comms.
Theodore Roosevelt is always good for a quote or two and he had the title of this blog, amongst other things, to say about fear of failure.
I also very much like Oscar Wilde’s view on mistakes from the literary classic The Picture of Dorian Gray: “Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one’s mistakes.”
Creeping common sense is what I particularly like about this thought and I think it is having a massively detrimental effect on UK PLC’s ability to invest in new technology and give customers and employees the technological experiences they deserve.
“We’re just not there yet”
When I present about the future of tech in our industry, I often list this as a common excuse I hear as to why organisations can’t adopt the latest developments for their customers or employees. You’d be amazed at how common it is. Sometimes IT infrastructure blocks our progress, other times it’s overly conscious stake holders, sometimes it’s risk-averse boards or senior management. In all cases this excuse is wearing very thin and for a good reason.
There was a time when all you had be wary of was the experience your competitors were providing consumers or employees that could potentially be yours. If they’re not doing it, why bother? This attitude was only truly dangerous when disruptions in the market place driven by technology gave rise to new competitors that you couldn’t predict or refused to believe were challengers. Blockbuster video refused to acknowledge Love Film and later Netflix and their CEO even passed up the chance to buy Netflix for $50million. It seems staggeringly short-sighted but history repeats.
Foxtons publicly mocked Purple Brick’s inventory and now Purple bricks is valued as much as Foxtons AND Countrywide combined. What is even more dangerous than this, in my humble opinion, easily managed challenge to your brands is the threat coming from the tech companies we know and love who are actively shaping your customer and employee experiences whether you like it or not.
Life through a lens
The tech I want to talk about in particular is my new favourite toy, Google Lens. This development from the tech giants makes your camera smart. Augmented reality is combined with Google’s search tech to allow you to see information about what you’re viewing through the lens. Effectively, this makes the camera of your smartphone a visual browser for the world around you. With additions like style match and the potential for advertisers in this space, this tech is rapidly beginning to shape, influence and to a certain extent, control your customer and employee’s interaction with your brand.
Picture this: You’re a retailer working hard to drive footfall or clicks to your sales hub be it physical or digital. Google comes along with tech that now allows people to contrast your products with others simply by opening their camera. They can share this info on social, ping it to their friends on WhatsApp travel to your rivals to buy it, access a myriad of third party reviews, all without a single one of your touchpoints being accessed. Your employees using this will be right to question firstly, why products are easily accessible and cheaper elsewhere and also secondly query the security of the company’s financial future.
Your millennial employees will also question their company can’t match the technological experience that they are used to in their everyday lives. Both internally and externally this spells trouble on the horizon. All this has happened while you are still in committee deciding if your organisation is ready for new technology, or refusing to challenge the barriers that are in your way to achieve this vital advancement into the next tech space for consumers and employees.
Fight pixels with pixels
The only way to combat the difficulties that lagging behind the technological pace will create is to catch up, and catch up quick. AR experiences in for brands can increase dwell times and 68% of shoppers suggest they would spend more time engaging with you if AR was part of your offering. The point is, we’ve passed that watershed moment where we were talking about “nice to have” tech enhancements to your employee and customer experiences. We are now in a space where the big tech brands are doing it for you without your consent, input and often to your detriment.
It’s time to realise it’s not a bandwagon, it’s public transport and we all need to jump on. We’ll only be able to do this if we stop taking the barriers put in front of us as permanent and start using the hard data coming from the tech industry to encourage our organisations to invest now, be part of the conversation and remain relevant.
Plus AR is super fun, but playing catch up isn’t.
This story was originally published on the drp website.