Why digital and new customer behavior is not another tech bubble

GE’s CEO Jeff Immelt recently stated in a post in the Business Insider UK: “Let’s finally end the debate over whether we are in a “tech bubble. There has been talk of a bubble going back to 2011 and it continues to rage today.

I believe that this is shortsighted and rooted in the belief that at some point the tech industry must undergo the same unfortunate “burst” as in 2000. This line of thinking ignores the immense value that digital technologies have already created in the consumer world. More importantly, it neglects the value digital technologies will create in the industrial world over the next decade – an estimated $8.6 trillion in productivity gains.”

I am totally in line, and this is why:

  • Transparency; internet has provided a knowledge transparency previously unseen in mankind. The historical power of information where sales-professionals have the upper card on customers is rapidly deteriorating. Search engines, online web sites, blogs, forums, social medias, friends, ratings, all contribute not only on a local or domestic scale but on a global scale making knowhow equal and democratized between sellers and buyers.
  • Choice; with internet we have also been given the opportunity to browse around and learn about alternatives. Not only can we read what others are offering or have experienced we can also engage in forums, discussion groups, industry communities or other social medias simply shouting out a question and immediately get the answers, reviews or recommendations we need. Product success is no longer the liking from the senior managers or a few selective key relationship customers, it is also the likings or disliking via online communities.
  • Benchmark; google a new laptop, fork lift or ERP system provider, write the word comparison and tick the box for posts to be not older than a month or a year and within 10 – 30 minutes you will have encountered substantially more knowhow than the average sales professional at your vendor. Or just order what you need online and pick it up at the mail office, at your door step or have it delivered to your office or warehouse.
  • Expect speed and accessibility when you browse around online for information, entertainment, services or products. That is how online works. Interestingly, by now we have got used to that and expect the same in traditional real-life experiences. Service culture and through-process automation is becoming the norm. Not only because of the expected experience, but also for pure financial reasons. Few can afford much longer to be slow and use manual or semi-manual processes if those can be automated (or digitalized if using the more fashionable word).
  • Know your customer; recognition regardless of occasion or customer interaction channel has always been a boost in services industries. Now it is also a need in almost every other line of business, or customers simply goes elsewhere because they can. Alternatives are easily found and reviews and recommendations are everywhere.

Knowhow is less today the commodity of corporate executives, the sales persons or trade fairs.

Service, user experience, close to real-time delivery and appealing value propositions and recognition are rapidly becoming important. How else to differentiate in a much more commoditized and knowledgeable world? This will be challenging to many business and to many professionals.

The new transparent world push margins southbound, urging for process improvements and automation (i.e. further digitalization). Increasingly demanding customers also put pressure on anything from smart use of customer data, to Customer Relationship Management support systems, to accurate and easily distributed documentation, to self-service applications.

Businesses that is not changing and adopting to a much more digital era, being consumer driven or business to business driven, risk either limiting them self or at worst loss their business entirely. Either to other established competitors, to new competitors from other industries now entering amid cross-sell or cross-product opportunities, or to new comers on the startup scene.

Thank you for reading. Please feel free to like, comment, share, tweet, email, etc. Hopefully the Pareto principle, also known as the 80-20 rule, will apply. I.e. 80% agree and 20% challenge me constructively.

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