Perspectives

Dinner and a show versus all-you-can-eat

In the old days, technology was about buying more.  More hard drive space, more speed, more features.  These were things you needed and could leverage for a competitive advantage.  This is the equivalent of an all-you-can-eat buffet.  The food isn’t of the highest quality, but you can have whatever and however much you want.

Today, technology is about crafting a better experience.  Everyone has unlimited hard drive space, speed, and features just a click away on the cloud or in an app.  Your competitive advantage comes when you improve an event or a service that didn’t use technology before.  This is the equivalent of dinner and a show.  The food is no longer the sole focus and the overall experience is improved.

To take a real life example, consider this writer’s most recent experience at a legal conference.  The conference was the same format as all others for the past 40 years, except in one way: this time they built an app to facilitate human interactions.  The app let you build a profile, post updates, rate events, and navigate the conference. In short, it built a temporary Facebook.  It created a truly immersive experience, where the conference became a talking point for building new and real connections.

As a bonus, I’m sure that conference was able to collect a lot of data on their most devout attendees.  They likely recorded foot traffic, attention (how often was a person on their phone during an event), event ratings, which posts created the most buzz, and how far the attendee traveled, just to name a few items.  They’ll take this data to build an even better, more engaging event next year.

Improving experiences, building stronger relationships, is where technology now has the greatest opportunity for competitive advantage.  Data Analytics will only continue to grow in the coming years.  Those who elect not to participate in designing a better experience for their clients will find it increasingly difficult to compete.

Retrieve information faster with chatbots

Chatbots are best known as a marketing tool. You’re familiar with them as the pop-up chat windows on websites and the way businesses provide 24/7 response on Social Media.  More recently, they’ve become great for internal workflows.  You can setup bots to schedule meetings, pull quotes, quotas, or inventory.  In the featured image of this post, I’ve setup a personal bot to save information and retrieve it easily using Hangouts Chat for G Suite, but you can do similarly with #Slack or across teams.

Your client’s expectations shift thanks to IKEA

You can now showroom-style browse IKEA’s furniture selection from the comfort of your own home on your latest smartphone.  The app automatically scales the furniture to fit your room with 98% accuracy, sufficient detail to see texture, and automatically adjusts shading to accommodate lighting.

The move is significant for a lot of reasons.  It will impact future online sales and retail space, surely, but it is most significant because the app sets expectations.  Your clients now expect an extremely high level of confidence in a product before they buy and they expect they can have that confidence in the palm of their hand.

Augmented Reality (AR) is the future of architecture, interior design, and construction.  If it wasn’t on your radar for this year, IKEA’s move may make you reconsider.

Luckily, AR is still relatively new and is only now beginning to have an impact in manufacturing, engineering, and construction.  Your business can take advantage of IKEA’s move if you act quickly.

IKEA’s app pushes forward the adoption of the technology by bringing AR into our personal lives as consumers and users.  It creates familiarity, sets expectations, and establishes a firm competitive advantage for the company.  Your advantage is that the technology is readily available and friendly.  Smartphones are already in everyone’s pocket and training is almost non-existent.  No additional cables, peripherals, or futuristic helmets – everything comes standard with the latest iPhone or Android.  It’s an ultra low-cost way to lead your field.

The simplicity of integration into your business means a quick and successful adoption.  As the technology continues to mature, your business will be poised to take advantage of the latest breakthroughs.  Now is when augmented reality can yield the greatest return for your business and is, thus, the perfect time to invest to transform your business.

Should you have any questions about AR in your business or how to use technology to free up your team to do work that matters, Sherwood Chamberlain is here to help.  Leave a comment, send us an email at sales@sherwoodchamberlain.com or contact us.  We’d love to hear from you.

Ditch typing, focus on your message

You probably don’t type as fast as you talk. Lucky you. The world we live in doesn’t require you to learn how to type. It’s one less act of rote memorization, one less barrier between you and what matters: your message.

There are times when typing is better than talking, of course. For instance, in a really noisy space or a quiet one. That being said, I did write this article while walking next to a busy street and, later, while I was in the office with the only other sound being the keyboard next to me. When I ask my business partner if my ramblings bothered him, he replied, “Huh?”

There are times when talking is better, too. For instance, when you’re on the go or you want to free your hands. Walking while you craft emails or blogs can be huge for your health. When you’re trying to lay out instructions for someone, you can do the actions yourself while you narrate the instructions.

For me, the best part about talking over typing has been that it forces me to think through my words carefully before committing them to “paper.”  When I’m not clear on exactly what I want to say, I get instant feedback: dead air, run-on sentences, slurred words. It’s hugely embarrassing, but it helps me to hone my message.

The next time you tell yourself you’ll go to the gym right after you finish this one email, pull out your phone or tablet, leave your desk, and talk it out. Welcome to the future!

 

Vague goals don’t protect you

Your goal must be clear if you want the right help. You can be ‘healthy’ with the help of a nutritionist, Yogi, psychologist, or surgeon. More often than not, when I meet a potential client for the first time, their goal is vague – “more security” or “I just want it to work” – and they would like a quote for the solution.

I get it. For most people, sales is an opportunity to upsell or justify a markup. As a technology partner, the sales process is the core of the product. We are judged by our ability to clarify the goal and develop a custom solution. If you’re sitting in a meeting looking for a technology partner, this is the product demo.

Youmust be willing to try the product (share information, get into an argument). Otherwise, you’ll find yourself on the operating room table when what you wanted was the couch.

Are you fixing ‘the’ problem?

When you’re short and can’t reach the top shelf, disorganized items that slide off at the slightest touch is a feature. Orderly, straight rows would never budge. The shelf becomes useless. The user’s experience is much more important than what we perceive to be right. As technologists, it’s our responsibility to design the solutions that fit our clients, not some preconceived notion of what is best.