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27 November 2014

Technology as an accelerator for consumer-driven disruption

If you want to go down the path of disruption, technology is not the end state.  Consumer experience is; technology is merely an accelerator!

The Dublin Web Summit was really a Walhalla of technology-driven innovative companies. From the big success stories to the alpha and beta startups that were almost crying out for investment. So how did the big success stories move from the 1m2 booths at the summit to the main stage?

One thing struck me – but didn’t surprise me –; they all started their tech-driven innovation from a non-solved consumer need. And once they had a bit of traction in answering that consumer need, they continued their focus on the consumer, striving for an optimal customer experience. This is actually a self-accelerating phenomenon: consumers are more empowered today as a result of digital disruption which itself creates room for the next consumer-driven disruption: technology is an accelerator for consumer-driven disruption.

First of all, technology boosts the insights we are able to gather about consumers. Think of the wearables sector that is on the rise: It will become easier and easier to gather more and more  amounts of data on behavior, health etc. that can be translated into relevant consumer insights. And it can get really crazy:  a company called Urthecast, for example,  screens Earth from space and can call up extremely detailed information, such as the number of people passing a specific location at any moment in time. Any idea what a grocery store at that location could do with that information? Technology can help to create insights and relevance. From this, comes real consumer disruption!

Once the disruption attracts more consumers, technology will again play an accelerating role if it’s used to boost the consumer experience. In the words of Oisin Hanrahan of Handy, an online local service provider: “Scale is only relevant if it helps you to deliver a better customer experience.” I add technology to that!

Brad Smith from Intuit spoke on a similar theme: “The only reason that God was able to create the world in seven days was that he didn’t have an installed base to care about.” Once your innovation gets traction, attention should move to consumer experience, growth will follow. And again, technology will be the facilitator!

So remember, when you go down the path of disruption: technology is not the end state. Consumer experience is; technology is merely an accelerator!