A whole set of technology or technology-based companies in the services space are hopping onto the convergence bandwagon of technology and communication. The word "digital" is being appended to anything worth its name.
I see everyone zone in on the CMO rather than the CTO as being the larger prospective buying point of technology. What I don't see enough of them do is to tune into what will be needed for them to do differently to succeed in this new paradigm. Think of it as a sprinter who is now signing up for a marathon and is making the mistake of not seeing the difference between the two. She is unable to see that it is not just about the distance to be covered, but that it requires a completely different approach to enable success in the two events.
I feel the big switch is about mindset. It is not so much about what we do, but usually, more about how we see what we do.
In my experience, the mindset shifts that need to be worked on are:
1. It takes a village to raise a child...
As the interaction between brands and consumers gets more complex, so do the sets of skills and capabilities that go into creating the right experience. Different domains cannot work in silos anymore. A technologist who appreciates design is more valuable than one who doesn't. Similarly, a creative who appreciates technology is more valuable. Domains like brand, creative, strategy, technology, analytics, content, program management, data science, hardware engineering etc. are no longer relevant in isolation. New age brands are in search of talent that straddles multiple skillsets. Siloed mindsets are a reality, especially in India, since technology services have been positioned as "backend' and are, therefore, once removed from consumer context. Technology organisations are recognising the need to change and the opportunity, but speed is of the essence.
"Siloed mindsets are a reality, especially in India, since technology services have been positioned as "backend' and are, therefore, once removed from consumer context."
2. Deliver a brand experience, not just a functional solution
We often break down every business problem into functional pieces, then address each piece separately, and often in isolation. Somewhere towards the end, we assemble the separate pieces to create a "whole solution", each piece of which does deliver to the original brief, but is not necessarily connected. Consumer experience is about consistent engagement, and the persuasion to create stickiness.
3. Deliver everywhere
With the consumer being ubiquitous, we need to consider engagement across all interaction points. This is because a great experience on one channel that is not replicated on another is still a below par experience. Brands run the risk of losing credibility with such an outcome. With this lens, we are likely to think about a solution in a radically new manner, rather than just a set of features that meet the "client requirements".
4. Live in the age of the B2B2C
Make the consumer (and not the client) the centre of the universe for there is no such thing as B2B anymore. A high client satisfaction score will remain important. But there is more than that. Sometimes the client may not know how to handle the consumer. Such is the power of the new age consumer. As the counsel, it is your job to steer the client into the right view. This may mean that one may need to help the client work with others across his internal teams, often maybe for the first time. Force it -- because that is the only way we can all win.
5. Manage ambiguity
Process and predictability dominate the world of technology, and there is little room for ambiguity. The technologist is very comfortable with this. But the marketer is not, simply because powerful creative ideas rule his or her world. The creative process is, by definition, unstructured. Ambiguity rules. A technologist needs to unlearn the rule book, and needs to learn to deal with deadlines within the context of ambiguity
These mindsets are true irrespective of geography but they are more pertinent in the case of India, since the typical structure of technology services in the past couple of decades has kept teams here one level removed from the client, and, therefore, their consumer context.
The fact that technology organisations are recognising the shift in the opportunity is great, but if they don't focus on what they need to change, chances are low that they will come out on the winning side.