Like many, I would be utterly lost without my smart phone. The constant ability to connect, and be connected with the wider stream of text, email and web browser is an absolute lifeline both professionally and personally. On the very rare occasion that I leave home without it, I feel bereft – out of touch with what is going on (despite being engaged in real time connection with friends, family or work colleagues). It’s a craving; satisfied only momentarily by just one more quick peek to see who has just DM’d or SMS’d me. No wonder whole new industries are emerging around the ubiquitous device. In just a few short years, according to some futuristic predictions, we will no longer require credit cards, GPS devices, DVDs, gaming systems or separate MP3 players. The growth of mobile technology can hardly be described as a fad. It is an evolving platform that continues to satisfy needs both real and as yet unimagined.
For many businesses, mobile technology provides a highly addictive and tantalizing marketing channel. The ability to achieve direct access to your customer base and push highly focused and precision messages based on their location, texting and messaging activities, buying behaviours, and even GPS tracked walking patterns has the data analytics gurus salivating. As Business Week recently reported, the new tech bubble might just turn out to be about placing bets on the erratic predictability of human behaviour. Clearly some are beginning to question the long-term sustainability and ethics of that idea.
So, as technology has improved, has it really provided enhancements to the interactions between business and their customers? When customers relinquish the hold on their personal data by avidly consuming the new technology offered, is there a suitable return on that trust equation? I’ll happily share my data if I believe the return on that interaction will improve my experience, yet some businesses either don’t use the information they learn to directly serve me better (are you listening Chapters-Indigo) or they destroy the trust by a catastrophic failure to protect personal data (PlayStation Networks).
In my view, the success or failure of technology has less to do with the design or functionality of the tools and far more to do with the motive, intent and application of the business leaders applying innovation to the ways they interact with their clients. The starting point for effective use of marketing technology has to be a belief that sharing information is helpful to how you can deliver better service to clients.
For your business – what obligation do you have to use the information you have about your clients to serve their best interests? How can you use the information they share with you to identify patterns that would actually help them (rather than simply increase your ability to sell to them). In the same way I find it helpful for a family doctor to know my medical history and my local pharmacist to know what my most recent prescriptions have been, I want to know how the information I provide to the companies I interact with might help me and how the guidance I receive from advisors in different functional areas (Finance, IT, Legal, HR, Marketing) will interact in a complimentary rather than conflicting manner.
Technology enabled connection points such as portals, webinars, e-newsletters, RSS feeds, Client Extranets and social media can amplify the social and interactive nature of company but unless the intent to assist and serve is there, the technology can simply add to the size of the lost opportunity.
What do you think?