Nearly everywhere I look lately, I see the pace of change increasing. Our world is changing in so many ways and with such complexity is it almost unimaginable. In his 99 years on this Earth, my grandfather saw the world before automobiles, homesteaded on free land in Montana, and also saw horses replaced by cars and then watched on TV as a man landed on the Moon. In just part of our lives, we’ve seen stand-alone nation-states become inextricably interdependent and the Internet remove the boundaries of space and time with respect to communications and information. Immediacy, or at least expediency, is today’s imperative.
In the U.S., this transformation has changed most things about our lives. Our economy has changed from a manufacturing economy to a services economy. The skills required to live a confortable middle-class life have changed and education has become a virtual requirement. We not only now live and work with those of a much more diversified cultural background, we often do it without being in the same physical space or even time zone of our counterparts. As a practical matter, absolute privacy, an expectation in the U.S., has become an unachievable goal in general society. We not only live our lives out loud, we live it in the public eye whether we want to or not. Families text each other from different parts of the same house instead of interacting directly, and romance and breakups are done with the ease of a button press on a cellphone or a dating site. Unless a person is completely off the grid, the transformations in the world around us have had an irreversible impact on business, the family, and in many cases, the cellular structure that forms our brains and how we as an organism process information. Whether this is good or bad I’ll leave to you to consider, but for me it appears as more than a bit of both.
In the context of the current phase of the digital revolution, companies need to continue to evolve. An important area that should be in the forefront of today’s business minds is the need to now move past a simple website to promote your business. Remember, what got you here will not take you there! Digital marketing and branding platforms are becoming critical to all companies’ sales and operations strategies. They not only augment the historical classic high-touch sales model, they also change it.
While sales activities in the past have been high-touch, they are now moving toward much lower-touch models with qualified leads being generated and the customer research activities taking place more and more on-line instead of in person. One of the most recent developments is in the area of Predictive Analytics where high potential customers can be identified not only due to engagement with your online brand but instead by their engagement in general with information that may not directly be related to your company or your brand! In most cases, your ability to digitally identify and capture and convert leads is paramount to your longer-term success, and in many industries your shorter-term success. The model is clear, but the impact on people and process inside of your organization is often underestimated.
This is a fundamental re-thinking of your go-to-market strategy, not simply a mechanism to optimize search engine results and have contextual pay-per-click pop-up ads. Are you and your organization prepared for this change? Is your sales and marketing team trained and ready for the digital marketing age? Can your operational delivery and manufacturing/distribution channels respond quickly enough? Do you have the correct technical infrastructure to allow your company to maximize returns on your digital marketing investments and activities? If not, these are areas to immediately include in your corporate strategy and act upon, not one you want to be playing catch up on. Proactive instead of reactive should be your stance here.
While the positive opportunities in the digital world are many, both for the business and the individual, it is my hope for each of us that we reap the many benefits of the transformations occurring around us while at the same time managing the downsides. Let’s be sure that in the middle of all of this change that we increase our humanity, not diminish it. Businesses still do business with people, and interpersonal relationships are still key to maintaining the family structure as well as your corporate and professional goals. While digital brings tremendous opportunities and benefits, one of which is discussed above, the end-game is not to eliminate the interpersonal, but to augment it: to create opportunities that did not exist before and to make the interpersonal and business relationships more meaningful and complete. It should be a value-add to, not a replacement for, interpersonal human interaction.
- Scot Berkey, Managing Director