Digital innovation: When Technology Becomes a Value
What makes digital innovation a success, and why isn’t technology the answer to this? Dina Shoval, Content and Digital Channels Manager at Strauss Group, describes the new world in which consumers dictate the rules of the game.
I will start with a very non-photogenic sentence: Technology is nothing. Hold on a second, put your swords back in the scabbards. I know that we live in an age which is so digital, that every new application, product or technology-based feature excites us and makes us say “Wow, I must have it right now.” But when you think it through, technology in itself is really not that relevant.
Technology is nothing more than a means to an end – value. Every feature, cool and innovative as it may be, will not make us slide our finger on the touch screen if it doesn’t help us do something better in a simpler, easier or more enjoyable way. Because at the end of the day, innovation is the process in which an idea is translated into a service that people will be willing to pay for – with money, or through the time they devote to it.
We live in an age of (illusory) chronic lack of time, trying to get as much done as possible in a short period of time, and always being in pursuit of the next minute. Therefore, anything that enables us to do what we need with minimal activities and in the most immediate, fast and simple way will become an integral part of our life after several sessions.
But if you think about it, problems and their solutions have been there long before technological modalities. Technology and the ability to develop products are not the factor deciding a product’s success, but rather the reason that a certain need was, indeed, met. If it brings with it something new and different that provides value and retains it over time– it will probably succeed.
On the other hand, in today’s age, technology can serve as an infrastructure for various “products”, and then become the essence. Take Uber for example, the world’s largest taxi company that doesn’t own even one vehicle, or Facebook, the world’s largest media website that doesn’t produce even one piece of content. They created a sufficient technologic infrastructure that met the need – this genuine, accurate and powerful need under which the common people, every user, practically “works for them”, becoming the product/product manufacturer in the new ecosystem that the user and platform have set up.
The shelf has gone from being static to dynamic and more accessible than ever. It's in the palm of our hand, and digital technology enables us to meet consumers
In the digital world, technology serves as an enabler to innovation. It stratifies the product with value and experience that in the end are the most important variable in moving the needle - creating brand loyalty. The "Digital Bang" changed immeasurably the way in which we can communicate with consumers, mainly by the mere fact that it has shifted the power and influence into their hands. They dictate the reasons for a dialogue, the needs, and by doing so - yes, even the solutions. Think about it, the digital arena is an R&D lab. The introduction of mobile phones inherently changed the journey of consumers, who have become more aware, zigzagging around - from physical to digital, and mostly much more calculated and demanding. Their patience-span is short, and their expectations, even from commercial brands, are very high.
The shelf has gone from being static to dynamic and more accessible than ever. It's in the palm of our hand, and digital technology enables us to meet consumers not only in the supermarket or the refrigerator, but wherever they may be: social networks, apps, commerce websites, digital assets which are utilities, and more. Meanwhile, the array of opportunities to touch people in a relevant way that interests them is becoming endless.
What does this mean in practice? That the real competition is not brewing over the consumers' wallet. It's about their attention - and it crosses industries. New lines and shelves are created, which no longer manage their connection with consumers through one screen with one message to all. In addition to the product innovation department, everyone is now working hard to develop new capabilities in the worlds of story-telling, multi-channels and pin-pointed personal value to consumers.
All said and done, in order to understand which content should be made accessible to every consumer, existing or potential, we must use technology again. Learn it through analysis (Data anyone?). This in a nutshell is the evolution of "push": it has turned from "push" to "pull", but their synthesis is the great wisdom – present "push" which is actually "pull", namely it predicts what we might want to know or consume at a specific point in time.
So if you ask me what is the foundation of digital innovation in today's day and age, my answer will not be technology, but ongoing monitoring or, as they used to call it – listening.