Ready for the digital revolution? 3 tips from the WebTomorrow event

Today, we’re at the beginning of a digital revolution. And just as the industrial revolution did, it will have a huge impact on our society and lives. Is this a bad thing? If we asked our speakers, they would strongly disagree. “It’s a one-time opportunity to create history!”
Here are my key learnings from the WebTomorrow2017 event.

1. The future looks bright… if you’re open to it!

Entrepreneurs have the opportunity to change the world, to solve problems like health. Don’t wait for it to happen, but go out and do it.” Big words from Naveen Jain, but they find resemblance in all the other talks. The sky is the limit and instead of fearing the inevitable, companies should focus on how they can use technology to help, to become more relevant.
Therefore, there’s only one message to share: jump in! Don’t stick to the present, but focus on tomorrow. Think big, challenge your status quo, attract talent to help you… but also, don’t be afraid to fail. Accept that you will slam into closed doors, until you will find an open window.
Not a big fan of this new technology and prefer to wait for the hype to pass by? Even then, you should continue challenging yourself. Find new ways to innovate, to become more relevant – even if it could kill your current business. Because if you don’t, someone else might. You don’t want to become the next Kodak, do you?

2. Find your technology fit!

Let’s jump in! But how? You don’t need to disrupt yourself at once. Incremental steps do just as well.
For example, marketers are trying to personify their messages, to help consumers quickly find the objects they’re looking for. Not by just addressing the right person, but also by sharing the right message at the right time. However, in order to do so, you need personal data – something most consumers are not really fond of sharing. So how can we make life easier for our consumers, without asking them an overload of personal questions?
As an answer to this question, NorthFace is now experimenting with Artificial Intelligence. They use IMB Watson to help you find the perfect jacket for your adventure. By asking questions about your next trip and link this with contextual data (e.g. weather services, contextual details about the activity, …), it will give you a selected range of fit jackets. Next, it’s up to you to choose your favorite.

What can we learn from this example?
First of all, don’t adapt technology just because it’s a hype. Think about your current product/service and its obstacles/barriers. How can you create more value for your consumers? Next, look at multiple technologies to find the perfect fit! What could you use and how could you implement this in your current offering? And third, experiment. Experiment with small groups, set-up a beta version to test, go through trial & error and learn from the experience and your consumers. Because in the end, talking will lead you nowhere. It’s by doing that you see results.

3. Keep your human touch

When talking about the future of technology, many fear the impact of this on their job. Shall we all be unemployed soon? According to Tom De Ruyck, the impact will be huge, but there’s no need to go out from the worst. “Technology will help us to move away from the processes, the so-called ‘monkey jobs’, leaving more room to focus on what matters the most: the people.”
And indeed, technology will be great to ease the lives of consumers, but it’s the human touch that makes the difference for consumers. The impact of this is already visible in our current economy, as we’re moving towards a peer-to-peer economy (or shareconomy). We don’t trust the brands anymore, but put our fate in the hands of peers. Technology is only a means to an end in this scenario. The success of Uber, BlaBlacar and AirBnB are a few examples that illustrate this.
But also in your current business, you can make use of the human touch. A genuine, authentic conversation, a handwritten note … In this world of emerging technologies, showing consumers that they matter, that you are willing to spend time on them will have more impact than the most disruptive new technology.

To conclude

To summarize, we’re living in an exciting time and we’re at the beginning of this digital revolution. At this moment, we may have no idea of what is coming. However, if there’s one thing that we’ve learned from Kodak, is that we should not stick to our current business, but be willing to jump in and look for new ways to innovate. And although technology will play a much larger role in society and even our jobs, the end goal is to have a more impactful human connection.
Or to end with the words of Tamara Lohan: “It’s where human meets technical, that the magic can happen and a true human connection can be made.

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