The past decade, marked by technological change and economic instability, has cast a Rip Van Winkle effect on many companies. As in the Washington Irving tale, companies have slept while the world around them changed. When they awaken, if they do, they find the changes are dramatic — leaving them groggy with uncertainty as to how to keep up.
Among the changes: small portable computers (i.e. phones and tablets) have become ubiquitous; control of information shifted from the media to the forum of public opinion; video chats across town cost the same as around the world and personalization and customization have displaced mass production of news, entertainment and products. Everyone and everything has become interconnected.
In Smart Customers, Stupid Companies: Why Only Intelligent Companies Will Thrive, and How to Be One of Them, authors Michael Hinshaw and Bruce Kasanoff suggest that the greatest awakening for companies today may be the realization that customers have changed. Simply put: They are smarter than you think.
While that is a game-changer for companies, it also provides opportunities. The authors focus on four key disruptive forces that are both catalysts for change and success.
• Social influence: Traditional ideas of customer relationships are invalid. Now, other people’s opinions come between companies and their customers.
• Pervasive memory: As data is collected, it provides competitive advantages to companies that use it to their benefit.
• Digital sensors: Those trillions of devices that see and hear will change business competition more than computers did.
• The physical Web: No longer are devices linked to devices, but linking people, places and things. This will potentially change not only the definition of competition but of corporations.