Allister Frost, Wild Orange Media

Alister began his speech by saying that there’s no such thing as analogue any more – and what brings the biggest change to any business is disruption.

However, although we’re all used to seeing amazing advances in technology, not all disruption is technological.

He gave the example of Blockbuster Video – they had the greatest market share when the only way to view films at home was by renting a physical video or DVD, and by returning it within a given timeframe. And because it was their business model, they set that timeframe and penalised customers who fell outside this, by fining them for late returns and by making it hard for people to play by their rules. However, in so doing them failed to maintain enough customer loyalty to survive when their own disruptors came along.

In the hospitality sector, Allister mentioned some hotel chains, especially in the past, who didn’t make it easy for customers to buy from them – perhaps not taking certain types of card or allowing payment over the phone – and this again can bring on disruptors who do things better, for the customer.

Technology can facilitate positive change, but the key to finding and keeping loyal customers is still customer service, and doing it better than anyone else.

Over the just the past few years, he says, our lives have changed beyond belief.

We are now hyper-informed. We can find out whatever we are looking for wherever we are. If we’re looking for a bed for the night, we don’t care where that information comes from – we just need the information now. Don’t make it hard for customers to find you – on top of the internet which we can all access from a phone almost anywhere now, technology brings us voice-activated devices such as Amazon Echo and Google Home which can be up to 91% accurate and we don’t even need to lift a finger to get answers.

We are hyper-connected – there are now even fewer ‘degrees of separation’ between everyone now data connects via google and Facebook. As he says, we are no longer pawns in the game – we are the game!

And we are hyper-convenienced – everything we use is becoming easier to access. We have contactless cards, one-click ordering, everything is trackable. Amazon is trialling its Amazon Prime Air in parts of Scotland and Cambridgeshire, with drone drops available within hours. Our expectations are now set by our greatest experience. Things are getting easier. Why would we look for them to get harder again? And that’s when the disruptors can come through.

Everything, says Allister, is already obsolete! Everything keeps doubling in speed and convenience. Don’t just create something and sit back – break things before someone else does it for you! Allister urged the audience to mine the available data – for instance, to investigate Facebook UK targeting lists to see how specifically-focused the audiences for advertising can be, across age, demographic, geography, interests. He also stressed embracing agility – there’s no longer any value in scoping and then sticking to a plan. In six months, technology, your competition, and even the customer, will have moved on!

And the other advice on digital was around exceeding the customer’s expectation – because it is now so easy for everyone to share their good (or bad) experience instantly, and with maximum impact.

Allister says – start with a strategy. What are we about and what are we looking to achieve with our digital project? Then pick your micro-battles. Fix those bite-size challenges. Perfect the online experience – digital is a waste of time if you do it badly. And then sprint towards success, going as fast as everything else is changing around you.

While everything is constantly upgrading and updating, keep learning. What do you know about your business at the end of your project that you didn’t at the outset?

In this world of technological and digital change, Facebook is now even trialling Spaces Oculus, an interactive virtual social network where people can connect and interact without ever meeting up. And yet the customer still needs and values great customer service, directly for themselves.

His leave-behind message was that today is the slowest rate of change we will every experience, because it can only get faster.  Disrupt yourself before someone else does it for you!

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