A perfect storm is brewing where technology capabilities and consumer behavioural trends align

A solid partnership between IT and the wider organisation is imperative to keeping abreast of the digital transformation race.

The emergence of new technologies in the last decade has irreversibly changed the way we live, work, and communicate; whether it is how we shop, bank or order a taxi. This shift hasn’t been born out of a research and development facility but, more often than not, driven by customer behaviour, leaving many businesses struggling to keep pace within a rapidly changing market.

Embracing and keeping pace with accelerating change can provide an organisation with the ability to exploit and maximise the opportunity to reflect the customer’s evolving wants and needs in a compelling way. New technology, when successful married to end user expectations, will continue to disrupt existing business models and market sectors.

In order to exceed customer expectations, businesses must pay attention to how customers interact with the technology platforms and interfaces they use to access products and services. The goal being to exploit technology advancements to ensure a high level of customer engagement and satisfaction.

As with many aspects of business, customers are unpredictable. Text messaging (SMS) is an often cited example of a technology whose evolution and huge popularity was driven by a combination of consumer behaviour, advances in network technology and mobile device features. No-one could have predicted that SMS messaging would overtake voice as a preferred form of communication, or for that matter the emergence of “text speak.”

Even in the age of smartphones and a proliferation of messaging apps, SMS maintains the highest engagement rate because it is agnostic of devices, operating systems and mobile app boundaries; it also requires no web connectivity. Its use in two factor authentication and application-to-person communication (e.g. payment confirmation), maintains its relevance and continued popularity within the consumer domain.

Customers adapt and use platforms in ways we cannot predict. Therefore, it is imperative that organisations have processes in place to anticipate, detect and respond to the behaviour of their customers. Organisations need to create a connected interface between themselves and their customer base, enabling them to both listen to and absorb customer feedback, as well as obtain sentiment. In such a fast-paced and competitive generation, flexible processes and interfaces need to be customer-centric. The garnered feedback must be acted upon and shared with the entire business to ensure cultural alignment throughout the organisation. Stagnant organisations risk losing out to the transformative business that understand and respond to high-level customer demands in a more timely manner.

If the supporting systems and technology architectures aren’t agile, it doesn’t matter how an organisation manages and delivers change, it simply cannot advance in a rapid and scalable way; ultimately affecting the quality of the service provided. It is imperative that organisations servicing customers’ needs and demands look to adopt agile processes in order to keep one step ahead and keep customer expectations fresh, in turn avoiding the usual game of cat and mouse that customers have come to expect.

A prime example of a niche market that has become the catalyst for profitable mass marketing opportunities is Formula 1, which has played an influential role in the incubation and acceleration of the technological advancement of the wider automotive marketplace. Motorsport as a whole has a long history of innovations that have ‘trickled down’ into the consumer marketspace. We take for granted innovations from motorsport that are integral to the safety, performance, efficiency and driving pleasure of vehicles on the roads today. As Matt Harris, head of IT at the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 team explains: "The first thing your garage does when you go for a service is plug its diagnostic computer into the car's electronic control unit [ECU]."

Who knows where it will end? F1’s cousin Formula E’s new venture Roborace represents an exciting new frontier. We can anticipate Roborace’s feedthrough of advancements in driverless technology, AI and communications, to autonomous commercial and consumer vehicles of the future.

In order for players in other markets to follow suit, emphasis must be placed upon the pivotal role quality assurance plays in the systems and processes that are core to keeping pace with such speed of change. Digital transformation thrives on a culture of collaboration and in order for organisations to truly embrace such change, the ability to evolve culturally is pivotal to a successful digital journey.

A solid partnership between IT and the wider organisation is imperative to keeping abreast of the digital transformation race and to ultimately stay ahead of the competition and new market entrants alike.

Kevin Davis, Associate Director at SQS and UK Head of Digital Transformation

Image source: Shutterstock/Jirsak