Take advantage of the opportunity created by technology-driven change with a considered strategic marketing approach
(Published: May 2022)
1. Technology advancements
The speed of change driven by technological advancements has been huge over the last two decades. It was back in 1999 when Bluetooth was officially unveiled. In 2004 there were fewer than 1 million people on Myspace and Facebook had not even launched. It was in 2005 when the first YouTube video was posted. In 2006 Amazon web services (AWS) was first launched. Apple introduced its first iPhone in 2007, the same year when Dropbox was also introduced. The first cloud-based network attached storage solution was introduced in 2009.
As technology has progressed, the limitations of speed, storage, size, power, and connectivity have reduced, and with it, innovation and new ways of working have accelerated. For example, over the last 10 years, lithium-ion battery production has led to an 85% decline in prices making electric vehicles and energy storage commercially viable for the first time. The impact of this one area of technological advancement over the next 10 years will be enormous.
Other technology areas that will drive significant advancements over the next decade include:
Previously, the computing ability of electronics was fairly limited as was the ability to connect components, devices, and systems, whether that was due to the speed and/or cost of connectivity. Even if these items could have been achieved the availability of a suitable power source was also prohibitive.
Today, we see bandwidths and the speed of communication ever-accelerating over converged voice, data, and video connections and networks, and that’s not just over physical wired connections but also over mobile or wireless connections. For example, a 5G mobile connection can be, on average, 20 times faster than a 4G connection with data rates of 100 megabits per second and with peak speeds of up to 20 gigabits per second. The traffic capacity can be 100 times that of 4G. The speed means things can be done faster, for example, a video that may have taken 20 minutes to download over 4G can be in under 5 minutes using 5G.
This example illustrates the ability to do something that previously was not possible and now having high levels of connectivity and speed between things, the internet of things, we can start to create new processes and ways of working. When we now combine this advancement with the many other tech advancements we see around us, they represent a huge opportunity for businesses to change and create processes that were never possible previously, and in doing so advance their business.
A simple example of a domestic new tech solution is home security. Relatively low-cost CCTV and home security systems are now able to be quickly installed, connected using a wireless connection and powered with long-life batteries. We can then install software on our smartphones and when we are on holiday in another country, answer our home’s doorbell and speak to the visitor. This is a new solution enabled by technological advancements that were previously not possible.
In business, we see technology innovation also driving waves of change. For example, a desire to connect all of the machines (devices that contain computers) within a business and the wider industry environment, is being referred to as Industry 4.0, which represents a significant transformational opportunity for adopting businesses. New ways to do things that create new opportunities and ways of working that could be threatening to those that don’t participate as they may no longer be able to remain competitive.
So, we are seeing the ability to connect machines in a way that was previously not possible. What we are also seeing is electronics and computing being added to many different items creating ‘machines’ and connected electronic devices. As computing becomes cheaper, connections become faster and power becomes smaller and stronger, they combine to allow computing to be added to all kinds of devices and then send the information from these devices to other devices or to control centres. Control centres that contain business and software applications that interpret and act on the information received.
Modern cars are an excellent example of computers/machines on wheels. There can be up to 200 computing processing units (CPUs) within a modern car and those devices can be connected within the car. For example, a vehicle’s many sensors provide information to the driver via displays or dashboards to highlight that the car’s brake linings are thin. Now, with 5G connectivity, that information can be sent to control centres, insurers, recovery vehicle operators and so on, to act upon.
It is not only to cars that these electronic devices can be connected but also from bicycles to lawnmowers, and from lorries to construction vehicles, where sensors can detect information which is sent to computers to act on. This can be within the local electronics, with the overall machine, or sent using network connections, wired or wireless, to a remote control centre or a cloud-based computer. With vehicles, this is referred to as Telematics and these vehicles can be on-road and off-road machines.
One area of technology can result in the growth of another area of technology. For example, machines or computing devices create the requirement for enhanced IT and cyber security. If we consider security, we have seen the evolution of many different methods to protect us and our businesses when operating online or in a connected world. We are seeing enhanced security on devices and within the network, whether that is the network that is within the business or in the cloud. You can now access your computer or smartphone by using your fingerprint or facial recognition, this is security biometrics. To enhance network security, we're seeing the evolution of blockchain distributed security systems and cyber security mesh networks which is a security architecture integrating distributed and separate security services to strengthen the overall IT security landscape while bringing tools closer to the assets they’re designed to defend.
If local computers on machines can connect via high-speed connections to cloud-based control centres and systems, it is then possible to connect to other services and data to support local devices. So, our car, the computer on wheels, is now connected to the previously outside world. This means if we have a collision the sensors on the car can send information to the local onboard computers but then also interpret and decide to send that information to local control centres. Those local control centres can connect to and use Big Data to find out additional information that allows appropriate actions to be taken. A certain car may require a certain repairer and the control centre can look this up using big data information and then instruct the appropriate and most local service provider or recovery vehicle to the location of the accident. This illustrates the combining of some of the technology that we have covered. What this represents are technology advancements that are creating new ways of working and new opportunities for businesses that adopt them and risks for those that don’t.
This transformation is spanning many areas. We see the trend for diesel cars toward electric vehicles or what is more widely being referred to as electrification. The electrification of cars and many other on-road and off-road machines too.
Robotics is allowing processes that were previously human-based to be automated and completed by robots. We can be watching television and the can of drink on the desk may not actually be there and has been added by augmented reality systems. Facebook has recently rebranded to Meta and the reference to the metaverse where we see the introduction of virtual reality as another interface to the digital world. Another form of virtual reality will evolve to include the use of holograms.
The computers we have referenced in the examples above may start to leverage artificial intelligence. The control centres may not have people in them but use artificial intelligence to provide appropriate information to make decisions and to instruct on actions. Services that may have previously been provided by people may now be automated removing the need for a human role.
In addition to things becoming more powerful and faster they are becoming, with nanotechnologies, smaller. For example, self-cleaning window glass uses nanotechnologies.
As things become smaller new possibilities are also created. For example, a medical patch added to the skin may have embedded sensors and computing and be able to send information to your Smartwatch or Smartphone which is then sent over 5G to a medical control centre.
2. Enabling rapid change:
These technology advancements are enabling rapid change in:
A few examples of the specifics of these changes include:
* New ways of working - home and remote working, virtual video meetings, online collaborative working, etc.
* New processes – enabled by digitisation and automation.
* New business models – as evidenced in Uber, Airbnb, and JustEat.
* New standards – spanning tech areas such as WiFi (e.g. 802.11ax with the new WiFi 6 standard), detailing how government should use digital with the GDS standards, covering sustainability (e.g. BS 8900), through to asset management (e.g ISO55000).
* New regulations – General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), new cybersecurity laws and regulations to protect peoples’ tech.
* New practices - the traditional working day and week will change, businesses considering the wider business ecosystem.
* Needs - must be environmentally friendly (e.g Net Zero), must have the latest features, want to see evidenced product reviews.
* Attitudes - Expect to trial entry offerings for free, want buy-as-a-service rather than paying for a product, expecting discounts if subscriptions are selected.
* Aspirations - Anything new must be able to operate better, faster and with higher quality than what came before (continuous improvement).
3. Creating significant opportunity:
This change is creating a significant opportunity for businesses to:
* Grow sales
* Reduce costs
* Enhance productivity
* Be more efficiency
* Enhance quality
* Improve satisfaction
* Achieve better outcomes
* Deliver more with less
* Create competitive advantage
* Exceed social responsibilities
* Achieve business excellence
* Be more profitable
Almost all industries are being influenced by this technology-driven change and business leaders are considering how they can understand and make the right decisions that enable them to advantage of this change. To identify and filter out what is the hype and select the items that will progress their commercial prosperity.
4. Ready to take advantage?
Are you ready to take full advantage of the changes that are happening in your industry, and have you developed and started to implement your considered plan to transform, perform and grow your business?
When we consider our portfolio offering, the products and services that may have been our rising stars and cash cows may be about to drop off of a cliff as existing or new competitors embrace change or adopt new processes enabled by technology advancements. Being ahead of the curve allows us to take full advantage of the new opportunity. Being behind it and we may find ourselves in a position where we are no longer able to remain competitive.
As change occurs our understanding needs to be developed and the right intelligence helps us to make the right decisions to target, retain, develop, and grow existing and new business, optimally.
The change may result in different target customers that require a different approach to attract, engage, and win them. To be ready, from a sales and marketing perspective.
Starting with a reflection on what success looks like and leveraging the intelligence and understanding developed, the prioritised and resourced strategic marketing plan to achieve this success can be developed. This will also consider what are the differentiated values of our business and our proposition and how these are carried into our brand and messaging.
Once these have been documented and the target audience is known the marketing channels can be selected and best practices followed to execute through these channels to deliver the best results.
Marketing automation and digital marketing tools can help with execution, especially where resources are limited. Prioritised actions are resourced with the right skills and marketing operations environment to ensure a sustained focus on achieving the desired targeted results within the plan.
Sales channels, whether direct or indirect, are enabled to ensure they are aware, motivated, skilled, convinced, and equipped to deliver results. Supporting marketing campaigns are created and executed using best practices and compelling marketing content.
With a considered approach you will be able to separate hype and reality and have a prioritised and resourced roadmap to achieve your defined success.
5. Transform, perform and grow?
Epitomise’s transform, perform and grow methodology, called The Transform Accelerator, has helped many companies to:
1. REVIEW their position in a changing market to aid strategic decision-making.
2. Establish their prioritised FOCUS for future success in a marketing plan.
3. IMPLEMENT the considered and chosen strategies using best practices.
4. Measure and OPTIMISE strategies to deliver the targeted results.
The illustration below shows the detailed actions of the four-stage approach:
The review stage obtains the inputs required to support accurate decision-making. This includes reviewing and agreeing on the vision and mission, reflecting on the Director/s ambitions, considering the external market structure and its size, and what are the related market trends and opportunities. This is achieved by conducting market and company research, and completing business, competitor, digital marketing, and messaging audits. The voice of customers, employees and partners is also considered.
Following the review, the focus switches to creating the strategic marketing plan that will deliver the required business success.
This includes defining target market segments, ideal customers, decision-makers and influencers, and their needs.
The company’s positioning and brand are then developed considering the vision and mission, the needs of the target markets and customers, and the desired values and solutions of the company in meeting these needs.
To achieve the vision, mission and Director/s aims, the vital objectives (The What) are defined followed by the selection of the prioritised marketing mix strategies to achieve these objectives (The How).
Considering the company’s aims, brand values, customer needs, competitors, and the solutions to meet needs, the value proposition and associated value-based messaging are created.
Once there is clarity of targets, customers, and how many need to be won to achieve success, the prioritised marketing channels can be selected and the campaigns and content required defined. This phase will also carefully consider the journey from an unknown company to a loyal repeat purchasing customer.
The success targets and key performance indicators plotted monthly onto a visual management dashboard will be aligned to chosen strategies, actions, and campaigns which will be shown on the supporting roadmap with agreed owners, resources, and budget.
The above process results in a documented strategic marketing plan that is ready to be built and implemented. The process typically takes between 2 and 3 days to complete for most SME clients. The prioritised and resourced plan is agreed upon by all stakeholders. What is required to achieve success and by when is known and agreed, and the controlled and measured journey on the road to the defined success can commence.
The next phase of the Transform Accelerator is to build the supporting processes and implement the prioritised strategies, tools, and operational environment to achieve success. To ensure the skills and competencies are in place, through training or support, to be able to execute the strategies, actions, and campaigns detailed within the plan using best practices to optimally deliver results with a proactive project management approach.
Delivering the very best results from everything that is created and executed requires an approach of continuous improvement, monitoring and adjustment. To ensure each week and month delivers the targeted aims, against the expected spend, progress reporting and meetings are important to initiate agreed changes and necessary tweaks to the plan, doubling down on successes and stopping initiatives that are failing to deliver. No one can guarantee that everything will perform and that the targeted results are achieved, but what can be achieved is that the customer always remains in total control of their investment to return profile and any business risk.
Following the steps above will help your business to take advantage of the opportunity created by technology-driven change with a considered strategic marketing approach.
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