Technology is driving exponential growth and mind-blowing innovation in all areas of life, all around the world.
The tech reckoning
Certainly, in recent years there have been concerns about rapid changes to our culture and questions about people’s ability to keep pace with those changes. But we have now lived with this generation of consumer technology long enough to all begin seeing very real downsides.
– Facial recognition and other biometrics amp up already serious privacy concerns
– Facebook and Twitter have failed to earn public trust. They’ve failed to police their platforms, letting cyber thugs in to divide the nation and affect an election. Not to mention an avalanche of extremist and offensive postings still finding their way online, despite claims of corrective action by the tech giants.
– Tech ethicist, Tristan Harris, schooled us on the addictive properties of social media, and how we are being controlled by a steady drip of “likes” and retweets — just enough to keep us hooked.
– Some research has shown that depression in teenagers is skyrocketing due to mobile phone use and social media influence.
– Alexa and Google Home are always listening—during a party, at dinner, or even in an argument with your loved ones! The possibility that voice data can be used in court as evidence is going to be the next big hurdle for these products. Where does your privacy begin and end?
– The big five – Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Apple – (FAMGA) have grown beyond all expectations and are coming under increasing scrutiny for all manner of business, political, and social practices. Coming face to face with a world they didn’t intend to create, Silicon Valley has created its own retreat — disconnected from the billions of “users” they court — in order to reflect on what they wrought.
What this means for business
According to Edelman’s 2017 Trust Barometer, trust has imploded, reaching an all-time low. Their latest report shows that “85% lack full belief in the system, this belief increases vulnerability to fear and further distrust.”
This is the climate we are in now. Brands, business, boards should take note that this sort of disillusion bleeds over into multiple categories putting loyalty, revenue and brand image at risk.
The gravitational pull of Amazon continues to challenge all of retail as they struggle to innovate and morph to keep their businesses and customers from being swallowed into the void.
– Just when e-commerce looks to be the only channel, “Spending growth at mom-and-pop businesses has outpaced that of the big chains in the past 2 years”
– “Companies using print catalogs, cut through email clutter social-media saturation to help differentiate brands, sustain existing customers”
– Stores are finding new life as community spaces with live events attracting “Millennials focused on connection and community”
– Bricks and mortar are re-emerging from the black hole of e-commerce. Bonobos and Warby Parker opened physical stores over the last year and now Everlane has just announced 2 new stores. CEO Michael Preysman said “Our customers tell us all the time that they want to touch a product before they buy it. We realized we need to have stores if we’re going to grow on a national and global scale.”
– Technology continues to create amazing in-store experiences for shoppers with VR and AR.
– AI is helping us find the right clothing for every size. Among the many new developments is Start Today USA with their ZOZOSUIT that captures 15,000 measurements so you can confidently order the right size and fit from ZOZO.
– Those dash buttons will probably change into auto-replenishment, subscription services will become even more valuable as they get to know each customer better, and hotels are going to be IoT showrooms answering our every need at a mere mention.
– Micro-leases are the new legal offering that will fill empty spaces with new startups, seasonal, or experiential offerings.
What this means for business
As if Amazon weren’t threat enough, the industry-blurring mega-mergers of Amazon/Whole Foods and CVS/Aetna has more than retailers paying attention. Every big brand should be thinking about how they can be the business that responds to the entire consumer journey — or risk being eaten up by a business that will.
One thing to remember about change is that even though technology is the new shiny thing, people are still your audience and their need for personal attention, products just for them, fun sensorial experiences, confidence in their purchases and authentic community will never, ever go away. Those retailers that can keep innovating around those evergreen consumer desires will eventually win out.
By Mary Meehan for Forbes