At the iMedia Breakthrough Summit in Stone Mountain, GA, keynote speaker Lina Yang, director and futurist at the Advanced Technology Lab at The Hershey Company, discussed how technology affects the future. She went on to present an action plan for keeping your company at the forefront of innovation.
Technology drives change
Yang emphasized the importance of adapting to new technological trends. When successful, technology experiences exponential growth, and it's important to account for that when looking at usage trends.
For example, Yang noted that predicting the adoption of mobile usage on a linear path (orange line) drastically underestimated the true rise of this trend. Companies that planned on linear growth, rather than updating their predictions to recognize the actual exponential growth (yellow line), did not truly prepare for the future. Yang encourages marketers to fight the impulse to say, "It can't possibly be like that." Because it can.
Yang also detailed the steps you can take to move your brand in new directions -- rather than following behind the predicted route.
The first step you can take is to change the model itself. One example of this is the hospitality industry. The hotel chain Hyatt, which has a market cap of about $8.4 billion, was disrupted by the wildly popular Airbnb, a private company that is estimated to be worth $10 billion. Airbnb changed the very notion of how people can book rooms when they travel or rent out extra spaces. A complete shift in thinking can bring new opportunities to the forefront and better fit consumer needs.
Another example is Ford Motor Company, a traditional player in the high-volume automobile manufacturing industry, versus Local Motors, which focuses on open-source, low-volume manufacturing and uses 3-D printing for some of its components. Local Motors focused on the opportunities that became available when you remove the restrictions of traditional manufacturing and allowed your perceptions to be disrupted.
Reframe the problem
Are you asking the right question? Are you solving the right problem? Too often, companies are focusing on solutions that don't fully address the real issue. You should spend a lot of your strategic planning time examining your weaknesses from different angles and uncovering the true challenge at the heart of your product or service. Focusing on the wrong issue will waste time and prohibit your company from ever moving forward.
Create the future
Finally, Yang emphasized the power of the prototype. Discussion and strategizing is extremely important, but creating a prototype truly enables your vision to be understood. A prototype enables you to receive real, actionable feedback to integrate in future versions. You can use these prototypes to truly advance your company and set the stage for the future.
Agata Smieciuszewski is an associate editor at iMedia Connection.
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"Businessman pressing high tech" image via Shutterstock.