What is your first experience with a personal computer? Mine was at the age of 6. I grew up in a country town in the Pilbara during the 80s and dad had gone down to Perth for the weekend only to return with a giant box. Hidden amongst the Styrofoam was a giant monitor - a monochrome CRT with a dull green display, flashing a DOS prompt happily. Dad had bought me two games on 5 and a quarter inch disks - and that began my love affair with technology.
During high school I taught myself programming and developed games. In university I studied IT after a brief stint in engineering. And then over 16 years, worked with businesses developing tailored web apps and integrating their business systems. I've always been fascinated by how technology can enable us to do things faster, smarter, and more efficiently. And the world is changing rapidly.
You only need to look at the next generation, kids brought up with smart devices from a young age. Some friends of mine bought iPads for their child, who is 3. Freshly installed with BabyFirst apps - it's a learning tool for a generation that doesn't know life outside of connected technology.
So what impact is technology having on us?
I read recently that humans have officially surpassed goldfish in our attention spans. Think about that for a second. Now think about that for a second. And while you think about it - consider that 20 years ago, we had to remember the phone numbers of people in our lives. There were no smartphones. Our partners, family, friends, and colleagues - every number we would memorise systematically. Now? I would be lucky to remember 5 phone numbers, or navigate around a busy city without relying on GPS.
We're changing to an on demand' culture. One where we expect our needs to be met anytime, anywhere. Consider television as an example. Once we were limited to several channels and had to choose the best of a mediocre bunch of shows. Now? With Netflix, Presto, Stan - we can have shows we want to watch delivered right to us, on any device, at the time we want it. The same metaphor applies to the changes in shopping habits - with a shift from the offline to online. We can purchase what we want, when we want - without leaving the house.
Social media is also driving change. TV ads happily proclaim Shazam links, sending you to further advertising bombardment. Should you make a purchase, you can tell the world about it on twitter or facebook. Talk shows have live twitter feeds, and reality TV is as much about engagement and conversation as it is about the manufactured stars it produces.
In a world where technology is changing the way in which we engage and interact with one another - what does that then mean for business?
In 2014 Forrester published their Top Technology Trends for 2014 to 2016 report. It stated that A great digital experience is no longer a nice-to-have; it's a make-or-break point for your business as we more fully enter the digital age.'. A good digital experience to me is about having a keen understanding of how we as human beings have changed our modalities - and delivering to people what they expect, when they expect it, how they expect it, consistently.
As a business owner - if you think about how you interact with the people connected to your business, whether they are customers, suppliers, employees - what are you doing that matches the experience they expect?
At Digit - our world view revolves around transactions and data, and the experiences surrounding them.
With customers -
- Can they view invoices online?
- Can they pay immediately from the invoice?
- Can you see when they have opened the invoice?
- Can they identify their needs and purchase from you simply.
With suppliers -
- Can they submit invoices directly into your accounting system for you to approve and pay?
- Are you paperless in your communications? With your contracts?
With your team -
- Are there still manual systems in place within your business driven by pen and paper? Or excel documents?
- Are your business systems integrated to eliminate double entry?
- Do you have financial and non-financial reporting that gives a real-time snapshot of business performance?
- Can your employees apply for leave online?
- Can they interact with your business via mobile devices?
These are the sorts of technologies that are around today - that can deliver a great experience to those connected to your business. In a world where technology is changing us, are you doing enough to keep up?