Guest Post: Technology and Business Transformation

By Dennis Nginya.

‘Millennial’ is a marketer’s term that classifies a generation according to their response to the technology of their times, addressing those born from the early 1980s to early 2000s. I think it is a much better way of describing the people currently under 40 years of age as opposed to calling them ‘HTML Fivers’ or ‘Social Mediarists’ or ‘Memers’, I killed the English there.

Their parents also had their own encounters with technology and drove their parents nuts with it, the same way we are doing. Picture one of your parents aged 14, trying to convince their parents that buying a lawn mower versus using a sickle is not an excuse for laziness or slacking off; good luck with that. Marketers had a term for the parents of millennials as well; ‘Generation X’ and they are described as those being born in the early 1960s to late 1970s.  

My emphasis today is however on technology, not millennials. The knowledge bases world over have merged and the global village phenomenon is now taking shape in a much more precise way. It is clear that anybody who develops new technology that can be commercialized gets our attention and our money.

Businesses that transform and become “learning organizations” will rule the roost as opposed to those who stay set in their ways. To learn more about learning organizations, check out the book “The Fifth Discipline” by Peter Senge. Entrepreneurs who also harness the power of technology and dazzle us with their expertise will always stand out and be ahead of the pack.

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“That’s such a huge statement you’re making; can you substantiate your claims with evidence?” A doubter may yell. I respond, “Where have you been? These ideas I’m presenting to you have been around for a while now; it’s a shame you haven’t heard about them and put them into practice.”  Silence; this kind of response forms grudges, thus I offer an olive branch. “I will give you one word, ‘analytics’.”

“Analytics?” they ask, “does it have something to do with the analysis of data?” My eyes widen; I feel like we are making progress and I nod on the affirmative. “What does analysis have to do with my business?” I deflate because of the long drawn back and forth I do not intend to have with this imaginary person, so let us get back to the article.

Predictive Modeling concepts became commercially viable once the right technologies were rolled out. Data is collected, cleaned, analyzed, sold for interpretation and educated guesses are made for profit. Good data costs good money, doesn’t it? Many cannot afford to pay a research organization to provide them with a rich analysis of content that can help the business make better decisions.

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The entrepreneurs who prefer to rely on their gut feeling, whims or public trends will never position themselves correctly in the marketplace and keep their clients. A different entrepreneur is required for this age; one who learns to be introspective about their business and learns from the data footprints left behind by their clients. They need to acquire invaluable information for precise decision-making. This is the kind of insider information available out there in public; please entertain the pun.

Technology is not the hardware or cables, machinery or lubricants. Technology is the knowledge that drives the processes of doing things better. Given this definition, an entrepreneur can map out their technologies well. What quality of knowledge are you running with? On what part of the food chain of knowledge gathering are you chomping? Good diets are formed from the best knowledge made available.

Is your organization structured in such a way that the times are relevant to you? Please notice that I did not say being relevant to the times. Thought leadership and all that mumbo jumbo is about a person defining their times; are you this person? On the other hand, are you the one who jumps onto the bandwagon a little late, the one profited upon by Ponzi schemers or stuck in multi-level marketing prospects?

So enter in the world of ratings, rankings, reach, networks, polls, coverage, competitive benchmarking, social media reporting, annotation, segmentation, group dynamics etc. Someone’s attention span went for broke here, so let me reel them in with one more point. You will discover the correlation between your consumers’ habits and their spending patterns and learn how to project this into your future planning.

For example, your favorite supermarket makes calculated guesses in what they stock for you, given all the data you happily provide for them in their reward points system. It is their major source of feedback, not the customer complaints you vigorously rub in their face, feeling entitled after you cough up money. Nevertheless, many are oblivious to the fact that we are talking back to them without using our words.

Our spending habits can help them estimate our affluence levels, favorite food brands, and favorite shopping time. They know that majority of right-handed people would prefer to shop at a supermarket whose entry is to the right-hand side because we favor right turns mostly. They know which products to put top-shelf or at eye level. They know which section of the store is the least visited and advise their wholesalers to pay up for a prime space near the tills.

Predictive modeling has given rise to a completely new industry of data acquisition and interpretation. Watching Arsenal lose has become much more fun nowadays, with all the Opta stats and heat maps showing where no. 14 has been, running around all day not imposing himself on the game. We have all been waiting silently for the day he will morph into a former Arsenal great who wore that same jersey 14 – it is not going to happen. I am an Arsenal fan; so understand this rant and rave.

You have existing social media pages that you administer faithfully. They are not just for posting random things to remain in the periphery vision of a prospective client. Use the data generated in there to help you refine your strategy or downscale it. Perhaps your ideas are not very bad; maybe they need to be expressed in a much better way.

Join us for the Impact Hub, April edition on 26 April at Villa Rosa Kempinski with Dr. Bitange Ndemo as we discuss the topic further, “Technology and Business Transformation.” The event will be from 6pm-8pm. The places I have been to only really matter if they generate the kind of data that will facilitate where I am headed. The Impact Hub could be the start of your journey.

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