The Digital Age: The Era We All Are Living In
The progression into the digital age has been inevitable; for businesses to survive and thrive in this era, an understanding of these innovations is key.
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The way we live, work, and play has changed dramatically over the course of the past half-century. The 9-5 economies of years past have been replaced with globally integrated 24/7 service offerings. Consumers in the digital age have access to a host of services and products that would have previously been considered available only in the realms of science fiction.
This change has been a long time coming and while the industrial revolution helped start this transformation, it is only now in the information age that individuals are really able to embrace these changes. In this new digital age, access to knowledge is greatly improved. Data that was previously only accessible to scientists and government officials are now freely accessible to all.
In many ways, this is a double-edged sword, as merely having access to information is not a recipe for success. It is important to understand the context of the information and data and also how it can best be used to be successful. However, the pace of change is only increasing. New advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and the Internet of Things (IoT) will only provide more information.
Along with these advances, changes in networking speeds with the launch of 5G and devices capable of accessing these speeds will further propel digital age technologies forward. When trying to understand what the digital age is, it is important to realize that it is one driven by technology. These changes, when implemented within businesses to increase competitiveness, can help make businesses more efficient and profitable.
Development of the Digital Age
It is important to realize that the digital age is not just one monolithic thing — rather it is a sequence of progressive steps. Today we are probably only in the midst of the transformation between the pre-digital age and the post-digital age. To truly understand this progression, it is important to see where we came from, as well as where we are headed.
Though this phase was not too long ago, this period of technology is one that many look on with fond nostalgia. During this phase, retail was still the primary means of obtaining goods and services. While products gradually transitioned to be more digital with encyclopedias moving online and phone books becoming searchable repositories, it was still a simpler time.
The mid-digital phase is where we are now. Companies have embraced digital more and more in concept, but they’ve not yet fully grasped how expectations have changed. While TV cord-cutting continues to grow in popularity, a majority of the population still uses traditional cable services. There continues to be a disconnect where some transit agencies have shifted to card payments, while others still require cash. There is no continuity of experience across the board.
In the post-digital age, digital itself will move into the background. Just like electricity and its impact on business and individual life, digital will also become ubiquitous. In this new digital age, the internet will be available everywhere and things like smart cars and smart homes will be the norm. The concept of restrictions based on location will be a thing of the past. There will be both new freedoms and new challenges to explore in this age, with a population born where digital is just a fact of life.
Factors of the Digital Age
Living with digital technologies and understanding them are two very different beasts. To be successful in this new digital age, companies need to embrace digital in all things. They need to champion it and focus on ways that it can be further enhanced to create even greater value for their businesses and their customers.
Products in the digital age need to be easy to obtain and also easy to return. The success of organizations like Amazon and Wayfair demonstrates the importance of this clearly. Similarly, the price needs to be a consideration for a business, as companies like Uber and Airbnb have both demonstrated. While price is definitely a factor for consumers, it is not the only factor.
Enhance the User Experience
Many of the most successful digital enterprises are aspirational in nature and product, and one key metric that they generally share in common is a focus on the customer and customer experience. Companies that understand digital age technologies know that customers have a choice. They know that price and features can get them to the door, but if they expect business to walk in, service has to match.
Digital age organizations look to consumers for innovation and ideas and solicit feedback on products and services regularly. Their focus is not simply on the competition but also on what the users want and need and how they can best meet these needs in a cost-effective and efficient manner.
Threats and Challenges of the Digital Age
We’ve come to this point in time through a long and circuitous journey. The industrial revolution brought us to the industrial age, which eventually led to the digital revolution and the current information age we are now in. But if the industrial age ended, will the information age end also? And if so, what comes next?
Paralysis Through Analysis
Now that access to information is simple and newer tools continue to be developed to further the analysis, there exists a conundrum faced by many businesses. Do they have the right information they need to make their decisions or do they need more? Many businesses fall into the trap of constantly looking for additional details and validation before making a decision simply for a fear of a lack of due diligence.
Easy Access to Data Makes Us Intellectually Lazy
Too much data can be a bad thing. With access to “big data” and AI algorithms, companies in the digital age are able to make the data support almost any conclusion they need.
Impulsive and Flighty Consumers
The amount of attention paid to any one thing by a consumer is small and falling further daily. With smartphones, tablets, TV, and more all-consuming access to precious eyeballs, companies need to do more than ever to stand out and remain relevant.
A Little Learning Is a Dangerous Thing
Simply having access to information is not always helpful or relevant. Doctors, for example, have to frequently deal with patients that have self-diagnosed based on their symptoms from an online source. Without training, the information that a common layperson is able to grasp is very limited.
How to Embrace the Digital Age
While companies in the years preceding 2020 were slow to embrace digital, that is no longer the case. Considering what 2020 brought to the world in terms of the pandemic and global restrictions, the race to digital is now even more critical than ever.
Leverage Data to the Customer’s Benefit
Data, when used correctly, can be a very powerful tool for growth. Coca-Cola, for example, used a digital loyalty program as early as 2015, which helped deliver targeted content to consumers based on the user data they’d gathered. This not only helped them create greater brand loyalty; it also helped drive additional sales.
Consumers are not averse to sharing personal information as long as there are direct benefits that they can embrace. In this digital age, information is king. As long as companies are transparent about their collection efforts and providing appropriate rewards, the data can be used to further propel growth.
Tech-train Your Team
Today’s skills will not automatically translate to tomorrow's needs. While robots and AI will not replace workforces around the world, they will have an impact on jobs and roles. In this case, reskilling employees to meet new working requirements will be needed.
However, the training of your team is not only going to be required for those transitioning to new roles. Even those remaining in their existing roles will need training for the new digital age technologies that have been implemented. Without this training, they will only use a fraction of its capabilities and you will not gain the benefits you were expecting.
Enhance the Customer Experience
Customers now have more choices than ever before. Simply providing a product or service at a good price is not enough. Today’s consumers are looking for phenomenal service and an overall effortless experience. Companies need to look at the roadblocks they are putting in the way of their customers and remove them by helping create a more seamless and pleasurable experience across the board.
In the digital age, companies need a guide to help them transition and grow. A reliable tech provider can help you successfully navigate a path forward, ensuring that you and your customers benefit from this new era.
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