Soul searching for tech innovators: Tell customers WHY not just WHAT
HAX, a hardware accelerator which supports multiple start-ups in the robotics space, recently hosted a demonstration of the technologies developed under their incubation. A common consensus among the inventors there is that technologists have been trying to build impressive technology for far too long, without always having a practical, or even sensible, business case for it. The new challenge is to demonstrate how your technology can solve a real world problem that truly makes the user's life easier in some worthwhile way. That means innovators today need to take firm cognizance of the customer's focus shift towards the grain, rather than the visual appeal of the chaff.
Think of a modern day bank – a typical customer wants to know that the technology is strong enough to keep his/her money locked away safely (either physically or digitally) without complicating things when he/she has to get his/her hands on the money for legitimate reasons. A vast majority of customers would not consider the details of the technology to be useful knowledge. It's the same in travel. The latest edition of Global Passenger Survey from IATA confirms that the appetite for technology is higher than ever, but this is specifically towards the goal of an effortless travel experience.
A customer's decision making process involves a collation of his/her previous experiences and other inputs from various sources. In today's airline supply chain, each of these stages is significantly influenced by the specific kind of technology deployed by the company, which gives you the direct link between technology and the customer experience. And there is very little room for error on the end user piece of the chain - it is estimated that it takes 12 positive experiences to counter one negative, while about 91% of customers do not believe in second chances when it comes to airline customer experience. Travelers crave convenience and predictability on their journeys – and this may take the form of timely information updates, less time spent on security checks, quicker baggage delivery and proper entertainment - and a good 85% are receptive to an information-convenience trade off!
Our partnership with Traveltech Lab, London is a fine illustration of the propensity for innovation we foster at IBS. By promoting innovative new business models in the travel and hospitality industries, we enable our customers to engage with their customers (the end users) in a much more meaningful manner – which today means delivering tangible value, as opposed to merely advancing the standard of technology in use. IEEE Spectrum – the official publication of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers – quotes Nathan Harding, a prominent entrepreneur in the robotics space who summarizes it thus: "I'm a big fan of going out and doing a service with a robot, competing with other businesses that provide that service, rather than trying to sell a $100,000 robot. So, if you design a bricklaying robot, go out and bid on projects that involve laying bricks. Run to be the best bricklaying company in the world, then eventually traditional companies will want to buy your robot or your company."