Most of us now know or can feel that we are in the midst of rapid, incessant change – now being described by many thinkers as the 4th industrial revolution – metamorphosing society & economies, at a pace not seen earlier.
1st industrial revolution: 1760-1900 mechanization, water and steam power
2nd industrial revolution: 1900 -1970: mass production, electricity, assembly line
3rd industrial revolution: 1970s to 2010: automation, computer, internet
4th Industrial revolution: cyber-physical-biological integration, cloud, internet of things....
....accelerating mobile penetration, galloping internet/wireless speeds, UBER & the emerging sharing economy, Big Data, artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), open educational resources(OER),massive online courses(MOOCs),rapidly evolving & easily available open source software, cloud computing, machine diagnostics, smart cities, machine learning, block-chains, machine intelligence, driverless automobiles, solar & green power, 3D printing, robotics & drones etc. – are some mega trends of this revolution.................. and there’s of course more behind the screen of time.
We are beginning to see glimpses of what this new age will bring in our day to day life – with technology blurring & merging with our real world...wi-Fi internet flowing like water & electricity- becoming a necessity of everyday life, exploding e-commerce and mobile usage(nearly everything that we did on a computer – now happening on a mobile device), the imploding digital tsunami & AI pushing & facilitating access what we need on our phones(our do everything devices), MOOCs &OERs accelerating self-learning, with virtually free & easy access to information & knowledge, virtual experiences on TV & phones, video’s and now via headsets, technology enabled diagnostics & treatments, robots joining the workforce, crowdsourcing, mobile wallets & p2p lending/sourcing, mass growth & widespread usageof free-lance workers, etc.
We are also getting a sense there is further acceleration of the change, given the faster and faster pace of change by introduction newer products & increasing velocity of disruptive models emerging in our day to day lives and in our eco-systems.
While technological change & evolution is driving most of these changes - what is in turn driving these technological changes is improved customer convenience & continuously improving end user experience.
The customer has become immensely powerful.
And the power equation in society has shifted in favor of the customer, user and citizen.
The customer and user were earlier passive, who just bought or consumed goods & services provided by the producers. Producers and intermediaries decided what was good for the customers and sold their wares albeit with some competitive pressures, to relatively passive customers, users (who were certainly not so expressive and engaged as that today).
So the classical organizations created & perfected during the earlier industrial ages, focused on producing well and then distributing, selling the same to the consumers.
The producers were in command earlier.
Organizations that are winning & surviving today are placing the customer, user - right in the center of their strategy, product development, technology & operations.
Look around you ....think of any organisation that you truly believe is great, is navigating all the change adroitly, is successful & growing - you will observe this correlation.
And most traditional structures, with intermediaries & big supply chains, are being completely by-passed.
We are living in the age of customer/user experience, straddling both B2C and B2B worlds- and in both the real & virtual world.. The networked society
Yes continuous change in technology, product, price, marketing, sales, and disruptive change are the “new normal” – with all of this essentially contributing to continuously enhanced customer/user experience.
Bawa Grover, Managing Partner, Hexagon Consulting.