Business-Technology Gap: On-line vs. Physical
The Business-Technology Gap is a new blog series that highlights the issues and solutions for the misalignment of business strategy with the supporting software and technology. This common malady results in lost revenue, missed opportunity and reduced efficiency, holding companies back from greatness in a disruptive business environment.
What is the Business-Technology Gap?
When business and technology in a company do not align, the impedance generates a loss of opportunity. The result is delayed or cancelled products or features, reduced growth, higher cost, customer dissatisfaction and decline or a host of other related issues.
On-line vs. Physical Experience
Modern consumers have developed a lofty expectation of on-line experiences. The limited websites of the early 2000’s have given way to an abundant supply of online services that deliver value to both business and personal needs. All of this, on-demand. Sign up and start using the software in minutes.
Need accounting? Sign up and start using a robust platform like QuickBooks Online in minutes. Need to backup and store your pictures or documents? Dropbox, Google or others will come to the rescue in a flash. Need just about any item you can think of? Amazon will deliver it to your door in 2 days or less.
The higher expectation plunges in the physical world for an empowered consumer. When accessing local services, the experience can degrade rapidly.
The Small Business-Technology Gap
Recently the company that services my air conditioning system came out on a service call. The AC simply wasn’t able to keep up during the hot August weather.
After arriving 6 hours later than promised over the phone, the technician required a full explanation of the problem. The same explanation provided during the initial service call. The skilled technician was able to determine that the filter in the unit was dirty. Luckily I had ordered the special filter four months earlier because it takes some time to procure.
In trying to understand why the filter was so dirty, the technician asked for the service slips that former technicians had left. Since I digitize almost all documents, I was able to produce the difficult to read pink sheets. The sheets were helpful in understanding the last time the filter was changed, what the pressure was and how frequently the filter needs replacing.
When it was time to pay for a new filter for the next changing, the payment was taken manually. This process involved writing the credit card number on paper for charging at the office later. Needless to say, I felt horror and concern for my financial security.
What could that experience have been like, if the business had invested in even some underlying technology? This company is not a small one-man operation, but one of the biggest in my area, with almost 100 service trucks.
Reimagining the Business-Technology Gap
The aftermath, left me thinking how could that experience have been improved? What if I didn’t have the precious pink sheets needed to understand the history? Why was I the keeper of the sheets? Why couldn’t I just swipe my card or use Apple Pay to pay securely? Why couldn’t the technician simply look up my history on his phone, device or even a laptop? Why did I have to explain the issue twice or at all? What if the filter could be ordered and paid for just before when needed?
At another level, why did I need to call them in the first place? It’s commonplace now to be able to know what is happening on a thermostat in a house. It would not have been difficult to know that the system was not functioning properly.
The company should know where the service technician is by applying widely available GPS technology. Why did I need to wait the entire day?
Could the company have offered a free IP-based thermostat for signing up with a maintenance contract? Along with a few other sensors, this could have added proactive monitoring. Maintenance calls could transform from a function of time and instead be driven by system performance.
The drop off in the experience between the on-line and physical world is still significant. Many of these local businesses are small, but even my dentist can send text messages to remind me of my appointment.
The companies that begin to close the Business-Technology gap to provide better service or products are the ones who will win out in the new disruptive world. At a minimum, every company should have a technology advisor to help close the gap. What’s the Business-Technology gap in your organization?
Mr. Barbato brings over 35 years of experience in the software and technology industries to Third Wave. He guides Third Wave’s expert team in applying a sophisticated business approach to crafting its new era of agile software development products and services.
Learn how to close your Business-Technology Gap and realize more business value