This post is sponsored by:

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Top 6 Ways Young Tech Companies Are Changing The Way We Do Business

Things are changing around us everyday.  Sometimes it seems as though it is at breakneck speed and tough to keep up.  Things we dreamed of as kids watching shows like Start Trek, Buck Rogers, the Jetsons, etc. seem as though they are reality today.  People starting cars from their phones.  Taking a picture and sharing and sharing it with friends and family thousands of miles away within seconds.  So forth an so on.  A lot of these innovations and progress are coming from young companies and startups that are fearless and have vision that is truly inspiring.  Let's a take a look at 5 ways these innovators are changing the world and business:

  1. Everyone is the R and D Department - Open source mainly used in the tech world is a term in which everyone has access to the end-user code.  The Android operating system is a great example here.  Typically in the tech world the software a company produces and the coding have been it's 'secret sauce'. Microsoft, Apple, etc. are all closed.  You have a smaller group of select people with access to develop further products.  In the open source world, anyone can develop.  In this environment you get products coming faster and sometimes better.  The Android OS showing up on phones and mobile devices (including e-readers) all over has allowed many companies to use the code to develop new products and customize the system so it is unique to their product.  The Nook Color, for example, is an Android OS built ereader.  But the interface looks different than other Android devices.  The product is easily updated, the company gets a larger pool of people to draw from in terms of developers, so forth and so on.  Companies like Google and Mozilla have been huge advocates for open source and have benefited a great deal from it while providing users with great products.  Some companies have taken this to another level soliciting ideas for designs directly from the public.  Car designs, fashions, so forth and so on.
  2. The ad game - Since things like radios and TV's came out the ad game hasn't changed very much.  Users were forced to listen or watch an ad about a product or service.  It was this 'sign' in front of as many viewers as possible approach.  The problems with that approach are over time, human conditioning learns to "tune it out" and we become numb to it.  Likewise, companies could never really know the effectiveness of the ad.  Did it in fact impact their business?  Advertising on the web first started with the same approach, but then Google changed the game dramatically with pay-per-click and relevancy.  The Google method was small ads which were relevant to the content on the site (therefore relevant to the visitor) and the advertiser paid when visitor clicked the ad.  The site owner benefits, Google benefits, and the advertiser benefits by seeing real data to make decisions.  Just a few years later, that concept is being expanded upon with great benefits to everyone.  Ads in mobile devices which allows developers an income to continue to develop great new applications, ads that are more informative, so forth and so on.  Likewise, companies like Groupon have taken the coupon ad idea to a whole new level.  Who'd have ever thought people would pay to save?  Well, they did and with huge success.  And nobody gets the deal until enough people sign up.  Genius!  The coupon is changed forever!
  3. Customer relations is about engagement - The age-old saying in the customer service world is that if people are upset with your company, they will tell 11 people.  Some companies found out the hard way that the number is actually far higher as things like Facebook and Twitter took hold.  Some companies even tried suing Facebook users with cease and desist orders who spoke negatively about their company.  As you can guess, that didn't go so well.  Companies are finding that the best method of customer relations is to insert yourself into the conversation.  As Mark Zuckerberg found, people are inherently advertising for companies anyway through the things we share (i.e. product likes, experiences, so forth and so on).  Therefore, companies that are truly engaging in the conversations are advertising while executing and improving their customer relations at the same time.  Typically two things handled by two entirely separate departments.
  4. The customer's voice is much louder - The whole legal battle that went on with Napster I've always viewed this as the biggest consumer outcry against an industry in my lifetime.  People were "screaming" at the music industry to let them get the product they way they wanted to get it.  The good majority of people didn't want the product for free.  They were willing to pay for it, but the industry wouldn't offer it that way.  They invested millions in trying to stop digitized music to the extent of suing their own customers. In the end who won?  The customer and . . . Apple.  The music industry and music sellers never took the time to develop how to deliver digital music themselves and thus have been forced to turn that over to other companies.  Interestingly enough, the book sellers seemingly learned from this.  Booksellers saw the trend, heard the customer, and developed ways to deliver digital books to customers themselves today.  The movie industry on the other hand is still going the music industry route and trying to block digital and streaming movies at all costs.  Go figure.
  5. Competitors are partners - I love this one and know this idea drives long-term managers crazy.  Traditionally you share nothing with your competition because they might steal your idea.  When the iPhone and iPod Touch came out and opened the doorway for apps, the floodgates opened up in terms of possibilities and realities.  Unlike the development of large scale software packages that were limited in terms of uses and getting distributed to the masses, apps can be developed at much lower costs with a huge distribution system to users.  Not only do the users gain powerful ways to do things, Apple and the developers both benefit as more of a "partnership" style relationship.  Other models even have startup groups working in shared space sometimes sharing ideas.  Old school business managers cringe over this, because traditionally we have always kept our ideas secret for competitive reasons.  Granted you don't share out everything, but these types of environments can be very rewarding for those starting out and overcoming small hurdles at times.  
  6. For the first time, we can reduce costs AND improve services.  We all know the "cutting" things in workplaces.  Every time we hear it . . . stress rolls in.  Why?  Because we know either we're going or our jobs are going to get all that much more difficult.  Small businesses today can automate and streamline a great deal of their administrative functions to dramatically reduce costs while increasing levels of service at the same time.  A simple example is almost eliminating the need for faxing and/or mailing by using email and attachments.  The delivery is quicker and cleaner, and far less expensive.  Tablets and other mobile devices allow companies to go virtually paperless and can even reduce billing through mobile pay services.  Easier for the customer, quicker payment, and reduced billing costs.  
It's an exciting time right now in the business world.  Tech in business should always be viewed as tools and as an investment.  The tech tools available today are great investments that are allowing businesses to operate and provide services like never before.  They may seem contrary to what we are comfortable with, but I guarantee that if you truly open your mind a bit and look at the options before you . . . all those things you wish you could do before, you can do today.  Well, except for beam yourself to work which I am still waiting for that app.  
blog comments powered by Disqus

Sponsored by: