We are in the middle of a digital revolution. Over two billion people worldwide own a smartphone and the power of these devices is phenomenal. Everyone who owns a smart device carries millions of times more processing power in their pocket than the entire NASA computing system in the 1960s – when man walked on the moon. The result has been a new digital consumer culture.
In our personal lives, we have recognised and grasped the convenience and ease of use that digital services bring. In the UK for example, one in four consumers will always use digital services when given the chance, according to our Digital Inside Out research – and this is a pattern we’re seeing throughout Europe. People are also much more adventurous in using digital in new ways. Over the last 15 years, digitally native start-up companies such as Uber and Netflix have revolutionised their industries – with users readily embracing the opportunity to consume services like taxis and television in brand new ways.
But consumers have moved lightyears faster than many traditional businesses. Organisations have been bewildered by the shifting digital landscape and slow to adopt new technologies. Even now, business leaders aren’t confident in their digital direction. Our Digital Tightrope study found that for 71% of businesses, the success of digital projects is a gamble. As a result, in many industries there is a digital disconnect between consumers and providers.
This is particularly visible in the 2,000 year old banking industry. Consumers are demanding the convenience that digital brings to their personal lives from their banks. And they are prepared to abandon the institutions that don’t provide it, with more than a third ready to leave their bank and insurer if they don’t offer up to date technology, according to our New Pace of Change study. Equally worrying for banks may be the fact that consumers recognise the clear advantages that digitally-native companies can have in keeping up with their needs. A fifth of people would buy banking or insurance services from potential disrupters like Google, Amazon or Facebook.
However this is not just a challenge – it’s an opportunity. It’s clear that more traditional organisations have lots to offer consumers, if they can embrace their change in mindset and deliver exciting new services. In utilities, progressive companies are now starting to offer consumers remote control of their heating, hot water and even electrical devices. This gives consumers their first taste of the connected home, while simultaneously benefitting providers by enabling more accurate billing and forecasting.
In the world of retail, consumers still enjoy the in-store shopping experience, something that even Amazon has recognised by opening its first physical bookstores. High street retailers can offer the best of both worlds, by using new digital technologies in exciting ways in-store; for example, a retailer could use a consumer’s personal data to provide customised in-store offers or recommendations.
Similarly, our New Pace of Change study found that 97% of people are happy for banks or insurers to use their data to offer them a wider range of services. On top of that, around a third of consumers would be prepared to buy broadband, energy or even their mobile phone from their bank or insurer, opening a whole new potential stream of revenue.
The digital revolution has firmly taken hold in the consumer world – now businesses must shift their mindset and be bold. Traditional organisations must consider how they can apply the latest technologies in adventurous ways to enhance customer experience and give people what they want, before they know they want it. There are great opportunities for the businesses who are prepared to adopt digital strategies. The modern consumer is sure to embrace the organisations who are as bold as they are.