In its larval stages, new technology is at best, promising, and at its worst, redundant. In the last few years alone we’ve seen countless aberrations of the digital age die out nearly on arrival – the casualties of half-baked development, fads, or overestimations.
However, when successful propagation occurs, new technology spreads like a virus. It synthesizes with the world around us. The changes are often so drastic that the resulting world is often unrecognizable.
Steve Jobs envisioned a world with an iPhone in every pocket. Nearly six years after his passing and with 85.8 million iPhone owners in the US alone, his dream wasn’t far off from what would become eventual reality.
The Age Of Convenience
Some have dubbed our increasingly digital world “the age of convenience.” Now, with technology fully adopted and integrated into nearly every aspect of our lives, countless industries have emerged around making things even easier than they already are.
Often, the goal of these companies is simply to shave minutes or even seconds off of common day-to-day tasks or interactions. These improvements in expediency may seem marginal, but as it turns out, very few refuse convenience. And once fully implemented, seemingly negligible time-savers often become revolutionary. Car services like Uber threaten the once monopolized Taxi industry. Netflix, a once burgeoning mail-in DVD rental service, now dominates the digital entertainment world.
The enemy of an ongoing battle waged by technology companies new and old, across the world – is inconvenience, often in the form of time wasted on frustration with anachronistic, decaying digital architecture.
After all, there’s always a better way, right?
The question we often find ourselves asking when dealing with unwieldy software or hardware has become the job description of millions. Only, the job is never finished. Just as new solutions are enacted, old ones fall apart. The resulting climate is chaotic, but a passionate one. Technology companies are constantly on their toes and at each other’s throats as they compete for temporary dominance – a frenetic, perilous battle of king-of-the-hill atop a slender, glacial surface, where even the best may soon slip and fall.
Adapt Or Die
This is no different in the service industry, where customers and business owners alike have come to expect a certain level of convenience and competency from the technology around them.
What was previously novel has become obligatory – customers now expect to be able to order takeout or book their appointments online, universally. Likewise, a newly-hired receptionist of a hair salon might expect to be managing scheduling through a digital interface rather than a pen-and-paper planner. Refusing to adopt these new standards of operation and convenience can be a death blow to any business of competence.
Business owners also prize convenience, and like consumers, they’re willing to pay for it.
Remember Apple’s slogan for their App Store back in 2009 – “there’s an app for that?” Today, the proliferation of business software means there are solutions for problems business owners didn’t even know they had. Shopify, Hotjar, MailChimp – businesses pay hundreds of dollars in monthly charges for software solutions like these that offer both them and their customers an improved online experience. In fact, spending in this area alone was estimated to reach $4.5 billion in 2017, a 17% increase from last year.
This means software companies now have to compete by diversifying their functionality. Offering additional features like analytics and reporting, for example, is a common strategy employed by software companies in order to entice more customers.
Go Mobile Or Go Home
A large contributor to the demand for online convenience is what’s in most of our pockets right now – in fact, you might be using one to read this article!
Smartphones have evolved to competently rival desktop computers and laptops. Even if smartphones may not be able to compete in terms of raw computing power, ubiquitous WiFi and global connectivity have cemented the smartphone as a technological force-of-nature and a staple in most of our lives.
In fact, after a decade of constant improvement and refinement, many could probably use their smartphone for all their daily online needs without ever needing to touch a desktop or laptop computer ever again.
As such, service software has evolved similarly. Most – if not all – business software companies develop companion apps that empower both business owners and customers on a mobile level. These apps – typically designed and engineered for the iOS and Android platforms – have also become the norm to the point of being obligatory.
In the service industry, these apps allow both business owners and employees to check-in with their business wherever they are, offering an unprecedented level of convenience. They might be able to view their upcoming work schedule, manage their clients, or review booking requests – all from the palm of their hand.
The irony here is that a lot of this convenience is built around the idea of eliminating the need for back-and-forth phone calls or messaging in order to receive information – the very thing the telephone was invented for!
And yet, there’s very little room for humor – both software companies and end-users know that offering a mobile app is essential. Not only is there a high demand for apps, but it’s also a prudent future-proofing strategy as the mobile era continues to envelop business of all kinds.
As always, it’s difficult to see exactly where the future lies. However, one thing is certain: whatever is convenient now will be inconvenient tomorrow. Our world’s best and brightest visionaries stare into a deep, infinite well of problems with infinite solutions. And in that way, perhaps business is booming.