It’s worth remembering that your customers are struggling humans

Mar 23, 2011 Comments Off by

A key to business success is to find out what people want to do but are struggling to do and make it easy for them to do it.  You can use technology to help, but you can get lots of grief if you let technology dictate your approach.

There’s an interesting interview here on O’Reilly.com with Paul Adams, global brand experience manager at Facebook.  Adams talks about how human behavior changes a lot slower than technology, and he says a lot of businesses try too hard with social media and focus on the wrong things – such as technology.   The article is worth reading to get  the unique insights Adams can offer.

Technology provides the tools to enable and empower.  These are two of the  ten Action Principles I outlined in the Digital TrendCatcher Guide.

  • Enabling: Giving people the ability to do more of what they want to do; preferably easier, better, faster and cheaper.
  • Empowering: Helping people to do as much or as little as they want to do themselves.

Here’s a comment from Paul Adams:  “Often, businesses need to step back and consider what will motivate people to use what they are developing, above and beyond what exists today. Something that I’ve been saying for a while is that human behavior changes slowly, much slower than technology.”

“By focusing on human behavior, not only are you much more likely to create something that people value and use, but you’re more likely to protect yourself from sudden changes in technology. Interestingly, even this may not be enough. When it comes to designing around social behavior, it’s not just about meeting a need that people currently struggle with, it’s about understanding why people would change their current behavior.”

For me, the key theme from Adams is summarized in this comment:  “Rather than try and predict which technologies will be dominant, I think the safer bet for businesses is to understand how these technologies will support human behavior and how they will help people do things they are struggling to do today.”

If you’ve read the Digital TrendCatcher Guide, you’ll know how important it is to first understand the action principles and the big trends before you focus on the continually evolving technology and the incredible abundance of techno-tools  that are available. Focusing on the technology before developing your strategies will generally just confuse you – and will almost certainly overwhelm you.

Understand the principles and the trends – and then plan your business using smarter strategies so you can catch the trends and ride them in your business. Here are the 10 Action Principles from the Digital TrendCatcher Guide.

1.    Simplifying: Making the complex simple to use.

2.    Decentralizing: Connecting many smaller resources in a distributed system provides more agility, flexibility, capability, expandability and resilience with less risk than creating and maintaining one larger central resource.

3.    Ephemeralizing:  Continually driving for greater efficiencies often at less cost by progressively accomplishing more and more with less and less.

4.    Leveraging: Finding and using the right lever wisely to have a small action produce a larger and preferably ongoing reaction.

5.    Connecting: Connecting before value is expected or delivered, with the connection being strengthened when value is delivered.

6.    Enabling: Giving people the ability to do more of what they want to do; preferably easier, better, faster and cheaper.

7.    Empowering: Helping people to do as much or as little as they want to do themselves.

8.    Engaging:  Stimulating more meaningful interactions based on relevance, value, importance, and timeliness.

9.    Synergizing:  Joining individual parts together and creating more value than the parts each had separately.

10. Harmonizing: Combining small individual waves that are moving together at the same time and in the same direction to form much larger and more powerful waves.

The ten Action Principles, working in combination with 25 macro-level  trends, are creating and influencing the future of the Digital Age.  You can find a summary of the big trends here.

Marketing, Smarter Tools, Strategies & Roadmap, Technology Choices, The Big Picture, Trends
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