Is British business ready for the ‘iPaddy’ generation?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/mediamonkeyblog/2013/mar/13/rise-ipaddy?CMP=twt_fd This is the article that inspired some latitudinal thinking on my behalf this morning, which doesn’t normally happen until I’ve consumed several mugs of tea and a kilo of porridge!

As we already know, we’ve bred a generation of not just tech savvy youths, but actually tech addicted youths. Whilst a decade ago, we were talking of the ‘Crackberry’ and the fact our children couldn’t move away from their PlayStation wired TV screens, we’ve now entered a different phase, a phase which is actually sponsored by us, the parents of this connected generation.

We thought the early days of technology in our children’s hands were as dangerous as white cider, but actually these bits of kit were dumb. Once the game level had been achieved, our Generation X’s and Y’s were bored and nothing but a new game CD or upgraded console would suffice – and this was then a ‘considered’ purchase that required planning, research and often a birthday or Christmas gift list!

We’ve now got a constantly updated, always on culture that demands interaction, responds to intelligent conversation (and I’m not talking of asking Siri whether ‘he’ likes sex!) and most importantly allows the population (of whatever age) to get stuff done – anywhere.

Let’s look closely at this. We’re connected to an increasingly fast infrastructure, with devices that can churn data far faster than we’d ever envisaged, often on cloud based systems that deals with data like Las Vegas croupiers – 24 x 7.

Our international corporates are spending increasing amounts of cash supporting this infrastructure, protecting it from fraud, terrorism and force-majeure. Distribution businesses  are changing to deliver to customer demand, bricks and mortar retail changing to a showroom mentality and Financial Services realising that nothing but non-stop service is acceptable for any positive NPS.

This is all good news isn’t it. A population that demands a connected lifestyle and industry supporting it. What a happy capitalist circle we have here!

Unfortunately, I just don’t see it yet. I speak with knowledge ostensibly of Iberian and Northern Europe, particularly undertaking commercial activities in the UK.

At present, I’m dealing with Estate Agents in several EU countries who struggle with uploading pictures on their website due to java updates. I’m dealing with a Solicitor in the UK who doesn’t do business via email. I’m waiting for e-bills from my local council, which are actually PDF attachments to an email but all queries about these bills must be handled via the telephone. I’m over 40, not from the iPaddy generation, but my god, this makes me feel like throwing an iPaddy, but I’m lucky to have WordPress for my catharsis!

I realise I may have struck unlucky in all my commercial contacts this year, infact my new bank have a great online service supported by superb telephone contacts, but my big fear is that I just don’t see some of our industries or their practices changing quickly enough – now or in the immediate future.

Unfortunately, I have a darker example of a disconnected world – that of the NHS. I’m lucky enough to live in a country where healthcare is supported through my taxes, and have spent a lot of time in hospitals over the past five years. All in all, the care has been good, but the lack of a common database across care providers, health trusts, GP’s etc causes significant duplication, untold quantities of paperwork, spurious communications but worse still, mis-diagnosis of related conditions. 

I realise that bringing disparate authorities together, particularly in the public sector, takes vast amounts of taxpayers money, is riddled with procurement inefficiencies and exposes the service user to security flaws unless heavyweight systems governance is deployed.

All that being said, these issues need to be addressed before the iPaddy generation become major service users. Just imagine those fits, rows, arguments and tantrums if our new iPaddy generation was faced with “call us”, “it’ll be in the post” or “can you tell us about your last operation, as I can’t see it on the system”.

Yes, this Guardian article is nothing new, my scribbles above are similar. But, if you’re a change professional working in a business, large or small, that doesn’t provide an end to end (technology led) service to your customers, ask yourself:

  1. What are you doing to be able to provide this end to end service soon and keep it going into the future?
  2. If we place barriers in the way of our customers / clients, how are we going to break these down and what benefits will this bring to them?
  3. If we integrate an always on culture, who owns it, who ensures it works effectively, who manages the risk?
  4. How do we assess ROI and the risk of doing nothing?
  5. How do we know if what we’re doing / what we’ve done is to the satisfaction of our customers / clients?

Whether you’re a customer or a service provider, you’ll likely know the answers to the above. I’ve worked for 25 years across four industries that have wrangled with, and remain in a state of flux regarding the above statements, but often the answers are a lot more simple than expensive theories or new technology backbones.

Just place yourself in your customers’ shoes, and if you want to know how that feels, ask me or ask one of the iPaddy generation!

Happy days.

David

www.mobilementor.me

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About The very mobile mentor...

"Life is the name of the game, and I want to play the game with you" as Bruce Forsyth used to sing at the top of 'The Generation Game'. This blog is all about observational, irreverent but sometimes deeply emotional musings of everyday life from my perspective.
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