5G connectivity and emerging technologies: What they mean for your business
Bruno Rocha de Almeida, Strategy Director at Havas Media reports from O2 Blue Door Conference 2019 about practical uses of emerging technologies.
If you were fortunate enough to attend last month’s O2 Blue Door Conference then you would probably agree with me what an inspiring and eye-opening experience it was. We heard from a diverse range of influential business leaders talking about how 5G connectivity and emerging technologies will benefit businesses, giving us all a glimpse into the impact technology will have in the coming years.
The pace of tech advancements however can easily become overwhelming. We hear terms like 5G, IOT, AR, VR or AI a lot and it’s easy to get blinded by the light without really understanding how the tech behind them can be useful to solve your business problems.
It’s easy to feel fascinated with new technology and to leave events like the Blue Door Conference asking yourself things like “how can I use AR?”. Therein lies the danger. The question you should be asking yourself instead is “what are my challenges” and “how can these be solved using tech?”, and put back the focus on your customers and business needs.
At the O2 Blue Door Conference there were several references to “tech not for tech’s sake”, and leaders like Mark Evans, O2’s CEO, reinforced this idea by pointing out O2 as a customer-first company, not technology led. This means not putting technology front and centre, instead looking at it as a vehicle to solve your customer and business challenges. Technology on its own doesn’t have any real value, only if it’s used to answer a specific need or to solve a specific problem.
Learnings from Blue Door
At Havas Media, we are constantly exposed to innovation that can be used to make our clients’ communications more impactful and engaging. It can go from augmented reality experiences to connected devices and new ways of targeting audiences.
Our day-to-day activities in Havas’ Insight and Strategy team include keeping track of innovation in the market without losing sight of our north star: the consumers and our clients’ business needs. How to do this is not rocket science, and there are a few techniques that we use in media and advertising agencies that can be applied to businesses in any sector, and will help you understand how to use technology in your specific context:
1. Embed technology in your day-to-day
If you are not on top of new technological advancements, it’s likely you’re always going to be late to the party. Being informed and aware of new trends and tech is halfway to understanding them and being ahead of the game – even if most of the innovations are not relevant to your industry or sector.
Keeping an eye open for innovation is a constant process that needs to be embedded in your routine, but fortunately there are ways to keep track of innovation without having it consume your whole day. Tricks like following techie pages on social media (eg CNET, NowThis, TechCrunch, etc) or simply bookmarking some websites in your browser can help.
Create a routine of checking technology sections of your favourite newspapers or just take fifteen minutes a week to watch the last episode of Click on BBC iPlayer – you might have seen its host Spencer Kelly’s inspiring session at the O2 Blue Door Conference, and I can guarantee that each episode of Click is equally insightful. Simple measures like this will make sure that you get visibility of what is happening in the tech world without too much effort.
2. Ideate around your business and customers’ pain points
There’s no one better than you to really know your business from the inside out. Not all problems are going to be solved through technology, but if you’re familiar with the pain points your customers and business face every day, then there’s a very good chance something out there can help – technology is here to make our lives easier after all.
The perfect example of this was given at the O2 Blue Door Conference by Peter Stoker, Chief Engineer at Millbrook, describing how the strain in hospital resources led them to trial a smart ambulance, powered by O2 that enabled paramedics to conduct checks, collect data and communicate with consultants remotely using on-board equipment.
If you have a clear view of your business or your customers’ pain points, an easy and efficient way of getting to solutions is to run a workshop with key people within your business, and ideate around ways of solving these problems with tech.
The best way of structuring this type of workshop is to start by inspiring everyone with use cases from other companies that successfully used innovation to tackle a specific business or customer problem. Once everyone feels inspired by other examples, split everyone into small teams that will each tackle a specific pain point, and later rotate so every team has a chance to build on each other’s ideas.
Doing this will give you an initial list of ideas that you can then filter and prioritise according to potential and ease of execution.
3. Test before applying at scale
Identifying a business or customer need and finding a technological solution to solve it is just the start of the journey. Bringing it from conceptual stage to real life takes most of the effort and you will face many challenges along the way.
To remove barriers and convince all stakeholders in your business that using a certain innovation is the right solution, you might want to test it first at a smaller scale, before applying it holistically across your business.
A good example that was referenced at the O2 Blue Door Conference came from Sainsbury’s and how they tested a till-free store model in different store types and locations, before realising there’s always a percentage of customers that feel more comfortable being served by a real person.
When it comes to technology, testing is always a good idea, and will give you insights that you can later apply at a larger scale more successfully.
In summary, if you are looking to implement new technology:
- Start with the problems or challenges you want to solve. Remember, it should never be technology for technology’s sake.
- Next, embed technology into your day-to-day by monitoring trends and keeping on top of what others are doing.
- Test and workshop before deploying at scale. You’ll save a lot of time and effort.
Want to find out more about what happened at the O2 Blue Door Conference 2019? Click here.