Today’s young customers expect their devices and platforms to be digitalized and integrated, which means technology companies can no longer simply launch a product and consider their work done.
If they want to capture the hearts (and dollars) of Millennials and Generation Zers, these companies must build and execute on a strong digitalization strategy — one that integrates a variety of capabilities and makes appropriate use of cutting-edge technology.
The Digitalization Gold Standard
It’s no secret that Apple has set the bar in terms of deploying digitalization efforts to earn lifelong customers. If you’re one of the millions of iPhone users, stop for a second and consider why you purchased an Apple smartphone.
Is it because you enjoy minimalistic, intuitive design? Can you not imagine life without Apple-specific applications such as FaceTime or Wallet? Perhaps you enjoy the integration between devices that allows you to use AirDrop to move files from your phone to another device or send iMessages right from your MacBook.
Likely, it’s some combination of these factors. Your phone is no longer just a device; it’s a service enabler that’s intertwined with many different facets of your life. And this is also how younger generations tend to view their technology.
The design of Apple’s stores also caters to what young customers want: not just a place to shop, but a unique experience. Even as brick-and-mortar retailers are facing uncertain futures, Apple’s retail strategy is still a winner. In 2017, the company’s in-store purchases were predicted to make up two-thirds of its United States retail sales, and Apple enjoyed more sales per square foot than all other U.S. retailers in 2016.
However, if you think the need for a digitalization strategy only applies to B2C firms like Apple, think again. If you’re a B2B company selling to enterprises, your customer isn’t actually the business itself — it’s the employees who use your product, service, or platform.
If Millennials and Gen Z workers don’t want to use what you’re offering, your business could flounder. That’s because these generations are making up an increasingly large part of the workforce. Younger employees expect workplace collaboration platforms such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom to include the same features they demand in their personal tech devices — savvy digitalization and intelligent integration.
Digitalization’s New Frontier
Tech companies are turning to a variety of cutting-edge technologies to deliver the digitalization and integration that young customers demand. Artificial intelligence paired with advanced analytics, for example, is behind every recommendation you receive from Netflix, Amazon, and YouTube. Brands such as Reebok and Gillette are also deploying 3D printing solutions to offer customized goods that are produced with the touch of a button. Fitness startup Peloton digitalizes the exercise experience with in-home stationary bikes and treadmills for on-demand and live fitness classes.
Remember, each of these digitalization initiatives is made possible by a sophisticated strategy and a lot of emerging tech. Think about self-driving cars. You just get in and go, but to enable you to do that, a massive amount of tech must work together seamlessly and process unimaginable amounts of data almost instantaneously. The automotive industry had to undergo much strategic and transformational change to reach those overarching goals.
4 Questions to Guide Your Digitalization Strategy
Your digitalization strategy must be tailored to your products and services, so be sure to consider the way they look and operate and how you market and sell them. The following questions will help guide your strategy and ensure you’re considering all the factors young customers care about.
1. How will you connect with young customers? Millennials and Gen Zers are incredibly savvy when it comes to digital marketing, so you can’t just talk about your product or service at a basic level. You need to dig deeper.
Intel’s marketing, for instance, doesn’t focus on the chips the company produces. It talks about what the chips power and how its solutions make so many different processes possible. During the 2018 Winter Olympics, Intel broadcast dozens of events, including some in virtual reality. This placed customers on-site at the games and underscored how Intel enables the experiences young customers care about.
2. How will the product or service look? Young customers care about user experience and aesthetics just as much as they care about what your product or service actually does. In short, they want something beautifully designed and easy to use. Again, this is simply one reason Apple has been so successful: Its devices are designed with user experience top of mind, and every detail is carefully considered.
3. Once you’ve created a product, how will you support it? Members of the next generation are much more reluctant to step into a tech support center to have their laptops fixed. And at work, they won’t visit the service desk for help resetting their passwords. Because they’re tech-savvy, young customers generally prefer troubleshooting issues on their own.
They’d also rather work with a chatbot to answer questions than pick up the phone and dial a human representative. According to Salesforce, more than half of customers want companies to transform these kinds of interactions, and 77% expect chatbots to raise their expectations of companies in the coming years.
4. How will you guarantee security? Security is becoming a nonnegotiable for customers, and this is especially true when it comes to younger generations. Businesses must now consider security at every step of the process and from every angle. Today, it’s equally as important as customer experience. Yet many companies fall short. An Equifax survey found that nearly 90% of IT professionals believe there’s a gap between customer experience and digital security.
With so many factors at play, a truly successful digitalization isn’t a quick, easy process. It requires a multifaceted, adaptable strategy that considers the shifting expectations of customers and the expanding capabilities of today’s technology.