The technological advances of the past few decades have brought us into this age of information, where the masses have easy, affordable access to the machines and technologies and to information. Whether it is with the laying of network lines and infrastructure, or with the access to the global network of information provided by the internet and the web, or with the pervasive databases of information for everybody and everything, it is a given that the common, educated, civilized citizen lives in the information age with easy access to volumes of information, easy connectivity to others from all around the world.
But we’re arriving at a point where the common man has *too* much access to information, where the information is more noisy than useful, where we don’t know where to turn for vetted, trustworthy, unbiased information most pertinent for our immediate and long-term needs. And customers from around the world are beginning to understand how technology can help personalize solutions to specifically meet their needs. And they are raising the bar for what they want and when they want it. Empowered by the information age, and the access to communities through e-mail, the web and social media, the voice of the customer is now more prominent, more demanding and more immediate than ever. And as companies succeed in meeting these needs of each customer, and delivers personalized solutions cost-effectively, they are raising the bar for others within and outside their industry to do the same.
As discerning customers continue to demand customized solutions for their individualized needs, it is dramatically changing not just the way business works, but also the way that *life* works. In all previous historical eras, personalized needs were reserved for the elite few, at a high cost of money and energy. This new age will turn that thinking on its head: The masses will be the equal of the privileged, the solutions will be delivered cost effectively to an increasingly larger customer base.
What does this mean, and what should you watch for? My predictions are below:
1. Data will be more prolific and available and come from everywhere, but it will have less impact – unless it becomes filtered and relevant.
2. Cloud will house that data, but of course!
3. Security will be more important as we have more data and rely more on the information we get from the data.
4. The empowerment of the consumer will impact the direction of products and services even more than it has.
5. Not only will consumers impact offerings, but they will begin insisting that products and services get customized to their individual needs.
6. This will first happen as classes of customers, and next there will be increasing demands by individual customers.
7. Social won’t be just for social sake, there will be a business benefit.
8. Mobile will be increasingly more pervasive.
9. Only companies that can quickly respond to the needs of the customer will thrive in the next age. This has always been true, but with this age of personalization, there is less time to respond and succeed.
10. Only leaders and staff who understand how and why to deliver personalization to the masses will succeed.