Technology & Social Media

Tech’s only cool if it serves customers

What does technology mean to you?

Shiny gadgets? Groundbreaking apps and software? Advanced features and functions that let us see farther inside our minds and bodies and worlds than ever before?

If that’s your idea of technology, you’re doing it wrong.

Technology, says IT strategist and thought leader Peter High, isn’t about stuff. It’s about people. Will all of this new stuff help us better serve our clients and customers?

If the answer is “Yes,” embrace it.

If not? Keep looking.

High’s keynote address at the 2014 ASAE Technology Conference included a question we all should be asking our clients: What can we do next year that will help us serve you better than we are this year?

The answer will clarify our IT efforts. After all, what is technology if it doesn’t serve our clients?

It’s a waste of time and money, that’s what it is.

Sure, we need to stay ahead of the curve. If we don’t, we risk being irrelevant. High urges us to adopt an R&D mentality when it comes to technology. Stay on top of what’s new. Play around with it. Figure out if it’s relevant to your mission.

And always — always — stay focused on your clients.

“There is only one customer,” High said, “and that is the end customer.”

If a new technology doesn’t serve that customer’s needs, it’s not for you.

High drove that point home with a cautionary tale about Circuit City. The hottest U.S. stock in the 1980s, Circuit City gained 8,252 percent that decade on the Standard & Poor's 500 index. But the company soon began branching off into other areas, like car sales and DVD technology. It strayed from its core, ignored its most loyal customers, and was soon lapped by rival Best Buy.

And Best Buy? It initially clung to its brick-and-mortar strategy so strongly that it failed to see its clients flocking to the Internet. That’s where Amazon came in, taking advantage of new technology to better serve customers by offering exactly what they wanted and making it easy for them to get it.

For its part, Best Buy appears to have righted its ship, but the point remains: Technology isn’t about new stuff. It’s about serving your clients in the best way possible.

Given that definition, ask yourself: Are you tech-savvy?


Bill Sheridan