25 years ago when I started my first tech company, ‘a tweet’ was something that commonly came from ‘a bird’, a home computer was, for the majority, a calculator and social media was sitting in front of the television with a family member.
There is no doubt that the pace of technological development and advancement in those years has been … dramatic. Some would say, unparalleled, feverish and like nothing ever witnessed before. With 1989 heralding the advent of the World Wide Web, the stage was most definitely set for big ideas to spread like wildfire and, for those who could glimpse the future, to get very rich, or very poor, very quickly.
But what have been the lessons? In the many twists and turns of a life in the technology business, what are the main things I’ve learned?
Be prepared to move FAST
Ideas are essential currency in the technology business but they aren’t worth anything unless they are acted upon fast and with unrelenting energy. In my experience, the people who have excelled in the technology business are those who have seen just beyond the horizon to where society will turn its attention next and have trusted their instincts enough to follow through fully.
Attention to detail
It’s been said before that ‘success is in the details’ and this has unquestionably been my experience. Whether consumers are buying jeans or cloud based storage services they are generally looking for a simple and satisfying user experience which leaves them feeling confident that they have paid a good price for a good product. With competition for online business fierce, it is the small details which can have a large impact.
Don’t be afraid to adapt
Keeping your eyes fixed on what’s ‘always worked before’ is simply not an option for the vast majority of businesses, online or off. The way people interact with one another, source information, find partners, travel, do business and most of all, consume products and services has been rapidly changing for the last decade and these changes are continuing relentlessly. For example, just when most businesses have got to grips with having an online presence, the major advancements in mobile technology and corresponding explosion of the mobile web is changing things all over again.
Treat your customers well
Simply put, great customer service inspires great customer loyalty and which in-turn inspires great customer referrals and business growth. In recent years, social media platforms and interactive web forums have handed power to consumers to publicly name and shame organisations they feel haven’t provided the level of service they were expecting.
The grievances of unhappy customers no longer end with those around their own dinner table but can reach a mass audience – quickly. Coupled with the fiercely competitive nature of online business, providing efficient and conscientious customer service is more important than ever. Although of course the old adage that you can’t please all the people all the time remains true, I will always do my best!
Don’t let the grass grow
‘There’s a way to do it better – find it.’ Thomas Edison.
Looking for innovative ways to improve products and systems which aren’t yet failing is essential. At the rapid rate of change being experienced in technology and consumer habits, waiting for a product to become out-dated before looking for a better solution is likely to mean curtains for a business.
Interaction with customers and developing an understanding of how they view and utilise your products or services is a great tool for staying current and providing real value. Social media offers organisations a platform like never before to interact and engage in just this way and it’s worth remembering that even when feedback is bad – gaining an understanding of why, has to be good.