In technology, we tend not to go backwards. We are constantly working to make technology better. Those were the words HP’s Paul Evans used to kick-off the application transformation session at HP Discover yesterday. And while I’d never given much thought to the directional movement of technology, I realized that Evans is absolutely correct. We are always looking for better (and sometimes smaller) ways to do things … things that will make our lives easier and make us happier.
Evans goes on to say that in the future, companies won’t be serving customers who say, “I don’t have a mobile device.” In fact, even his 18 month old grandchild knows how to “swipe” the iPhone to get it started. The apps landscape is changing and even the youngest “customers” will not NOT know how to use technology. They will grow-up with tech being part of their everyday lives. And they will expect it to deliver the things they want.
My favorite question from the session was when Paul asked, “Who in this room likes bad customer service?” It seems like a silly question, but it really hits home the point that companies simply cannot afford to deliver bad customer service and hope to attract and keep customers.
So how can companies make the shift to accommodate these customers? According to Evans and HP’s Silvia Vigant:
- The experience you bring to your customers will be delivered via an application.
- Your apps will represent your company to the customer
- The experience you deliver with those apps will be what differentiates your company from the competition
And with your apps, you can do things that change the game so if one or more of your current apps isn’t making a difference, you should only be spending the minimal amount of money on those apps … or possibly even kicking them to the curb.
But what should you know before you get started on the application transformation process? It’s simple: Don’t repeat the same mistakes as last time. E.G. Nadhan has a great post from HP Discover comparing application transformation to the city of Vegas. When I read the post, I was reminded of Evans’ discussion yesterday on how and why apps transformation has to be undertaken via a more structured approach instead of the organic and unplanned approach used in the past. Not that Vegas was unplanned. I’m sure there were lots of plans in place while the city was being built, but like any massive undertaking, unexpected extras get added here and there, code is cloned for one reason or another, causing apps to eventually become unhealthy and complicated.
Your apps portfolio is not all that different than a large, well-established city:
- There are some apps you need to keep and get the most out of them at the lowest costs.
- There are other apps that are causing bloating in your portfolio and some of those might need to be “torn down.”
- There are some new apps that need to be created to engage customers while not letting these new apps mushroom out of control (structured vs. organic approach).
And most importantly, you can’t become complacent. Evans gives an example of the number of UK based car companies in the 1940s (all but 4 were in the UK) vs. the number today (only 2 small car companies remain in the UK). The original car companies didn’t think they needed to do anything to grow and change with the times … but technology always moves forward and never backwards.
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