2020 made every business a tech business

We have glimpsed the future. Businesses have been challenged in novel ways. For many, a lack of digital adoption was exposed, and meaningful conversations about digital transformation and resilience became an immediate priority.

The news of the business world is currently dominated by technology headlines, whether talking about data privacy and consumer protections, the monopolisation of markets and antitrust laws, or advancements in artificial intelligence and automation that now form the critical backbone of many industries. It’s hard to ignore the signals and expectations placed upon a digital future. You only have to click to the financial pages to witness the high flying global tech stocks in action.

Despite the headlines, too few Australian SME businesses are currently sharing in these tech-driven spoils, or perhaps even understand the opportunities that digital technology could afford them. These are words of encouragement for those who need it, and caution for those who race forward without thinking.

Investing in your digital business

These days, many businesses are spending on ad-hoc digital services to suit a granular need in a specific corner of their business, or cobbling together various off-the-shelf software products to save a quick buck. Online isn’t going anywhere, so why isn’t there a greater appetite for investing in longer-term, comprehensive digital infrastructure that is truly aligned with the broader business strategy and vision?

Digital business has moved well beyond merely replacing manual tasks or retrofitting existing analogue systems. The accelerated rate of digital adoption across all aspects of society is forcing most businesses to restructure and upskill teams, completely rethink operations, reinvent products and/or reimagine the customer experience. In recent months we’ve witnessed consultants digitise their offering, industry conferences go entirely virtual, e-commerce penetrate new sectors, and digital marketing become more critical than ever.

Fundamentally, digital transformation is about improving performance and connection. Technology creates new opportunities to increase speed and efficiency in operations, as well as provide personalisation at scale to better connect with customers. Together, these are a potent mix for business growth and success.

Proprietary is not a dirty word

How has renting online space in the form of cloud-based software become the default over innovating to own it?

Don’t worry, in our early days, we also scoured the market for some years looking for off-the-shelf software, assuming that at least one agency would have already solved the operational platform requirements for all agencies. However, nothing ever quite suited the processes that we had intuitively developed, nor did we accept giving all our customer data to a third party. So, we built our own.

Running our agency on a dedicated and fully customisable platform meant that we were in control and free to follow our own design. A decade and multiple version updates later, and the web application continues to power our agency’s performance, customer service and reporting. Its value was never more evident than during the recent lock-downs when, overnight, our team transitioned to a work from home scenario and operationally we didn’t miss a beat.

Our experience in developing web apps extends further than our in-house requirements. We’ve built numerous solutions, including cleaning contractor tools, mine safety software, stock trading integrations, tender procurement systems and financial calculators, to name a few. These are all designed from the ground up to meet a business need. But, they also create value beyond the specific functionality, by providing a flexible and scalable technology platform to innovate the wider business, all the while capturing data to own.

Chris Jones, Juicebox Technology Director, describes the current scenario: “We’re seeing progressive web apps starting to power whole businesses across the internet, accessible across all devices in any location. We’ve reached a point where cloud-based software can be fully independent of hardware types and operating systems, running in the browser and delivering a user experience that is responsive, scalable and with the data fully secure.”

Brands will need to win hearts, minds and data

As time spent in the digital world becomes more valuable due to recent changes in the physical world, combined with an increase in ambient and ubiquitous technology, like voice and wearables, customers expect well designed, seamless and immediate access to brands. Digital products and content have already radically transformed the customer experience in nearly every sector, and 5G will only unlock further opportunities.

At Juicebox, we believe the next generation of digital experience will define brands and their relationship with customers. In many ways, digital experience is the new battlefield of differentiation. Just ‘doing the job’ is the baseline now; in today’s market, products need to layer experiences on top that are memorable and life-affirming, as well as unlock and capture a torrent of customer data, which can then be used to better understand and engage on mutual terms.

In this new digital world, building trust and capturing first-party data will be imperative for all businesses wanting to engage directly with their customers and create personalised moments. Additionally, as user privacy controls are bolstered by cookieless browsing and anti-tracking technologies – now standard features in Apple’s 2020 hardware releases – businesses must prepare for a reality where reliance on third-party data from the likes of Google, LinkedIn and Facebook for targeted communication slowly diminishes.

Digital strategy is good business

The next big innovation, the next disruption, the next generation of brands will undoubtedly be powered by digital technology. The fear of being left behind is real.

Good digital strategy is about understanding business, knowing the marketplace and intuitively making the right moves with the right technology and people to drive productivity and create meaningful experiences.

If you need a digital partner in your corner, we’ve built our agency with a unique structure, systems, culture and capabilities ready for today’s challenges. We’re as ambitious as you are and ready to talk about your next move.

Juicebox – Think Forward.