Over the last few decades, technology, communication tools and media have begun to evolve at a breakneck speed. Every year there are new devices (smartphones, TV’s, watches) that are significantly faster and more efficient than their predecessors. Production cycles in business, especially ones driven by technology are becoming shorter and shorter – companies are no longer limited by long production cycles in which they must generate lifetime loyalty, but instead are focusing on consistently delivering the best possible product as soon as possible.
There are a number of reasons why ‘instant’ has become king among business, marketing and general communication. The most notable of these is the ‘smartphone revolution’, beginning with early mobile phones and then growing wildly and exponentially with the introduction of smartphones, consumers now have the world at their fingertips. This has significantly reinforced what is termed ‘a postmodern communications landscape’, where the majority of communication (including image delivery, messaging and other media) happens instantly and in real time. With a single, unceremonious tap on a screen, an image can be delivered the other side of the world. As a result of this, many scientists have conducted tests that conclude our attention spans are dwindling, becoming shorter and shorter. Exemplified by the more recent rise of on-demand streaming services, consumers have spoken loudly and clearly – they are accustomed to speed and there is no going back.
This speed has had an ongoing, severe effect on many things within society and the communications landscape. Relevance on communications platform is measured in real-time and nigh on completely washed away within a 24-hour window.
What does this mean for businesses?
Whether it is related to product delivery, marketing, branding or general customer service – speed is now a key component in cultivating successful, ongoing business in this landscape. At the end of the day, if you are unable to maintain the speed required, it is likely your competitor will.
- Product delivery: As mentioned above, production cycles are shortening in addition to consumers becoming savvier – they are able to research and find the quickest, highest quality product available to them. There is very little to hide behind, so the product and availability must often speak for itself. This sentiment is especially true of companies providing media delivery (images, streaming, video), smartphones have made so many processes instant – you need to be as well.
- Marketing/Branding: The increase in speed has presented many challenges for businesses in their ability to successfully market/brand themselves. They must adapt to function in real time and engage with intelligent consumers who will not provide them with any undeserved attention. Many consumers now identify when they are being sold to and manipulated and can interact with campaigns immediately. Businesses must understand their audience and how to operate within this window of time.
- Customer Service: Similar to previous points, social media and instant communication has had a significant effect on customer service. Consumers can immediately communicate their satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) on a multitude of highly visible platforms. As such businesses must function within this space, offering effective, secure communication channels in which they can engage directly with their consumers, provide support, listen to and validate feedback. Social media expanding into a global, dominant and visible form of communication has pushed the voice of the consumer to the forefront of general business practice.
Speed has become one of the most significant factors to business practice as it stands now, businesses must effectively function in real time, whether it is through branding/marketing or consistent customer service. When possible, businesses that can immediately deliver a product (media, imaging) must also deliver the highest quality secure product on demand, nothing less will do.