5 Ways Businesses Can Keep Up with the New Normal

By DeVry University

As technology continues reshaping the world around us, we enter what Google has coined the "new normal" — a time in which we're almost always online and connected. Our digital lives have changed everything from how we watch television to how we book hotel rooms. As part of DeVry University's National Speaker Series, Jim Lecinski, VP of Google, offered five essential steps that brands, businesses, employees and individual entrepreneurs should consider to keep up with rapid advancements in technology. 

1. Find a Way to Digify Your Products

How do non-digital companies compete with evolving technology in this overwhelmingly digital world? To bridge the gap, they need to find a way to "digify" their products. Think about it like this: what would you rather buy, a standard tennis racket or one equipped with a sensor that tracks information about your angle and velocity to improve your swing? Other examples of digification include:   

  • Zepp Golf Device: This handy smart tool attaches to a glove and connects to your smartphone to give you feedback that trains you to become a better player.
  • Nest: This smart thermostat automatically adjusts the temperature in your home according to local weather and your personal habits.
  • Digital Room Keys: Hilton's digital room keys let you open your hotel door with your smartphone.

2. Be There in the Micro-Moments

Just going digital isn't enough. Brands and businesses also need to leverage what Lecinski calls "micro-moments." We've all done it — you have a few minutes between meetings, so you whip out your phone to escape with some entertainment, check in with friends or get something productive accomplished.

These are micro-moments, and they're great opportunities for businesses to use advanced technology to engage with you. One great example of a brand capitalizing on these moments is Walgreens. The company’s app offers reminders, coupons and the opportunity to consult with a live doctor or pharmacist to get quick answers to your health questions. 

3. Take Advantage of Big Data

Micro-moments are huge, but Big Data is enormous! Each day, people around the world watch a billion hours of YouTube videos, and one hour’s worth of video is uploaded to the video-sharing site every second. On Instagram, users upload 95 million images and videos each day. Businesses are using this incredible data surge, along with analytics and measurement tools such as machine learning, to gain a deeper understanding of you as a consumer.

And this may ultimately help you, the consumer, because companies can develop products and services to help best meet your needs. Likewise, you can use Big Data to find better deals on products you want to buy, better travel packages and even improved commute times.

4. Move Away from Silos

Now that they have the data, what should they do with it? The traditional business model includes distinct teams with distinct goals — these “silos” often don’t share information with other departments at their companies. However, the new normal crosses those boundaries. For example, social commerce creates opportunities that require collaboration. Where would something like buyable pins on Pinterest, buyable products on Instagram or YouTube videos that offer an option to purchase the featured item belong? Should it be with public relations, commerce, marketing, a new team — or several teams?

This new reality promotes cross-boundary collaboration in the workplace, which often boosts productivity and employee morale as everyone focuses less on "my job" and more on shared, common goals designed to move the business forward. And for IT career seekers, this has several implications. More businesses are looking for IT employees with diverse talents and broad skillsets that work well in cross-functional teams. 

5. Develop the Need for Speed

Businesses are often working in real time, which provides new opportunities to connect with consumers and make it easier for employees to work together. For example, Google Docs has made fast work of collaboration both in the office and across the globe by allowing virtual teams to work on presentations, projects and documents in real time from wherever they are. Allowing for a culture that that expects brands to be agile and fast.

That means career seekers — millennials in particular — also need to be agile. Things aren't always going to go perfectly. For many millennials, that means moving on rather than overcoming the setback. The ability to stick it out and adapt to the changing demands of the modern workplace are two important qualities employers are looking for.

To roll with the punches, you might need to change the way you approach projects and tasks. For example, when comedy website Funny or Die was shooting a Fiat commercial with Will Ferrell, they made 70 commercials in one day and put them all on YouTube. Then, they picked the biggest performers to put on television. This engaged viewers with the brands, and it also helped the companies make a major marketing decision — quickly. 

The Challenge Presents an Opportunity

As he summed up his speech on the new normal, Lecinski noted that big challenges attract big talent. Today's students, entrepreneurs and businesses need to think about bigger issues and how they can use radical solutions and advanced technology to change the world.

Brought to you by DeVry University, where we put technology at the core of our business, tech and healthcare education to help prepare students to solve the problems of tomorrow.

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