There is an old saying, which runs ‘just because you can, it doesn’t mean you should’, and it is a lesson, which many would do well to remember when looking at the vast range of possibilities, which have been opened up via digital media. Back in the mists of time, if we wanted to connect with our customers it was easy; we wrote to them or, rather daringly, put an advertisement in a newspaper. Now with the internet revolution bringing us websites and chat rooms, smart phones, apps and digital hoardings it is easy to broadcast our message across the globe.

Of course we don’t want the opposition to get a lead on us so we take advantage of every bit of digital media kit that we can. Switch on the PC and our targeted ad is flashing from beside every search result, walk past a bus stop and our digital ad beams directions to our nearest outlet directly into smartphones, walk around a shopping centre and our tracking sensors alert your smartphone to today’s special offer. And then there is our app which we persuade customers to take up and the special deals which we offer in return for a Facebook like and…and…and…


Where is the customer in all this? Yes we are in a new age packed with digital experiences but we are also in an innovation age in which the ‘how’ is more important than the ‘what’. In an era in which every organisation can access the same technology, following the crowd and blasting our message across digital media streams doesn’t make us stand out and it just might irritate our potential customers so much that they switch us off. Creating a true innovation culture means being exceptional, focusing on delivery and people and creating experiences. And to be innovative, to be a Next Generation Organisation, means designing the right mix of Insight, Collaboration and Agility in order to create powerful ideas and deliver differentiated customer experiences.

Next Generation Organisations put the customer first; not just by answering the phone within three rings or telling them to have a nice day but by developing strategies, which are geared to delivering an exceptional customer experience. This enables organisations to drive differentiated and sustainable growth, to create new business models and differentiated propositions and to co-create differentiated products, services and customer experiences.

And let’s be clear, just because we have moved from a technological age into a Next Generation Innovation age doesn’t mean that we should ignore the opportunities offered by the use of digital media to create strong and lasting digital experiences. But it does demand that the digital media we use is focused on providing an exceptional customer experience rather than just making life easy for the organisation or, worse still, playing with the new toys.

In its simplest form creating an exceptional digital experience may require the website navigation pathways to be simplified, the site optimised for smartphone, consistent messages to be shared across social media platforms or the provision of a “find us” app. Obvious steps you would think, but how many times have you tried to book a hotel room for 2 adults and a child and the web site doesn’t show the availability of child places, or says “nope” to your preferred dates & venue without offering suggested alternatives. Programming variables into booking forms may be a little more complex but taking the time to think about the user not only improves the customer experience but also improves the chances of a successful booking.

Just one simple example from a multitude of ways in which the innovative use of digital capability can transform the organisation and the customer experience. But here again, innovation capability is not just about the smart use of technology; it is about the entire organisation being infused with the ideal of ‘Informed Creativity’ so that ideas developed are built on a real understanding of markets, customers, consumers and what they’ll want or need next.

Scatter blast your message, develop complex order systems that require an IT genius to operate, leave the customer waiting and unknowing and at best you’ll irritate, at worst you’ll lose reputation and custom forever. Develop an innovation culture which aims to create exceptional customer experiences via exceptionally smart use of digital platforms and you’ll cut costs, enhance profits and build a strong reputation alongside client relationships which last.

I’ll leave you with one perspective from the late Steve Jobs that sums up the whole approach to innovation and one that I think all organisations should adopt.

“Start with the experience and work your way back to the technology.”

Everyone says they want or even need to innovate but few actually do. If you want to be one of the few, get in touch and let’s talk.

Got a question? Ask me…

Cris Beswick is an author, speaker and strategic advisor on innovation. After over a decade as a successful entrepreneur he is now one of the UK’s foremost thinkers on innovation and has worked with and advised some of the world’s leading businesses.

Cris also sits on innovation think tanks for both public and private sector organisations and is an executive faculty member at Henley Business School and the Centre for Competitive Creative Design at Cranfield University.

He is the founder & CEO of Innovation Consultancy Let’s Think Beyond and author of the book ‘The Road to Innovation’, has featured numerous times on BBC radio, appeared on TV and has authored articles for The Times, Financial Times, The Independent, CEO Magazine, Director Magazine, HR Magazine and The Sunday Telegraph to name but a few.

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