The rapid pace of technological advancement puts businesses in a time of unprecedented change, and the only way to stay on top is change with it. In this week’s installment of Podcast Recappers, that’s exactly what Andy Lark talks about in Xero Hour episode 18, which is available for free on iTunes.
Andy Lark is the CMO of Xero, and he was also keynote speaker at Xerocon which took place in Denver, CO in July. The tape that the Xero Hour hosts Bob Knopff and Saul Colt play is in fact a recording of his speech. The main thrust of his presentation looks at how brands must change their image to align with their true identity, and how technology is disrupting the business world. The most successful companies are the early adopters of new technologies that take it all in stride, this podcast stresses.
“When you look at the march of technology, it’s irreversible,” says Lark. “These big trends occur, they disrupt industries, and some parts of those industries just vaporize like book stores, and record stores, and things like that. But this pattern of change takes time and the trick is identifying the biggest bits of change. If you don’t understand the big driver you get lost in the little stuff going on.”
Lark says that these technological changes usually take about 12 years. For example, it took Google about 12 years to get between eight and ten percent of the marketing budget of a typical large company, and it takes about 12 years for the average large company to move 40 percent of its marketing budget from traditional to digital media.
The smartphone is a prime example of a disruptive technology, and not only has it changed business but it has overhauled personal behaviors as well.
The mobile experience is increasingly important for business because more and more people are using their smartphones as their main contact point with brands, and these phones keep getting more powerful. Back in 1995, 1GB of RAM cost $9000, according to Lark, but today you can get an iPhone with 128GB, and it’s essential a mainframe computer in your pocket.
These phones are a tremendous source of data that business can use to push forward.
“This is probably the single biggest shift driving businesses. They call it ‘the Internet of Things,’” says Lark. “What they’re really saying is: computers operating with no human intervention watching everything you’re doing. In fact, today over 50 percent of the world data is generated by sensors.”
Digital and data are where business is headed, Lark notes, while traditional marketing channels are practically irrelevant now. Recently studies have shown that marketers are allocating more funds towards digital, and this trend is not slowing down.
Businesses have to be able to adapt to the disruptions happening in the industry, and they have to engage their customers on a global scale. Content generation is essential in sculpting a strong brand image, and it’s the way to forge relationships with the customers who identify with your brand.
Whatever your brand image is, it has to be true to your company values. Lark cites CVS Pharmacy as a good example of this dedication. Their CEO decided CVS should stop selling cigarettes in all of its stores. Why should a business that sells health products sell something that gives people cancer? It meant taking a $1.2 billion hit to revenue, but it aligned with the brand image and customers noticed.
The final takeaway Lark gives us is that companies have to ask themselves why they exist. What is their purpose, exactly? That is the key to making a clear and accurate brand image.
“If you get to that bit of magic, you’ll hire better people, you’ll find better clients, and business will change for you,” he said.
Flickr photo via Creative Commons