Technology is the future of your world

Author: 
Caroline Williams, Chief Executive, Norfolk Chamber of Commerce

Sir Tim Berners-Lee has every right to have an opinion on the internet. He’s the man credited with inventing the world wide web. Among his many comments there’s this rather telling observation. 

‘There was a time when people felt the Internet was another world, but now people realise it's a tool that we use in this world’.

In the business world that point has been proved beyond all reasonable doubt. Digital technology is now a key driver for the engagement of customers. It’s the interface through which businesses communicate and sell, as well as interact with, and gather information from, their markets.

We’re now in a world where we can no longer view technology as a separate function or discipline. It’s an integral part of business life; it’s a wide range of channels and platforms through which real practical business can be done.

What’s more, consumers expect it of businesses. For people of, shall I say over 30, there’s still a feeling of the ‘digital revolution’ being a relatively new phenomenon. But, those born after 2000, and arguably after 1990, are, as we define them, ‘digital natives’. These are people with no recall of a pre-internet world. And they’re the people who are your customers now, and the business leaders of the future.

Leading consultant Huw Sayer, who will be hosting the Chamber’s annual technology event on 23 September at The Space Norwich - this year themed - ‘The Future is Here’ - made the point that the head of John Lewis recently stated that they are now ‘a technology company’. It’s how they interact with  customers, not replacing in-store activity but enhancing the relationship with customers by offering more ways to research products, buy if they choose to, pay online and be kept up to date. It sums up the notion that the internet, and all the digital innovations that have come from it, are not separate from business, they are essential tools for it.

It really has to been seen as all embracing. As much as marketing messages can be sent out through digital technology, feedback and research can be brought in by it. And technology can be harnessed to store and manage the data that’s been acquired - by technology.

Whilst for some the generation of new high tech products is their business, for the commercial world in general the future is about how best to use technology to solve problems and deliver business, and customer, benefits.

Of course some things will never change. Face to face selling over a counter will remain an essential part of commerce for ever. The point is that you can find more customers to sell to, learn more about what they want to buy and engage with them more often than you’ve ever been able to before. And you can do that because of the technology available to you, sometimes literally, at your fingertips.

Which is why you need to be in touch and up-to date. Because technology and commerce aren’t two separate worlds. The one serves the other, for the future of the business world.

Book your tickets to THE FUTURE IS HERE - Putting Technology to Work on Wednesday 23 September at The Space, Norwich by visiting www.norfolkchamber.co.uk/thefutureishere

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