Walking in the Customer’s Shoes—Are We Ready for the Technology Impact?
Last week, while riots were springing up in major cities, another far more positive event was occurring: SpaceX was launching its manned Dragon spacecraft for a historic hookup with the International Space Station—the first such flight in almost 10 years, and the first-ever to involve private industry—from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
This is certainly a technological leap, backed by billions of dollars, thousands of engineers, astronauts, and unbelievable technical skill. The innovations involved will no doubt benefit us at some point, but the normal user really can’t benefit at this time. They won’t, really, until we can fly to the moon and stay at the Lunar Ritz.
That vision, while not unrealistic, is many years away. But technology, right here on Earth, is moving in leaps and bounds. A prime indication of this progress is the open-source repository platform GitHub, which is now receiving code from over 50 million programmers. Just a couple of years ago, when I was giving a speech at DePaul University, that number was 24 million. That’s a doubling of programming talent in just 2 years.
This programming thrust will certainly have an impact on many of the smaller components we all use. But it will certainly impact more significant technology, such as speech recognition, facial recognition, and fingerprinting. Taking speech-to-text and immediately connecting the content to other existing content is another innovation we’ll see coming to pass through development. And, I’m sure, much more.
The big question is: are we ready to use these innovations?
Since we deal in the sales arena, we can refine this question and ask if salespeople using a CRM system are ready to use all this technology? Sales are vital to any company, and highly efficient CRM is vital to any sales team. In fact, CRM has become the core system of a sales organization, and in many ways the company itself. That core system consists of several vital functions: obtaining leads, converting leads to opportunities, and bringing leads through the sales process to closed deals.
It certainly appears that yes, companies are indeed ready for these technological advances. One of the biggest changes we’ve seen happen through the recent lockdown crisis is the upsurge in technological adoption. In my opinion, this is a positive effect from covid19, as this behavioral change has transpired much quicker than it would have under normal circumstances. Part of the reason is that many companies were forced to change their entire work process from office-based to remote-based, and such a change isn’t possible without advanced digital technology. The resistance to technological change that existed prior to the pandemic has considerably reduced.
People can be, as I call them, “pattern monsters” sticking to familiar paths. We could liken the mind to a beautiful landscape, through which people are constantly walking and creating trails. Just as it’s tough to change such trails in the real world, once people have become used to them, it’s tough to change our behavior patterns when they become deeply rooted.
Some experts say that it requires 90 to 120 days of constantly changed behavior for a real change to occur, but even then, people can fall back. The evidence is clear when you look at statistics in weight loss. People will spend 2 – 3 months fasting, radically altering eating habits, fasting, and exercising, but after 90 days will backslide and start gaining weight again. Sometimes real change can only come about through a complete cultural shift, such as the one we’ve just experienced.
People now know they need technology, as our business operations won’t return to normal as fast as some of us expected. It might still be many months until we’re anywhere near what we could have considered “normal” at the beginning of the year.
Here at Pipeliner
Escalated technological innovation has certainly taken place here at Pipeliner. Because so much more code is being created and is available today, our own speed of innovation has radically increased. We’re now up to the point where we’re updating our product once per month—something that was unthinkable just a few short years ago. Even in the first 5 months of this year, though the biggest crisis in many years, we’ve maintained this pace and continued to constantly improve our software.
In our last release, as an example, we upgraded the way salespeople create new activities. We’ve installed an algorithm that allows different kinds of activity forms. You can choose what kind of activity it is—training, meeting, or a networking event—and some of them even have drop-downs for further specification. You can then immediately share the meeting with others. Once a meeting is saved, it is immediately scheduled in your calendar, and into the calendars of others who you have shared the activity with.
We’re also making such improvements without having to either be acquired or acquiring another company—traditionally companies only improved products or product portfolios through mergers and acquisitions. At Pipeliner, instead of acquiring other software through M and A, we believe in connecting to best-of-breed applications through our API, as the most important factor in the business digital world is data flow, from beginning to end. We not only utilize Rest API that most companies use, but are also utilizing the next technology, where we believe API technology is headed: GraphQL API.
Another reason human behavior is changing toward technology is that humans and technology are gradually becoming more intimately related. We’re at the stage now that people cannot live without their smartphones. It gets a little ridiculous when you see a group of people around a table in a restaurant, all staring at their phones—but that is where we’ve arrived. I think anyone without a smartphone would be considered an outsider in society.
It’s interesting that we still call it a phone when it’s only used maybe 5 or 10 percent of the time for actually calling people. 90 percent of the time, it’s used for many other tasks including taking and sharing pictures and videos, engaging on social media, and downloading and listening to music. It’s now even used to pay for products and services.
The phone is still detached from our bodies, however, which causes panic when a phone is mislaid. How many times have you heard, “Quick, call my phone! I can’t find it!” I predict that in the near future, this kind of technology will be attached to, or embedded in, our bodies.
The Constant of Change
Change, as never before, has become a constant part of life. Traditionally, our minds were used to “endings”—for example, you go to school and eventually you finish. You go to university, and a few years later you’re done with that, too. But the changes occurring now are not going to stop; there is no “ending” no finish line. The winners of the future will be those who adopt this mindset, this behavior—not only for technology but everything else as well.
I think the worst thing that can be said to a person today is, “Oh, my goodness! You haven’t changed a bit! You’re exactly the same!” Compare this to what people generally say to children: “My how you’ve grown!” Why can’t we see adults for the changes they’ve been through also—not in the physical form but intellectually, ethically, in the area of social responsibility? Why can’t we expect a change in everyone?
With technology, we’re always waiting for the “next big thing.” We eagerly anticipate the new iPhone. Why don’t we have that same approach to human beings? At the end of the day, our minds are, in fact, computers. Every instant of life is saved there and can be analyzed there, even if we don’t always realize it. You sit down and perhaps a particular smell will remind you of another moment in your life. Or you hear 2 notes of a song and fully recall your time as a teenager when you fell in love.
I know not everyone will agree with me on this, but I believe the data survives the computer. You can destroy the hard drive and the hardware, but you cannot destroy the data. I’m a big believer that this life is just a part of our journey.
In any case, the more we understand how everything happening around us affects us, the more we’re able to embrace change, the more we’ll be able to move ahead with technology.