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Why Businesses Need to Create Consumer Devices for an Audience of One

As this week marks the largest annual global consumer electronics event—CES 2018—it’s important to take a step back and think about how and why we’ve arrived here.

The consumer experience that businesses provide through their products will continue to be one of the greatest opportunities to differentiate from the competition. In today’s consumer devices market, competition is fierce, the pace of new product introductions is at light speed, and high-tech is blending with transportation, health, and other industries, so it’s especially crucial for companies to understand how to get in front of consumers.

Today’s generation of consumers are telling companies, “I don’t want more. I want simple. I want for me.” To successfully sell products, organizations shouldn’t think about the product itself but the end-to-end experience for each individual consumer, the “me.” This requires profoundly changing the way they innovate, both from technology and business standpoints. And this requires a team of many—the “we.”

The “Me” Economy

What does “I want for me” really mean? At the end of the day, we’re all consumers, and as consumers, we’ve come to expect experiences that are uniquely ours. While there are substantial complexities behind a product, the end result must hide those intricacies and assure the product’s usability is streamlined and simplified, like today’s intuitive tablets compared to the 100-page VCR instruction manuals of yore. A product should work the way “I” envision it doing the job for “me,” like a washing machine that cleans my clothes without leaking or breaking down.

Consumers don’t prioritize more features, nor do they adhere to a less-is-more philosophy. Think of Netflix, which offers viewing suggestions based on past choices. Now, me-is-more.

Creating for an Audience of One

Innovation for an audience of one isn’t a question of size, resources, or budget. It isn’t owned by the small and agile or the large and rich. Innovation is a mindset. It’s a way of thinking about how to deliver a great consumer experience.

This experience thinking approach targets the “me,” aiming to make life a little less cumbersome, and a little more enjoyable and sustainable, so that people will experience a product and think “wow, this changes things for me!” It’s an approach that creates connected, contextual, and continuous experiences for customers—a continuous cycle of innovation that doesn’t stop at a product’s launch, but evolves with software, content, and services based on the “me.”

Yet even with a solid experience thinking approach, companies can’t succeed by themselves. The key to making consumer experience the true focus of innovation is collaboration and capturing insights and expertise from across a business’ entire ecosystem, the “we.” Only by connecting people, ideas, and data can a business drive consumer loyalty, engagement, and value.

The Next Web shares examples of how organizations like Starbucks and Maybelline use data from individual customers and apply it to future engagements. This model allows for more personalized and customized customer experiences based on that individual’s preference. The end result? It will (hopefully) transfer to invested brand loyalty and encourage more frequent purchasing of the good or service being offered to drive greater ROI.

The Social Enterprise

After all, business is a social structure. A digital business experience platform changes how industry leverages the social enterprise, the “we,” to create value for an audience of “me.” A holistic approach to innovation that is free from IT constraints to transform silos into a continuity of action amongst all disciplines within a company and its value network.

What does this look like? With a digital infrastructure, integrated applications, and a flow of information, companies can create an environment where everyone is driven by one outcome—the experience—and has a role to play in delivering it. People across business, engineering, manufacturing, supply chain, and sales are connected, to think about the product, design the experience, engineer it, manufacture it, sell it, and support it. They can embrace open innovation by creating an ecosystem of suppliers, designers, advanced users, and consumers to define, deliver, learn from, improve, and continuously enrich the experience with fresh eyes, new perspectives, and the consumer voice.

Teams are no longer isolated but aligned, collaborating in real time and making decisions at the digital business table. Any project changes or activities cascade across the network and decision-making chain. Teams can virtually explore what-if scenarios to test, learn, listen, and improve products. They can collaborate to create in the context of how something will be used and the experience it brings, instead of creating more of the same.

Without a business experience platform, companies can’t create quality interactions between engineering and business or work in parallel from any location. They can’t have a flow of information giving teams the freedom to innovate, even in context of regulations, nor can they scale as their company and ecosystem grow. They can’t gain efficiencies, improve product quality, accelerate time to market, or differentiate themselves for an audience of one.

What’s in Store

Already, business experience platforms are enabling smart cities to develop new services based on multiple perspectives from citizens, businesses, and governments. Startups are collaborating with larger industrials to integrate technology and established know-how. Innovations that once could only be developed in research labs or at major corporations are now being created by businesses of any size that that have access to a world of creativity throughout the full product lifecycle.

The more people a company connects in a digital collective intelligence ecosystem, the smarter the world becomes. In this different way of thinking, improving, and innovating, the power of “we” will drive the economy of “me.” So while you’re at CES, make sure to keep an eye on products that are truly designed for the “me” economy—because this is the future of the consumer device market.

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