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Posted by George Colony on September 9, 2009
When CEOs doubt the importance of technology in the economy, I pull out a home grown aphorism: Technology is changing your customer, and your customer will change your company. In other words, whether you like it or not, demand will ultimately morph supply. And it's the job of the CEO to have a firm grasp of that dynamic.
So in the spirit of keeping CEOs up-to-date on the changing customer (like my 92 year old mother, shown above reading from a Kindle), here's a super-condensed summary of Forrester's recent survey of U.S. consumers. And I've also included short, pithy "What it means" comments. You can go here for a very short summary of the survey, or you can go to the New York Times story about the report.
1) The 2009 customer is unrecognizable from the 1999 customer. What it means (WIM) to you: If your business looks the same now as it did in 1999, you are risking irrelevancy.
2) Consumers in every age group are quickly moving from offline channels to online. WIM: If your marketing department is filled with people that still over-emphasize TV or magazine advertising rather than a more balanced approach to the customer, you're wasting your money.
3) Americans spend 8 hours per week with old media (TV, newspapers) and 8 hours per week with new media (Internet). WIM: spending on your Web site and new media advertising should be comparable to your old media spend.
4) 25% of households have digital video recorders -- devices like Tivo that let TV watchers record shows and fast forward over ads. WIM: you're probably over-paying for TV ads.
5) 88% of people under the age of 40 are regular Internet users -- at home and at work. WIM: while all of your customers are changing, your future customers (young people) are changing even faster. Moving slowly now will inhibit market share and new customer acquisition over the next ten years.
6) Half of all Americans research products online before buying. WIM: your customers are ever smarter about what they purchase. All the more reason to treat them like partners and enlist them to help you design your next product.
7) Half of all U.S. adults play computer games. WIM: begin to use this medium, as IBM has done, as a training medium for your workforce.
Over the next ten years the move to digital will not abate -- it will intensify. As CEO, you must stay current with those outside revolutions and translate them into meaningful change within your company.
What do you think will be the most amazing change in the way that people use technology over the next 10 years? I'd love to get your thoughts.
[Cross-posted at BusinessWeek's Technology At Work blog.]