28 January 2013

It’s a small world! It’s such a cliche and whoever came up with it probably did so when it was. But even though it would take a huge amount of time to physically circumnavigate the globe, we can bounce about the superhighways of the internet, reaching every corner of the globe, in nano seconds.

It’s such an honour to be part of this global communications explosion. Just living in this era, where my 6 year old is asking for an Apple ID to download a Smurf App onto her iPad, is incredible. Who’d have thought, we have evolved this far and we still rely on the Smurfs to keep our kids entertained.

What’s really exciting is the speed of change and how it is affecting everything we do.

What was being dreamt up on TV shows decades ago is common place in our homes. Where is it going to stop? Well, the good news is that it’s not. This collaborative approach to programming and software development is what’s making the world a smaller place. This new era is simply going to speed up. But as you can see on the high street, there are always casualties.

Googles offices

Google quirky putting green in their offices in London

Even brands like Google are being challenged. Whilst they still own the Search Engine business, and they are clearly number 1, people are now using the internet in different ways and Google is not as useful as it was. We are spending more time on Facebook and Twitter. These brands are the new influencers and, unless Google is very careful and gets hold of the social media bug very soon with Google +, there will be a line of new upstarts appearing as quickly as Google in their wake.

Most people challenge statements like this, knowing the might of Google, but consider this: whilst the first black and white TVs were a revelation, the businesses who kept with them when the colour TV launched quickly found themselves in trouble. This is the era when a business like Google was created from a garage in San Francisco and they are almost Old School now. I have a feeling that there are going to be some pretty extraordinary businesses being created during this decade.

Whatever happens to Google, it’s irrelevant and – this is the interesting part – it’s us, the people, who will simply choose the fashion, and what we like one year will inevitably fall out of favour with the next generation. Very few businesses learn how to cross the boundaries of time and come out unscathed. Choosing the software you use is now as intricate and discerning as the clothes you wear.

In our industry, there are interesting things happening too. With the burst of cloud and the excitement this brings to the tech race, people are purchasing hardware in a different way. Consumers are less bothered by the brands they’ve relied upon for years; they just want to know that things work. Where, how and why seem to matter less.

So, what makes a brand and how do you build a super brand? That’s the billion dollar question. I don’t think you do. I think that the consumer, for the first time in history, is actually choosing the “what works and what doesn’t.”

If you create something and the market place doesn’t like it, years ago you might have had less competition and you could bury the bad news. Not now. These days, as fast as you are trying to fix your online customer service issues, every one of your competitors knows your every weakness and vulnerability. Is this good or bad?

It’s fantastic. Unless you want to bury your head in the sand, which I suppose is an option to some, I think that getting immediate feedback is the future. Whoever understands and adopts this will win in a big way. It empowers the smaller businesses who are able to react quicker and change their marketing, pricing, order processes etc. Bigger companies quite often wait until the board meeting to find out what’s been going on. This is far too late.

If you are not getting all your sales information, order details, NPS scores and customer service issues to Apps on your mobiles, someone else from another business will be finding about your organisation’s strengths and weaknesses more quickly than you are.

I love this though, as it means that we all have to step up and provide an even better service. Of course, we are going to make mistakes but even this is an opportunity. With Twitter, we can react in an instant and get problems rectified. The consumer can connect to the CEO quite literally and this is so healthy because the people at the edge of your business will always tell you honestly just how good and bad things are.

We get an overwhelming number of incredibly positive responses from our clients at UKFast and we have an active live NPS (Net Promoter Score) that recently broke into the 50’s. This sort of good news can often drown out the bad but, with social media, we get to hear everything. If something isn’t right or if a client is unhappy because they feel let down, all problems, however small, need to be addressed head on.

So, how do I see it changing?

cables UKFast

millions of miles of cables under the floor and roads to make the internet possible

I wish I had a crystal ball in some respects and then, in others, I am quite excited that I don’t know. I have my work cut out with speeding up the internet. Buying and building datacentres is a pastime that I am enjoying, knowing that we are making Manchester and the UK stronger as an online community by the day. This is a rewarding vocation. Creating a platform that enables so many people to design the most wonderful businesses mean that such diverse, colourful, extraordinary ideas are being incubated all around us. While you are sitting here, reading, think of the thousands of people dreaming up the next big ideas. It’s inspiring.

So, when you hear someone, as inevitably you will, talking about a potential triple dip, give them a dig and remind them that it’s up to us all to collaborate, contribute and make the difference.

What’s your plan? Get in contact and share your ideas. I’d love to hear from you.

LJ
CEO
UKFast

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