Leading a Digital Revolution

“We all get the exact same 365 days. The only difference is what we do with them.” —Hillary DePiano 

Cheers to 2020! 

 
We are all on a personal journey with lessons to be learned, challenges to be overcome and joys to be remembered. I find this time of year brimming with reflections and ideas about next year. 2020 starts pretty soon, as a little kid, I used to think how far away 2020 was and now here we are. My better self has been looking forward to this for a long time. 

I feel the beginning of resonance, both personally and professionally. But let me opine briefly about Tahzoo for a moment. We are built on an idea that the customer experience should improve dramatically, that technology should be an enabler to better experience and not a crushing quest for efficiency that robs consumers of their joy. How you spend your money and who you spend your money with is one of the most quintessential of human experiences. Think about all of the cities built around a town square and market. There has been a marriage between commerce and community since we became civilized.  
 
Our mission is to improve the customer experience, to build the connections between community and commerce that are the moral equivalent of the market square in the 21st century. Amazon has built an unbelievably efficient distribution engine, it’s really awesome, but recommendations alone don’t make a town square. Our challenge as a company is to figure out how do we use all the technology at our disposal to humanize the customer experience. What is super exciting to me is that the technology is more like a canvas than a set of interstitial building blocks. 

We can now actually design experiences with interaction models that customers will find pleasing and personalized. Tahzoo is a company full of great builders, in 2020 we will become great designers too. It’s all coming together, technology, data, and design to create the company I envisioned 10 years ago. 
 
So, no matter what you’re doing at Tahzoo, remember your job is to make the customer experience better. Every interaction between our client and their customer should feel like opening a present. We are the company that will lead this revolution.  
 
Let’s go be great! 
Brad 

The Experience Effect

The Experience Effect is changing how we do business. This is where Tahzoo comes in. No longer does one-size-fits-all content suffice. Today’s leading businesses need to consider everything they do in terms of “The Experience.” This goes for every company I know. If you make three-dimensional products; good for you, but that product is an experience. Look to the iPhone for inspiration, it’s as much an experience as a phone. If you provide a service, even better.

We live in a service economy. Services are experiences, too. Technology has allowed us the privilege of learning what our customers want, need, and desire and we can use that information and some pretty remarkable technologies to meet them on their terms. We can speak to them in their language and we can treat them to experiences they really care about. This is what the customer experience is meant to be.

For you and me as individuals, the Experience Effect means we will increasingly define our experience by our ability to share them with our families, with our friends, and with the world. For the businesses of the world, the Experience Economy will mean understanding that no matter what product or service we deliver, we are ultimately delivering an experience, some make that experience something different, something memorable. And lastly, companies must be honest and truthful about the experiences they create. Only when experiences are sharable, different, and authentic can they truly transcend.

The Experience Economy is real and it is changing the world. It has already altered every business on the planet and it will continue to do. Now, more than ever, the quality of what we experience is more valuable than the quantity of what we own.

Let’s use that knowledge—and this moment in time—to make millions of people happy.

Brad

Inspiring Innovation

For any new company to succeed there has to be innovation—often a lot of it. Apple. Amazon. Uber. Facebook. The examples are easy to come by. The message is pretty simple: to stand out, you have to do things differently than those who went before.

That’s why we talk a lot about innovation here at Tahzoo. We are not in the game of operational efficiency, or of trimming expenses to preserve razor-thin margins of profit, nor of selling volumes upon volumes of widgets. We are in the marketplace of ideas. Our clients turn to us for our ability to think differently than the herd of consultants out there. We must, therefore, place the highest value on innovation to assure that we always stand head and shoulders above the competition.

Marketplace of Ideas

I write this as I am preparing to visit The Netherlands next week for Innovation Day. It’s both timely to look at three of my favorite innovators and the lessons we might draw from their experiences that can inform our thinking about our own innovative spirit. You see, I believe that innovation is not a matter of fleeting inspiration, but rather a skill that can be learned, practiced, and, most importantly, improved over time. Like taking up a musical instrument, all that is needed to innovate is the right attitude and the receptivity to change ourselves.

The first lesson of innovation is effort. In this, there can be no greater role model than Thomas Edison. The man held at least 1,093 patents when he died—including, as you know, the incandescent light bulb, the phonograph, motion pictures, and many more. Think about that for a moment. He “held” 1,093 patents, but there were surely numerous ideas the at didn’t pan out. He certainly knew more than his share of failure through all that. This is a lesson in believing in an idea so strongly that one is willing to soldier on in pursuit of the dream, never relenting, never giving up.

Believe in your ideas

Speaking of dreaming, that brings me to another of my favorite inventors, Nikola Tesla, who, it was said, often dreamed of his inventions before he set to inventing them. Tesla bragged of his ability to perform realistic “dream experiments” while fully awake.

This is a lesson in vision. Innovation often requires one to be able to imagine an ideal state or a solution to a, particularly vexing problem in order to make that vision a reality. Interestingly enough, Tesla was such a good dreamer that many of his most interesting and ambitious ideas never came to fruition during his life because they were too ahead of their time. He imagined television and cellphones long before they ever became everyday things. He also dreamed of a way to power electrical devices without wires that are still a largely unrealized ideal today. So, take it from Tesla, if you’re going to dream, dream big!

Lastly, innovation requires perspective. No one but Albert Einstein himself is our role model here. He conceived of his mind-boggling “Theory of Relativity,” while working as a humble patent clerk reviewing closed-loop train switching patterns. Einstein’s breakthrough was in his ability to apply to learn from one field to another—of shifting perspective. It’s interesting to me that the lessons of perspective that Einstein imparts are in some ways a distillation of Relativity itself, which held that our perception of time is relative to the speed of light. That is: perception changes as perspective changes.

So, there you have it: innovation in a nutshell. It takes effort. It takes vision. And, it takes perspective. If we all apply these lessons to as many aspects of our personal and our professional lives, we cannot help but develop innovative ways to see and do great things.

Virgin Atlantic Takeaways

Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none —  William Shakespeare, All’s Well That Ends Well 

I had the great pleasure of spending Tuesday afternoon with Richard Branson (Virgin Group) and Kevin Plank (UnderArmor) at a symposium for entrepreneurs in Washington, DC. They spoke at length regarding their strategies, their successes, and, yes, their failures. I had a couple of big takeaways that I wanted to share with you. 
 
Both men have a passion for their customers and products that was infectious and unyielding. They were so clear about what the experience should be … that it drove their companies forward. I often write about the state of the market or customer experience, but I don’t spend nearly enough time talking about the experience I’d like our customers to have. People hire us because they believe in us because we can help them do things they can’t do for themselves. 

So, what’s the experience that I want for our customers? I want them to enjoy a great relationship with us, one in which we are trusted advisors and agents of change
 
The second takeaway was about disrupting markets. In both cases, Kevin and Richard identified a market where a superior service and product would be disruptive. For Branson, he had a simple goal: to make flying fun. He talked about being the first to put a bar in a plane and the importance of great entertainment. UnderArmor was focused on making a better shirt than its competitors, not just another shirt, but one that was designed for athletes. In both cases, I was taken by the relative simplicity of their goals. They were not elaborate or high-minded. They were focused. Most of all, they were achievable. 
 
In some ways, you can say that Tahzoo needs to do both things well we need to have provided a great experience and seek ways to wow our clients. Because we do digital transformation, our product is not really a product at all, but the outcomes we deliver for our clients. 

 
The measure of our success with our clients’ needs to go beyond just the quality of our builds, documentation, or code, but to the central result we produce did our work improve the customer experience? Did it achieve the business result for our client? I have been pushing the business development side to do a better job of articulating the Tahzoo value proposition, well beyond the breadth of our capabilities, but what makes us unique. In my mind, we should be able to sell Tahzoo with a single slide with a summary of the results we’ve achieved for our clients. 
 
If you’re working on a project and you don’t know what the expected business result for the client is then start asking questions until you know. By the way, if the answer you hear is that we finish on time, on budget with good quality, then you got the wrong answer. We get hired to achieve results. Ask questions. Get engaged. Get to the heart of the matter what is the business result your client is trying to achieve? Then go out and help them do it. 
 
Let’s go be great! 
Brad 

The Experience Economy: Part 3

This concept of the experience economy I have been talking about for the past two weeks is a fundamental shift in the American system of values. People no longer care what goods you have; they care how good you have it. This is not just my speculation. It’s been documented scientifically.


There is a large body of research showing that “contrary to expectations, life experiences are a better use of money than material items. Essentially, what happened was or value system shifted from things to experiences. This was quickly and increasingly reflected in the economy—the “experience economy.”


Here are a few examples; Uber blended car-sharing and ride-sharing to totally transform the experience of getting from point A to point b. Make no mistake, Uber is a very practical and valuable service, but it is also an amazing experience. I press a button, a car arrives, I pay. Done. I remember the first time I used Uber. My only thought was, “This is amazing.” In the same vein, AirBnB ubered the hotel business. Suddenly, each of us had a living room and a well-appointed kitchen in practically every city in the world. The mathematics of the Experience Economy was pretty simple: Sharing plus experience is economics. The uber-example of the experience economy, however, is Netflix. That company has reshaped itself three times and each time it has trumped the old industries that once stood in its place. First, it was mail-ordered DVDs, which sounded the death knell for Blockbuster Video and it’s the late-fee revenue model. Next, it was streaming movies, which will someday destroy the cable industry. And, most recently, when Netflix learned that cable and the movie studios could limit the growth of streaming by tying up the content for extended periods, Netflix pivoted yet again and became a producer of high-quality, high-demand content like “House of Cards” and “Orange Is the New Black.” Game, set, match: Netflix.


It’s the Experience Economy, and it’s changing not just what people buy, but why. And what, exactly, will be the impact of the Experience Economy? Well, we are already seeing it in the fact that sharing has become more important than owning… You don’t need a new drill, you need a hole, so you rent the drill. You don’t need a vacation, you need a destination, so you rent the apartment wherever you want to go. The Experience Economy is changing the way we buy, too. According to a recent study, hotel revenue has decreased by 8-10% in AirBnB’s most popular markets. According to 2015, Alixpartner’s study of the 10 U.S. metropolitan car-sharing markets, each shared vehicle displaces 32 personal vehicle purchases, equally roughly 500,000 vehicle purchases avoided in the last decade and forecast to avoid 1.2 million sales by 2020. The Experience Economy is even changing the way we communicate. Now, all our experiences, from the most mundane to the truly transcendent, must be shared. Our lives are inherently interactive. We live in the instant with our lives are displayed for all the world to see on multiple channels and myriad devices the minute they happen… Be here now. Indeed.


Mostly, however, the Experience Effect is changing how we do business. This is where Tahzoo comes in. No longer does one-size-fits-all content suffice. Today’s leading businesses need to consider everything they do in terms of “The Experience.” This goes for every company I know. If you make three-dimensional products; good for you, but that product is an experience. Look to the iPhone for inspiration, it’s as much an experience as a phone. If you provide a service, even better.


We live in a service economy. Services are experiences, too. Technology has allowed us the privilege of learning what our customers want, need, and desire and we can use that information and some pretty remarkable technologies to meet them on their terms. We can speak to them in their language and we can treat them to experiences they really care about. This is what the customer experience is meant to be. For you and me as individuals, the Experience Effect means we will increasingly define our experience by our ability to share them with our families, with our friends, and with the world. For the businesses of the world, the Experience Economy will mean understanding that no matter what product or service we deliver, we are ultimately delivering an experience, some make that experience something different, something memorable. And lastly, companies must be honest and truthful about the experiences they create. Only when experiences are sharable, different, and authentic can they truly transcend.


The Experience Economy is real and it is changing the world. It has already altered every business on the planet and it will continue to do. Now, more than ever, the quality of what we experience is more valuable than the quantity of what we own.

quality vs quantity - experience economy


Let’s use that knowledge—and this moment in time—to change the world.