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The FOMO is real: Businesses and compulsive technological adoption

Business and Enterprise

Posted on August 23, 2017

4 min read

Have you ever felt apprehensive at the thought of your peers having rewarding experiences from which you’ve been absent? If the answer is yes, you’ve been struck by FOMO, or the “fear of missing out”.

FOMO is real in the business world. Just as it is in the lives of consumers, technology is often the greatest FOMO generator. When you’re quizzed by a business leader on technology trends, what competitors are benefitting from and what your organisation should be adopting, your thoughts inevitably gravitate toward Big Data / mobile / cloud / artificial intelligence / Internet of Things – the shiny new things. The truth – these shiny new solutions will not instantly propel businesses out of cumbersome processes and into hyper-competitiveness.

While there is no doubt that technology can open new doors to innovation, it plays a mere supporting role. It is more essential that firms focus on two markers – “design thinking” and “design-to-zero,” which when overlapped with technology, constitute actual digital transformation.

Design Thinking that Generates Real Value for Customers

Imagine being the proud owner of the latest smart electric toothbrush – one that lets you play music and tracks your brushing performance. One might argue that it starts your day on the right note and improves oral hygiene. In reality, most of us would derive little to no value from these features. This idea was pitched to and rejected by Braun. If Braun had decided to adopt this technology, it would have been an example of succumbing to FOMO and putting a smart device out to market.

Thankfully, Braun decided instead to focus on two key issues that had been frustrating users – charging the device and ordering replacement batteries. The company applied design thinking and eventually added features to address these.

“Design thinking” is about embracing a user-experiential mind set and examining existing systems, products, and services from the customer’s or end-user’s perspective. It is not just a philosophy for product developers. In fact, all businesses should adopt this approach to identify what can be done to generate customer value and new market opportunities.

Using the principles of design thinking means everyone looks at the same problem but comes up with their own angle on how to address it. When these various perspectives intersect, design thinking leads to a point of innovation that is vital in any business.

Design-to-Zero and Frictionless Customer Experiences

Amazon is cornering the market on convenient and hassle-free shopping. Amazon Prime, Amazon Dash Wand and the upcoming Amazon Go form a trifecta that illustrates the company’s ambitions to drive shopping on their platform. The key to these services is this – a seamless, intuitive digital experience that minimises human interaction. So, herein lies the question: How can we redesign a business process so that there is zero human touch?

Adopting a ‘design-to-zero’ mindset means that your organisation tries to anticipate, understand and resolve pain points for the customer. When the customer experience is so seamless that it recedes from customer consciousness, your core product or service can take centre stage.

This is about delivering a frictionless journey from the moment the customer first engages with your brand. Amazon Go is a good example of design thinking that creates frictionless transactions in an offline setting. By eliminating lines and using an app-based solution for checkout, grocery-shopping becomes a breezy, painless and hassle-free experience from start to finish.

A Counterintuitive Approach to Digital Transformation

The term “digital” in digital transformation almost always prompts technology-led thinking. However, organisations must recognise that technological adoption does not equate to digital transformation. It might sound almost counterintuitive, but the path to achieving digital transformation will become clearer if businesses first look at what they are trying to achieve, instead of immediately putting on a technology lens.

For successful digital transformation, you need to define the problem you are trying to solve. You will then need some type of design or picture of what your model to address the problem will look like, as well as how you will address any issues that may then arise from potentially adopting a technology or operating within a newly created digital environment.

FOMO takes place when business leaders are afraid of missing out on something or not being where things are really happening, and more so in a time where industries and economies everywhere are being disrupted by new business models. By being the voice of calm and reason, and leading an approach that incorporates “design thinking” and “design-to-zero”, you can help your organisation curate and adopt the right technology where necessary, not out of sheer anxiety or desperation, but for the long-term benefit of your organisation and its customers.