One thing for sure, they’re doing a whole lot more than they were a year ago!  McKinsey has been tracking consumers’ digital doings with survey’s covering more than 100,000 respondents across North America, Europe and Asia.  

In their multi-year study, McKinsey has identified seven major digital usage clusters including: 
  • Digital-media junkies
  • Digital communicators
  • Video digerati
  • Gamers
  • Professionals
  • On-the-go workers
  • Traditionalists
Depending on your particular market and customers base, you’ll likely have a mix of several of these clusters.  Regardless of whether you’re B2C or B2B, your customer base’s digital habits are changing and, in some cases, changing rapidly.  And, for most traditional software companies, these are probably not demographics that you’re keeping track of.  

Shouldn’t you?

For example, digital-media junkies and digital communicators are the heaviest smartphone users and communicate primarily through social media.  They also are the most rapid adopters of the new tablet devices, they went from no usage to 21% usage in just one year!

On the other hand, maybe you’ve got a stronger mix of professional, on-the-go workers and traditionalists.  They certainly aren’t on the cutting edge of digital tech, but they are all rapidly adopting social media, smartphones and to a lesser extent tablets.  Social media usage by professionals, for example, nearly doubled in two years to 46%!

My point in bring this up is the rapidly changing usage patterns of your customers, inside and outside the workplace is changing their expectations of their experience in using your software products.  And, depending on how your are monitoring their expectations, you may be blind to a growing and deepening dissatisfaction as they interact with your products and services. 

We tend to think of our customers (when I refer to customers I mean those that we have sold and those that we intend to sell to) as somewhat static entities when it comes to the purchase and use of our products.  We like to think of them as having the same basic interests, biases and preferences year after year.  This of course is not so, just look at your own behaviors - do you use digital media and devices the same way that you did 2 years ago?  Or even 1 year ago?

I bet not and so it is with your customers, we are all changing our digital usage practices at a rapid pace in many ways.  And for the software industry, this means that we not only need to keep up with these changes but we need to continually reinvent our approaches and solutions to adapt them to the needs and preferences of our customers.  

Our product and service offerings, are always within a context of not only alternative offerings but also customer expectations.  And, I assure you that there are a host of new offerings springing up everyday that are highly tuned to this new digital world.  I see them almost every day in my work helping local entrepreneurs through the Oregon Entrepreneur’s Network here in Portland.  

Many of these are software startups (all cloud based of course) that see opportunities for their new offerings by taking advantage of smartphones, E-readers, tablets and massively scaled, social media networks.  Are you seeing these as opportunities or are you defensively reacting to them as threats?  Or are you complacently convincing yourself that your customers just don’t use that “stuff?”

I’ll end by leaving you these sobering statistics from the most conservative of groups that McKinsey is tracking, the traditionalists, who from 2008 to 2010:
  • Doubled their use of social media
  • Tripled their use of smartphones
The times (along with your customers), they are a chang’n, are you?

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    John Geffel

    Value is a much abused, misunderstood and misused word, everyone thinks they provide it but so few show real evidence that they do!

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