"Businesses need to start preparing for major shift in digital landscape"

The world is on the verge of a major technological change and if businesses, including fresh produce, cannot keep up then they are going to struggle to survive, according to a leading Tech Futurist.

Chris Riddell told attendees at Hort Connections that digitalising a company does not simply revolve around new technology, a department, or a website but rather the cultural shift in creating a new “incredible” experience for your customers.

"The amount of change that we are going to see in the next three years, is going to shape and define the next 100 years, in a way that we have never seen before," he said. "The future for us, is an extension of the past, it is a reinvention of everything that we have known so far. Our ability to keep up with high speed change, will define our relevance in the future."

He listed many examples of this starting to occur, through the use of technology such as on demand apps like Uber, Airbnb, and various takeaway restaurants that combine real world services with the convenience of online communication. While he says innovations such as BotChain, or digital currency, is creating a frictionless and instant society, reducing the need for hard copy documents or physical transfer of funds. The "Internet of Things" creates online connectivity between mobile devices and everyday appliances such as fridges, televisions, lights and home heating.

But Mr Riddell says small businesses should not be as worried about other smaller businesses starting up in their market, but the larger companies who have the ability to make large investments in this technology.

"Your competitors are the established businesses who have been around for decades, they have the money to invest to create their future," he said. "Start-up businesses lack funding and cash. But established businesses have one Achilles heel; they cannot change quickly enough. They are not agile and not responsive enough. But once your competition in these established businesses work out the secret ingredient and learn to behave like a start-up, we will see a huge shift in the market. This is the next wave of disruption."

This was already seen by the rise in Amazon, which Mr Riddell called a "category killer", in that one business virtually owns the entire industry, in a similar way to Google, where he says there is no number two option.

He also noted that more and more people are living their lives "online first, and offline second", where humans struggle to pull themselves away from technology - and the challenge for businesses is how to blend the two together.

"Today technology is cheaper than ever - you can buy a USB sized computer, plug it into the back of the TV for just $2 and the internet enables your TV," Mr Riddell said. "We call this the consumerization of technology. Tech used to be owned by businesses, and if you wanted access to powerful big tech, you went to a company and worked in an organisation. Today, the consumers, your customers have more power in their pockets than the businesses in terms of the technology you have. This has meant we have a shift - consumers own the experience - we don't dictate experience anymore as organisations."

Another opportunity for businesses to cash in on, if they can overcome the current challenge, is around trust. Mr Riddell says the annual Edelman Trust Barometer has found the world is in a "trust crisis", especially in the private (major brands) and government sector, with levels at their all-time lowest score since the study began.

"We have got to personalise our brands," he said. "We've got to personalise our businesses, people want to see the face, the nouse behind the business."

Mr Riddell concluded by pointing out that the top five trading companies last year by market capital were all technology companies, which was previously occupied by banks or other institutions.

For more information
Chris Riddell
Phone: +61 3 8679 6508

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