Instant. Remember a time when the only thing instant was coffee? No? Perhaps I’m dating myself. But that just proves my point, the times have and continue to change. Instant messaging, instant downloads, instant notification, it seems that the speed of technology is moving faster and faster. Even as I write this, instant isn’t instant enough. What started the technology ball rolling was the invention of the telephone. This device changed everything. The days of waiting for snail mail or the infrequent visits for family updates were long over. All we had to do was pick up the phone and, presto, we could chat with mom or find out how little Johnny scored in the baseball game.
As the times change, so did the telephone. Inevitably, the mobile phone was created. Even though the earlier ones weighed and looked like bricks, they freed us from the tangled cords of a landline. Now we were mobile, free to roam and converse. Eventually, cell phones became more streamline, more adept, more powerful. Which takes us to where we are now, the age of the smart phone. Phones so “smart,” I barely have to type “instant” before my smart phone recognizes the word and finish spelling it for me. In the near future, we’ll just have chips in our heads and just communicate via thoughts. OK, well maybe I’m exaggerating but it wasn’t so very long ago, we were all using dial up (that scratchy, high frequency dial tone) and now most of us are speeding along the internet highway as if we’re racing on the Autobahn.
Slowly our behaviors started to shift and we began to get accustomed to having “it” now rather than later. No more playing the waiting game (unless that’s a game on our phone). Caught up in a vicious cycle, technology churns out more and more devices in an effort to quench, but also take advantage, of our insatiable appetite for speed. Our smart phones have apps, internet, GPS, maps, games, cameras and so on. Who can’t find the nearest Starbucks? Need an answer to a trivia question? Hello Wikipedia! Don’t know where to eat? Yelp to the rescue! All this instant stuff has definitely spurn spontaneity. More people are more apt to try new foods, new restaurants and new destinations.
As technology reinvents itself, so do we, the users. Take for example, Google’s new search engine, Google Instant. Google Instant immediately pummels you with choices when you type the first letter. Type “a” and you suddenly get a slew of choices. This is in contrast to what Google has “trained” us to do in the past, which was to be search specific but using vernacular language. Long drawn out questions could be used for searches. So why is Google changing its approach? Once again, speed. Results are more instantaneous, queries are shorter and also the potential slosh pile for advertising dollars is quite high. So what marketers are looking for…(drum roll please)…is the shift in our behaviors. If there’s an increase with the click through rate of any of the choices, this could mean millions in advertising dollars. Marketers always want trends. If they find a trend, they’ll use it.
Silicon gives us something new, if we like it, we not only adapt to it, we normalize it. After all, when Google and Facebook shifted from being nouns to verbs and you didn’t even notice the change, you know they got you. So with this rapid rate of change, how do you keep up? Businesses have to be tech savvy or at least knowledgeable as possible. Find out what the current trends are. If you find something you like, explore the options of adopting or utilizing the idea. But the best suggestion is to be prepared to think outside the box and if possible, a few years ahead. The more malleable your business is, the more assurance you’ll have of success.