What if you walked into a store and the clerks automatically knew your buying preferences? It's coming--and so are other technologies that change everything.
Part of my job is to pay attention to new trends in technology. In recent weeks, I have seen several new advancements that will dramatically change the way we interact with brands and each other.
How we choose to implement these technologies and who controls that interaction is yet to be determined, but one thing is clear: The entire concept of privacy and just how much we're entitled to as customers and citizens is up for debate.
Two very interesting new technologies:
Facedeals: What if a business recognized your face--and offered you personalized deals when you came through the door?
I don't know about you, but I love it when I walk into my local Starbucks and they already know what drink I am going to order. What if I could receive that same level of service if I drop into a Starbucks in another part of town--or even across the country?
I was on a panel with Dave McMullen from Red Pepper Agency a couple of weeks ago. His company has created a cool new technology called Facedeals. The technology recognizes you as you come into a store or restaurant and offers up a promotion based on information you have shared via your Facebook account. Think of it as Foursquare without having to sign in.
From my research with consumers, some will embrace this with open arms, while others will avoid it all costs. That has real implications for businesses that are considering it.
Node Gadget: What if your smartphone could measure body temperature from across the room?
Now imagine having a device you can carry with you anywhere that lets you point at someone across the room and read their temperature. Or detect the humidity and CO2 levels in the air? The possibility of this is already working, at least at a close proximity, via a technology created by George Yu called the Node Gadget.
Yu's cylindrical devices connect with your smartphone and provide an easy way to determine things about your environment--things as simple as detecting the air temperature to the exact color you might want to match from a paint or fabric swatch. There are infinite uses for both techies and businesses. Imagine, for example, the advantage if you are working with a customer and they want to match a specific color for their brand refresh or marketing campaign.
But there's a flip side. One of the applications for this technology could be the ability to detect if someone near you has a fever. What if the sensor can detect chemical residue from bomb-making or other illegal activities? Where does protection stop, and invasion of privacy begin?
Questions like this will have to be addressed as more technology comes onto the market that allow us to "know" more about each other and our customers. As a business owner, it's important that you understand the concerns and motivations of the customers you are working with to be successful with any new technology. Give your customers the opportunity to participate, or not, and be upfront with them about how the technology will be used to pave a road to a trusted relationship.
ERIC V. HOLTZCLAW is a serial entrepreneur who has founded multiple startup companies, including one of the first profitable Internet enterprises. His last company appeared on the Inc. 5000 list three years in a row. Eric advises clients on the “whys” of business – why customers buy, why teams work and the all-important “entrepreneurial why”. He is the author of Laddering and his weekly radio show, The 'Better You' Project, shines a spotlight on entrepreneurs' individual business journeys and successes. Learn more about Eric at www.ladderingworks.com or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. @eholtzclaw