Innovation Is What Makes Us Great

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Due to the reality of lead times, as I write this it is Independence Day in the United States, an occasion that celebrates freedom from tyranny and persecution. It’s not a day that I, and millions of Americans like me, take for granted. Our Declaration of Independence states that “all Men [Author’s note: And Women!] are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

I live in a country where I can freely, without fear of persecution, disagree with my government. A country made up of Native Americans and people from hundreds of lands, each with an opportunity to succeed, regardless of their background. This is an amazing land where each and every one of us is limited solely by our imagination and talents.

We have the freedom to be great. We have the ability to innovate even if it’s only to fail and start over again and again. (And I do appreciate that there is much innovation that comes from other countries as well.) Innovation comes from so many sources and in so many disciplines—technology, biotechnology, medicine, virtualization, globalization, and so much more. Consider recent newsworthy developments in blockchain technology, autonomous cars, artificial intelligence, machine learning, natural language understanding, gene therapy, custom targeted drugs, robotics for medical devices and business, low-cost communications, video everywhere, and even the now-ubiquitous smartphone.

The world of customer service is one of the major beneficiaries of all of this innovation. While there is justifiable concern about some recent technologies—including blockchain, artificial intelligence, and robotics, just to mention a few—consider the benefits these innovations have already delivered, even though most are in their infancy. In the United States alone, the unemployment rate is at its lowest in 19 years. Innovations drive change, which often results in productivity and quality improvements and allows companies to provide better and more personalized service at costs they can afford. While there will always be threats to the status quo, resisting change is more dangerous than embracing it, as we’ve seen from generation to generation.

The next 10 years in the world of service are going to be nothing short of amazing. The past 20 years have seen the service landscape altered—faster communications, cloud-based services, new communication channels, social media, customizable systems, personalized service. Unfortunately, each of these innovations brings new security risks and vulnerabilities. We cannot let these concerns stand in the way of progress, and any challenges have to be addressed to allow for the next generation of innovations.

There is so much to look forward to in so many areas of technology. Imagine a world where blockchain technology eliminates security concerns. Once this occurs, companies will be able to focus on delivering the products and services that customers want and need without having to dedicate so much time and so many resources on protecting customer data.

Or how about a time when delivering a consistently outstanding customer experience won’t be a guessing game, as it is today? Companies will use Big Data analytics to anticipate what their customers want and will be able to adapt on the fly based on changing or unanticipated circumstances and customer responses, as determined by machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI).

For example, the days of surveying customers—or over-surveying them—will be in the past, as AI-based solutions will eliminate the need for this activity by observing and understanding customer behaviors and patterns as they happen. Of course, robotics is going to be an active participant in delivering many services, but so will many other solutions that have not yet been imagined.

The time is right and the world has never been more open to innovation. So in the can-do spirit of the United States, let’s get back to what has made this country and many others great. Let’s dedicate the next decade to innovations that will allow our kids and grandkids to laugh at the “greatness” of the smartphone.

Donna Fluss is president of DMG Consulting. For more than two decades she has helped emerging and established companies develop and deliver outstanding customer experiences. A recognized visionary author and speaker, Fluss drives strategic transformation and innovation throughout the service industry. She provides strategic and practical counsel for enterprises, solution providers, and the investment community.

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