Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Which came first, the culture or the technology? Advances in technology have historically been prompted to meet the needs and requirements of people (the culture), and have been spurred by great creativity and perseverance. Technologies are absorbed into the lives of people affecting their culture and way of life; nowadays, however, technology is evolving faster than culture, and so there is a shift in the relationship between the two. Think about how the technology and manufacturing of cars shaped our culture. The mass production of vehicles developed the notion of the commute, the creation of suburbs, and even road trip vacations. Radios developed the culture of listening and audience.
Let’s look at our daily schedule to see how technology shapes culture.
- You receive a notification on your smartphone or desktop, and you stop what you are doing to check it.
- You are out with friends and someone in the group takes a photo, uploads it and tags you in it.
- You order your weekly food shop online rather than face the queues in store.
- You want to go out for a meal, and so you check reviews online.
- You hear of a good tv show, and so you watch the whole series on-demand without having to commit or wait for the weekly show to be aired.
We can connect with people on a far greater scale than ever before. Long distance relationships can be kept alive through screen face-to-face technology apps such as Skype and Facebook. Relationships are developed through apps such as Tinder, and with online dating sites. It is not only our personal lives that have been shaped by technologies, of course, but our working lives have also changed too.
The technology landscape for businesses has changed beyond recognition over the past 50 years. Here are 5 ways that technology has changed the way that we work.
Google has revamped its algorithms to ensure that mobility is the word on everybody’s lips. Websites that make website browsing via mobile devices as seamless and easy as possible. There should be no area of your business that cannot be dealt with remotely if the correct software technology is loaded up. Sales presentations, customer service, product procurement, invoicing and even shipping can be organized with the click of a mouse.
Mobility is not only important for your business practices, but for your consumers too. Mobile devices are used more than ever for buying, selling, and research – particularly among the Millennial generation – and the numbers are only set to increase with future generations whose whole life will have been technology-centric.
The cloud has changed the way we work, and not only by allowing us to be more mobile. It has opened doors for smaller businesses, and provided them with the opportunity to access resources that were previously beyond their financial limits. The cloud has levelled the playing field between small businesses and larger organizations in terms of enabling them to compete against the high-funded big boys. Smaller companies no longer have to worry about the impact of downtime or lost data – the IT support that they receive is as high as the larger sized companies with their onsite IT department.
VR & AR Innovation
Advances in technology have provided a great deal of innovative ways for it to be used beyond its initial use. If you consider virtual reality as one example, you can see how it has been developed from its gaming inception to evolve and be adapted across different industries.
Virtual reality imaging is now used by trainee surgeons so that they can practice procedures in a safe environment that will not harm to patients. Designers can use virtual reality to create interactive VR experiences for their London clients, so that modifications can be made easily at the design stage, rather than at a costlier and later time. The future of design starts with virtual reality UK, and VR companies such as Lucas Studios have harnessed this technology and made it accessible for use across a variety of platforms, including for VR architecture design and animation. Technology has proved a culture of great innovation and creativity.
In previous years, the standard promotional strategy for products and services involved taking the product directly to the customer, ensuring high visibility at the point of purchase – push marketing strategies: direct selling in showrooms, point of sale displays in stores and packaging to encourage a purchase. In push strategies, the product is the priority, and the key to sales. Now though, pull strategies are utilized more to motivate customers to engage with brands; these include social media campaigns, promotions and discounts, and customer relation management.
The flow of customer data that we have now allows us to understand exactly what customers want and what they are looking for. You can segment your customers so that you can target their motivations specifically. You can engage them through personalized e-mails, and by conversing with them on forums or through social media platforms – your customers are now your priority. You can now harvest customer data so that you can identify how they found your website, how long they stayed on it, and at which point they left your website; all of which can be used to refine the products or services you offer to increase conversions.
At the start of this article, the relationship between culture and technology was raised, and one aspect of culture is indeed the social impact. Businesses can no longer afford to ignore the social impact that their products or services cause. If you earn a bad reputation, there is no doubt that it will haunt you as your digital footprint is a signature by which your brand and business will be recognized by. A bad review on your Facebook page, or a flippant comment on Twitter, can be detrimental to the long-term success of your business, and must be dealt with appropriately. Transparency is now favored, and there is now no place for businesses to hide.
It’s not all bad though, businesses are now able to actively promote the positive social impact that they have in communities, and they know that this is what consumers want to see. Community fundraising, green credentials and sustainable practices, flexi-time, and telecommuting are more accessible to employees, which certainly affects culture.