As we ease into the second quarter of 2013, technology continues to creep into every aspect of our lives, arguably for the better and for the worse. Yet as I reflect on all the recent marvels that our electronic developed world has brought, there is but one sweeping consideration worth addressing at this juncture: time.
As humans, we only have so many hours per day to devote to any particular task, duty, website, social network, telephone call, television show, computer game and so on. We appear to be nearing the physical limit that we mortals can handle while still being able to sleep, eat, spend time with our families and go to work to earn an income capable of supporting the other three core functions in addition to our technological cravings. Even though further progress is inevitable, our digital appetites are full.
We lack the time needed to devote ourselves to new social media or devices. We have already carved out as many technological niches as there are available hours in a day. Consider mobile. We have laptops for serious and professional functions. Then we have smartphones to deliver the truly portable experience. Tablets offer a medley of these two with the subcategory of ebook readers providing a functional tool for dedicated reading. What other niches do we presently need? What electronic goods are on the near-future and “marketable” horizon to disrupt these three established selling points?
Imagine future iterations of the iPhone — the iPhone 5S, the iPhone 6 and so on. True, the iPhone 5 had vast improvements on the iPhone 4S, but it was a tweak towards perfection, nothing more. In the annals of history, the only real and truly revolutionary event came when the first iPhone was introduced, establishing the present-day benchmark for the smartphone market that now encompasses other manufacturers like Samsung, HTC and Nokia.
Now think about your social media platforms. Facebook adequately fulfills the personal profile, status updates and messaging capacities. Although some of us may have qualms with this program, its networking power prevents mass exodus to a newcomer, even if said entrant is better. Ditto for Twitter; it’s the micro-blogging hub, and any new website that attempts to directly imitate it will be squashed. Google+ is a notable exception here, as the company harnessed its preexisting search-engine dominance as well as Gmail to induce widespread participation in its social network startup.
With this as a pretense, 2013 continues to be a catch-up year. Devices will continue to improve in processing speed, size and functionality while prices become all the more competitive. Ergo, software will likewise improve and become more robust. For example, the PS4 was recently announced as the first in the “next generation” of console gaming devices. Yet what functions does it bring to the table to truly revolutionize the gaming industry aside from augmented graphics and a better overall gaming experience? This foretells a phase of technological maturation — a breath of time where late adopters can catch up to what’s in vogue.
Of course, it would be quite naïve to refute what’s happening behind the scenes, namely computerized glass for which Google, Apple and Microsoft all have various patents and multimillion-dollar laboratories cooking up the next generation of commercially viable goods (Google Glass will hit consumer markets in time for the 2013 holiday season). Microsoft will soon deliver its newest gaming consoles, purportedly named the “Xbox 720,” which is promised to be “more than just a gaming system.” The rumor mill at Apple is amok with talks of the iWatch. Then there are 4K and 3D televisions as well as whatever else Blackberry is cooking up. And don’t forget the hand that the military and such whiz kid agencies like NASA play in the trickling down of bold new inventions in the consumer retail space.
But when you look ahead to what will be launched widely within the remaining 250 some odd days that comprise — and not just as a sparkling presentation tool at some convention — there isn’t much in the way of “novel.” For this upcoming year, I don’t see any new burgeoning electronic goods that offer a completely different utility outside of what’s already on the market.
Thus, you shouldn’t worry about such novel technologies, not right now at least. Rather, focus on the devices and software that are de rigueur or past the early-adoption phase — smartphones, tablets, apps, websites, plasma televisions and Wi-Fi-based communication enhancements. Be resilient in knowing that this maturation will afford you the time needed to filter your processes and sharpen your execution.
When the economic downturn hit in 2008, it was a time of scrupulous refinement and of seeking more efficient means to carry out the same routine tasks. Five years later, what’s most important is to imprint those refinements as routines themselves. It’s no longer just about striving to be cutting-edge, but about embracing the technological stability that 2013 offers and ensuring that all your processes are in sync with what is now considered the standard modus operandi.
Specifically, this means that now is the time to upgrade your website to fulfill all necessary tasks while providing customers with a pleasurable electronic experience. Does your website look “2013 professional,” and does it have a content management system to support Google’s upgraded local enterprise, author ranking and social media-activated search algorithms? Does it have a mobile-ready version for both smartphones and tablets? Have you considered a standalone app?
Furthermore, how are you utilizing software to streamline your daily routines and enhance guest service? Are you using technology in a way to hasten communication between departments so there’s a constant dialogue about required adjustments and repairs? Do you have a social media team with an established and effective footprint on all the major channels? Have you considered apps that can enhance the on-property traveler’s experience?
Just as 2013 is a year to get with the times, it can also be a year to get ahead. All this technological prowess should be viewed from a guest satisfaction perspective. Whatever hardware or software you install, it should always add to the experience by eliminating the chance for error, making back-end processes more efficient, heightening revenue capture or augmenting what your hotel provides. It is my hope for you to be resilient in your pursuit for not only increased profits but also a truly exceptional guest experience.