The ancient Greeks had a word for capturing the opportune time for action, Kairos. Time is the great equalizer, as we all start with the same amount, but each puts time to different use. Over the last twenty years, we’ve seen business models succeed and fail based on the ability to adapt to a new mindset, one related to speed-to-market and how fast companies adjust to their customer demands.
Instant gratification and the ease of access created new ventures that enabled one-year-old companies to gain tremendous market value. As consumers began to trust the Internet, new online services emerged globally where speed and responsiveness became the norm. Businesses no longer needed to depend on local customers, which cemented the term “death of distance” into the lexicon.
While timing is important, when it comes to the right place at the right time, it’s more important to be positioned in a place to take advantage of the opportune moment. Knowing when to move into action on new technology is a fine balance of practicality and aggressiveness.
Over the years, many have attempted to address this precise moment in time in all-too-familiar terms – “tipping points,” “chasm crossing,” and “slopes of enlightenment” – all of which have been offered up to establish the moment in time when a paradigm shift reaches mainstream acceptance.
I want to offer up perhaps an even more straightforward way to identify the key moment. After watching several technology waves come and go over the years, I believe that moment occurs when technology shifts from noun to verb status – more explicitly when both vendors and businesses stop focusing on what something “is” and shift to what it “does.” Technology vendors have a penchant for focusing on what a technology “is” – such as the product attributes. Customers buy the verb (what it does), not the noun (what it is). When companies and their customers are talking the same language, progress is made and adoption occurs.
Businesses are dealing with uncertainties in the current market, often unable to fully engage their customers and clientele. As with all great economic and social downturns, it is clear that some businesses will survive, and others will fail. Early indications are that companies providing cloud-based, virtual solutions can continue providing products and services while others are not. These companies captured the opportune time to provide much-needed services. They will be rewarded with future business and brand recognition as the ones who were available and answered the call during times of extreme ambiguity.
Suddenly, in 2020, we have seen a massive forcing function on global businesses. Suppliers, who had spent years describing cloud solutions from one perspective, quickly saw that what cloud “does” was far more relevant than what cloud “is.” IT organizations worldwide had a ready-made challenge that had to be addressed with their existing line of business partners – urgently moving from the theoretical to the practical in a matter of weeks – from noun to verb.
In the contact center space, suddenly 75-80% of the world’s eighteen million contact center agents were working at home, supported within a cloud model, either wholly or partially – and perhaps even permanently. Companies experienced the immediate benefit of a cloud operating model tangibly, instead of discerning the value of a solution from static spec sheets and generic benefits such as “lower TCO” and “business agility.”
Inevitably, new technologies will come along which could historically be described in “is” terms. Still, if recent events are an indicator of the future of adoption, there will be many verbs in the future of global contact centers.
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