If you can't Stand the Heat, Knock Down the Kitchen (there's an app for that)

We’ve had the Ice Age, the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, and the Industrial Age (I’ve probably missed a few out there but you get the idea).  Now we are in what has become generally known as the ‘Information Age’ – we compute more than 5 times the amount of information now than we did 20 years ago.

The Information Age has completely shifted spending habits.  The best example of this has been succinctly put by author and entrepreneur Seth Godin –

“More people are listening to music today than ever before but the recording industry is toast. That’s revolution.” 

The revolution has been brought about by the internet and its ease of access through modern and multiple devices – most buying decisions now either start or end (quite often both) with a visit to the World Wide Web. 

That means that consumers and customers are able to educate themselves online before buying products.  And not just able to – most buyers feel the need to be educated before they are confident enough to make the purchase.

So businesses, ourselves included, are having to take a good long look at themselves in order to adapt and ensure that they are really adding value to people’s lives and businesses.

To use myself as an example, my wife and I have been thinking about doing up the kitchen and adding an extension for at least the last 2 years (probably more), but we’ve never actually got around to it (I’m a Finance Director – so have a naturally allergy to spending cash).

At the weekend I came across an iPad app called PadCAD which, after I’d entered a few measurements, created a virtual and highly accurate layout of my kitchen.  It let me add icons for the appliances – oven, kitchen sink etc. and then allowed me to see what it would look like should I want to knock a wall or two down.  It also allowed me to make copies so I could have a few different perspectives of what the finished design might look like.

That “app” cost me £12.  Which is more than double that what I’ve ever spent on an app before. But then again without the app I would probably have procrastinated indefinitely before grudgingly paying an architect to come and measure my walls and show me what could be done by knocking them down.

This app is, of course, dangerous on many levels. 

Number one:

I’m so proud of the money that I saved on not using an architect that I now classify myself as a bit of a DIY expert, and then I start to think what else I could do with the app.  The dining room could probably use a re-design…

Number two: 

I haven’t a clue as to whether it would actually be ok to knock down the walls I’ve chosen to. I could end up in the middle of a Flintstones-esque scene with a hammer and a chisel in my hand and the entire foundations of my house in surrounding ruin.

On the other hand I’m now in the position of a better-informed purchaser, and I’ve got a much better idea of what I (well, my wife) might like to do. I’m also better placed to recognise the value in the expertise that an architect will have (i.e., he probably won’t bring the house down, which I’m at a strong risk of doing). 

To give another example, we’ve all probably been in the frustrating situation when we want to buy a new TV.  We look online and do the research, and from that we pretty much know which model we want to get, but we need to know the difference between Full HD and HD Ready for example, and we need some expertise for that. 

Yet somehow, we end up knowing more about the TV than the assistant in the high street store (mentioning no names). 

Essentially, in order to make a purchasing decision that we’re 100% happy with, we have to understand the value of expertise, and know when it’s worth paying for. 

I know that my iPad app alone isn’t going to transform my kitchen, but I’m a lot further along having used it and my relationship with the inevitable architect will hopefully go a lot more smoothly because I’ve become a well-informed buyer (and I know that he’s less able to pull the wool over my eyes!)

In the IT industry there is a sea of information out there about the different types of software, hardware and services that all aim to improve business processes. And a lot of videos that often tell the consumer about how easy they all are to set up.

Unfortunately, much of the information is just as likely to confuse as it is to provide clarity.

Our focus at TSG is to ensure that customers understand the value of our expertise – we’ve been in the industry for a long time and we also invest heavily in finding out what’s coming up.  So it’s all about taking a consultative approach with our customers and making sure that what we offer is really helping them to meet their needs, and their future requirements.

To draw a final parallel with my building project, the last thing any business wants is for their IT system to crumble into virtual dust.