Doug Bannister's blog

Are You Disruptive or a Dinosaur?

Disruption in an industry leads to innovation. Uber and Airbnb are two examples of companies that are disruptive and have turned an industry on its head. They created a peer-to-peer model that combines technology and business. Previously, these industries had cobwebs in their innovation labs. They had established markets dominated by a few main players. By companies such as Uber creating a sharing economy, consumers have greater access to goods and services that may have once been unavailable. The result is an expectation for other companies in that industry to adapt and evolve. While consumers are not necessarily demanding digital transformation, they will gravitate to those organizations that offer the best customer experience. Creating disruption By leveraging a digital communications platform, you can create a unique and engaging customer experience that sets your business apart from your competitors. Perhaps it is getting rid of a point of friction, such as the lines and checkouts, like Amazon Go did with their new retail concept store. No matter what it is, digital communications enable you to create meaningful connections between technology and your stakeholders. Technology has changed how people see various industries and they expect choices. Innovators have developed platforms that enable businesses to easily collect, process and deliver targeted information across the organization on any screen; enhancing your business’s two most valuable assets, people and data. Think outside the box Uber and Airbnb are disruptive because they don’t actually own any cars or hotel rooms. What they have done is transform the entire experience, not just create an app. Consider Airbnb for a second, they disrupted the entire travel industry in 2008. Before its existence, boutique hotels were providing guests with a more intimate stay than the large, mainstream hotels. Travelers began to expect even more choice, they craved a new type of hospitality that provided a personalized experience; the ability to live like a local and immerse one’s self in the culture. Airbnb used technology to be disruptive and create a “marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world” and at the same time created a new normal in the travel industry with their peer-to-peer business model. Previously, consumers weren’t aware what they wanted because the choice wasn’t there. Now, they expect options that grant them more control of their experience. They value increased technological capabilities that are user friendly. If you don't have a digital transformation strategy in place, you will be left behind in the ever-changing business economy. You risk competitors providing better and more robust innovation. And, worst of all, you risk losing your customers. According to Forbes, “for a successful digital transformation in any business organization, digital maturity and a modern organization culture are of paramount importance.”

Digital Customer Experience

Why Digital Customer Experience Is Driving The Shift From Multichannel To Omnichannel  In 1955, milkshake salesman Ray Kroc entered into a partnership with a small California hamburger restaurant named McDonald’s. Over the next few decades, the golden arches would experience an almost unprecedented rise that would shift the landscape of the entire food service industry. What often goes overlooked when discussing the historical significance of McDonald’s, though, is that apart from their streamlined business model, a key driver of growth was the integrated approach to the customer experience. The consistency of McDonald’s messaging allowed them to reach and retain a diverse set of customers. This variety of high-quality consumer communication increased brand loyalty and created opportunities for long term revenue growth. In the not-too-distant-past, sales and marketing professionals looking to emulate the success of a McDonald’s-type organization would refer to this as a “multichannel” marketing strategy. This multichannel strategy involved the simultaneous deployment of messages and offers across a tiered system of channels. The approach, however, is flawed as it lacks a critical cohesiveness.    An omnichannel marketing strategy, on the other hand, is an integrated cross-channel communication strategy that leverages the dispersion of platforms and screens to create powerful and targeted impressions. Omnichannel marketing takes an IOT-like approach to marketing by combining data and analysis with real-time updates and messaging. This omnichannel approach is much better suited for today’s rapidly shifting technological environment. The rewards of a highly optimized customer onboarding, payment, and appreciation process can be tremendous. The Starbucks app, for example, currently has 18.9 million users in the U.S. and allows customers to place their order, pay before they even enter a store, and collect reward points. Mobile technology is allowing this coffee retailer to drive in-store sales and reduce bottle necks. The next evolution in the digital customer experience strategy is the linking of digital displays and communications. Digital signage is quickly replacing the static variety because it offers organizations such as retailers the opportunity to engage and interact with customers on an entirely new level. Due to digital displays doubling as smart solutions, they can do so much more than project menu boards! By utilizing the proper software, businesses are able to display optimized content, creating a better customer experience, while offering retailers additional advertising opportunities. One exciting digital communications asset available today is multi-screen displays. Dozens of different displays can be synced together to promote attention-grabbing content. VOX Cinema recently completed a refurbishment of its theatres that was designed to create a compelling and integrated digital customer experience. The new VOX cinemas also make use of Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and social media to make customers a part of the conversation, with a dedicated six-screen video wall displaying live feeds from Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Dubai’s City Centre-Deira location synchronized over 135 separate screens to create a world class environment for its customers. Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment uses Omnivex Moxie digital communications platform to create an immersive fan experience, by connecting hundreds of screens throughout their flagship Air Canada Centre, home of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Raptors. This Digital Customer Experience can make quantifiable differences in a company’s P&L as well. Capgemini research found that on average, over 80% of consumers are willing to pay more for a better experience. The same study also found that 1 in 5 customers stopped purchasing after a poor experience. Businesses not employing an omnichannel marketing strategy are not only missing out on potential revenue, they are potentially turning away customers for life. With better and easier access to pricing information and quality reports than ever before, consumers today are exceedingly savvy. This means that competitive businesses must utilize all the tools at their disposal to make the customer experience a seamless thing of beauty.

Defending Against Disruption

Defending Against Disruption: Why Business Leaders Must Be Digitally Literate If you are a business leader, there is one term you should be obsessed with: exponential growth. Technology is screeching upward with rocket-like intensity, and unprepared organizations will be left behind. Technology is a little bit like King Midas; everything it touches is transformed. However, it isn’t always possible to predict the next wave of innovation. Decision-makers who are technology savvy and digitally aware have a better chance of rising with the trend, rather than being swamped by it. In fact, the most competent companies in the world should be the most worried about digital disruption. Often, these organizations have established systems and processes that they are reluctant to change with disruptive technologies, even when the business benefits could be significant. While these leaders believe they are doing what’s best for their companies, they are inadvertently the source of organization wide failure when faced with digital disruption. This means that leadership should not only be aware of the latest digital transformations, but also be prepared to embrace them before it may be obvious to do so. You understand the importance of being digitally literate, but now what? There are many ways in which leaders can educate themselves in order to become digitally literate. Start by surfing the media. The media – whether social media, the internet, or even the newspaper – is a consistent and up to date source. As a Founder and CTO myself, I am very familiar with the difficulties of making time among the many other tasks that require my attention throughout the day. That being said, I understand the importance of keeping myself updated and aim to read a minimum of two articles per day. Social media is a great tool to help find these articles. Follow some business or technology visionaries and scroll through your feed whenever you find yourself with a spare minute during the day. You will be surprised how much you learn without having to carve out time to do so. Second, do some research. When a new technology catches your eye investigate it further. Think of the standard questions - Who, What, Where, When, Why. Who could use this technology in my organization? What would they use this technology for? Where can this technology be used – across the organization or individual departments? When does it make sense to roll out a new technology – now or wait until it is more proven or tested? Why does this technology make sense for my organization? Lastly, be open to new technologies. While some new tech may seem farfetched, try and think; how can I use this in my organization and what would it look like? This does not mean you have to jump in head first with an enterprise wide installation, begin with a pilot. Approaching technology with an open mind can reap great benefits, and is sure to surprise you in the long run. Yes, it is true that not every new software or hardware device that comes along will be the game changer. But, as a business leader, it is important that you are unafraid to experiment with the latest and greatest to see if the upside really exists. Especially if that upside involves digital communications and attracting more customers.

Data Drives Decisions

The modern world runs on data. It is the most significant and valuable commodity on Earth, and is the reason Silicon Valley giants like Facebook and Google are worth hundreds of billions of dollars. The core business of these and other tech titans is amassing and consolidating data that can then be sold for use by other companies such as advertisers. Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods for $13.7 billion a few years ago wasn't just merely a play for grocery dollars. It offers the online company a brick-and-mortar presence in which it can explore retail analytics, customer traffic management, and other data driven experiments to gain insights into in-store consumer behavior and decisions that can be transferred to online applications. While data is at the heart of business and technology, many organizations are unable to leverage these silos of wealth and make them useful, due to challenges in consolidating and sharing the information. Unlocking the power of data is key to creating a competitive advantage and the reason for the rise of chief data officers within organizations. A Fortune 1000 company is estimated to generate more than $65 million in additional net income through a mere 10% increase in data accessibility. For retailers, big data has the power to increase the operating margins by as much as 60%. Less than 0.5% of all data is ever analyzed and used to make decisions, leaving a lot of money on the table. It’s no wonder that 97.2% of organizations are investing in big data and AI. Achieving real-time data access and figuring out how to derive value from it is a major consideration for organizations in any industry. Most businesses understand that data empowers more informed decisions, enhancing productivity and efficiency while cutting costs to boost the bottom line. It can also be used to gain actionable insight into consumer behavior and improve the customer experience. The lifespan of a Fortune 500 company is shrinking, and those unable to harness data to their advantage will find themselves losing the battle against data savvy competitors who have harnessed its power to their advantage. The future success of an organization rests in its ability to consolidate information and share it across the business in real-time for maximum impact. Connecting people with data isn’t a nice idea it is a business imperative. From customers to employees to visitors to partners, access to relevant real-time information will have a bigger impact than perhaps even the data itself!    

Podcast - The New Normal is Business Unusual

Doug Bannister, Founder and Chief Technology Officer of Omnivex Corporation, has seen his fair share of business-altering events in the near 30 years his company’s been in business. But Bannister admits he’s experienced nothing quite like the ongoing pandemic that’s changed the way every company does business. In this time of COVID-19, what does the new normal even look like?   “If this event took place 10 years ago, technology was nowhere near where it is now,” Bannister said. Many of the web conferencing tools people are using to communicate now were not available even five years ago. And Bannister pointed out everything from grocery orders to movie watching is under a rapid change where people are doing more things online, and through apps, that they previously did in person. Online education tools are another area that is transforming as the pandemic goes on.   During this time of rapidly changing events and information, Bannister said the most important thing for businesses to do is to provide reliable, consistent, and continual communication with their workers and their customers. “All of these people in business now working remotely have put a magnifying glass on areas we never really focused on before,” Bannister said. It is crucial to re-examine how we communicate under these new sets of circumstances.   If there is a silver lining to all of this, Bannister believes live-altering global events such as the current pandemic bring forth technological enhancements and behavioral changes that transform the way business moves forward. The new normal may be in flux, but one thing’s for sure: humans are adaptable and will make the change.      

How Going Digital Will Transform Employee Engagement

The success of an organization is dependent on its employees and their level of engagement. Engaged employees are enthusiastic and committed to their jobs. They understand goals and objectives of the organization and are committed to its overall success. Engaged employees are less likely to leave the organization to pursue other opportunities. In US companies, employee turnover already costs $160 billion a year. There is no debating the economic benefit of employee engagement. Results include higher productivity, better employee retention, a positive, more creative environment, and generally a better place to work for everyone. So how do you improve employee engagement in your organization? Here is your 5-step guide: 1. First, Take Care of the Basics Employee engagement isn't always easy to define, but you (and your team members) know it when you see it. Studies by the Dale Carnegie Institute have found that there are three key influences on employee engagement in the workplace: Employee relationships with the immediate supervisor Confidence in senior leadership Pride in working for the organization Are these three influences positively affecting employees in your organization? 2. Put Digital Communications to Use in the Workplace Employee bulletin boards, memos, and announcements over the public-address system have been used for ages to communicate to and among employees but there was no guarantee the information was reaching the right employees at the right time. Digital communications on devices like digital signs, videowalls, tablets and mobile phones, incorporate the best of these traditional communication channels with the best of technology. Most people associate digital communications with customer-facing communications, but employee-facing digital communications can be remarkably effective too. Not only can you notify people of emergencies quickly, you can communicate personalized real-time information in a manner that's efficient and often entertaining as well. 3. Make Content Appropriate to the Audience One of the best things about digital communications is that you can do as successful television networks do and tailor content to the audience and their needs. Consider a digital screen in a warehouse - a message welcomes the morning shift to work and reminds them to finish their safety training by the deadline could precede a message from HR about the changes to the benefits plan. At their station personalized information about the orders for the day and key statistics from the previous shift can be pushed to their mobile phone or screen in the area. Digital signage in the locker room could thank the departing shift for their work, showcase key stats from their shift, and provide real-time updates on weather and traffic for their drive home. 4. Use Digital Communications for Employee Recognition A terrific use for digital communications and devices like digital signage is employee recognition. Content could include coverage of formal awards people have earned, or even information from the company social network. Giving employees a way to submit positive information about their peers helps maintain a positive work environment, and when employee achievements are tied in with brand philosophy, both are amplified. 5. Consider Creating a Corporate Social Responsibility Channel Some organizations improve team cohesiveness even more by using digital communications to promote corporate social responsibility (CSR). Most consumers today expect businesses to focus on the world we live in as well as their own interests, and this, of course, carries over to employee attitudes. For example, using digital signage to communicate CSR initiatives and highlight relevant accomplishments on both the employee and corporate level can help employees take pride in their organization. Digital communications is far more than a way for businesses to communicate with customers. It's also terrific for communicating with employees and gives companies lots of opportunity for doing so in an entertaining and effective manner. Not only can devices like digital signs and mobile phones be used to inform employees quickly in the event of an emergency, they can be used for countless everyday applications as well, including deadline reminders, employee recognition, and information about how the company is striving to make the world better. Using digital communications toward better employee engagement helps create a more cohesive workforce, with better morale, and hence a greater willingness among employees to give their best effort. It's fast, flexible, more environmentally friendly than printed materials, and offers endless possibilities for programming content.

Digital Transformation - Keep Pace or Lose the Race

Keep Pace or Lose the Race: Is Your Digital Strategy Ready for Tomorrow’s Marketplace? Companies come and go every day—that’s just the reality of business. Not every company lasts for decades, and even fewer last over a century like Ford, which was founded in 1903. The kiss-of-death for a company is an inability to keep up with technology. It might sound surprising, but the life span of a Fortune 500 company today is significantly shorter than it was 25 years ago. Research in Motion, Nortel, and perhaps most spectacularly of all, Blockbuster, are all casualties of a failure to stay ahead of the technology curve. In fact, in its bid to remain viable, Ford itself recently replaced its CEO amid a tanking stock price. Investors view the automaker as lagging behind Google, Uber, and Tesla in developing technologically advanced, autonomous vehicles for the future. Today’s business climate is dominated by companies that embrace technology and data to transform industries. Think AirBnb, Alibaba, Amazon, and Lyft. We live in a digital age, and leveraging digitization is the only way for a business to thrive in such a competitive landscape. Powerful digital communication tools can enable organizations to easily collect, process, and deliver targeted real-time information to optimize its operations. Digital communications allow for effective message dissemination and extends real-time, customized information to everyone within a company. It’s critical that CEOs and C-suite executives encourage the wide adoption of digitization within a company. It’s a transformation that must involve every team and department to maximize success. Many organizations are slow behemoths, unable to nimbly respond to the fast pace of technological change, often resulting in poor customer experiences. Equipping people and processes with the right technology improves customer satisfaction, inspires innovation, and delivers greater value to all parties. A successful digital platform is one that improves employee engagement, reduces costs, boosts productivity, improves safety, builds brand awareness, and elevates the customer experience. It will also allow employees and partners to better connect with customers to achieve business goals. When effectively deployed, digital tools will reduce costs by optimizing inventory levels and eliminating the distribution of printed material. Digital communications enables organizations to share information while adding value and improving the customer experience. No matter your business, the perfect digital tools will free up time, labor, and financial resources so that you can focus on your core mission.  

It's Time To Rethink Mobility In The Workplace

The digital workforce was a revolution in itself, but the mobile workforce takes it to a new level. What does mobile really mean? Mobility is often associated with a physical device - the mobile phone. However, a mobile workforce is more than just employees running around with mobile phones. A mobile workforce has access to real-time information wherever they are on any device and the ability to communicate back in real-time. Many organizations have a workforce that works virtually or is dispersed across many locations. How do you ensure these employees are getting the right information at the right time on the right device to perform their job? Whether it is corporate news, new policy updates or real-time Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) or even individual tasks, information is the most valuable when it is timely, relevant and engaging. -Advertisement- The most successful organizations will be the ones that recognize the value of putting information at the fingertips of the employees, customers, vendors and partners. The rewards will be numerous from time savings to increased sales to improved satisfaction to company agility. Enterprise mobility is a strategic concept, and not simply a matter of buying the latest devices. Rethinking enterprise mobility requires understanding the tools needed, the ways people consume information and how that ties in with overall corporate objectives. Here are some areas to consider when thinking about enterprise mobility: Mobile Devices Mobile devices, whether phones or tablets, make sense for a huge range of industries. Sales professionals can always be reachable, while technical personnel working in the field can receive important updates in a timely manner. Field technicians can log their work with ease and accuracy, and employees can take care of mundane office tasks without necessarily being in the office. Whether you provide phones or tablets for your team, or have a "bring your own device" (BYOD) strategy, enabling your team to accomplish important tasks on the go is a cornerstone of enterprise mobility. However, another point of consideration that is almost as important as the device itself is what type of information will your employees need to have access to on their mobile device? Will they need to provide real-time updates back on the status of tasks and projects or share key information from the field? Are there corporate resources like expense tracking or vacation requests they need to access when out of the office? A digital communications platform enables organizations to share information in real-time with people regardless of where they are and on any screen is a critical piece of software to have. Videoconferencing One of the drawbacks to a dispersed and mobile workforce is that it can be harder to corral everyone for important meetings. Fortunately, videoconferencing technology has advanced to the point that even smaller businesses can afford it - and they're often the businesses that benefit most. Videoconferencing saves on travel expenses, makes scheduling meetings easier, and is now mobile-friendly, so your busy and scattered workforce can "get together" virtually more easily and cost-effectively than ever before. Videoconferencing makes working virtual still feel like you are part of a team! Digital Signage You might not think of digital signage as being integral to enterprise mobility, but it is. When you have a mobile workforce getting information to the right people at the right time is extremely important. Perhaps it is displaying important corporate messages when they are arriving and leaving the office on a videowall in the lobby or departmental KPIs on a screen in their area or safety notifications on screens throughout the office, regardless digital signage is a great way to make sure the information is seen by people on the move.

A Day in the Digital Life

From the moment you wake up until you lie down at night, your day is remarkably more digital today than a decade ago – or even a few years ago. With the new digital age comes unprecedented access to information. Let’s take a peek at an average day in the life of a working professional and examine how digital information impacts just about every decision we make: You start your day at home where you wake up to your cell phone alarm. You immediately open your weather app, which tells you that it will be sunny where you live, but raining in Lisbon, Portugal, where you are headed later that morning for meetings. With this in mind, you pack an umbrella into your carry-on bag. On your way to the airport, you pop into the office. As you pull up to the parking garage, the digital sign at the entrance tells you Levels 1 and 2 are full. Luckily there are spots available on Level 3. You drive straight there and scan the coloured lights over the parking spaces for a green one so you can park your car. At the office, you take the elevator up to the 10th floor while watching an ad for flowers on a mounted display screen. That reminds you Mother’s Day is coming up, so you make a note in your phone’s calendar to send mom a gift. As you enter your office, you see some great news: the KPI screen indicates that sales numbers are up, but there seems to be a spike in support calls; you make a mental note to chat with the support manager about potential causes. You have a quick round of meetings in the conference room, some via Skype as many of your co-workers are located in different cities around the world. While you are printing out hard copies of the report for your prospective client in Lisbon, a notification on your phone tells you it’s time to head to the airport. You hop in your car to head to the airport and your GPS routes you around construction to save you time on the road. As you park at the airport, you realize you forgot to check in online. It’s no problem, though, because you can print out your boarding pass at one of the many kiosks inside. After the ritual security check, you find your gate number on a bank of video screens. It says you have 45 minutes before your flight boards, so you pop into the executive lounge to return a few emails. Once you’ve boarded and settled in, a safety video appears on the monitor in front of you relaying vital instructions to follow in the unlikely event of an emergency. Then, it’s wheels up. You reach cruising altitude when you realize you haven’t eaten all day. You pull up the in-flight menu on the touchscreen monitor and order a hearty meal that the attendant brings right to your seat. After eating, reviewing documents on your tablet, and taking in a movie or two, you decide to get some shut eye. When you wake up, you’ve arrived at Lisbon Portela Airport. Digital wayfinding tools help you find your way to the taxi stand, where you show the driver the name of your hotel on your phone. Within 30 minutes, you’ve checked into a room with an incredible view. Energized and ready to go, you visit your client and make an excellent presentation using your laptop and the projector in the conference room. Excitingly, you close the deal! After emailing your team back home with the good news, you check your social media accounts and message an old college roommate who also happens to be in town. You meet for dinner at a restaurant that has complimentary reviews about online. With the help of a mobile translation app, you order and enjoy an amazing dinner. After that, it is back to the hotel for some sleep before you head home in the morning. Digital technologies touch our lives at multiple points throughout the day. It may be in ways we expect, like on our mobile phones, but is often present in less obvious ways, like in the sensors at airport security or on the electronic signs we read during our commutes. Ultimately, however, digital technology enables us to make more informed, and thus far better decisions at just about every turn.

Digital Signage Fuels SMART Organizations

Whether you are a large enterprise with employees scattered all over the globe or a smaller organization with multiple departments, the struggle to get specific information to the right people at the right time is still the same. The use of visual communications and technologies like digital signage, interactive kiosks, and video walls provides an opportunity to communicate important messages, emergency notifications, and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to their employees that can help reinforce branding, improve building navigation, as well as enable informed decision making. By integrating digital signage, you have the ability to transform into a ‘SMART’ organization - one that is "Specific-Measurable-Assignable-Realistic and Time-Related." A New Era of Communication With Microsoft’s recent acquisition of LinkedIn, it plans to bring together the “world’s leading professional cloud and network.”  With a common mission to empower people and organizations, Microsoft and LinkedIn intend to break down the silos of information that currently exist for professionals and “create more connected, intelligent and productive experiences.”  When you connect people with information where and when they need it you improve productivity, unlock ROI and break down silos. Employee Communications Digital signs maintained for employees can be immensely useful and help disseminate information quickly, accurately, and in a format that is attention-grabbing. Employees can be kept updated with real-time external information like the news, weather or traffic alerts, and internal information like KPIs or corporate goals. Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) provide actionable metrics that most organizations use to keep their business on track. Historically, KPIs have often been tracked in spreadsheets and scorecards that were distributed on a monthly, quarterly or yearly basis. With the growing popularity of digital screens and digital signage it is now possible to publish real-time updates to KPIs as they happen and keep everyone in the organization informed about how things are tracking.  Integrating with back-end applications like CRM (Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, etc.) and ERP (SAP, Oracle, etc.), can show performance metric changes as they happen, enabling improved decision making and allowing staff to be more proactive which increases efficiency. Engaging with your employees and getting them more involved at work can help boost confidence by building an understanding of how the company is performing, increase their trust with company transparency, and create a culture of team spirit. Motivated employees who are committed to their job and their employer are more likely to be high performing, loyal and happy in their work, and it is these employees who will be the company's best ambassadors. Integrated Digital Workplace Creating an integrated digital workplace is easier than you think. First let's breakdown what we mean by "integrated". Integration can take many different shapes and forms. One of the most common approaches is integrating information from various sources such as news and weather feeds, scheduling systems, and technologies such as sensors and alarms or other Internet of Things (IoT) devices. By utilizing a digital signage platform, organizations can tie together all of these applications and devices to create a unified communications solution. Examples of common applications include: 1. Emergency notifications Virtually all organizations need to have a way to notify their employees, customers, or visitors of potential fire, health or safety hazards. While audio alarms have long been the standard, visual communications provides a new and unique way to get real-time alerts and information out to people where and when they need it while improving disaster preparedness and safety plans. 2. Interactive Kiosks People today are more self-directed than ever.  Interactive kiosks enable employees and visitors to self-serve. Providing them with relevant real-time information and a personalized experience. 3. Video walls Organizations have the ability to stand out and captivate their audience with multi-display signage. With a software platform, you can do more than just a looped video. Create that “wow” moment with scalable content that will impress any executive, employee, or guest.

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