We focus on the upcoming IP Expo Europe Conference at Excel London and ask the question – are consumers being left behind?
If so, this would be a pity. It is no coincidence that IP Expo Europe is just a few days before the Chinese IRC Retail Conference also in London, whose view is; With the challenge of slowing retail sales, international expansion is key to maintaining double-digit growth.
The emergence of the Chinese eCommerce market, in a country whose GDP is constantly growing, is a clear opportunity to Re:Generate retail. Today’s QiXi day – the Chinese equivalent to Valentine’s day – is poised to generate record growth in international eCommerce sales. In other words, ECOMMERCE can drive retail.
The problem is, that’s not how ordinary people are viewing this. It’s not just Consumers, although there is a dawn of realisation in the minds of the general public that the great benefit of online retail might also be killing the social high street that binds society together. Maybe going shopping wasn’t so bad after all? When one third of all the things that people buy online, are routinely returned to their sender – and there are more charity shops than thriving retailers – perhaps we are missing something in the way we describe and market “digital transformation”. Transformation might not necessarily be for the better.
The same feeling is also spreading into our public sectors; increasingly we are seeing new “digital transformation” labelled projects, that are little more than typing our patient records into someone’s Windows 7 desktop. The NHS has “ringfenced” (oh please, don’t be naive) – money for “digital transformation” that will simply throw money at projects its hospitals were going to do anyway. Digital Transformation is great PR.
At a time when emails no longer carry the same immediacy as they originally did – and it is now better to communicate sending something called a Letter in the mail – are we missing the point in thinking that everybody of course knows what blockchain is? Or are we blinded by selling technology to ourselves, when we are forgetting that what people want are the benefits of said technology? What that technology is – is irrelevant.
And that’s the point. IP Expo Europe is not addressing consumers. It is a platform for the vendors of said technology, to show us the best ways of delivering business benefit. We as “consumers” of technology should know how to translate that into something our own customers will understand. But to get there – we need the face to face, the casual conversation, the in depth presentation – with our peers – that will show us better ways to get where we ourselves need to go.
This may in turn reflect back into our struggling retail market, as long as it is a catalyst for methodology change, marketing people to get together. In short, the key to overall success, is a mix of the two -ECOMMERCE drives face to face retail.
We expect the greater awareness of vendors and delegates at IP Expo Europe will bear fruit in the change in the way vendors market what they do, and organisations handle their consumer data, in particular, becoming more open to international business – which will in turn drive the very retail sectors that are under pressure.
If so, then Digital Transformation can start to create social good in the very areas that have been left behind.