Great Expectations With Today’s Digital Travellers

Posted by Leadent Solutions on March 16, 2015

There seems to be a travel bug in the air. My colleague, Emma recently got back from the far east, and wrote about the step change in mobile communications over the last ten years. Me, I just got back from New Zealand, and, whilst I entirely agree with her observations, I think there are further lessons to be had from observing life around the world.

It’s not just that “today’s digital travellers have information and power at their fingertips to guide them seamlessly around the world”; it is that they now expect to be able to do this wherever they are – being disconnected is now considered ‘odd’.  And, I suspect that it increasingly seems to them that anything should be possible. Their personal technology capabilities are outstripping their workplace capabilities.

Whatever you think about the psychological issues linked to the ‘always on’ world, you can’t deny that people have an expectation these days. And it’s not just about being able to Facebook at leisure, or be able to look up travel times, anywhere, anytime, or simply to telecommute. It’s that they also have a less conscious expectation, built upon not just the connectivity, but also the power of modern smartphones and tablets. They expect ease of use. They expect that there will be ‘an app for that’. Whether in controlling their home,  keeping up with the news, managing their travel, checking email, or organising their social life (in whatever circles they socialise). And getting it costs (usually) just a small amount from the App Store.

These unwritten expectations have some consequences, which we, in the enterprise world, should overlook at our peril.

There really is an app for that. And if there isn’t someone will write it. Once upon a time, I learned that if the business needs to do something, and the IT department gets in the way, they’ll go round it. Then they used spreadsheets – now, it’s Apps. Suitably designed, selected, and implemented, there’s really nothing wrong. But make sure you’ve thought about data security, connectivity, and a raft of other issues before the workaround becomes a ‘business as usual’ process – all things that are very difficult to bolt on after, even if you don’t suffer a major outage or security issue in the meantime.

Users know best. Really, the Customer is King. Always was, always will be. But somehow that can get forgotten in IT deployments. Sure, there are constraints and issues presented by policy, budgets, technical constraints, and other factors, but they know what they need to do. Never lose sight of the business requirement, and if it can’t (easily) be met, or conflicts with policy, let them know why, and work out alternative solutions to address the business need. Together. Otherwise, they’ll find a way to do their job without you. Even if you are the expert.

End users have expectations. With regards the art of the possible, these are now so far in excess of those of 10 years back, and are set by smartphones, smart TVs, tablets, home networks and plenty more. They expect mobility, functionality, immediacy. Many delivery teams haven’t kept up, hamstrung by older kit, network constraints, commercial constraints, legacy systems and more. Users now know what ought to be possible, they have strong views; anything less will disappoint. It’s important to manage those expectations, and help them understand and value the less obvious things that corporate systems offer behind the scenes. But don’t just ignore the expectation.

It’s important therefore, when delivering to the user, modern or otherwise, to recognise these expectations. Systems should support and meet expectations and requirements, not dictate them (a common trap). Two of these challenges aren’t even new – just old problems reinvented for the mobile age. But when it comes to expectations, users might just be on to a thing or two. It looks like they’ve had their horizons seriously broadened by all that travel.