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Daniel Burrus

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The Importance of Anticipating Your Customers Needs

Posted: 06/15/2012 9:17 am

Facebook, with their IPO, is certainly in the news recently. But did you know that most of the things you're doing today on Facebook you weren't doing two years ago because they were impossible to do?

Similarly, YouTube was not very big five years ago. Why? Because we didn't have storage, processing power, and bandwidth to a point where your computer could make YouTube a pleasant experience or even a usable experience. Today, it's an amazing experience. And tomorrow, it will be far better.

Skype didn't work all that well in the recent past. Now it's very good -- some would even say excellent. Tomorrow it will work far better, with multiple people on your screen. 

All this is possible today because we are at the base of a curve of unprecedented transformational change powered by the exponential advances in processing power, storage, and bandwidth. These three drivers are accelerating at such a rapid pace that, even though companies like Facebook, YouTube, and Skype are adding amazing amounts of revenue that were impossible to do just two years ago, when you look forward two years from now, it's an even bigger deal than it is today.

So you have to ask yourself, "As an organization, am I being left out of this new revenue generation, or am I going to start paying attention to the exponential changes in processing power, storage, and bandwidth and what that allows me to do?"

Realize that it's not just the IBMs, the Facebooks, the Googles, and the Apples of the world that are giving us amazing new capabilities. You should be looking at it whether you're a manufacturer, distributor, or salesperson. Whatever position, job, or industry you're in, you should be looking at the impact that these predictable technologies are having on us. Then ask yourself, "What new revenue could this help us create, because now we can do something that was impossible to do just a short time ago?"

The key insight I'm sharing here is that we tend to ask customers, "What would you like?" and then we give it to them. But you have to understand that customers will always under-answer. Why? Because they don't know what's technically possible. Let's face it, nobody ever asked for an iPod, an iPhone, or an iPad; yet Apple has done quite well.

Why is Facebook giving us an alternative to email? Because a lot of people are cutting back their email use and are communicating on Facebook instead. No one asked Facebook to do this. Rather, they saw what was possible and gave it to consumers before they even asked.

Likewise, you'd better have a company website within Facebook or you're missing out. Additionally, we're doing searches in a whole new and different way, because people are searching on Facebook. Obviously, there's some reinvention going on that's changing how we live, work, and play -- and Facebook is using it to create new revenue streams, just as Apple did with their products.

So instead of asking customers, "What would you like?" and giving it to them, you have to focus on the more important question. Ask yourself, "What would customers really want to do if they only knew they could do it? Then, look at the rapid advances in processing power, storage, and bandwidth and ask yourself, "Could I give it to them?"

You're doing to increasingly find that they the answer is yes.

 

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