True breakthroughs are rare in any industry. So is true innovation. But what does innovation even mean?
Wikipedia, our crowd-sourced and most accessible pool of human knowledge, says: “Innovation is a new idea, more effective device or process. Innovation can be viewed as the application of better solutions that meet new requirements, unarticulated needs, or existing market needs. This is a process that brings together various novel ideas in a way that they have an impact on society.”
I like to define it for myself like this: Innovation is when you connect the previously unconnected.
It takes certain experience and fresh thinking to come up with new ways of doing things. And often, these new ways use existing means, just re-arrange or connect them differently, to create something new that has value. For readers here, that might mean leveraging age-old technologies in new ways to improve the mobile customer experience, increase customer touch points, while saving cost for the enterprise.
But what are the mobile technologies worth reconnecting? Here’s what I think:
SMS: Over 20 years old, this byproduct of mobile network communication is being discovered by businesses across all verticals and across the world for customer (and internal) communication. If our customers are talking to each other over this channel, why can’t we talk to our customers over this channel? This is an epiphany that is currently spawning a renaissance of a channel that was presumed to be dying not too long ago.
Mobile Web: The web was built with openness in mind, offering standardized access to information with no barriers. The return to the software download model with native apps was a step backward of sorts, but we are seeing new signs of the re-emergence of web models lately.
Telephony: Oh the good old telephony network – being able to reach any and every endpoint on this planet to me still ranks among the most impressive technological achievements of the last century. Mobile networks have not dropped the ball. The extent of our connectedness is simply amazing.
Interactive Voice Response: To take something uniquely human – communication through purely acoustic signals – and teaching a computer to improve accessibility of information is something that has fascinated me for a long time. In fact, I decided to study it way back when; it’s a field called computational linguistics.
Call/Contact Center: Technology to centrally manage the experts of a company and give them access to knowledge bases (see below) and let them communicate with customers on the channel of their (the customers’) choice is still the foundation for any business that deems customer service important for its success.
Natural Language Understanding: When I alluded to new signs of the re-emergence of web models above, I partly meant the ability to communicate with machines using natural language (say, English). Articles like Futures of Text or When One App Rules Them All: The Case of WeChat and Mobile in China describe this exciting new world much more eloquently than I could. Other, and way more predominant, use cases for NLU today are text and sentiment analysis as well as machine translation.
Knowledge Bases: If knowledge is only in the brains of your employees, you have a problem. That is, until someone invents (sic!) an API to people’s brains. Since that’s most likely still some time out, you need software to manage and maintain your company’s knowledge.
As a consumer myself, I have yet to see any of my vendors offer me service and support the way we show here. But let me tell you that I would love it. And our research tells us that I wouldn’t be the only one.
Edited by Kyle Piscioniere