Mitch Joel speaks at the CDW Executive SummIT: Delivering Better Outcomes Through IT.

Jun 21 2022

CDW Executive SummIT: How Disruption and Innovation Drive Business Outcomes

Disruption is what drives progress, and IT is ripe for change as it moves beyond the transformative decisions many organizations made in response to the pandemic.

As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. Or, in the case of remote work during the pandemic, perhaps necessity was the mother of adoption.

While many organizations were forced to implement remote work as a means of survival, the technology and policies that were required have outlasted the pandemic itself. Innovative collaboration tools, cloud migration and the modernization of mobile apps continue to evolve as user expectations demand.

At the CDW Executive SummIT: Delivering Better Outcomes Through IT, bestselling author Mitch Joel offered his thoughts on the new forms of technological disruption that could be on the horizon. “We have to bring, as the IT leaders of business, this perspective. We can’t be the department of no; we have to be that department of possibility. Because that’s going to be the opportunity to truly move it forward,” Joel said.

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Remote Work Paved the Way for More Digital Transformation

Joel noted the shift much of the world has already made from fully remote work to hybrid arrangements. Drawing on statistics included in a Pew Research Center report, Joel said, “If you look at some of the data that’s out there, it’s kind of scary. It’s really frightening. We’re seeing things like this, that 75 percent of the executives only want to come back to the office three more days a week,” Joel stated. “If you move down to the rank and file: 37 percent.”

“We’re also seeing 17 percent of workers are saying, ‘I‘ve got to work remotely because I don’t even live where I was when I took the job that I used to go to.’ And that’s a big number. I mean, these, to me, are jaw-dropping,” he said.

He recommended taking a different approach, one that considers everything — not just work — to be remote. “That creates a huge opportunity: How do we actually make everything truly remote? Cloud provides for a lot of this, and AI and ML provide for a lot of this. But it’s going to be incumbent on you in this room to really have some vision on this.”

RELATED: Learn about the challenges IT leaders face in a work-from-anywhere world.

New Forms of Consumer Behavior Have Forced Innovation

Joel referred to the current state of IT as a “great compression,” saying that consumer behavior continues to change with each passing day. That constant change in behavior alters customer expectations, which in turn require businesses to pivot to improve the experiences they provide.

Joel pointed to the retail sector to demonstrate how the customer experience drives transformation. “Physical shopping is a social activity. Even if you hate it, it’s still a social physical activity where you run into other people in their protein forms. Online shopping is a very much transactional buying experience, and it’s always been that way.”

The differences between physical and online shopping have highlighted customer expectations in ways that have influenced each other. In-store shoppers now expect the convenience and immediacy of online shopping. Online shoppers also demand the personalization of an in-store experience.

“People don’t buy things; they buy experiences,” Joel said. “People really buy from people they know, like and trust. So, it’s all about the experience.”

Mitch Joel
People don’t buy things; they buy experiences.”

Mitch Joel Author of Six Pixels of Separation and CTRL ALT Delete

Services Are the New Customer Experience

Joel noted that the vast majority of experiences we have are happening on our phones, tablets and laptops, but “a vast majority of companies are still building web-first, not mobile-first, in a world, even pre-pandemic, that we knew is primarily driven by the smart devices.”

“Services have become the new experience,” Joel said, warning companies selling products and not creating services that their days are numbered. As he sees it, there’s a great deal of opportunity in offering subscription services.

Apple has fundamentally pushed themselves towards being a service-based business that also happens to offer products that have you hooked on those services,” he said.

“Soon, you’ll be able to have a subscription model for your iPhone,” he predicted. You won't spend $1,300 or $2,000 on your iPhone; you’ll pay for a month and have access to all of the things you have access to.”

The ultimate goal for any organization should be to provide a better, simpler customer experience, Joel said. “A better experience for the customer is fundamentally to make our complexity invisible to everybody else.”

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Photography by Joe Kuehne

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