While demand for many products and services which had languished through most of the pandemic is resuming (and in some cases roaring back) there are far greater growth opportunities in new offerings that didn’t exist 18 months ago.

History has demonstrated that innovations – and economic demand for them – are preceded by, if not borne from, periods of crisis. New research shows a full 50% of consumers have new priorities for their buying decisions, forged by what they might have suffered or reconsidered through the chaotic fits and starts of locking down and opening up.

And businesses – recognizing they were unprepared for decades-old trends of working from home, digital commerce, and virtual events, and simultaneously having their confidence buoyed by the speed with which their teams responded – now want to accelerate digital transformations that in prior years might have lacked full resolve or funding.

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50%

consumers have new priorities for their buying decisions based on reconsiderations through chaotic fits and starts of locking down and opening up.

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The opportunity for high-tech companies

Firms whose offerings are ingredients in other companies’ innovations may be able to ride their customers’ slipstream simply by increasing supply, and may achieve more than incremental growth. But this strategy risks perpetuating the squeeze and commoditization many high-tech firms have experienced over the last two decades. It also neglects the opportunity the pandemic has provided for high-tech companies to create new growth by transforming themselves.

Companies wishing to fully capitalize on the wave of new demand understand that the most economically successful innovations were not themselves technologies; they were new offerings that applied existing technologies in service of customers’ unmet needs. And the most successful among them – automobiles, television, search engines, cloud services, ride sharing, cryptocurrencies – differentiated from the options that came before them by providing better experiences that made it easier for people to achieve their intended purpose.

In each of the technology-enabled examples above (as well as numerous others) the leaders that enjoyed the greatest growth were those that focused not on finding profit pools, but on finding problem pools. They fixated on customer problems – the outcomes customers were trying to achieve, the obstacles to customers achieving them – then explored what new experiences might deliver, enable, or accelerate customers’ intended outcomes.

They then transformed their strategy, people, processes, technology, marketing, sales, operations and metrics to optimally deliver those new experiences. And these experience-driven companies – across all industries – achieve more than six-times greater profitability growth than their product-centric peers.

New areas of opportunity to explore – experiences to reimagine

Here are five potential areas in which high-tech companies might drive significant new growth by reimagining experiences that make it easier for customers to achieve the purposes or outcomes that have emerged as increasingly important to them in their post-pandemic lives and work.

Consider the questions posed and how your company might be well-positioned to deliver innovative new experiences that answer those questions, as well as how the company might itself need to transform – technologically, operationally, or culturally – to realize them.

1. Business value as-a-Service

Beyond simply shifting one-time payment for products to what are essentially perpetual leases, consider the reasons customers purchase such products in the first place:

  • What are they ultimately trying to achieve?
  • What challenges must they still address to achieve it once they’ve received the product?
  • Which of those challenges can you solve, or make easier for customers to solve, as the key proposition of a new offering?
  • What might be industry-agnostic or industry-specific needs that you can address in order to deliver or accelerate the business value customers are trying to realize? 
  • Can you address those needs yourself, or might partnerships or joint initiatives increase the relevance of an offering and/or provide better access to, or influence of, target customers?  

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2. Home sweet (work from) home

Two-thirds of people who had never worked from home want to continue doing so even after it’s safe to return to offices. But working from home introduced numerous stressful challenges. Rooms repurposed for multiple activities. Larger open-plan spaces not designed for privacy.

  • What offerings might facilitate home workers to manage competing activities, priorities and noise in limited space shared with others?
  • What might be sold directly to consumers, and what might be sold to companies to provide to their employees?

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3. It's good to be a SMB

With millions relocated from cities to suburbs (and many of them working from home) local products and businesses are set to thrive. But customer expectations have been forged by large, experience-focused companies with much greater resources.

  • How might SMBs be enabled to find and serve new customer demand while ensuring they can focus on their business and meet elevated customer expectations – all with limited people and technology?

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4. The smart home revisited

The pandemic brought into stark focus for millions how much screens and technology had come to dominate their lives. Many have reexamined what is most important to them, and found they don’t want more technology for smarter homes, but whatever will help them enjoy easier, more purposeful and fulfilling lives.

  • What offerings might help people to spend more time connecting with each other and less time connected to their screens?
  • How can you help them to have greater control of their time and their lives, as opposed to their lights, locks and thermostats?

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5. Sustainable me

Most people have recognized that current levels of consumption and waste are on track to make our world uninhabitable for future generations. Consumers are asking companies to do their part in their sourcing, supply chains, operations, and overall environmental impact.

But many consumers wonder what they themselves can do, as they reconsider all the disposable electronics, clothing, packaging, and other detritus of their daily lives. What new offerings might make it easier for people to manage their environmental impact, without disruptive behavioral changes that are too hard to adopt?

While consumers are being encouraged by many to consume less, that works against business growth for many high-tech companies. So how might consumers continue enjoying new technology-based products and services, but be enabled to do so either without feeling guilty about their environmental impact, or to feel righteous and advocate new offerings because their purchases are having zero or even positive impact?

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New growth opportunities abound

These are just five areas of many in which reimagined experiences can create new growth engines. The true number are as many as there are customer purposes, problems, or outcomes not yet being adequately met.

The biggest winners in the growing economic surge would likely be those focused not on renewed demand for pre-pandemic offerings, but those creating new experiences that better help customers to realize the purposes they have prioritized in the post-pandemic world. This is an opportunity for high-tech companies to reinvigorate their innovation DNA and to transform not just their offerings, but also themselves.

 

This content is provided for general information purposes and is not intended to be used in place of consultation with our professional advisors.

Copyright © 2021. Accenture. All rights reserved. Accenture and its logo are registered trademarks of Accenture.

Gene Cornfield

Managing Director – Interactive

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