Hi-tech hi-touch – how to get a bit of Steve Jobs into your business

by
January 29, 2012

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The success of Facebook shows the power of hi-tech hi-touch in action (see previous post “What has hi-tech hi-touch got to do with life as we know it, Jim?”).  But is that just a freak, a one-off?

No.

Let’s look at another company that was in deep doo doo, way back in 2006 – Apple.  That was the year Steve Jobs, fired in 1985, returned…and the rest is history.  Under his authoritarian and somewhat wacky leadership they launched the iMac, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad, and (briefly, in August) became the world’s most valuable listed company.

Making people love gadgets

So what has hi-tech hi-touch, the got to do with Steve Jobs and the way he turned the company around?  Everything.  He was a genius at getting people to connect emotionally with computer chips and circuit boards encased in plastic.

Just read a few lines from his recent obituaries and you soon get the picture.

“He stood out in three ways—as a technologist, as a corporate leader and as somebody who was able to make people love what had previously been impersonal, functional gadgets.”

“As a technologist, Mr Jobs was different because he was not an engineer—and that was his great strength. Instead he was obsessed with product design and aesthetics, and with making advanced technology simple to use.”

“His great achievement was to combine an emotional spark with computer technology, and make the resulting product feel personal.”

For full article go to http://www.economist.com/node/21531529

Technology that makes your heart sing

“Mr Jobs had an unusual knack for looking at technology from the outside, as a user, not just from the inside, as an engineer—something he attributed to the experiences of his wayward youth.

“Technology alone is not enough,” said Mr Jobs at the end of his speech introducing the iPad 2, in March 2011. “It’s technology married with liberal arts, married with humanities, that yields the results that make our hearts sing.”

For the full article go to http://www.economist.com/node/21531530

Starting with the customer experience

In a speech to a conference held for Apple’s third-party software developers in 1997 Jobs explained the strategy that was to lead to Apple’s recovery. “One of the things I’ve always found is that you’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology. You can’t start with the technology and try to figure out where you are going to try to sell it. I’ve made this mistake probably more than anybody else in this room, and I’ve got the scar tissue to prove it, and I know that it’s the case.”

“As we have tried to come up with a strategy and a vision for Apple, it started with ‘What incredible benefits can we give to the customer? Where can we take the customer?’, not with ‘Let’s sit down with the engineers and figure out what awesome technology we have and how are we going to market that.’ I think that’s the right path to take.”

For full article go to http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2011/oct/06/steve-jobs-obituary

A challenge for you

All of today’s electronic devices, gizmos and gadgets are hi-tech, but Apple made much greater efforts to invest theirs with hi-touch.  It’s the only technology company whose logo you see on bumper stickers, the only one whose users are such loyal and enthusiastic evangelists for the product.  When Steve Jobs died there were bouquets of flowers outside Apple stores – but how many HP, Dell and Samsung customers can even name that company’s CEO?

The guy really got hi-tech hi-touch.  But the more important issue is this – “do you?”  And what are you doing to make hi-touch an integral part of your business?  You might not be in the technology sector at all.  But, whatever the industry or market, you could make greater efforts to see things from the perspective of the customer’s experience, to add an “emotional spark” and make your offering “feel personal”, to provide products and services that make “hearts sing”.

How, exactly?

Well, if you are not using social media to connect with people then I suggest you start right there, right now.  And if you don’t understand what practical step you need to take, or simply don’t have the time, then get some help.

NB.  Are there any other businesses out there that demonstrate the power of combining hi-tech with hi-touch?  I can think of loads – but which ones would you put on the list?