Accenture Interactive's Ben Morgan on the disruption needed for our digital future

It’s a given digital is taking over our lives. And guess what? Businesses need to adapt too if they want our money.

Customised playlists that begin the instant you turn on your car and are timed perfectly for the length of your journey and why you’re driving. Coffee makers that can automatically order more pods for you when they’re empty. Wearable tech like Google Glass that can tell you where exactly you are and what's nearby as you look around in real-time. Lights that turn on the moment you enter a room, at an ambience to match the time of day. Personalised discounts for groceries sent to your smartphone for the baked beans you buy every Thursday.

The stuff of science fiction? More like science fact – and it’s a new reality that businesses today need to adapt to ASAP if they want to survive.

That’s what Accenture Interactive’s New Zealand director, Ben Morgan, says anyway.  “We’re moving into a new evolution,” he explains. “The underlying thing is we’re living in a digital society.”

That “digital society” means that businesses need to change their focus, Morgan explains. “Businesses need to flip their thinking from things to people. Business designs that revolve completely around the customer are becoming the norm.”

Accenture Interactive New Zealand director Ben Morgan.

Such an approach requires a shift from customer loyalty to being loyal to customers, says Morgan. But doing so, he claims, is necessary in an ever-expanding marketplace where consumers have more options than ever before if they’re dissatisfied with a product or service. “If businesses don’t disrupt the chain, there’s a real risk of being disrupted by others,” he explains.

These “living services,” like a pre-selected music playlist that automatically starts when you turn your car on and is customized for the time you will be driving and for what purpose, will eventually also expand from being concentrated in major cities like Auckland or Wellington and out into the regions, he says. One company that’s gotten it right, Morgan explains, is grocery chain Tesco, who have developed customized deals for consumers based on their spending habits. “If you’re buying baked beans every Thursday, they can tailor offers for you,” he says. Such “tailored” experiences also create brand loyalty, Morgan says, which means customers will keep coming back rather than turning to a competitor.

Morgan, formerly Air New Zealand's digital guru, explains that customer loyalty can create what he calls "digital trust." It's a concept, he says, that also shows businesses should fundamentally change their thinking from the mass market to the individual - what he calls "scaling down." This type of unique experience is far more sustainable in the digital present and future, he says, and carries big financial benefits - pointing out that design-driven companies that focus on the individual consumer instead of the market as a whole have shown a 10-year shareholder return of 219 percent over that of the S&P 500 index from 2004 to 2015.

In simpler terms, adaption, or “digital disruption,” is the name of the game for businesses. Morgan says that’s truer now more than ever. “The speed of change that’s happening today is only going to increase – and that’s a scary thought.”