The Digital Potential
Back before COVID and social distancing, it used to be that I could go to an expo and have the opportunity to talk to thousands of people, try products, go to networking events, and enjoy cocktail hours. Now a certain humanness has left the building. I miss a nicely crowded street, a ride on the NYC subway, the excitement of going to concerts. Everything has changed.
Things have been changing for me anyway this year. With a six-month-old, the concept of freedom changes a little bit, as does your sense of time and time for one’s self. But I knew what I was signing up for. Then all of a sudden, THIS. The “new normal,” a term we are becoming all too familiar with. For us, the pandemic showed its first signs back in November, when one of our clients was having difficulty in getting something from China. This quickly morphed into a waiting game and then a very serious game of suspended commerce.
A Digital Way Forward
We are all feeling this. For business strategy and growth, it is even more debilitating. There must be a digital way forward that can accommodate the needs of face-to-face, and I am not just talking about video connection, although certainly the likes of Zoom, Skype, and Microsoft Teams help.
Where to start…LinkedIn, this is your chance to shine! I’ll just bet you are waiting to roll out the video chat option. I have spent countless hours cultivating relationships on your digital platform, but with the rise of the “at home” office, we need new methods to help us cope with the problem at hand. We need face time (not suggesting you infringe on Apple’s copyright). Furthermore, I feel that we could foster new relationships in the digital sphere by facilitating a way to organize introductions with our groups, followers, and connections and see where we go from there. For businesses that thrive by relationship cultivation, it is really a no brainer.
We need our digital platforms to find a better way to connect people and breathe some fresh air into our lives. There has always been a balance between the real tangible world out there and the somewhat fantastical world of our digital lives where algorithms are always making sure to feed us just what we want. That balance is in jeopardy. As it is more difficult to take a walk, go to the city, go grocery shopping, or host an event, our digital fortress is sorely lacking in picking up the slack. It is really important that our digital lives don’t merely manufacture forms of solitude by asserting the mirror that it thinks we want to look into. We need variety; it’s what keeps things fresh and helps us to learn.
The Extra Step
This is true when it comes to business too. If you want your business to grow, you have to think about how things have changed and how to accommodate and accentuate the positive aspects, as well as how to become creative with your approach. A perfect example of this is the act of fulfilling an order and sending a package to someone; how might this become a richer experience?
The reach of something is inextricably linked to its value. We can link things with unimaginable speed, but ultimately, it’s the humanistic side that shows the potential and the value of why we produce technology in the first place. The gift of projection and charisma can come through, the expertise and thought process, the wisdom, charm and whit, the cool and gritty. Enhance technology with the human element so that it can be enjoyed, celebrated, and championed.
In thinking about our digital lives, we are really limited by how our algorithms are tailored to us. Computers offer us connection, both to the internet and to people. It is a fantastic thing that we take for granted. But that’s just what it is – a resource. We need to reevaluate its power and find a way to make it more human. So really this goes out to the programmers, software developers, and huge digital corporations. We have a chance to evolve our relationship with technology. If business cannot be one of the magnetic factors that helps to foster this in a capitalistic society, I don’t know what will. We need that human touch, even if it is from a distance. We need connection on a new level. There’s never been a more relevant time for this than now. Let’s make it happen! If anyone out there agrees, reach out to me. I’m waiting by my computer.
BY ALEXANDER ZOX, STRATEGY & NEW BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT