ArticleMay 31, 2022 · 4 min read time
What was the world like from a business perspective in Finland in 2007 when Nitor, my current workplace, was set up? Apple launched the first smartphone, social media began to take off, and environmental issues popped up on corporate agendas. For me, however, the most significant change was in the focus of business and strategy: for the first time, the customer became king.
Here's a little more on these turns, and finally, I’ll share some thoughts on the future – what will shape the business world in 2037?
The rise of Facebook and the first smartphone
Founded in 2004, the social media platform Facebook took off in Finland in 2007. In the autumn of the same year, Apple launched its first smartphone.
Social media and the emergence of smartphones had a business impact, shifting the focus from internet and web strategies to multi-channel and social media strategies. The trend was also linked to the rise of customer-centricity. It sought to understand the customer base and where customers could be met and engaged.
Businesses also realised that not all channels are for sales purposes – or at least the same methods don't work for all channels. Today, the vast majority of business marketing is optimised for social media and smart devices.
Earth Hour started the green wave
In 2007, the first Earth Hour was celebrated in Australia. The now annual Earth Hour is a global climate event organised by WWF, where people around the world turn off their lights for an hour. The goal is to draw attention to climate change.
In 2007, the business community saw the emergence of the first green companies aiming to develop more environmentally friendly ways of manufacturing products. The focus was often on digitalisation, and a commonly held belief was that digitalisation was enough to make the business green.
Fast-forward to today, the focus has shifted to green code and green design. We understand that digitalisation alone does not make a service more climate-friendly. Operating in the digital world consumes energy, and a lot of it, and the energy consumption is linked to climate emissions which we need to curb.
The customer is king
In 2007, I was working as a consultant for a company that focused on building a customer-centric business. Customer centricity became the management tool of that time.
Many companies wanted to change their mindset from product-centric to customer-centric. At the heart of the customer strategy was the need to think about what was relevant to the customer and how to serve them in the best possible way to create added value. Many companies changed or acquired different customer relationship management tools.
Still, for a long time, customer-centricity was seen as a soft approach to business. It was challenged by the debate on customer value, profitability, and the calculation of customer capital. I later authored a publication on this. Today, customer insight directly affects the bottom line and due to this realisation, it guides how most companies do business and how they serve their customers.
The big topics of the future: the ethical use of data, metaverse and going back to basics
I believe that customer centricity and user-centric design will still be relevant in fifteen years. Robotics, for example, is developing strongly along these lines.
The ethical use of data will undoubtedly be on the agenda in the near future. Questions such as: how secure is my data and where and how my data will be used will become more and more salient. The secure and ethical use of data in technology and business is one of the major issues for the future.
There is a lot of talk about metaverse, information sharing and artificial intelligence. It will be interesting to see how virtual spaces for working, information sharing and learning will affect how we use services and how we work. Covid-19 gave us the first lesson on this already.
Alongside the technological advances, I've noticed a need for people to get back to basics, let go of the constant connection to their laptops and phones, switch off and return to nature.
It is interesting to see how these two trends, the metaverse and the return to basics, meet and how this translates, for example, into customer relationships. This can impact companies and business decisions: where and with whom, the metaverse techies or those craving simpler times, should you jump on the bandwagon or pioneer?
My wish for 2037: Harnessing technology for good
My hope for 2037 is that we as a human race are in a place where we have successfully harnessed technology for good and solved global challenges. Crises will not end in this world, and we cannot predict the future, but we must be able to create an environment in which we can persevere.
For businesses and organisations, the future challenges require flexibility, risk-taking, vision and even empathy. In addition to a long-term vision, companies need to have shorter-term scenarios that allow them to respond to a rapidly changing environment - together with their employees, customers and the ecosystem.
Nitor turns 15 in 2022. In this anniversary blog series, our experts look back at 2007, Nitor's founding year, and into the future trends in business, technology, design, culture, and agile methods.