A 70-inch screen in your lobby is not a tech strategy

‘Techoration’ is investing in off the shelf technology to decorate your business without having a strategy for growth, profit or engagement in place. It's a losing game for everyone involved, says Jake Soper.

“Great news, we’ve just bought ten top-of-the-line 70 inch LED displays for the lobby! The boss says we need a modern, sophisticated entry space to match our brand values as a leader in technology and innovation.”

“Brilliant! What sort of branded content are we planning to put on them?”

“Well, we don’t have any branded content planned just yet. But who doesn’t love ABC News 24?” 

Sound familiar?

In the industry, we call this phenomenon ‘techoration’. It’s become the hallmark of brands who bought the tech first and decided on the strategy later. The end result is usually a wall of screens with stale content – something that overtly defeats a brand’s ‘future-facing’ ambitions, right out of the gate.

Techoration usually falls short of a brand’s objectives, and can even be harmful.

While Pro AV manufacturers might love the current trend of aimlessly smashing digital displays into brand spaces, anyone working with tech will tell you there’s a big difference between simply buying the technology and creating a meaningful digital experience.

To understand why, there are a few things to consider.

Technology is not a tactic. It’s the start of a whole new way of working that impacts your business from the inside out. New technology has to be accompanied by a new attitude. Technology on its own won’t change your brand overnight, and ‘techoration’ is the embodiment of the hope that it might.

Secondly, a ‘technology transformation’ is about shifting the power from the business to the audience. By offering a living window into your brand and how it behaves, you’re starting a conversation that has to be relevant, meaningful, entertaining and sharable. Offering your audience anything less than that is ineffective and, again, often detrimental.

LCD TV with empty copy space at airport shot in Delhi, India.

It takes serious thought to elevate your technology spend from techoration to a meaningful digital experience. If you find yourself about to embark on the process, here are a few things to consider.

  • For every dollar you spend on the technology, be prepared to spend at least five times that amount on the content and systems that bring the technology to life. This may seem steep, but it’s an effective way of future-proofing your initial outlay on the hardware. It also forces you to consider the following points.
  • Exploring the ‘who’ and ‘why’ of your digital experience has to come before the ‘how’. Buying the technology before fully defining the experience is putting the cart before the horse. With a blank slate, you have the freedom to imagine the experience and buy the technology to match it. Buying the technology first quickly robs you of that freedom.
  • Invest in what your audience wants to ‘experience’, not just what you want to say. Creating a genuine digital experience relies on a value exchange, and the modern user can sense a one-sided sell, no matter how flashy.
  • View the technology only as a means to an end. Focusing on the content and the experience might take you far from the technological solution you first envisioned, be prepared to be flexible.
  • Build in data and metrics to learn user behaviour and feed those insights into regular refreshes and updates.
  • Build a content management platform to make sure updates and content are scalable, manageable and instant.
  • As a rule of thumb for keeping content fresh, allocate an annual amount equal to two times the original hardware spend. It’s an investment in your brand, and it’s worthwhile if you want technology to form part of an ongoing organisational transformation.
  • Factor in social media to ensure the experience is mobile, shareable and extends far beyond its physical boundaries.

 With technology integrating ever further into our personal lives and public spaces, the importance of effective digital experiences will only become more prevalent. The difference between aimless techoration and thoughtful digital experience will separate the innovators from the pretenders.

Jake Soper is head of technology at Imagination


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