Innovation Is More Than a Buzzword

One of the curious things about business is how enterprises view themselves within the realm of information technology. Unfortunately, a lot of companies have entirely inflated ideas about how progressive and innovative they are in the customer arena.

More than a month ago, Apple Pay went live. Since that time, the system has received high marks from analysts and consumers. In fact, virtually all of those who use it report that they love it and want to use it regularly. Moreover, almost every major bank and credit card company is on board.

But when I try to use Apple Pay at stores that are supposed to support the mobile wallet, cashiers are often flummoxed. Include Subway, Albertsons and Chevron on this list. And when I inquire at other stores—many with terminals that require only a simple upgrade or firmware update—I’m told that perhaps someday they will support Apple Pay and Google Wallet.

Obviously, it’s tough to keep up with today’s digital business environment, and the constant upgrades and updates that come with it. However, there are a number of issues and problems that CIOs must address.

First, why do companies announce they are up and running with a technology when they clearly are not. And why aren’t cashiers at these businesses informed about a new system that the company supports? I’ve encountered more than a few employees at the companies listed above who don’t have a clue what Apple Pay is or what it does.

Second, the old “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality is entirely broken in today’s business environment. I have no idea why fast food chains, grocery stores, and just about anyone who deals with lines and waiting customers doesn’t want to speed things up and provide highly secure digital transactions.

Finally, there’s a branding issue that spins a tight orbit around how consumers view a company. One thing I find extremely attractive about American Express is that the company is a clear leader in tech innovation.

For example, over the last few years, it introduced an easy way to store coupons and promotions on its credit card, it pioneered a way to turn Twitter Tweets into digital coupons, and it has just unleashed Apple’s Touch ID on the iPhone. No more fumbling with a password.

CIOs and other business executives need to get the memo: Becoming a digital company and projecting a digital image doesn’t just happen. If you want to ratchet up the customer experience, you must get your technology act together.

Invest now or pay later.

Samuel Greengard, a contributing writer for CIO Insight, writes about business, technology and other topics. His forthcoming book, The Internet of Things (MIT Press), will be released in the spring of 2015.

Samuel Greengard
Samuel Greengard
Samuel Greengard writes about business, technology and other topics. His book, The Internet of Things (MIT Press) was released in the spring of 2015.

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