Information is thrown at us at the speed of light (okay, maybe not the speed of light, but it’s damn fast!). In 1971, the average person was targeted by an average of 560 advertising messages a day. Thirty years later, that number had risen to more than 5,000. In our ever accelerating economies, companies are fighting for our attention, making human kind’s most basic scarcity even more precious: our time.
Time as our most valuable commodity
Time is one of the few things that we can’t make more of. Consumers are very aware of this. Businesses are too. They know that consumers have a limited attention span, and way too many distractions.
While the revolution in tech has made it easy for companies to target people with personalized ads, there is so much competition that they are literally battling for our attention. In order to survive in a digital age, businesses need to provide personalized solutions on the right device at the right time.
In a vicious circle, the expectations of the consumers have gone up, paving the way for what we call ‘the experience economy.’ With their limited time always on their minds, people will pay more for a premium subscription if they’re getting a better experience. For many businesses, winning the hearts (and wallets) of their customer is not so much about the service or product anymore, but about the full-on experience they provide.
Ironically, businesses need to invest a significant amount of time to meet these higher expectations of the crowd and their longing for the ultimate experience...
Digging your innovation moat
Every company needs time and space to drive its innovation. The greater the amount of innovation time and space, the better the business is prepared for the next innovation cycle. And so, companies try to create a so-called ‘innovation moat.’
For example, by creating a social network that allowed everyone in the world to connect online, Facebook was able to buy some time to conquer the online communication landscape by introducing mobile apps like Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram.
Netflix also dug a huge innovation moat by licensing streaming content to a massive user base. The scalability bought the company time to add more shows and invest in the creation of original content.
Their innovation moats are protecting these giants from competition. Just like in medieval times, they protect the castle from daring knights storming in. They form a defensible buffer that gives the business headspace to work on the next best thing. And in a world where anyone can distribute products instantly and for free, you better have a huge innovation moat.
For the moat then allows you to compound time. This means that, when you managed to leverage early user growth and product innovation, you can create value faster than the current innovation cycle.
According to Twitter co-founder Ev Williams, here is some advice in doing so: “Here’s a formula if you want to build a billion-dollar internet company. Take a human desire, preferably one that has been around for a really long time… Identify that desire and use modern technology to take out steps.”
So, while you’re streamlining an existing process and save time for other people, this allows you to compound time for yourself. By simplifying, automating and/or optimizing the product or service, you reduce the amount of time it takes to get from point A to B, and you give yourself a head start. And in a fast-moving industry, a head start can make all the difference.
When a huge chunk of your company is reliant on the IT infrastructure, you can create an innovation moat (and save a lot of time) by streamlining all processes and making the technology easily accessible for all people and departments in the company.
By investing in a healthy ecosystem, Jeff Bezos managed to give Amazon a seven year head start on its competition. It took guts, it took money, and it took some time, but in the end the turnaround, which started with the following memo, saved everyone loads of time:
“All service interfaces, without exception, must be designed from the ground up to be externalizable. That is to say, the team must plan and design to be able to expose the interface to developers in the outside world. No exceptions.” - Jeff.
The new approach drastically cut back the time it took to test and deploy new features and add functionality from months to just days.
The fewer our choices, the higher our productivity
Unlike the Rolling Stones may have claimed, time is not on our side. In fact, it’s far from it. And as the bombardment of signs that we face on the daily continues to rise, it jeopardizes our decision-making process. After all, research has shown that, the fewer choices we have to make, the better those choices are. It is the reason why President Obama always wore the same suit, and Steve Jobs sported his signature blue jeans- and black turtleneck chic. Omitting the choice of what outfit to wear in the morning is already one decision less each day. Just as we are limited in our time and attention span, we are limited in making (good) choices.
Considering that a lot of our time is spent in working environments, most of our choices are made during work hours. So not only it is in the business’ best interest to save their consumers some time, but to also apply these same principles to the workforce.
In modern companies we see that the biggest wastes of time happen around the IT department. With many IT teams greatly understaffed, the business usually has to wait weeks -- and even months -- before their ideas can come to fruition. In other words: it takes them way too long to get from point A to B because IT represents a major bottleneck.
As a result, businesses have trouble compounding their time in order to create an innovation moat that allows them to stay ahead of the competition. In many cases, there is hardly any room left to innovate.
There's no code like no-code
The problem of time limitation lies not so much in the shortage of skilled developers, but in the misalignment between the business and IT. But no longer do businesspeople have to wait in line for hours before their ideas can get executed. No longer do they have to be dependent upon IT to kickstart their ideas and solutions to their existing problems.
Because with the introduction of no-code development platforms, the barriers of what it takes to prototype customized business applications are fading fast. This means that anyone in the business can now add to the innovation of the IT team by building their own solution. Not by writing code, but by clicking, dragging and dropping virtual building blocks that combined can form the foundation of new applications.
Not only does this save the business a sh*tload of time. It also helps to create a better user experience for employees, giving them the sensation that they are actually contributing to the growth of the company and knowing exactly what ‘Greater Good’ they together are working towards. These new workforce heroes are known as the Citizen Developers, and it’s about time they’ve showed up!
So, just as time has become more precious than ever for today’s consumer, it has become just as precious for today’s employee. And perhaps it has become even more precious for today’s business. Because, just think of it this way:
Every second you save, is another second you can add to your innovation.
Want to know how the Betty Blocks platform can add to your business' innovation?