Don’t forget who you are working for
I recently read an article about CD sales in 2011 which, whilst obviously praising Adele for her near domination of the music market, shared the fascinating insight that roughly three quarters of all music sales in 2011 (82.2 million to 26.6 million) were made on CDs and not from online music stores.
This reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend who works in the world of internet television. Despite me arguing that I wanted some form of pay per view TV (mainly because I don’t have Sky but would like to buy the odd football match to watch) he pointed out that the great majority of the population can’t think of anything worse and much prefer the subscription model.
Indeed, I believe this was the motivation for Lovefilm to shift across to that model for their online service.
Why do I mention this? Well, in both cases the assumptions I made, as a fairly IT literate individual was that a) people would share my belief that digital is better and that b) people’s spending habits would reflect this.
In fact I was wrong.
Normal subscription TV dominates the ‘added value’ pay per view TV market and despite my mis-perceptions the purchase of good old fashioned CDs still dominates the music market, at least for now.
So what can this tell us about the Local Government world in which we work?
Firstly, just because mobile apps are really funky and twitter is growing and lots of people like to pay bills using the internet this does not mean that everyone wants to do things that way. A GP was on the radio a few weeks ago commenting that three quarters of the visits he received at his surgery were from about 10% of his client list. I would not be surprised if this was similar for a local authority and I would not be surprised if both the GP and the council found that the people most likely to contact them (the 10%) were not the people with the i-phones and internet savvy habits.
Secondly, we need to really understand our customers (or whatever we choose to call them) and what they actually want. Sometimes we are tempted to follow the logic of the Field of Dreams and believe that if we build it the people will come. Maybe they will but if we take the time to work out what they want and then build that surely we stand a much better chance. Often, the answers we will receive will not be the ones we want to hear.
I realise that writing something like this on this blog will make me seem a little luddite-ish. My co-writer would doubtless have me down as one of the guys who needs to innovate in 2012. However, it does cut both ways; much as an understanding of the people we work for would have me making sure CDs are still available for 75% of the people I’d also be making damn sure I was providing the right service for the other 25%.
My point is that life is complex and getting blinded by new technology simply because it is the future can lead us to forget the present and the people we are meant to be working for.
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