Are Neo-Luddites Giving Digital Transformation a Pass?

At the beginning of the 19th century, English textile workers called Luddites destroyed weaving machinery to protest “the fraudulent and deceitful manner” in which the “modern” machinery was bypassing standard labor practices.  Their fear that technology was threatening their jobs has made Luddites synonymous with an opposition to industrialization and technological progress.

Today, some of these Luddite-inspired trends are alive and well in the “neo-Luddites” who resist the pull towards a world where digital is the norm, rather than the exception. While they are not destroying the modern equivalent of weaving machines, they still show a resistance to technology.

New Luddites and their turn away from the latest tech

When it comes to technology adoption, only 28% of Americans hold strong preferences for being early adopters of new technology products, with 26% placing themselves at the opposite end of the spectrum, indicating a stronger preference for familiar technology products.

These statistics confirm that certain segments of the population will always hang on to older technology, requiring businesses to offer customers the experience they desire, regardless of how they choose to interact. The latest tablet with high-resolution display is simply not for everyone, and those less inclined to adopt new tech won’t change just to engage with your company.

Across the marketplace, lower-tech trends are surfacing. Recently, Nokia rebooted its 3310 in Europe, 17 years after its first launch. At around $51, its battery lasts an amazing 31 days but its features are designed for the customer who basically just wants their phone to make calls and not much more. Even in the workplace, the trend of lower adoption of new technology is evident, with one study saying that “old-school” methods of emails, phone calls, and texts still make up 75% of all communications with co-workers. The voices of those craving a less digital path are definitely out there.

An omni-channel customer experience that includes everyone

For this reason, organizations are wise to implement the full breadth of omni-channel capabilities, to accommodate customers whether on the company website, via mobile devices, or through more direct, potentially less digitized, communications.

Catering to customers who prefer a super-rich, perfectly orchestrated website experience, as well as those who prefer a lower tech interaction, requires organizations to take an omni-channel approach that is mindful of each group’s unique needs. A truly omni-channel solution will allow you to deliver personalized experiences that give each user what they’re looking for at every point of interaction—physical or digital, direct or on any device—across every phase of the customer lifecycle. This approach allows businesses to maintain the high-touch, customer-centric service that all your customer deserve, whether neo-Luddite or early adopter.

Digital transformation is happening everywhere, and though it is an imperative to remaining competitive, it doesn’t always track exactly with the personal technology choices and preferences of customers. Every business needs to capture information across multiple channels, whether data comes in from a call center as a voice file, or in clickstreams from online orders. Businesses have to be able to understand it all; structured and unstructured. Customers are in control, so your business has to be ready to handle those preferences.

So when you encounter a modern-day Luddite, be sure not to bury your head in the sand; remain agile as you cater to the younger generations, and don’t ignore the preferences of your existing base. Remember that information is everything, and providing a unified and consistent experience for all customers will determine your success.

Find out how your organization can get more value across the customer lifecycle. Check out OpenText Experience Suite 16.

Adam Howatson

Adam is OpenText's CMO and in the last 14 years has served in Product Management, Marketing, Engineering, Information Technology, Office of The President/PMO, Partner Development, and Mergers & Acquisitions. He has developed an extensive awareness of OpenText and its customers, people, culture, products, and markets.

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1 thought on “Are Neo-Luddites Giving Digital Transformation a Pass?”

  1. Over the weekend, people around the world marched in the name of science. Back in 1969 we put a man on the moon, and in 2017 we’re having to march in the name of science.

    This appears to be one giant leap backwards for mankind.

    The age of the printing press coincided with the age of reason. Is the age of the internet the harbinger of an age of disinformation, alternative facts, and ignorance?

    This post looks at that very possibility, and if so, is the future taking us backwards? Are we devolving as a species?

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