Using 'Hackonomy' to Create Relevance for Customers

As keynote speakers are inclined to do, Bonin Bough, CEO of Benin Ventures, took the stage at the recent BroadSoft Connections conference to shake up our thinking -- and that he did.

While analysts generally don't comment much on keynote speakers, I'll do it when the content is fresh and highly applicable to a market like ours -- meaning, one that's fragmented and being disrupted in many ways -- and the messaging is provocative enough. I'd not been familiar with Bonin, but from his keynote I can tell he's clearly on top of messaging trends and is quite knowledgeable about how digital media is transforming businesses and the way they go to market.

I've seen speakers like this who take a firehose approach with nonstop patter about new ideas that is impossible to process in real time -- they figure that's a great way to get you to buy their books or hire them for consulting. But from Bonin's presentation I did manage to capture a few takeaways that BroadSoft partners could really use going forward. He was really good -- definitely worth checking out. Don't take my word for it -- all you need to know is that when he was talking, folks in the audience weren't doing much tweeting. We were too busy paying attention to him.

Bonin Bough, Bonin Ventures

Before going further, I should clarify that Bonin comes from consumer-land, so his frame of reference is B2C, not B2B. Still, the underlying ideas apply in the collaboration space.

For example, when he says that five billion people are using messaging apps, it doesn't matter that most of that activity is either social or for buying consumer goods. I've been writing extensively about how messaging is making inroads in the contact center, and workspace applications are now emerging as well. Remember, we're all consumers, and those messaging experiences are laying the groundwork for what we're going to expect in the workplace.

Of course, messaging goes hand-in-hand with mobility, and that's creating a lot of disruption in today's fast-moving digital economy. Bonin rightly noted that today's tech leaders don't just come from Silicon Valley -- they come from all over the world, are based across multiple industries, and are being created by people across all age groups, genders, and education levels. Clearly, the status quo from legacy tech companies no longer applies, and that means service providers must be open to innovation from a much broader range of players.

In the consumer world, many tech leaders are successful because they deeply understand the mobile experience and the utility that messaging brings. Similar to the way television displaced radio -- as per Bonin's talk -- messaging is poised to do the same to voice, and that's where so much of the innovation is focused.

Bonin playfully talked about the downside of how mobile messaging is changing our behaviors, as we stare zombie-like at our screens trying to message and walk at the same time. He's totally right saying we're "better off being a pothead than a multitasker" (and he has the research to prove it!). While this behavior is clearly dumb, mobility is where people live, and messaging has become the communications tool of choice.

Using 'Hackonomy' to Create Relevance

The messaging and mobility storyline isn't really new, but Bonin did a great job illustrating how this is driving new behaviors and shaping our interactions. Clearly, this matters for the contact center, as customer engagement must increasingly become mobile-centric. For end users -- and customers -- it's all about relevance. Before messaging got big, mobile phones were still popular, but we use them differently now because messaging creates new forms of relevance to better manage our always-on lives.

That's where "hackonomy" comes in, which Bonin describes as breaking things to create new value based on what's going to be relevant tomorrow. This is a variation on a disruptive approach to innovation, but in his view, it explains what the leading digital businesses have been doing.

Specifically, for mobility and messaging, his view is that companies are using these technologies to engage with customers in new ways that create all kinds of new value -- far more than what legacy technologies made possible. Not only do these tools make doing business and buying products easier for consumers, but they also allow businesses to develop personal relationships with customers. And from these they gain a much deeper, data-driven understanding of what their customers want and need.

Relevance along these lines is very powerful, and the message for service providers -- and not just those dealing with BroadSoft -- is the need to think the same way for their business customers. Following Bonin's model, this means being ready to break some things to innovate in ways that create new value. This applies across the entire lifecycle of the customer relationship, including lead generation, provisioning, technical support, billing, and so on. For end users, this extends to ensuring devices are secure, managing their data, tracking workflows, adopting new applications, etc.

Bonin didn't have any B2B examples of this, but the opportunities are clearly there. That said, I wouldn't discount his ideas based on their B2C focus. If anything, that's my real takeaway, and the one that should have the most relevance for readers. When thinking about the companies that have re-thought innovation and created new value with digital technology, they aren't the usual suspects we read about on No Jitter.

Rather, those creating new value are the likes of Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Apple, all of whom have strong consumer brands and know how to create relevance in that market. They're all making big pushes now into the enterprise, and they know what hackonomy is all about.

If BroadSoft's service provider customers don't learn to think along these lines, they'll become like radio -- still here, but that's not where the growth is. I know, you could argue that TV is being displaced by online channels, but you get the idea. Whether the future is based on mobile messaging or other tools, it's all about creating relevance, and you can't do that unless you're prepared to break some things and learn what's really of value based on the needs of today's workers.

If you're into keynote addresses, be sure to check out the lineup for Enterprise Connect 2018, where executives from Amazon Web Services, Cisco, Microsoft, and Slack will be taking the stage to share their thought leadership. Register now using the code NOJITTER to save an additional $200 off the Advance Rate or get a free Expo Plus pass, and join us March 12 to 15 in Orlando, Fla.!

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