Remember the golden rule of treating people the way you want to be treated? Well, in a more connected and transparent world, that rule is rapidly ceding to the platinum rule, or the idea of treating others the way they want to be treated. This rule change has consequences if not adhered to, whether in a corporate environment, retail store, restaurant, hotel, and beyond. We’ve all seen tweets, articles, and presentations about the importance of enhancing or upgrading the customer experience as part of digital transformation. And, for the record, we’ve always been transforming with technology to improve productivity and enhancing customer service levels, haven’t we? While this isn’t a new concept, it is an area that folks in the retail and hospitality markets are increasingly focused on. 

One of key growth areas in the IT channel and a pillar of enhancing the customer experience in retail and hospitality is the Pro A/V segment. In fact, according to NPD’s U.S. B2B Distributor and Reseller Tracking Service, the large format commercial display (LFCD) market, a segment of Pro A/V, has grown at a 22 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) based on unit sales from 2016 to 2018. Within the LFCD market, commercial displays (digital signage) grew at 17 percent CAGR while hospitality screens saw 30 percent growth during the same time period based on unit sales.

In the case of retail, it’s no surprise that the main threat is thwarting the rise of online shopping. Key countermeasures brick-and-mortar companies have leveraged on the technology side include, adopting mobile and self-checkout, using analytics for better micro-segmentation, and borrowing tactics from amusement parks or the hospitality industry to create more theatrical experiences in an effort to appeal to all of our senses during the shopping experience. This can be achieved through enhancing acoustics, utilizing scent marketing, and deploying digital signage for interactive merchandising coupled with visually stimulating experiences to draw consumers in.

Another market that is working to enhance its customer experience is the quick-service restaurant (QSR) industry. This industry is evolving to meet the increasing demands of busy consumers. Lunch breaks for many of us are getting shorter, providing less time to get to and from your destination. Given that, QSR’s are trying to drive down wait times by adding employees with tablets and headsets to take orders, as well as digital signage upgrades with easier-to-read menus, making digital signage a key technology for this segment.

This shift from the golden to the platinum rule will continue to drive firms to upgrade their customer experiences or risk losing customers. When channel partners ask what technologies are doing well now and are expected to continue to do well in the future, I always recommend investing in technologies that are tied to the industries experiencing the greatest disruption. This is because technology will typically be the linchpin for fixed and variable cost improvements coupled with customer centricity to combat the threat.