Playing to where the puck will be – digital strategy for tomorrow

Playing to where the puck will be – digital strategy for tomorrow

When setting a plan or strategy in place, what is our target time-frame for delivery? One year perhaps? Maybe three? If the time-frame is set what is the objective of strategy. Importantly does that objective align with your customer’s expectations and competitor’s capabilities in that time-frame.

A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.Wayne Gretzky

Gretzky’s quote applies in business strategy.

A good company sets their strategy and plans on where the market is. A great company plays to where the market will be.

As the diagram below shows; when a business aligns their strategy with current customer expectations, the expectations will have moved by the time the strategy is delivered. However when the strategy is set against future customer expectations we have created a level of digital maturity that our customers expect.

When setting a digital strategy and roadmap, strategists need to set their objectives based on tomorrow's expectations, not today's
When setting a digital strategy and roadmap, strategists need to set their objectives based on tomorrow’s expectations, not today’s

Nowhere is this more important than digital strategy where new technology and channels are creating major shifts in customer expectations.

Technology is shaping our expectations

Technology has been a large factor in setting customer expectations. Over the past 10 years alone we’ve seen the following trends that have shaped our expectations of businesses:


  • Cheaper laptops
  • Bluetooth
  • Megapixel phone
  • Video iPods
  • Faster cell networks
  • Video blogging
  • floats on the NYSE


  • Wifi
  • Blogging
  • Hybrid vehicles
  • Launch of Zopa – social lending
  • AJAX launches as a method for online interaction


  • Death of traditional publishing
  • Faster product life-cycle
  • Globalisation
  • Internet phone services
  • Customised technology
  • Digital media at home
  • Launch of Amazon Web Services


  • iPhone roll out
  • Virtual worlds
  • Linux based netbooks
  • Wii taking over from PS3/Xbox
  • HD entertainment with Blu-Ray
  • Open source popularity


  • Solid state drives
  • Free internet
  • Android mobile OS launched by Google
  • Tesla launch the model S


  • Kickstarter – crowd funding
  • Smartphones become ubiquitous
  • Facebook grows up
  • App gold rush
  • Open Data from Govt


  • Bootstrapped entrepreneurship
  • Tablets – iPad launched
  • Smartphones
  • Local services
  • Online gaming
  • Outsourcing/Offshoring
  • Launch of responsive web design
  • Netflix becomes biggest source of internet traffic in the USA


  • 4G/LTE mobile networks
  • Duolingo launch


  • Launch of Siri
  • HTML 5 adoption starts


  • Big Data
  • Gamification
  • PS4 and Xbox One


  • Web has a greater reach than television
  • Wearable technology takes off
  • Phone calls switch to VOIP

A phenomenal amount of change, but how does this alter my expectations as a customer. Personally speaking I expect:

  • Websites and emails to render correctly on my iPhone
  • To be able to access all of my account information and actions on the mobile web or app
  • To have high speed internet access everywhere
  • To be able to get information in real-time
  • To not pay to speak to people internationally
  • Organisations to be present and engaging on social channels
  • People I meet to have a social profile
  • To consume content without watching adverts
  • To be able to access my content/information/files on any device I choose
  • To select to use my own technology
  • Organisations I deal with to know my preferences
  • Technology to be simple and easy to use
  • No limitations on storage space

Technology changes by 2020

In the coming 6 years the following advances in technology are expected:


  • Virtual reality makes a major comeback
  • DDR4 high speed memory chips
  • Battery tech improves in consumer electronics
  • 3D printing is mainstream


  • Mining and agriculture are now automated
  • High-definition CCTV cameras are ubiquitous
  • OLED displays are in widespread use


  • Web connected video devices exceed global population
  • Electronic paper is in mainstream use
  • Traditional newspapers are obsolete
  • Implantable health monitoring devices


  • Internet nodes connect multiple household devices
  • Speech control is ubiquitous
  • Consumer devices with 100 Gbit/s transfer speeds
  • Many complex surgeries are performed by robots
  • Robot insect spies are in military use
  • Portable, long-range 3D scanning
  • 2019

    • Computing power reaches the Exaflop
    • Physical drives are nearly redundant – replaced by cloud storage
    • Web apps are startlingly accurate taking into account context
    • Ability to ask exact questions and get a definitive answer
    • Vehicle connected technology
    • Automated freight transport


    • 5G networks – 100x faster than modern LTE
    • Thought based interaction with tech
    • Ultra High Def
    • Holographic TV
    • Drones patrolling skies
    • Photo-realistic gaming

    I’ve categorised these changes into the following groups for several of my clients:

    1. Hyper Connected

    Connectivity will be improved through 5G mobile networks and enhanced wifi. As it stands, I can easily watch Netflix movies over 4G on the train or in a restaurant. Supporting this hyper connectivity will be the power of Exaflop enabled cloud computing. Powerful cloud apps will be capable of responding to natural language search queries with contextually aware information.

    This connectivity will also expand into all other facets of our lives. Our homes, cars and workplaces will share common data processing capability to support greater integration with our lives.

    Ultimately the expectation will be that technology is unlimited is what it can do for us no matter where it is. In fact the expectation is that it will be so easy that it will be a transparent, ubiquitous part of our lives.

    2. Globally Social

    Faster and more accurate translation powered by cloud computing will enable greater social interaction globally. Language will no longer be a barrier to shared opportunities for learning, creativity, business and fun. Combined with this will come the improved access to VOIP and video chat to connect people globally. eToro that I mentioned in my post three weeks ago is showing how global social networks can work.

    3. Quantified Life

    With improved data capture will come improved data reporting. Health tracking technology will enable us to rest, work and play at an optimal and healthy rate.

    Similarly this same technology will provide greater access to education, work and investment decisions. Ultimately the expectation will be that any data you collect is to be used and accessible for my benefit as a consumer.

    4. Wearable

    As we’re already seeing, technology is becoming wearable.

    This technology will continue to improve and become a normal part of every day life for many consumers. The expectation shift this will create in consumers is that businesses should be available on their wearable technology platform.


    Ultimately these technologies create a greater expectation for services and products to adapt to me. Everything will be personalised and accessible based on my tastes.

    For today’s strategists the focus is on playing to where the puck of increased customer expectations will be. Whilst this may seem impossible as some of the tomorrow’s technologies aren’t yet here, there are a few things we can do:

    1. Build flexible customer databases
    2. Design decisioning capabilities that work with any channel (marketing orchestration platforms are a superb starting point here)
    3. Develop capabilities around analytics, data and user experience design
    4. Envision how the customer experience will be in five years

    As always these posts are delivered IMO. The critical question is what have I missed.


    David Sealey is a trusted adviser to senior executives on getting the most from their investment in digital and data. David created Storm81 as a place to share his passion for business, digital technologies, multichannel marketing and everything else around these topics.

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