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Electronics & High-Tech: A Lifestyle Industry?

Since electronic and high-tech companies have successfully entered the consumer market, technology became part of our life just like clothing or travelling. The appetite for newest technologies is growing and companies must keep up with consumer preferences just like fashion companies do it. 2012 marks technology as top trendsetter in most consumer related topics.

High-Tech Availability Shifts Patterns

When speaking about high-technology we were used to think of “cutting-edge” technology and “latest technologies” that were available for companies in the technology intense industries: automotive, software, telecommunications, aerospace and so on. But the spread of computing technologies among consumers has accelerated innovation processes and made specific “latest technologies” accessible to hundreds of millions of buyers.

According to the 2011 Accenture Consumer Electronics Products and Services Usage Report, “as a spending category consumer technology is ranked by majority of consumer as a top three priority (in Japan is top priority)”. The survey has been led at global scale and reveals the importance of new technology in our daily activities.

As presented in the table on the right, from a total of 19 technologies that have been analysed computer and mobile phone are the top owned technologies around the globe. Smartphones are situated on the 10th place but have a growing trend: the total smartphone purchase is expected to grow by 26%. The greatest expectations refer to the Tablet PC (estimated to grow by 160%) and the 3D TV *estimated to grow by 500%). These changes in ownership indicate the desire for assimilating new technologies, turning others into “obsolete technologies”.

The challenge for the electronic and high-tech companies acting on the consumer market will be to manage to follow and to predict users’ preferences and behaviors. The search for winning ideas will be more fierce, as well as the battle for untapped sources of expertise. Investment in continuous innovation and consistent quality over time along with seamless services might be the right solution.

Figure 1: 2011 Consumer Technology Power Rankings. / **Power trend calculated as (% intending to purchase next year – % purchased last year)/% purchased last year; Source: 2011 Accenture Consumer Electronics Products and Services Usage Report, February 2011

Another interesting fact that the report highlights is that emerging technology markets  – Brazil, Russia, India and China – have over-passed the average mature-markets consumers in using new technologies. They also use to a greater extent the functional features and applications of the devices they buy.

Focus On Innovation
How to keep up with trends and increased user experience demand? This is probably the toughest question CEO’s may face. The market has been witnessing so many „season success stories” that failed at maintaining positions and delivering consistent services! In order to prevent such scenario, a clear and sound innovation strategy should be implemented. R&D activities should be paired with consumer research and usage forecasting.

Back to The Basics: User is King
Even in this completely new landscape old lessons prove useful: electronic & high-tech companies must learn about their consumers just the way lifestyle companies have been studying theirs for decades. On top of this, the success of these companies may rely on the degree to which they are able to embody the values and aspirations of their target consumer groups.

From packaging, to technical service and live experience with the brand, everything must be carefully orchestrated around the users. As Jesse James Garrett describes it: „What makes people passionate, pure and simple, is great experiences. If they have great experience with your product [and] they have great experiences with your service, they’re going to be passionate about your brand, they’re going to be committed to it. That’s how you build that kind of commitment.”

What About the “Cutting-Edge”?
Engineering in electronics and high-tech sectors such as: artificial intelligence, biotechnology, energy, instrumentation, nanotechnology, optoelectronic’ s, robotics, telecommunications or aerospace – needs one of the most sensitive and exploratory type of software development techniques and tools. These explorations lead to unparalleled discoveries that may turn into disruptive technologies. The womb may be research centres and institutes, R&D departments or other assigned units. What is sure is that on the mass market companies will promote only technologies that are
reliable, safe and widely tested.

The story of electronics & high-tech industry is living proof of how innovation can be integrated in our lives and how users can participate to the development of your product or service, no matter how original it may be. (D.C.)