I left business school in the early 1980s when two technologies under development for decades were about to become mainstream.
The first was the cell phone. Before 1973, mobile telephony was limited to phones installed in cars and other vehicles — devices that weighed a couple of pounds, delivered about 30 minutes of talk time, and took 10 hours to re-charge.
Being the daughter of a life-long Western Electric manager, I read with some skepticism articles in the company magazine discussing cellular technology that would eventually mean everyone would have a mobile phone in their pocket. The promise was of pocket-sized phones that would transparently know where you were—anywhere in the world.
The other technology was personal computing. In both college and business school, I used punch cards to feed data into mainframe computers to perform statistical analysis for research projects.
Even after I took my first job at AT&T in 1981, the typewriter was only beginning to give way to word processing systems. I was more than ready for the fulfillment of Bill Gates’ goal: “Microsoft was founded with a vision of a computer on every desk and in every home.”
Before these and many other technologies hit the proverbial "hockey stick growth" phase, there were decades of research and development, technology breakthroughs, and early adopter success and failure.
Apply this concept to customer-driven, omnichannel customer experience solutions, and most would agree that we are not even approaching the 10 percent adoption mark, where the hope of mass adoption will occur.
The good news is that one doesn’t need a great imagination to picture what the ideal customer experience could look like. If we look at the very best available today and add the necessary elements of affordability and positive business outcomes, we already have the seeds of what the hockey stick of customer experience will deliver.