Technology gives consumers more power

Consumers are more connected than ever, with Wi-Fi, 4G, aircards and other technology allowing people to connect to the Internet almost anywhere.

That connectivity will have an impact on all businesses in 2013, according to Jeff Yabuki, president and chief executive officer of Brookfield-based Fiserv Inc.

“This ubiquitous connectivity is facilitating a completely new way of life,” he said. “Smart infrastructure is having a dramatic effect on business.”

For example, applications for smartphones and tablets have a very low barrier to entry as compared to older technologies, Yabuki said.

“(Before) you had to fight for shelf space … and it costs a lot of money to make that happen,” he said. “Now, you have distribution like the Android store or the App Store.”

Fiserv is a $4 billion, 20,000-employee company that offers about 700 technology solutions for financial institutions around the globe. It has positioned itself to grow in the mobile payment and banking markets.

Consumers are gaining more of the power in relationships with businesses, as they use social media platforms to communicate with wider audiences, said Yabuki, who was a featured panelist at the Northern Trust Economic Trends Breakfast presented by BizTImes on Jan. 18.

“It is virtually impossible to fool a consumer anymore,” he said. “In the old days it was, ‘A happy consumer tells one other person and an unhappy consumer tells 20.’ Now, an unhappy consumer tells 20 million.”

As a result, businesses must interact with customers online and monitor the virtual feedback and market information from customers regularly. Companies should also have an online marketplace for their products and services to meet consumer demand.

“There really is a convergence of the physical world and the digital world and the social world,” Yabuki said.

Technology trends

  • Smart infrastructure means everyone is connected to the Internet all the time.
  • Empowered consumers are using social media to sound off about businesses.
  • Convergence of physical, digital and social worlds means more places to interact with customers.

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