David Telford, Vice President of Innovation
In past articles I have talked about Digital Transformation in terms of the Experience Economy, The 4th Industrial Revolution, IoT, gadgets and such. This month I want to talk about something I learned about myself after spending several hours resurfacing and repairing my deck and then seeing all the other things around my 11-year-old house that need some attention. I learned that I really don’t want to own “stuff.” I want to use stuff, yes. I just don’t want to own it. Owning a thing requires more attention than I want to give it. I would rather give my attention to people than things. Relationships with people are far more satisfying than relationships with stuff. So, how does a non-materialistic person survive in what appears to be a very materialistic world? How do I get to use the stuff without actually needing to own it, and how does this apply to the gist of this article? The answer is easy; Subscriptions.
I walked through my bank statement and counted up all of the different subscriptions I have. I won’t give you the number because it was a little staggering but here’s a rundown of the types of subscriptions.
- TV (multiple streaming services)
- Music (multiple)
- Home/Yard Care (multiple)
- Insurance (multiple)
- Software (multiple)
- Box Delivery Services (online food/beverage/whatever)
- Car Lease (not really a subscription per se but isn’t it really?)
There are more and these are just my personal-use things. There are a ton more subscription services through work because when you’re in the Cloud, you have subscriptions. So, I started wondering with all of these subscriptions going on, what is out there that CAN’T be bought on subscription? The answer is, not much.
I did some searching online and found most of the usual suspects, software, online clubs, music, video, all that stuff Then, while using my subscription to some tech podcasts, I heard an interview with a guy named Tien Tzou, one of the very early members of the team that gave the world Salesforce.com, and the founder of Zuora.com, and the author of a book called, you guessed is, Subscribed. So, I used my subscription to Audible to download the book and listen while I was working on the deck. It turns out, there are a lot of traditionally product-centric companies out there that are implementing and/or converting to subscription models. It’s not just the usual suspects either. Construction companies, heavy machinery companies, even car manufacturers, are all looking at subscription models. It seems like whether you’re talking about IoT enabled devices, Cloud services, or really just about any other product that can be sold, you can probably build a subscription model around it. Subscriptions are becoming the big differentiator in the Digital Transformation of business.
Think about going out to get a new dishwasher and instead of buying it, paying for delivery and installation, then paying for years of detergent, maintenance, and eventual replacement, you just subscribe to a service for a monthly fee that does all of that for you. You get regular shipments of detergent. You have a sensor in the machine that signals the manufacturer or reseller that it’s time for a maintenance check and schedules a service call. After some number of years, the company notifies you that you’re getting an upgrade and they schedule delivery and installation of a new superzoomy machine. And all you had to do is sign-up for the subscription and pay your monthly fee. (That and actually use the machine.)
I wonder if I can get a subscription to a new deck.
This month’s podcast is from Gartner and deals with the concept of a Digital Social contract. With the digital world feeling a little bit like the Wild West these days, maybe it’s time for us to have agreement on what constitutes reasonable behavior? Maybe? Maybe not? Enjoy!