Want to know how mobile technology will impact your business? Ask Michael Diamond, a St. Norbert College graduate who now is the senior vice president of sales and business development at Mitek Systems in San Diego. Diamond, who will be the keynote speaker at Insight’s Technology & Human Innovation Networking Conference May 14, sat down with Insight Editor and Co-Publisher Margaret LeBrun to talk about how the way we do business is changing.
One thing that’s top of mind for me is that consumer behaviors are changing, and they’re changing very, very quickly. And that is catching a lot of industries as well as specific companies by surprise, or at least, somewhat flat-footed. Everybody already knows that technology is reshaping industries. The first quarter this year was the worst quarter of PC sales in 20 years. Why is that? Because people are buying tablets and investing in smart phones. Those consumers are growing up in a self-service world. They’re growing up in a Southwest Airlines metaphor, where you board yourself onto the plane, where you check your own balance with your account, where you pump your own gas. And people’s preferences continue to be self-service preferences. People’s habits are changing and it’s putting established companies in defensive positions, and it’s enabling insurgent companies to establish momentum in older industries.
I work for Mitek Systems in San Diego. It’s a really cool company that provides mobile imaging solutions to businesses. We enable the camera to become the keyboard on a mobile phone. So if anyone has deposited a check using a mobile phone taking a picture of that check, that’s Mitek’s technology. Mitek enables people to take pictures of driver’s licenses and get a quotation for auto insurance.
One of the things that’s challenging in innovation is trying to anticipate what consumers are going to do. Consumers are voting with their behavior of using their camera on their phone. One of the constraints is keying in lots of data. We make mistakes, fat-finger, miss-key things and so forth. So with Mitek, instead of hoping consumers decide to change their behavior – it’s already happened. And that’s a real key around innovation, is to not overthink how much you are going to change people’s behavior, but to deliver something of huge value to people who are already indicating a preference for a certain type of behavior.
It’s easier to start a mobile-only or IT-driven company than it ever was. And with those lower barriers to entry and with younger consumers becoming middle-aged consumers who have grown up only knowing using online technology, they have more and more economic power in the economy.
One of the key messages I want to share is there is no geography, no industry has cornered the market on innovation. There is no magic that happens in a certain set of zip codes that cannot exist in other sets of zip codes. My career is just one small example of it. Silicon Valley is a unique place and it always will be and its impact on technology innovation is not going to be eclipsed any time soon. But the narrative is changing.
Another way I very much see the world changing is its global nature, the degree to which the young, ambitious person in India will exert as much or more impact on the Fox Valley economy as can somebody in the Fox Valley itself or elsewhere. The world is opening to new people who are very, very ambitious and are finding opportunities to a middle class lifestyle that was inconceivable to their parents and possibly to their older siblings because it’s changing so fast. The other part of my message is that this is not something to be feared – it’s something to be understood.
I’m an optimist. We have to put things in proper context, certainly geography matters less than it ever has. From a scarcity mentality perspective you could say hey, I could be disrupted by players in other industries a lot easier than I ever could. But on an offensive perspective, it means I can participate in markets, and I can avail myself to information and I can deliver value to people in new markets in ways that were never conceivable earlier.
Read Diamond’s blog at michaelediamond.com.