We’re in the digital age, there’s no doubting that, although many would argue that we’ve been in the digital age for decades now. In fact, it’s been around since the modern computer made its’ way into businesses and domestic households and made many chores such as storing records, communication and marketing become electronic. Away with those large filing cabinets! You’ll notice your email box is full of junk mail, and less in your postbox. In the second decade of the 21st Century though, what defines this as the Digital Age is the speed of change. Whether you’ve recently flown a drone, spoken to an AI (Siri, Amazon Echo – Alexa), purchased a Bitcoin, driven a Tesla, or programmed your heating to come on from your mobile phone you’re part of the digital transformation.
The digital transformation is touching everyone’s lives, whether at work, at home, in your car or in your personal lives. In the past, a commute to work on the train would involve listening to music on your Walkman, reading a newspaper or book, or reading through work papers. Now, many people, glued to their smartphones can do all that from one device. They can control those things too, interacting live whilst on the train, from selecting one of thousands of song choices from their collections, reading the most up to date breaking news, listening to audio versions of their favourite books to ordering their partners anniversary present. Whatever your age, the digital world touches upon our lives and it is changing at an astonishing rate.
What is fundamentally different about this decade though, and beyond, are the Digital Natives, the children that were born in the digital age that know no different. Many of us have watched as our children have swiped across a small photo in a magazine trying to make it bigger, as they would on a tablet or smartphone. For people my age, we remember teaching our parents how to operate the VHS player, and now our children and grandchildren are teaching us about living, interacting and socialising in the digital world.
The world around us is changing on a daily basis, soon driverless cars will end the quandary about drinking or driving, taxis with drivers will be a thing of the past. Call Centres, the factories of the 21st century will be replaced by chatbots, AI and virtual agents. The ‘Connected House’, ‘Connected Car’, ‘Connected Everything’ and the Internet of Things will revolutionise how we go about our lives. The question is not if, but when…
So what exactly does this have to do with fireworks? Well, as an owner of a firework company, I am all too aware of the impact of the digital world. (I’m already behind the times writing this Blog, surely it should be a Vlog and uploaded onto YouTube!?! Maybe next time!) How do I interact with today’s customers, how do I use digital to differentiate myself from all the other firework companies out there, how do I get myself as far up the search engine rankings so people find my web presence? How do I make it easier and easier for new customers to find me and make it easier for them to do business with me?
According to an MCA survey back in 2014, 94% of UK Senior Executives saw Digital as important or very important to their business. Now, that is 100%. Digital makes more things possible than before, and provides the agility that firework companies need in order to offer things to their customers in order to modernise. Digital can offer differentiation between firework companies and allows those companies to think about what their specialism is.
Most firework companies have a web presence. Like most companies, if you don’t then you’re missing out on the majority of the customer interaction and your existence is one dimensional and limited, and it’s unlikely you’ll truly thrive as a business. We’ve seen the death of the high street. A good Social Media presence is critical, not only does it help with SEO, it shows your customers and potential customers what you do and what your company is all about. It’s the new marketing and brand aid. None of that is news to anyone, however your brand on Social Media can make, and equally break your company like never before. (Write your complaint on Twitter and see how quickly those customer service orientated companies react).
Online payments, whether that’s a website payment solution, or the ability to take online transfers is critical, as is the ability to contact customers and communicate in a digital way. “Always online, always available” is more important than ever – as a Firework company most of our business is done outside of Mon – Fri 9-5.30pm. We have moved away from that traditional model, you can book one of our firework displays 24 hours, 7 days a week.
Safety too, with electronic systems to calculate and track black powder weights so rules and regulations are adhered to and can be proven to insurance companies and regulatory bodies alike.
What about the actual display? What technology is out there to digitalise the firework display of the future? Since the Chinese invented fireworks 2000 years ago, they have been let off manually (with fire presented to the firework fuse). As firers and lovers of fireworks I can tell you, you can’t beat hand-firing fireworks, the adrenaline buzz of standing next to the pyro and the art of timing it to give a great show. However, many shows now require a level of precision that hand firing just can’t offer. Pyromusicals where we need fireworks to explode to the beat of the music, down to the hundredth of a second, large displays where we need reliability and the ability to watch a demo of the show beforehand to establish its’ impact, or lighting & firework pyromusicals which are unique to Electrify where lights and fireworks move in time to each other and the music. We have embraced the Digital era and have our digital suppliers and systems of choice to make all this happen.
At Electrify we have worked to be fully immersed in the Digital Age, most of our staff are not Digital Natives however we do see ourselves as Digital Entrepreneurs and it’s embracing that technology that is not only revolutionising the way we engage with our customers but the quality and the impact of our shows too. Electrify are fairly unique with our firework and light show pyromusicals. The digital kit that goes together to allow that show to firstly be designed, tested and then finally fired is cutting edge, and that just wouldn’t be possible at that level of precision of a pre-digital age – it’s disruptive and it allows Electrify to be disruptive in a saturated firework industry. We are using digital technology to differentiate ourselves.
In a nutshell, Digital allows old things to be done in a new way, but also for completely new things to be done. Check out our digital lighting and firework pyromusicals here.