The last mile is the point at which your product or service becomes intensely personalized

There is a gap which businesses bridge that can be truly transformative. I figuratively call it “the last mile”. Running a business is a marathon in the fullest sense of the word. It requires preparation, planning, endurance, strategy, skill, focus, smarts and analysis. There has to be a willingness to take the rough with the smooth and still come out ahead. 

And then there is that last mile. This is where marathoners stumble, occasional runners give up and even seasoned professionals experience a disempowering mix of accumulated pain, fatigue beyond description and lack of motivation. Businesses are no different. 

The “last mile” for them is the final connection. The point at which all their innovation, their smarts, their clever marketing and super-smart re-positioning leads them to the end result: the customer. It is also the point at which the impersonal, monolithic, complexity of a business is humanized. Transformed into a moment that can be felt or a flesh & blood being that can be experienced. 

It’s a tricky point. 

Google Fiber for all its powered-by-Google pedigree, failed at the last mile, the point at which the connection reached the customer, and had to be abandoned. Hong Kong businesses just bottomed out in that exact same zone. So many businesses fail this that the few examples that manage to stand out receive awards.

Amazon is one of the few companies that get this. Their counter-intuitive Grocery Stores work because they bridge that all-important gap between an internet giant that uses machine learning algorithms to make the shopping experience as customized as possible and the final connection where customers feel that Amazon, somehow “gets them” and they just love doing business with it.

In the age of information data is the means through which a service can successfully scale while, at the same time, it can become intensely personalized. Perversely, automation and scale now require a very human approach to work at their point of delivery. 

This is something that businesses still locked in legacy mindsets have yet to grasp. And, right now, it’s hurting them.