Technology + People + Shopping = The Omnichannel Evolution

The 2013 Tony Award nominees were announced today and it got me thinking about how much technology, people and shopping have evolved over the last 17 years. If Broadway theatre, technology and shopping seem like wildly unrelated topics, allow me to explain.

Back in 1996, I was the founding editor of the Tony Awards website, a joint venture between the organizations that run the Tonys and a startup Web development company. Because the Web was so new and unfamiliar, the folks running the awards (and everyone else on Broadway!) didn’t understand or appreciate the value of another communications platform. They tolerated our online efforts, but were strident about us not scooping the traditional press, even though we were an extension of the official brand.

On this morning 17 years ago, after the nominees were announced at Sardi’s, I was handed a print-out and CD-rom with the full list of nominees, straight-armed my way past the donut table to the subway, and hurried back to the office so we could post the full list on the site. As if this delay wasn’t bad enough, I came back to an email from the talented actor Mark Linn-Baker wanting to know why the Tonys couldn’t get our act together enough to post the nominees at the same time as the television announcement.

“What do you want me to say?” I considered replying. Instead I wrote back to tell him the nominees were finally up on the site. And that I’m a big fan of his work.

“Success requires agility, adapting to evolving human behavior, meeting your customers where they are, not forcing them to meet you where you are.”