With the emergence of drone delivery, cashier-less retail checkout and robotic employees, business owners are feeling the pressure to keep up with technology.
Speed means more to consumers than price, in many cases, so business owners will see loyalty wane like yesterday's software, said Howard Tullman, CEO of 1871, a hub for tech startups in the Merchandise Mart in Chicago.
"Businesses need to be digital today. So if you're not in a hurry, you're probably too late," Tullman said.
Tullman was the keynote speaker Wednesday as 700 business executives, financial experts and others filled the Drury Lane conference room in Oakbrook Terrace for the 8th annual DuPage County Regional Business Outlook. The event was hosted by Choose DuPage, Mesirow Financial and Ice Miller, among others.
While most financial experts said the economic outlook for DuPage County is good, many turned to Tullman for guidance on how to keep their businesses viable.
Businesses will need to answer quickly to customers, instead of the traditional 24-hour emailed response, Tullman said.
"You have to get back to customers more quickly. Amazon is already shipping you things you haven't even bought yet," he said.
Think that's outrageous? Think again. Amazon and others online are tracking your habits and offer deals on products or services where you can say "yes" or "no" quickly.
"This is the 'right now' economy," Tullman said. "We're not working in just minutes, but in the 'right now.'"
For example, you'll like a jersey you see at a sports game, order it from your phone and have it delivered before you get out of the stadium.
There is also Amazon Dash, a consumer goods ordering service. A homeowner presses a button when running out of laundry detergent or another product and it's on your door step in minutes.
Data is driving these changes. Consumers will no longer be loyal when they have unlimited choices.
"Consumers are saying to us to make it easy for me, or I'll go elsewhere," Tullman said.