“Happy Two Thousand Eighteen!” As the year draws to a close, this is a phrase that you undoubtedly will hear all around. This time however, it is much more than a simple matter of wishing people the best for the new year. We believe that a digital You Experience strategy must revolve around what we call the “Digital Happiness” of the customer (and for that matter, the happiness of your people in the organization that are producing products and services).
Increasingly, this will be the ultimate test of relevancy your organization will face. For most organizations, this requires a fundamental digital transformation, facing stiff competition from the many start-ups that are ready to eat their lunch by out-manoeuvering and out-innovating them.
The application of digital technologies must enhance the happiness of people. In a time when almost everything we can imagine becomes technologically possible and increasingly economically viable, attention is shifting towards the question of social desirability. In addition to efficiency and effectiveness, existence becomes a design principle. Or simply put: do we really want it?
The mantra of becoming digital is to give each customer exactly what she wants, as fast as possible. This involves not only accelerating everything, but also “smartening” it by applying advanced technologies like natural language processing, deep learning, chatbots, and much more AI—not only to better understand what that customer wants now, but also to predict what she wants next. Only this will deliver the immediacy that the customer demands, eliminating friction and saving time by offering ever more convenience.
Amazon’s newest shopping concept Amazon Go really shows the way towards a frictionless and excellent customer experience. It lets you walk into the supermarket, take what you want from the shelves, and just walk away, instantly receiving the invoice on your mobile device. Another example of the excellent experience of conversational commerce is offered by the chat-based insurance start-up Lemonade, that makes arranging insurance coverage and claims processing a breeze. Frictionless processing using advanced AI results in paying out legitimate claims within a matter of seconds! And then we are not even looking at the innovative retail experiences that are being created in China by companies like WeChat’s Tencent (BingBox) and Alibaba (TaoCafe), quickly expanding their digital empire into physical stores with a twist of frictionless commerce.
Although seemingly different offerings, what they have in common is a clear AI-first (artificial intelligence) strategy, resulting in Wow and Now experiences. After the age of customer obsession that was launched only a couple of years ago, Digital Happiness as a new target is emerging. The millennials or Generation Y demand nothing less, and the subsequent iGen generation has even higher expectations.
After decades of being just behind the horizon, the Bot Effect of speech is quickly becoming a reality. Amazon’s Echo, Google’s Now and soon to be released Apple intelligent speaker, will create an additional channel for conducting commerce. The window of opportunity is quickly closing where this advanced feature is becoming a matter of certainty. Just what has happened with the web some decades ago, not being reachable through chat will be seen as strange and will disqualify you as a serious contender.
For many organizations, 2018 will revolve around integrating their existing IT-infrastructure that forms the operational core with the advanced technologies that define the digital You Experience. Creating a digital platform that enhances the happiness of the customer through intelligent organizational behavior resulting in a magical, frictionless experience that will create a smile on the customers face: it remains the ultimate goal of technology.
So yes, I too am wishing you a “happy 2018”—but hopefully I have provided you with some new perspectives on what that might look like in the new, digital year. Enjoy it!
Contribution by Michiel Boreel
See the full No Predictions 2018 overview here