The digital trend in 2017 is human
Voice-controlled virtual assistants, agentive interfaces, virtual reality and narration, mobile only, Magic Leap, blockchain, smart contracts, self-driving cars, digital workplace, instant pay-out, IoT, chat bots, Spectacles, social selling, re-shoring, work intermediation platforms, immune engineering, reusable rockets … the list goes on and on, but it would be wrong to believe that this year technological innovation would again summarise the inflection of the digital society and the world. The real digital trend in 2017 is human.
Human, first of all, is the new digital consumer who never ceases to make their mark on the world as evidenced by the wave of concierge services, the democratisation of luxury and premium experiences, access to information once reserved for an elite like Harvard courses, private drivers, financial advice…in 2017, everyone becomes a VIP.
In 2017, the customer is a reinvented king for whom humanity is a trend that didn’t start in 2017, but that presents itself as a persistent claim. Let’s refer to all the literature about Millennials, which lacks only the chapter describing their contagiousness to all age brackets; digital technology has the unexpected merit of bringing together young and old in re-appropriating assertiveness and identities battered by 65 years of mass marketing.
Still human is the marketing professional, a little anxious and speechless face with the breadth and depth of consumer revolt. And their anxiety and guilt is expressed today as suffering because they must not only meet the requirements of the customer-more-than-king, but also question their own role and usefulness in the era of Big Data, Watson and Alexa, these robots with human names, as effective as they are distressing, kinds of digital wolves in the real physical world.
Human, finally, is the IT solutions provider when in their (desperate?) rush to catch up with technology and provide effective solutions to the “marketing guy”, they propose a new automated response with each passing day.
There we are. The stage is set. And the marketing manager that I am tells myself that the magnitude of the task ahead, and to find solutions and my proper place, is not a quest on a human scale. In other words, I fear that robots have it in for me. In short, in 2017 of my humanity I will speak mostly fear. And in this, I would have it wrong.
Obviously, to meet the requirements of the new post-modern consumer, automation frees me of handling processing tasks, since managing the combinatorial explosion has become my new daily hell. Segmentation is a beautiful theory that smashes violently against the rocks as it comes back to reality. Have you ever tried to customise — truly — a marketing campaign to promote women’s underwear and combine shapes, sizes, materials, colours, age, promotions, and all at the right time? Yet this complexity that is so 2017 is not human!
We will come to understand the combinatorial explosion just is not manageable either by a person or a team — not even in India — and that is why automated solutions, self-learning and using AI (to varying degrees) will shake up marketers in 2017. And this trend, this development is quite striking because, while thinking we’re tackling the issue of complexity through the use of automated solutions and/or artificial intelligence, we are actually opening up the issue of empathy. To understand my client, first of all I must get to know them, and contextualise them at every moment of its factual and emotional story.
By automating the management of infinite combinations, we do not incite the consumer’s desire — this does not work in this era of the over-informed consumer — but we can put ourselves in their shoes, in their context, in the story of their experience, and also in the chronology of their desires at a specific time. And it is because of this information that we can put ourselves in our customers’ shoes and understand and feel with them. This is 2017’s true promise. And because our intelligence is not artificial, we can understand that AI does not pre-empt desires, but develops empathy. AI simply makes changes in how we solve problems. In 2017, I am no longer a machine operator, but I have become the manager of an assistant. The machine is able to foresee wants and suggest things. This paradigm shift is a credit to intelligence. We are no longer in a situation where a click on a trigger generates an action, but in an environment where a framework is defined for the assistant to learn, be enriched and “speak”.
Now, you know the music for 2017. So, are you more Human After All by Daft Punk or The Man-Machine by Kraftwerk? Personally, I choose both!