Blockchain, drones, IoT, robots, VR, AR, MR, etc. New technology surrounds us on a daily basis.
Let’s take a closer look to see how companies can benefit from this surge in tech innovation and synergise customer experience across different digital platforms.
Artificial intelligence: already omnipresent in our daily lives
- Intelligent personal assistants: Virtual assistants are digital software programs that understand human speech better and better. Interpreting everything they hear all the time. To the point that they can even order a cinema ticket, a taxi and answer questions. Today Virtual assistants are capable of natural language recognition which for example has been applied to Google Earbuds that are capable of live translation.
- Facial recognition: after the iris scanner recognition launched by Samsung on its smartphones, Apple followed with their own facial recognition at the end of 2017. The Face ID system implanted in the iPhone X makes it possible to detect the user’s face even in the dark. Everything takes place locally, on the phone’s chip, into which engineers have inserted an artificial neural network.
- Image recognition: The latest Google Lens service integrated into Google’s new smartphone, the Pixel 2 model, is capable of accurately recognising objects, animals and even monuments. Once the item or animal is recognised by the Google Lens, the phone displays key pieces of information about what it recognises. Whilst on Android and iPhone phones, local image search – whether you type the name of a friend or relative or simply “flower”, “red car” or “Lausanne” – is already extremely powerful.
- Intelligent applications: take the example of the Seeing AI software which is capable of describing to the user what the camera sees (available iPhones). This Microsoft application is primarily intended for visually impaired people. “It points to a future where artificial intelligence can extend the senses not only in controlled environments, such as with smart glasses in a warehouse, but also in people’s everyday experiences,” says Harmut Heinrich, Director of the research company Fjord Studio in Zurich, which is part of Accenture.
- Music creations: AI is also pushing boundaries and innovating in the field of music. The EPFL presented an AI system capable of composing a melody from A to Z. This university’s software programme does so by drawing on a large database of existing music. It analyses the scores note by note, their duration and their sequence in order to compose it’s own melodies.
The impact of technology on our lives
Nowadays, the transformations brought about by technological innovations seem inevitable. One that gives rise to numerous exciting opportunities that companies should seize.
Indeed, digital transformation is omnipresent today. Every year, new technologies evolve and offer even more powerful and innovative functionalities, pushing companies to adapt and work in an agile way. It is no longer possible to define a strategic digital transformation roadmap at 10 years or even 5 years, so many technological advances are taking place. In fact, many companies are developing and creating agile teams dedicated solely to this digital transformation in order to keep up with the times.
- Rising expectations
The arrival of the millennials on the market is forcing companies to rapidly transform themselves and offer authentic experiences to Generation Y, which represents 60% of the workforce in 2020. What is more, if companies do not adapt quickly they risk being overtaken by their competitors.
Indeed, millennials value experiences over products. They are more demanding and not as loyal to brands. If they are not satisfied, they will simply go to the competition, at the risk of generating a bad e-reputation or even a “bad buzz” for the company that has failed to satisfy them.
It is therefore important to know how to address this generation at the right time and in the right way, by giving them this unique and memorable experience. For instance by being a user-centric company and not a technology-centric one, in order to maintain a competitive advantage. Technology must be put to work for the benefit of the users and not the other way around.
- A user-centric approach
In order to succeed in integrating modern tools to improve a user experience, it is essential to consider that human beings are at the heart of value creation.
A Design Thinking methodology places user needs at the centre to ensure the relevance of future experiences and guarantees their appropriation.
This approach responds to three challenges:
- Desirability: the technology is desirable from a user’s point of view
- Feasibility: the technology is technically feasible
- Sustainability: the technology is viable from a business perspective
To ensure your user’s needs and target experience, a Design Thinking approach, consisting of 4 key steps can be put in place:
- Discover: by combining an understanding of business issues, an analysis of user expectations and a review of market trends, you can establish a 360° vision of the current situation and identify opportunities to be explored.
- Define: by envisioning future experiences to surprise and delight your users. Opening up the field of possibilities.
- Design: by prototyping the defined target experiences and testing them with end-users.
- Deploy: by building and implementing the solution you turn your vision into reality.
This approach also makes it possible to prioritise the various projects offered by the many technological advances according to the needs of each company and their customers.
Currently, among the innovative technologies, three trends stand out for their popularity: virtual and augmented reality, artificial intelligence and connected objects.
Immersive experiences: a strong trend this year
The progress that virtual reality has had is impressive. New devices such as the HTC ViVe Pro with its two high-resolution OLED displays, together with new development kits, now make it possible to create fully immersive experiences at an affordable price.
However, the overuse of virtual reality risks undermining a brand’s credibility by offering a mediocre experience that is not representative of its values. In terms of the engagement strategy, it is important that the brand clearly defines the relevant times to use these tools.
Take the example of the Patrón Tequila brand, for example, which offers a virtual reality experience that allows users to immerse themselves in the manufacture of its products. It allows its customers to put on a virtual reality helmet and in just a few seconds you escape the alleys of a supermarket and find yourself in Mexico, in the middle of an agave field. When the story is skillfully filmed and told, the customer’s affinity for the product is multiplied tenfold, which is the key to a successful customer experience.
Augmented reality, on the other hand, can provide customers with relevant information without cutting them off from their environment. It is no longer necessary to go to the shop to try a product. Placing a piece of furniture in a living room, trying on a watch or clothes outside the shop becomes child’s play.
These new technologies give a new impetus to brands by allowing them to reinvent themselves and rethink their sales channels, while offering a unique customer experience.
Tomorrow and technology:
The technology of the future is arriving and is rapidly advancing in many areas. Over the last fifteen years, technological progress has mainly been confined to the virtual world. By 2030, it will revolutionise and transform our daily lives completely. The most significant shifts will affect several such as:
- AgroTech: Agriculture meets technology. Where the power of digital and data ensures the precision agriculture. For example to use less water. The startup The Green Data is a key player in this movement.
- MedTech / HealthTech: this sector is probably one of the most exciting in the vast universe of startups: from brain implants, prostheses, skin and 3D printed organs to prediction of diseases with big data and AI. Among the technologies of the future, the science of studying the human genome will be accessible by 2030. It will considerably modify our approach to the health and science.
- ConTech (for “Construction”): Whether it is to assist site managers, optimise costs or delivery times, or even build with 3D printing – this sector is booming. The house of the future will be an economical, connected, comfortable and intuitive home. Connected household objects, known as “home automation”, will be synchronised to your smartphones, computers and televisions. Indeed, while preparing yourself in the morning in your bathroom, mirror screens will allow you to watch the news, check the weather forecast or simply read your daily agenda. Your floor will also be equipped with artificial intelligence: touch screens will be inserted into your floor and will integrate advanced technologies such as task and damage detectors, but also traffic detectors as a security system against intrusion.
- CleanTech / GreenTech: with a common and collective objective to contribute to a more virtuous and less carbon-intensive world, many startups in the field – such as TIPA, a compostable packaging – are to be discovered every year at the ChangeNOW event, which promoted these positive initiatives.
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