Some time ago I was working on a pitch for a project proposal of a Corporate Venture in Germany (I am not saying which one ;-)) when I was given a study depicting the customer of the future – called Dawn. When reading through the material I noticed that many of those details that are showcased in the study by Lippincott already apply and that the scenario described makes sense in many dimensions. That is why I believe that writing about this customer case is not mere fortune-telling but a credible picture on which I would also place a bet. This article therefore builds the bridge to the future by filling the prediction with my own insights.
We jump right into the Experience in order to create Products
When developing a new digital solution, I prefer using a “self-testing” and “expert asking” approach. Of course, having all knowledge and a big picture assembled of global trends and business design in my backpack I like to literally throw myself into a new and unprecedented position. That is, not only consult numbers and facts given from reports and surveys but putting yourself in the shoes of a customer and experiencing the whole customer journey.
At the same time, I call and reach out to experts from the given domain and go through a thoroughly prepared interview, which is the nice business development part. However, assembling those two together and putting myself through the bad and the good with my detail-minded eyes, often even opens my eyes to new things and ideas.
When working for a Corporate Venture this entails to understand the business from A to Z and going also beyond the customer side. This way round I find myself in the funniest and most awkward situations sometimes, where people ask me either directly or with their facial expressions, “What is she actually doing there – is she sane?”, while the sense and the logic of what I am doing becomes apparent only after some time.
Who is Dawn? Who is that Customer of the Future?
So, trying to understand the customer of the future – I reincarnated Dawn for my project. And when you read through this characterisation you may think – well this sounds pretty much like Sofia. So, who is Dawn?
She does not know how to drive but she drives all the time
Ok, I know how to drive and I am not yet driving all the time. But in fact, I think that soon I will substitute the stay at a hotel and rather sleep while travelling in order to save time to spend together with my family or friends. Also, while sleeping on the go I can imagine that I will give my data to my insurance company.
She has never been to the doctor’s office, but she visits her doctor every week.
Via telemedicine affluent customers already connect now to their preferred doctors. Thus, this is only a matter of time and decreasing costs until this solution will arrive with the general public.
She never logs on, but she is always online.
This scenario already applies to Millennials. While older generations omit the pure digitalisation including banks knowing what you buy and when, younger generations need to give this info in order to use new digital offerings.
She is always shopping, but is never standing in line.
With AmazonGo stores this becomes reality. And I actually spotted myself in my favourite café taking a juice out of the fridge and sitting down without paying for it in the first place – basically prioritising the pleasure to the duty and creating a feeling of „home“. I really enjoyed this living room atmosphere, stepping out of my home and into a shop – skipping all kinds of administrative processes and just enjoying.
She has never been “lost”.
Welcome to I-Phone GPS tracking. Sometimes you should not be trackable cause you simply do not know who else could track you. Especially as female. However, when on business travel, navigating cities, streets and addresses this function is utmost important.
Her T-shirt is connected to the internet.
That is cool and this is definitely new. While all kinds of electronic devices are already connected to the internet – the shirt is something new to be connected.
Her tattoo unlocks her car.
I saw chips being implanted in the palm to unlock doors. Something that innovation hub managers seem to often have. But tattoos are new and maybe less invasive.
Her manager is a robot.
That’s interesting. I want to know how a robot will actually manage a human. And actually, just recently I found myself in a marketing funnel that sounded playful but in the end was a bot that told me what to do – giving me some options.
But how does this characterisation come across? What makes Dawn behave or be like that? There are 6 shifts that will happen due to the needs that humans have and the technological development.
What is the life in the flow? There are flaws in the flow!
Recently, I moved from a small town in Germany to Berlin. I did not take too much with me, maybe a backpack and a business bag. But that’s it. No big luggage no papers. What was important for me was my social capital I knew I would have in Berlin. So off I was. But did my correct information travel with me? Nope. So, the ideal life in the flow identifies you correctly and gives you the opportunity to travel wherever, work remotely and have all your personal administration with you just in time. Be it a contract number, a social security identification or any health-related data. So, in the not so distant future we will have access to those things everywhere instead of owning houses, cars or having one fixed spot to sit for work. While co-working already simulates the flexibility of work and co-living substitutes a flat, all kind of administrative info still travels slow and depending on your social media accounts and the utterances via those platforms a quite inadequate picture of a person can be drawn and communicated when you travel to new places and meet new people. Thus, from my point of view we have not arrived in a flawless „flowy“ rhythm yet.
When thinking of my product development pitch preparation for a potential client I noticed that Germany is not yet “flowy”. And some will say that having a mix of a flow and disconnected check-points may be also good in order to rewrite those flows where we constantly move in. Leaving room for regulators to decide whether we in fact want a complete flow or whether we as humans can step out of this flow when we want or are supposed to is something to still decide upon in Europe.
1) We will have de-located lives via our constant connectivity with the internet.
2) Flexible work forms will be the norm. Increasing insecurity and pressure for the private person who will in fact take the position of a small firm whose reputation decides about the next job assigned.
3) Experience will be preferred to ownership via peer-to-peer sharing, co-ownership and on-demand rental.
Transparent Existence – Be badmouthed like a super-star!
Who would have thought that “Likes “ will play such a big role in our lives? Being Cambridge Analytica who can diagnose you and your personality by means of 68 Facebook Pages likes on Facebook or Instagram fighting superficiality and bullying within youngsters by testing the abolishment of likes. Likes will very likely remain an important part of our lives. So, is our destiny set via our Facebook surfing behavior or our Facebook picture? For sure there will be soon jobs popping out like “Instagram Feed-Optimizer”, who will then create an optimal display of our personality on social media and help us set a correct Facebook profile to convey a specific personality. On the downside, as with every super-star there can be the case of “shitstorms” and negative press. If everyone watches and judges’, people will judge subjectively, leading to wrong impressions and outcomes. I remember reading about the Ex-CEO of Roland Berger, Burkhard Schwenker who has accepted a refugee to his home and received lots of badmouthing for doing so. A good deed but he was torn apart – leading to my assumption that our behavior will become outcome and not solution oriented to circumvent personal shitstorms. Cause not everyone can handle or finance bad PR or has the lobby to push against.
1) We will live amidst continual monitoring via IoT connected machines in our homes – rendering privacy an absolute privilege. This will turn us all into small public relation specialists as our digital reputation will be increasingly important for our real life’s success. And we will struggle with data leakages all the time with scenarios as: “Oh my fridge noticed that I have eaten all the chocolate puddings yesterday and told it to social media – know everyone conspires whether I suffer emotional eating.”
2) Social experiences will dominate the digital landscape and create a sense of belonging by merging private and social life. So, we will all be small superstars. Everyone will get his or her moment of fame. Here I am wondering what kind of subject for children will become most important? Is it sports so that they learn how to connect to the real life and shape their bodies early on into healthy ones? Or is it ethics and communication so that they will know how to behave culturally sensitively? In fact, if our thoughts, private life and words are directly transferred in the digital reality we as humanity will create lots of severe content. And as Data cleaners in South East Asia show, they are cleaning non-stop pictures and content of violent incidences.
3) Sharing and monitoring will increase demands for accountability and transparency via blockchain. For all of our decisions we will have scores that prove the transparency that we require from products but also partners. This is because of the following logic: We share and track everything – like in a big Sauna. And that is why we demand scores for everything we decide upon, e.g. sustainability scores, skill scores, stress scores or sense of humor scores. We will prove these scores via blockchains where every participant will acknowledge or not regarding a specific score.
Omnipotent individual – Designing the ultimate life
Consumption will enable individuals to personalise all kinds of wants and we will also personalise the production. This way round we will be ultimately empowered to design everything that we want to be it our houses, jeans or even our genes. Putting things on a bit of an extreme level, while European countries refrain from manipulating human genes China allows the interception into the human genetics even on the fetus level, the so-called CRISPR baby and Japan is experimenting with the intersection of human and animal DNA to implant human organs into animals. So, humanity wants to be god so badly and our strive for power leads us to hack ourselves more and more. While some say that we as humans will be able to affect our genes on a wide level, I think that this privilege will stay within the borders of affluent or highly influential individuals and only in specific countries. However, a European business case that I see as possible is the recommendation by insurances to alter a specific gene of a baby to decrease the likeliness of a severe illness: “Dear Mrs. Müller, we noticed that your 7 months to be delivered baby may have Xyz, we want to support you to circumvent this disease and invite you to a personal counselling.”
1) We will live in environments of learned customisation. So, our environment will adapt to our emotions with lights, content and with respective recommendations, that is an emotionally responsive environment according to our taste. Instagram already does it in some part that it learns to recommend motivational and inspirational content. In my case it reads my surfing behaviour, connects it to the IoT surrounding of mine and takes into account the relative behaviour of befriended accounts and happily comments on my life – my Instagram Guru. I learned to have accounts curated and close to me that are friendly with me, as this way round I get impressions and recommendations of friendly minded accounts, who will inspire me to solve problems differently. Thus, technology will form an intelligent, adaptable ecosystem around us and we can create our own swarm intelligence. But hold on, if we do not curate and if we are hacked it may happen that our digital reality will turn into an unintelligent echo-chamber.
2) Products will automatically adapt to us. The adaptation of products to ourselves will be based strongly on the people close to us. So, based on the people we hang out with we will be recommended different things. Our network and the people around us will have a major impact on who we will be. Devices will start collecting data immediately with our birth and give recommendations on the past outcome and a desired future outcome. And what I learned is that we can change ourselves the most with the food that we intake, the exercise that we do, the network that we have and the way we think – Optimist or Pessimist? – Risk-taker or Risk-advert? These will be our ways to influence our realities in the future and are already able to some point today. Via those metrics we will impact the prices of goods that we demand. Prices will be highly personalized and dependent on our individual willingness to pay and supply measures like local stock availability. When thinking of a suitable use case, I remember a conversation about autonomous cars. Every car producer has its own routing system based on GPS. That is Mercedes, BMW, Audi or Porsche develop their own way of routing their customers to help them with the navigation. The outcome of this system is that Mercedes drivers all go a specific route, while Porsche drivers go a different one. For spectators it sometimes leads to a herd of Porsches taking a specific route: “Ah the Porsches are coming, hello Porsches.” So, the products will adapt to us, but there will be a specific product reality that will moderate the adaptation.
3) Modularity, mixing and customisation will become the expectation.
Many businesses have already noticed that customisation is important and the early business model alterations that convey this trend can be perceived within airline businesses like Lufthansa who offer different price packages according to classes like Economy Class, Premium Economy Class, Business Class and First Class. While currently there are 26 price points that are clustered according to those classes, Lufthansa is now exploring a continuous pricing mechanism, enabling any price as feasible rate for a flight giving time of booking and relative demand a higher impact on the pricing of a ticket. Thus, the game of being able to book additional packages and modules for a flight let’s say with additional luggage may be disrupted with the continuous pricing practice of Lufthansa even more.
Anyhow, we as consumers will demand more and more customisation while some new trends are already on the rise as instagramable travelling for Millennials where our digital youngsters demand specific destinations in order to take presentable pictures. Recently, I recall seeing plenty of Instagram boyfriends taking pool pictures of their beloved girlfriends on a befriended account of mine, who has grasped this trend.
On-demand everything – And sometimes on-demand nothing
If we have a need we are now used to have it served instantaneously. Hungry? – Get some food. Need a new dress? – Go shopping. Bored? – Get some entertainment. Want to talk to a friend from the U.S.? – Call from anywhere.
Basically, through cloud computing we can demand everything at any time. All technologies are open for us all the time. As long the internet connection is working to process our demand. However, if electricity or our data package falls short, our demand is not covered and we find ourselves in awkward situations like: “Oh shoot, I have a VIP meeting in 20 and I do not know how to get there”. Something that happened to whole New York districts that went dark or even whole countries like Argentina or Uruguay. No on-demand everything there. But, if on-demand everything works fine, we will have tiresome tasks completed in a glimpse of a time and will receive gratification instantaneously. Gosh, I adore to sit at redundant places and call my fam or friends.
1) Everything from entertainment to groceries will be available in an instant. Including self-diagnosis for health assessment which I just did recently to assess some health improvement options. And indeed, this way round I was able to find out some info about my health that numerous doctors were not able to assess. Here we are shifting methods in assessment where start-ups use new approaches that may have not been approved from official health departments but are in fact much more advanced than the usual practices.
2) Repetitive tasks will be taken care of by in-home robots, while smart assistants will take care of schedule management (goodbye typical, boring executive assistant tasks ;-)), writing, communication and even grocery shopping.
Exponential intelligence – We know everything but fail to make right decisions
Artificial Intelligence can lead to a momentum which is called Singularity – that is when machines learn to improve themselves driving the speed of technological development to an exponential curve so that humans cannot follow the development. A.I. already helps to scale and to expand businesses tremendously. Platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and in fact all social media providers are forms of artificial intelligence, as they are based on rules and automatisation. Digitalisation and the collection of big data are the grounds of artificial intelligence and can benefit humanity as our medical diagnostics become better and we can make super smart decisions, where before our most talented minds were not able to do so. Thus, for humans, as with every technology, it is important to regulate artificial intelligence and point to the momentum of singularity when, that is democratically for all people and countries or if at all, we will have super intelligence around us in our clouds. Here country regulators and international organisations play a big role and hold lots of responsibility already.
Some will say that this is huge, or is it in the end all electricity, which may be plugged off? Any way and anyhow, with our mobile phones, every one of us holds power that is stronger than computers that were used to land the humankind on the moon. In fact, every one of us can research and get informed about everything anywhere. So how can we make our own knowledge powerful, efficient and productive?
Here our peers come in to play. Cause as much information we obtain nowadays, the same amount of disinformation is out there. In order to make right decisions we need to consult with our relatives and friends and before those decisions actually materialize it takes quite a road, to convince the right people, the right amount of people and fit the right moment. Quite a few parameters, no?
1) Wisdom of the crowd will become important in order to make a decision whom to trust and whom not, as knowledge about anything and anyone is open for anyone. At the same time we already find ourselves already fighting disinformation which leads to simply bad decisions.
2) Artificial intelligence will help us make smart decisions as for example in health-related topics or sustainability.
3) Traditional education will be available to everyone which leads to more co-creation and participation in urging topics of human development.
Synthetic reality – The Digital world and the real one are the same?!
With Internet of Things and Cloud computing being established and increasingly establishing I see that sometimes data is fed into my social media feeds from different directions, thereby creating inaccurate output via disinformation, but also sometimes pointing me to very interesting solution. Saying, our feeds, the targeting via digital marketing and the IoT data transferal sometimes manage to match what I am looking for and the solutions in a very productive way. And sometimes I find myself checking my feed like an oracle that predicts what will happen in my real life – thereby merging digital and real. At other points of time I check it and it completely misleads me though. As with all big digital platforms there is no one statement that explains to us as users and also to our children how to use them securely. What remains is the knowledge about their business incentives and Facebook will remain by own statement a marketing platform that leverages the users data to sell. So it will not be a platform to consult you personally, being a somewhat personal artificial intelligence based on IoT data and accounts that follow you – but it will use your data to help companies grow and most importantly spend their marketing budget.
In other business cases the delineation of the purpose of a technological innovation is much clearer as for example in the case of virtual reality. As soon as we put that glasses on our noses, we will perceive virtual reality. While with our social media accounts we carry this alternative reality in our mobile phone, in form of an app that is connected to huge amounts of servers all over the world and where real conversation in form of private messages mixes with an artificial intelligence feed based on dis- and information.
In not so short:
1) We will live in immersive and alluring environments. Whether those environments in fact drive empathy from our side will depend on our characters. However, the technology behind the application we already use tries to be as empathetic as possible to make us want to use it. We will continue and do love our technology and are connected to it as it makes us feel good and valued. Same as the screen of our I Phones has attractive colours and designs – technology that will regulate for example the light in a room, or the temperature of our seat will act the same way – all to make us feel comfortable. A digital avatar will help us to stay in touch with important people, as well as friends or family and VR glasses will enable women and men, old and young and people from different cultures to look through their eyes and see their everyday struggles. Whether this will translate into actions is the ultimate question but will definitely drive understanding as we humans react quite well to pictures.
2) Our identity will grant us access to new possibilities. From the early childhood days onwards, people will craft their personal brand. Making public relations an asset to be used and truly understood from the beginning. Any digital step that we will make will be monitored and digital firms will fight for our attention and do whatever it takes to trigger us into giving in. And even if we do not want to give in into the whole spectacle our private communication will go via those platforms‘ communication tools as everyone uses them and will continue using them. This way round those platforms will remain in full knowledge of what happens around us – to target us once again with marketing offers to use digitally where we once again will leave digital footsteps.
3) Identity management will become important and self-actualisation stands in bright contrast with security. With information being delivered to us depending on the reputation and brand picture of our digital personality it will increasingly become important to us to protect this digital personality as it will determine our economic success. Blockchains in form a social lobby on social media and biometrics already play a significant role to protect our identities against Hackers and Shit-Storm bashers. I am wondering how long it will take that we will actually insure against PR Shit-storms on social media while I can already find insurance policies for cyber-attacks by Allianz.
We at Singularity.Design hope that you liked our article and are open for questions and feedback. The framework of Dawn and the customer of the future is based on a study by Lippincott and we are truely impressed by such ideas!