Digital innovation and empowered users of today
Digital innovation has driven the transformation from passive to empowered customers. Users have been gifted with connected lives, an abundance of choices, the ability to get what they want when and wherever they want it. A new customer has emerged. There’s no doubt we live in the moment of empowered consumers with a much stronger voice than ever before.
So what is user empowerment? It is the process of strengthening individuals, by which they,
- get a hold on their situation and conditions,
- by having more control,
- triggering their critical awareness and
- encouraging them to participate and interact with their brands in many ways
User empowerment to a large extent is also dependent on their knowledge of how things operate. Be it a product, or a service and across any medium. The ability to understand and possibly have the skills to alter a solution can also be viewed as user empowerment.
A small world
Digital innovation and developments in new media tools and applications have led to the rise of what has become popular as ‘social media’, ‘Web 2.0’, ‘social computing’ or ‘participative web’. We have witnessed a transformation from unidirectional to conversational media of mass online-communication. This has reduced the technological threshold for everyday users. Thus benefitting users in diverse ways. It enables them to participate in online environments and social network sites, to co-create business value and to become ‘produsers’ or self-published content producers and remain users at the same time.
Thus we see an evolution towards people-centred design and user-driven innovation in the era of digital innovation. This has created new opportunities and increased expectations regarding user empowerment in different societal arenas.
‘User-generated content, produsage, collective intelligence – these terms have come into their own in recent years, filled with detail as researchers explore the finer nuances of participative Web environments. This is a rich collection of such work, exploring the successes and failures of innovative online projects, and examining how they affect the rhetoric of user empowerment that surrounds Web 2.0. A very welcome addition to this field of research.’ (Axel Bruns – Author of Second Life and Beyond: From Production to Produsage)
Technological advancements have led to the creation of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Many media stories predict this will replace human jobs and eventually become dominant. Should we be worried? I believe, digital innovations when put to judicious use will only improve users’ experiences and help brands reach their full potentials. A report by Accenture agrees with my viewpoint. The report denies the rumours that we face an insensitive, machine-controlled future. It emphasises that technological advances are certainly empowering users.
“It’s no longer people who are adapting to technology – rather, the technology is adapting to us,” argues the report, Technology Vision 2017 – Amplify You, which sets out five important technological trends for the next two to three years. “In fact, every time an experience is personalised, or technology anticipates people’s needs and wants, we are being placed in the driver’s seat to realise them.”
Examples of user empowerment
Smart medical assistance
A great example of a business that is using technology to improve people’s lives is US pharmacy CVS Health, which is cited in Accenture’s report. CVS has developed an app for its customers that is compatible with smartwatches. Using the app, customers can add personalised reminders for taking their medication. They can also take pictures of their prescriptions to quicken the re-ordering process. Users can scan their insurance card to provide pharmacy members with updated medical information.
Imagine culinary arts going beyond human touch? No? AI-enabled Chef Watson from IBM reveals how artificial intelligence can become a kitchen expert. It can help develop recipes and guide their human counterparts on food combinations to create entirely unusual and different flavours. Working together, AI and humans can produce more in the kitchen than humans alone could.
Another way AI and big data can augment creativity is in the world of art and design. In one example, IBM’s machine learning system, Watson, was fed hundreds of images of artist Gaudi’s work along with other corresponding material. This helped the machine learn possible characteristics from his work. Watson learned about Barcelona too, its culture, biographies, historical articles and song lyrics. It analysed all the gathered information and presented inspiration to the human artists who were credited with creating a sculpture “guided” by Watson with its intelligence and in the style of Gaudi. Yes, that is true!
Cogito is perhaps one of the most compelling examples of behavioural adaptation. They help to improve the emotional intelligence of customer support representatives in the market today. The company is a fusion of machine learning and behavioural science to enhance customer communication for phone professionals. This applies to the frequent voice calls that occur on a daily basis.
How will businesses benefit from digital innovation?
Everytime technology achieves a new, milestone it impacts its user’s lives in many ways. Ever since the onset of the internet, this technology has become part and parcel in most people’s lives. Almost every business today centres around the wonders of digital innovation. The past decade has seen increases in network speed, powerful data-processing and management and sophisticated applications. This caused many companies worldwide, to extensively change the ways in how businesses interact with one another and how efficiently they function. Technology advances have also allowed companies to change their existing business models or design completely new ones.
Customers now have the power and new found freedom in exploring different technological mediums. So how should the brands use this evolving setting to connect to their customers that also benefits them?
Engagement at every touchpoint
Today’s customers are global customers, where the geographic barrier is no barrier at all. Digital innovation has empowered customers to shop beyond borders, and favour brands and services that meet their needs. Marketing, sales and services should be present in all channels and serve the customers at every touchpoint in their prefered mediums.
Besides addressing every touchpoint brands can create communities of interested customers. This makes an interesting point of interaction with the customers where brands and customers can share their opinions and stories with each other.
Proper analysis of the massive amount of available data
Customer feedbacks generate a lot of data. Marketers can get a deep and detailed understanding of their customers from this data. Thus with proper data analysis, businesses can create brand messages customised to user needs.
A bit of this, a bit of that
There is no denying that users today on the internet always leave digital footprints behind. If users consent to their data being processed, then it is a fair call. If users want they should be able to find out how their data is being processed, or what is retained, or challenge that processing based on their set of rights. This in a way also empowers individuals as intelligent agents. With improvements in digital innovation, meaningful consent is a way to help users reach their full potential.
Technology should in no way lead to user disempowerment. Hence protection of privacy and data will be of paramount importance with technology advancement.
graphility believes in empowering its users in every way possible. graphility’s work at book2meet is an excellent example of how we utilised the latest digital innovations at our disposal to improve our customer’s experience. We provided solutions making the best use of the latest design methods to improve the user experience. We worked on the branding and identity to improve customer interaction with the brand. To completely improve the overall experience design we also suggested to book2meet rework their back office. Again our creative director Hector’s concepts were well received and accepted. Therefore, we helped our client improve the back office features with significant expertise and elegance. Thus on every aspect, our goal was to improve the end user experience and make their lives easier.
What does user empowerment mean to you and your brand? Share your thoughts with us.
Also published on Medium.