It’s alive! Welcome to the era of digitised everything and liquid expectations

The latest wave of transformative digital services has the potential to change lives to an extent far beyond the disruption caused by the previous two waves, desktop web in the 1990s and mobile in the 2000s.

The rapid emergence and adoption of Living Services—effectively the digitisation of everything and the dramatic rise of ‘liquid’ consumer expectations—will occur rapidly and be embedded in our day-to-day lives within the next five years.

Living Services is the phenomenon emerging from the increasingly sophisticated and ubiquitous presence of sensors, the cloud, connected smart devices and real-time analytics. These are combining to deliver a new layer of connected intelligence that is set to revolutionise the ability of brands and organisations to offer increasingly indispensable digital services to consumers.

To some this may sound like little more than hyperbole, but the evidence is in front of us now, and recent history shows clearly that change of this sort is upon us before we have time to assimilate it properly.

The most significant and imminent change to the way digital services will alter our engagement on many different levels will be a shift from one size fits all to personalised custom services which evolve with individuals’ habits and behaviours.

Powered by smart technology built on sophisticated analytics capable of learning our behaviours and our preferences Living Services will know and assist us, entertain us, talk to us (as some do now) and even protect us. Perhaps most crucially they will put consumers in control of brand relationships and take charge of our engagement with the digital world – providing greater protection for our personal data and storage.

These predictions come from design and innovation consultancy Fjord, part of Accenture Interactive, which envisages how businesses from oil companies to retailers will create entirely new types of customer service or ways of working and living.

Fjord uses the term Living Services because they will ‘breathe life’ into the rapidly expanding presence of digital services in our lives commonly referred to as the ‘Internet of Things’.

It focused in particular on six specific areas where they will have a profound impact.

  • Our homes – envisaging a fusion of smart devices that will help manage our lives and protect our families and interests.
  • Our bodies – predicting that the growing popularity of smart wearable devices is merely the beginning of a journey toward complete body management, continuous health monitoring and predictive and personalised treatment.
  • Our finances – creating a platform on which banks and insurance companies could become far more helpful by continually advising and supporting the decisions and challenges we face every day.
  • The future of travel – the critical changes to our lives that smart, driverless cars or connected trains will enable.
  • Our working lives – how employers will tailor workloads and challenges to meet personal capability and the pressures we face in real-time.
  • Our experience of shopping – how retailers will recreate a digital version of old-style customer service and tailor their offering to our lifestyle choices and interests.

It’s easy to see how, in each of these categories, things are changing markedly already. Look behind technology such as the Apple Watch and the next best smart phone and you can immediately see some rapidly evolving innovations that, in a digital sense at least, are getting to know you very well.

The changes we have experienced in the past five years will be compounded exponentially in the five years to come. The result will be a world that is more easily managed by individuals who embrace the new technologies, more customised offerings and more power in the hands of the consumer.

  • Michael Buckley is the Accenture Interactive Lead for New Zealand and Australia. Check out the full Living Services report here

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