I started working at a time when we did not have “data” to make decisions, we called them “statistics”. And we’d partially build them ourselves (we called them: “internal estimates”). We didn’t have “communities” either, or not as they exist and interact today on social media. We called them “segments” and we had lengthy presentations to understand who they were and how they behaved. Under the information era, I suppose such meetings can lighten up a little bit. The rise of data, communities and crowds turns innovation into a fascinating set of questions. The following Innotrends captures some of them, especially those considering end-users, customers and influencers’ requirements for change. For instance, what is your strategy to build trust and value from “crowd”, “data” and “communities”? Digital disruption and communication tools are in a position to place personal stories back at the heart of decision-making. Under what conditions could such positioning be profitable to your business, employees and customers?
From individual stories to in depth business expertise, the many dimensions of personalities shape new dynamics in business and customers relationships. The complexity of interactions might help regenerate commercial approaches, yet structural as well as strategic choices are required to create a constructive dialogue anticipating rather than reacting to changes. Global innovation efforts have given birth to highly emotional and connected social platforms that provide an open space for communities to redefine innovation, as they wish it could be. “Under what conditions could such positioning be profitable to businesses, employees and customers?”
Beyond words and ideas
Even though they come from almost opposite sectors, inspiring stories shared by individuals provide a sparking understanding of personal drives in making decisions such as building a career path or fiercely believing in positive outcomes despite growing defiance and suffering. They do initially will to instigate at times completely different opinions and actions. Yet, beyond the willingness to lead by example, those stories illustrate a global trend invading social media, and with them our global approach to information, which is to inspire entire communities by building human links and calling on personal values leading to action. From storytelling social change to reminding the critical place of user’s value in the extending digital era, business experts and analysts outline the merits of optimism, hope, and self-awareness to drive intelligent change.
“Despite everything, Germiyanoglu is an optimist, even recognizing that the crisis is so massive, huge. She knows that in all of the communities there are people that are doing small, small stuff, that lead the way to change.”
Read more: “Small stuff leads the way to change #Waynak Portrait“, Paul Wright, Make Sense Stories
And nothing makes humans more human than solving problems. It’s how we reached the top of the food chain over creatures stronger and faster than us. It’s how we’ve reshaped much of the planet in magnificent–and sometimes dangerous–ways.
Read more: “The four tech trends that will shape 2017, predicted by ZDNet editors“, Jason Hiner, Chris Duckett, Larry Dignan and Steve Ranger, ZD Net
It is not just about words and ideas. By continuously nurturing a shared willingness for equality, freedom of speech and inclusiveness, the digital era also makes space for attempts to refine public policies through innovation, with the common ideal that people would actively participate to shape the ecosystem surrounding their daily lives. It even leads to success stories shared from individuals who developed their digital business out of their passion or expertise, located in remote territories looking to revive economic attractivity. It even leads to reconsider the place of children in owning their knowledge path, and disrupt rigid approaches to education.
“We wanted to create an application that would allow local public authorities to adapt their daily activities, on national as well as on local levels.”
Lire plus: “Pour plus d’intelligence collective dans la politique cette appui connecte les citoyens avec les élus“, Ronan Guesnerie, WE Demain
“The Internet builds tremendous stories for businesses, especially when they highly specialize in an area. Pecheur.com, created by a passionate owner from Gannat (Allier, France), sells fishing products, as well as hunting accessories. He is now the French market leader.”
Lire plus: “Le numérique, un levier de développement des territoires isolées“, Isabelle Rey-Lefebvre, Le Monde
“If every single kid assumes ownership over their own education and develops the sense of agency that they can solve problems today, that’s the only way they will know they can solve bigger problems tomorrow,” says Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach for All, a network which supports local efforts in 40 countries to recruit teachers and develop local educational leaders.
Read more: “A quiet education revolution worldwide is giving kids the skills to be 21st century citizens“, Jenny Anderson, Quartz
The direct social impacts of the digital economy are not just words and ideas either. In parallel of the enthusiastic and necessary human consciousness spreading through the Internet, the pace of technological change faces structural inertias, bathing in shared sentiments of frustration and meaninglessness. In addition, messages, channels, audiences and roles now also interact and change at the pace of technology, leaving entire ecosystems with the necessity to up speed of transformation, hardly reaching the right public-private environment required to innovate, and anticipate.
“An awkward conflict: workers without workplace, striking against a company that does not employ them, managed not by managers but by an algorithm that liaises between their smartphones and their managers, actively complaining against the latest update of an application.”
Lire plus : “Travail: mon patron est un algorithme“, Sarah O’Connor, Courrier International
“We also need to take influencers into account, whose role is, in my opinion, of greater importance. Here again, the difficulty is to identify them.”
Lire plus: “Les Ed-Tech, limites et contraintes“, Jean-François Fiorina, The Conversation
The human solution
Management experts also call on human capabilities to unlock status quo in the midst of multiplied disruptions that affect distinct levels of societies and economies. One of them is communication across generations, with the constructive idea to share know-how and experience within and outside communities. The success of such initiatives is conditioned by the centrality of customers in discussions. If we combine this customer-centricity with the rise of human values and communications, the essence of customer relationships places personal stories back at the heart of commercial strategies.
“Of course, it requires a lot of energy! But it is possible to organize inter-generational forums, meetings or integration mentoring where everyone can share experience, know-how and behaviors within the company. It is an interesting process with which anyone can share and progress.”
Lire plus: “Comment bien manager l’intergénérationnel“, Valérie Rocoplan, Talentis
The customer experience is built on a foundation shoppers and companies being able to interact with ease. But as the trends show, ironically, companies are more than willing to use technologies to put the human element and recognition of the individual back into retail and e-commerce.
Lire plus: “The customer experience: 5 bold predictions for 2017“, Tom Popomaronis, Forbes
Combining both the digital opportunity and human centricity opened by technology, new tools emerge to connect civic life, engagement in decision-making, rules definition and policy evaluation. This turn, often led by civil society, outlines the slowness of public administrations in efficiently answering a massive need for simplicity and sense. Yet both public and private stakeholders long to collaboratively define solutions both for local and national issues. We have the tools, the knowledge, the skills and the willingness to bring further human sense in our definition of horizontal and adaptive innovation policies. Is the lack of political willingness and/or reactivity the only barrier to change?
Budget reporting and data-informed decision making have become mainstream. The public sphere lags behind. This is quite damageable because if voting is central to our democracies, do we really need to wait for the next election to express an opinion?
Experts also highlight business shortcomings that need to be addressed if global communities, including companies and their customers, want to fully benefit from the digital economy. Increased flexibility, responsiveness and adaptability are shared development areas between the public and private spheres. Even though businesses have clearly identified the value of multiplying standpoints and partners within open discussions to better understand and address their client’s needs, innovation analysts underline the need to intelligently process information beyond data to bring a real value from crowd-based initiatives.
However, marketing needs to be more flexible than they have been in the past. Strategy and tactics need to be able to change and marketers need to be more responsive than before.
Read more: “Agile Marketing: Moving at the speed of the customer“, Kimberly Whitler, Forbes
Each one of these partners provides a valuable service and the more relationships we add to the mix, the more detailed picture we can paint and the more we can learn about our customer.
Read more: “Rachel Shechtman, CEO of STORY: Redefining The Retail Business Model And Customer Experience“, Stephen Diorio, Forbes
Important to note, thus, is the fact that collecting information from the crowd itself is not a sufficient condition for generating crowd capital. Harnessing the information from crowd and processing it correctly together are sufficient for crowd capital. This is evidenced by the wave of adoption of big data technologies by firms without appropriate value capture from the exercise.
Read more: “Crowd Capital, The Origins“, Creative Commodum
Human sense. Of course, but which one?
Customer centricity, and with it human-centricity, have achieved a major milestone in concentrating strategic as well as operational efforts towards users’ expectations. It only seems fair to acknowledge it. Although one could consider this relentless call to focus on customer has always been the central point of any business willing to develop, it appears from analysts’ viewpoints that the new dimensions brought to such centrality also heightens the efforts needed to answer more complex needs. As they outline, customer experience now holds a critical role in shaping long term relationships between users and brands, perhaps regenerating a commercial approach that has now all reasons to concentrate on creativity for humans, beyond technologies.
The marketer now starts from a position of knowing who their customers are and what will excite them, empowering them to focus their efforts on meeting their needs and exceeding their expectations at every interaction.
Read more: “Entering the new age of customer experience: Data, programmatic, and more“, Graham Cooke, Marketing Tech News
Recent study from Gartner indicates that as many as 89% of businesses will compete mainly on customer experiences. The customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator for several industries by 2020.
Read more: “How to achieve competitive advantage through customer excellence?”, Tal Shnall, LinkedIn
The discussion doesn’t stop here, though. If users, as citizens, employees, learners, influencers as well as users and customers, begin to get hold of conversations with brands, public authorities and private initiatives to reshape society, it means in return they heighten their own level of responsibility and ownership towards the system hence generated. It is only fair to acknowledge it, as well.This is the reason why technology experts remind the importance of ethical standards, noting audiences and individuals should protect the ownership of their own emotions and values. Since we have a human start for a common story between technology, businesses and values, it seems inevitable to better consider the human also standing at the conclusion of the story. An idea may be to provide users with the trust that developments are taking into account their stories, focusing on human sense out of technologies, gradually shaping commonly desired social and systemic goals.
This Internet of Emotions has no ethical standards. While manufacturers’ intentions may be positive, how can people tell? And who decides what “positive” even means? Unless we control our identities other people will create the standards defining our emotional lives.
Read more: “The Internet of Emotions: Putting the person back into personalization“, John C. Havens, Mashable
Technology design decisions are being made by humans, for humans. Technology adapts to how we behave and learns from us to enhance our lives, making them richer and more fulfilling. Eighty percent of executives surveyed agree that organizations need to understand not only where people are today, but also where they want to be — and to shape technology to act as their guide to realize desired outcomes.
Read more: “Accenture’s 5 predictions for human-focused technology“, Dean Takashi, Venture Beat
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Photograph: Nirina Photography