Written by Stefano Rizzo
While half of the world is totally immersed in making Digital Transformation happen and the other half is just saying that it already happened, almost nobody is really asking themselves what is the real Ultimate Goal of Digital Transformers.
Probably worth to dig a bit into it, right? That’s the aim of this article.
We will realise (what a surprise!) that the more Digital Transformation approaches the Ultimate Goal, the more the user goes under pressure.
Actually, the user is close to being kidnapped in a cage full of clicks, traps and hidden paths, with hurdles to be trespassed in order to find a way out of the Digital tornado.
Reading further, you’ll join me in trying to state were the User is, and in finding a way to rescue them safely back “home”.
Let’s first try to define who the Digital Transformer is.
Anybody who works in designing or building Digital Technologies is surely part of the game, but a Digital Transformer is a visionary who , at some point, while looking at some analogic or just “real” stuff, decides to turn it into a device managed by piece of code.
Sounds exciting right? Let’s try it!
Turn your head around and look at the first thing that is close to you; then try to imagine how to transform it into something digital. From where I’m sitting, I can see the handle of my window: it’s pretty easy to imagine that it could have some kind of automation, so I could open and close it with my mobile phone while sitting on the couch. Thinking a bit further, I could invent some sensor that is able to scan my skin so when I start sweating, it opens the window automatically and closes it when I start freezing.
So, after becoming a Digital Transformer, let’s try to make some money out of this.
Being a Digital Transformer does not directly imply that you will make easy money out of the phenomenon of Digital Transformation.
As monetisation is the lead driver of any innovation, the first successful Digital Transformers quickly understood that Digitalisation could turn into easy money by shortening the distance between the source of the product or service and their consumers or users.
Think a while back and you will find plenty of examples: e-commerce, that cancelled the need to stroll around malls to buy your next pair of slippers or eventually put you in touch with the farmer to get your fresh fruit salad; booking portals, which avoided you having to call your travel agent to book a room in a hotel; internet banking, that allowed you to check your balance every minute without going to the bank; e-bay, opening up the possibility to sell your unnecessary items by yourself
More recently, we saw the rise of successful businesses able to provide self-service mobility, or self health check-ups.
From a cynical point of view, Digital Transformers, while shortening the distance between products and consumers, could be seen as those who fired and hunted anybody who stands between people and the product or service.
Think a bit about it: Booking.com reduced the number of travel agents, AirBnB reduced the scope and the number of Real Estate agents, Internet Banking changed the job for many banking officers, chatbots are reducing the number of support desk specialists… and the list can go on for a while.
So, if you decide to become a successful and, probably, rich Digital Transformer, just look around and find any agent, mediator, service man, or anybody who stands between a product or service and yourself. Did you find one? Good, make him or her Digital and you’re done.
Provided that Transforming into Digital most of times is not an easy task, we can anyway state that Digital Transformation hates the “men in the middle” and is more and more replacing them with portals, smart devices, bots etc. Nature has the “horror vacui”, which is the fear of empty spaces, Digital Transformation suffers of “horror medium”, the fear or repulse of/ for anyone who stands in the middle.
Ok, it’s just a matter of human progress. I can already hear people saying that, during the last century, cars replaced horses and destroyed all the business that was around our 4-leg friends: we know this story. However, today this is a bit different. Apart from putting in touch the product and the customer, there are three things that the Agent or “man in the middle” does:
Under the “say something” umbrella, there are a lot of pretty useful information that Digital Transformers might forget. Examples are: recommendations to the user about the most appropriate product or about the most efficient way to use the product, recommendations to the provider about how to improve the product.
But this is not all, there is something much more problematic.
Quite every worker who mediated the demand with the supply is (or was) an expert in the process or the procedure to do so. Up to a few years ago, this was the typical interaction with the bank desk: “Hi, I’d like to check which the balance of my account”, “Hello mr. Customer, here it is”.
Now, I have to open the app. Ouch, this needs to be updated. Of course, type once again your user ID and password after the update. Aha, nice look & feel of the new version of the app! But where is my balance? Ok, select which bank account … Ok I stop here, you know the story.
The dramatic consequence of Digital Transformation is that many “men in the middle” are disappearing and their jobs are, at least partially, moved to users.
A small consideration, whereas an Agent can perform a routine task in terms of seconds, it will take at least some minutes for the users to perform the same task. I don’t want to focus my attention on the waste of talented people and the total cost to be afforded by mankind because of such shift, I’m just worried about the “lost” users.
Commenting on the fact that people are always clicking through their smartphones is one of the most banal considerations nowadays. It is definitely true that most of us are curving our backs because of social networks, but pretty often this can be because we are trying to perform operations that in the past were performed by somebody else.
Sometimes, most of the things we are now in charge of doing (creating an account for a utility, for example, or purchasing a ticket for the theatre or booking a Journey to some European capitals) cannot be performed via a smartphone, so we turn on the computer and try to find our way through portals and web applications.
Which are the options when you feel lost? Call the support, browse a user community, read some blogs, watch a how-to video. Sometimes EVEN READ A MANUAL!
In some way, we need training and guidance to finally escape from these traps and go back to our social lives or to the pub.
The summary of the story is the following:
Isn’t this funny?
Not so funny for Digital Transformation. DT is now looking at itself and defining Digital ways to shoot this new generation of mediators. Think at chatbots, turning support people into Digital beings.
We now know pretty well how the Digital Transformation works, so there is no surprise to find out that a solution for all this trouble is already available.
We call it “Overlays” or “Overlay technology”.
It is essentially a digital layer between the product (digital world) and the consumer (user), where all the services that mediators normally provide are implemented.
The beauty of this solution is that, differently from other human or technical mediator, overlays provide their services in place, exactly where and when they are needed.
If you get a “classical” training, you get information earlier than when you need them.
If you read a PDF manual, it is outside the application you are using.
If you get guidance on the phone, it takes a long time for the support person to understand where you are and to give you instruction via verbal descriptions, outside the application.
What if you could watch an explanatory video or listen to a voice description exactly when and where you need it, inside the application you are using?
What if you could fill in a survey about your satisfaction exactly when you are living an experience and not after 2 weeks by answering a questionnaire proposed via email?
What if you could have tips appearing when you don’t understand what a given field is about?
What if you could be guided step by step into performing a task, inside the application?
You actually can. There are already many solutions available to do exactly this, bots and Digital Adoption Solutions are just two examples which are getting stronger in the market.
At Newired, we create an overlay technology where all these technologies, and many to come, can seamlessly be plugged in.
When running over an application, the Newired overlay technology, looks at the application and give help to the user. At the same time, it looks at the user and gives help to the application team. With this bi-directional help, the distance between the two is dramatically reduced.
Newired is the place where the innovation in user guidance, training, support, engagement is happening.
It’s Digital Transformation rescuing its users.
Looks like a new world right? Welcome to the Newired World.