Four Consumer and Technology Trends: A Prediction

September 5, 2016 - 4 minutes read

The year is 2021. How has the world changed? What are consumers demanding from their brands and what are the modes of interaction they favor?

That human beings are becoming increasingly connected is not news. Our watches are synced to our mobile phones, which are synced to our computers. At the heart of all this, is the experience. Whether it’s a deeply immersive experience, or subconscious engagement, more and more, technology drives the experience.

Currently, we largely operate in two modes:

1A. Subconscious Interactions.

Today, the world is adjusting autonomously around us, with computers that stay in our pockets. We are constantly, yet unconsciously, sharing our data, transacting and engaging… The Internet of Things is making technology fall into the background so we hardly notice its presence. Electronic toll pricing proliferates and extends to beyond just cards. Consumers are banking without cash, having adapted from keyboard and mouse to swipe and tap to autonomous banking.

1B. Natural Human Interfaces.

Customers are always-on, sending unconscious pings while going about their business. As computing move from task-driven to intent-driven with search, context improved. Transactions were seamlessly performed on mobile, and computing became second nature. The tech companies that won are the ones who ensured people didn’t have to learn something new.

But how can we expect people to interact with technology, going forwards, based on your interactions today? Currently, technology is embedded and ‘drives’ our day-to-day activities. The world adapts around us. We subconsciously compute. We comply with the constraints – in a way, we are living effortlessly in a comfortable box.

However, as newer technologies emerge, we move into the driver’s seat. Early adopters are also moving into the two modes below:

2A. Immersive Experiences.

Immersive, elaborate, and personalized – that is the future of the experience. User-generated “snowflake” experiences will be born of extreme long-tail experience design so that no two journeys are the same. As we demand greater personalization, we pick and choose elements that resonate, and discard irrelevant ones. We will be able to dictate our level of engagement and how we want to be engaged. This is already apparent using television as an example of media evolution – from common stories to color motion visuals to serials to TV-on-demand.

2B. Unnatural Human Interfaces.

Over the history of communications technology, a key tenet was that we were always trying to mimic the face-to-face experience. Animation changed our reference. Augmented and Virtual Reality are stepping up to the challenge and creating new protagonist realms. Automated bots are able to take human abilities further. We can expect the human-machine interface to be more common, and certainly more detailed and personalized as well.

By 2021, five years into the future, consumers will put greater pressure on brands as ‘experience’ forms the core of any interaction. Brands, similarly, must respond by delivering value dependent on the right interaction design. Thus, when building out an experience, we should a priori pick what model – ‘driven’ or ‘driving’ – the consumer will be in, and how we can fully empower them in the experience.

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