What does the future look like for the Digital Consumer?


"I kept dreaming of a world, I thought I'd never see. And then one day...I got in"!

This quote is one of the best quotes I've heard. This is the quote Jeff Bridges mentioned in Tron, in which Jeff stars as a computer programmer who is transported inside the software world of a computer and he interacts with programs in his attempt to escape it.

I like the quote as it confirms my notion that nothing is impossible.

Therefore, I believe Futuring is vital in our lives now, it is a key activity that we call should perform and it can be learned as mentioned in my last blog "Are you prepared for the unexpected?"

In this blog I would like to share with you my predictions of what the future might bring to all of us as digital consumers.

As I believe that technology developments are either created, improved or disrupted not within the technology sector itself but by other social or environmental needs, I would like to map those predictions to our human's needs, and the best model to reflect that is Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

Abraham Maslow is an American psychologist who in 1943 proposed that healthy human beings have 5 set of needs and that these needs are arranged in a hierarchy. I attached the image of the 5 level pyramid that is often used to present Maslow's proposal, with higher needs coming into focus only once the lower ones are satisfied or met.

I know there are some critics of Maslow however what I really admire about Maslow is his optimism about human nature, society and how he wanted to reflect that in his studies rather than what other physiologists did by concentrating on mental illness.

So what might the digital consumer experience in the next 25 years?

Physiological Needs:

1- Sharing Economy as a norm not an exception: We recently have seen a rise in the sharing economy and in 25 years, it will become the norm not the exception. Ownership is not a must but nice to have and people will prefer to be less tied to one place, one car, one house. What is important for the digital consumer is not the asset but the personalised experience. For details on sharing economy, you can check my previous blog.

2- Human Free Shopping experience: Digital consumer's retail experience online or in store will be human free and this will expand towards the delivery as well where driverless cars and drones will make the major bulk of the deliveries.

3- Internet of things will be everywhere and a commodity: Everything we interact with will be connected, even our clothes which could even give us skills or strengths we never had. Internet will be a commodity like electricity, available for everyone everywhere.

Safety/Security:

1- Healthcare will be in the cloud: Interaction with Healthcare including doctor's appointment and procedures will be predominantly digital using Apps, Platforms, robotics and virtual reality.

2- Wearables as your personal advisors: Wearables as biometric sensors will offer you latest updates on your personal health, surrounding and even warn you for any unexpected activities within or around you allowing you to control almost everything.

3- Human Biology is our Unique Security: Data, physical and digital security covering credibility, authenticity and integrity of all with be only possible through authentication using human biological unique data. Biometric authentication will be a must and a norm.

Belonging/Love:

1- Your virtual assistant is conscious and emotional: Based on the enormous data being captured, the power of Artificial intelligence and machine learning, computers will interact with you with Conscious, personalising their interaction based on your mood, time of day, and situation. This is not Siri from Apple but it is Jarvis from Iron Man.

2- Your friends are not only humans: With more conversations and interaction with technology is based on chat bots and artificial intelligence, the avatars you interact with online across all channels and games, the support you get to your questions, products and services will be humans in some cases but an artificial bot in most cases.

Esteem/Reputation:

1- The future enterprise is you: With democratisation of data and content, digital content from articles, books to videos and movies as well as enterprise product data (e.g. Industrial data) will all be free and available to everyone. The future enterprise will then create revenue through the combination of that data that can bring either a unique experience, insight or edge to the customers on others. Therefore, this will depend uniquely on who they hire and therefore, more than ever, your Personal brand will be key in the future.

2- Social Collective is the next board member: The power of social reviews, social groups and communities will only continue to grow that any enterprise that wants to succeed will not rely on 1 person in the board but on a social collective.

Self-Actualisation:

1- We will all be manufacturers: 3D printing will be the norm and the 3D printer will be a home appliance. Intellectual property will not be the design anymore but its personalisation.

2- Your soft skills are the only things not automated: With developments in super computing, artificial intelligence and internet of things, jobs as we know it today will be disrupted and majority of it automated. However, there will still be need for creativity, trust, authenticity and meaning that will continue to be brought by humans.

3- "To be" is part machine/part human: All of us will rely on technology in a way that we will not be able to perform our daily duties without it and therefore life will be a collaboration between human and technology.

With the above predictions, as a digital consumer, you have to simply start having an open mind that disruption and change will continue in the next quarter century and you already start preparing for the opportunities they will bring. You, as individual, will have more autonomy and ability to drive your income, experience and way of life.

As for enterprises, the above predictions, highlights the need to reach full democratisation of data and content across you services and products as soon as possible to allow you to get the experience as early as possible in how to deal and take advantage of it. In addition, ensure your employees' soft skills and personal brands are part of your strategic priorities because your brand will heavily depend on who you have working for and with you.

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© 2016 by The Digital Consumer.