March 5, 2018

What can future consumers expect from a smarter society?

Sami Uski

Advisor, Customer Experience in Financial Services, Tieto

We are entering a new age of digitalization where almost every aspect of our lives is set to be aided and enhanced by Artificial Intelligence (AI). This, in turn, will have a domino effect, helping in the shaping of a smarter society where the consumer will be able to make more informed choices.

In its recent Global Future Consumer Study, AT Kearney stated that younger generations will “increasingly seek relationships based on trust rather than individual transactions. As a result, the business models used to attract these consumers can no longer be linear and static.” In other words, brands can no longer afford to go with a one-size-fits-all approach and must learn to “react to smaller signals from micro-pockets of consumers” and personalize their products. Thankfully, data analytics and AI-platforms will help us reach exactly that level of personalization.

The case for greater personalization

The future consumer will be able to walk into a store, with IoT-enabled devices having already indicated what supplies they are running short of. Smart sensors will automatically scan the future consumer’s shopping basket and deduct the cost of the items. What’s more, the retailer will share information about the consumer’s purchases with his bank and vice-versa. This will allow banks to analyze an individual’s spending patterns and make appropriate suggestions.

For example, if you have made a large purchase on your credit card, but have another payment coming up soon, your bank will be able to give you the option to pay it off in instalments.

The same process could also be applied to making larger investments like buying a house. The future consumer will be able to go through available properties, read about property rates, neighbourhood data and make the payment over the phone. In the meantime, the bank will have already analyzed the future consumer’s assets and liabilities and informed him if he can afford the property, even providing financial plans to keep him going while he pays off the mortgage. In essence, it will be similar to having a personal financial advisor.

From manufacturing to services, to even the banking and retail sector, organizations are studying data and devising innovative new services around it. The resulting ecosystem will be one fuelled by machine learning and technology and will run invisibly in the background, augmenting consumer experience.

An interconnected ecosystem

From talking about “my” customer, organizations will learn to co-operate with one another across sectors to cater to “our” customers. One good example of this is Uber which opened up its API, allowing retailers to realize that they could get their products out faster by using Uber as a delivery service. In one stroke, Uber disrupted both the transport and logistics sector. Similarly, banking and insurance companies have begun to realize that by tying up with other sectors, they will dramatically widen their sales points, and be able to offer their customers more opportunities to access financing.

Examples of this can already be seen in Peer-to-Peer (P2P) payment systems. Tieto was instrumental in setting up the ecosystem for Siirto in Finland and is working closely with Swish in Sweden and Vipps in Norway. Retailers in Sweden have reported that over 40% of transactions are now being made through Swish. Apart from the rapid adoption of these systems, these transactions also generate a veritable goldmine of data, which can be analyzed to provide additional services.

It is essential that companies recognize these trends and capitalize on them. A recent study conducted by the Boston Consulting Group indicated that the gap between companies who have jumped on the digitalization train and those who haven’t, is quite significant. The early adopters are already working on plans to improve revenue-generating activities such as customer experience reinvention and next-generation sales, while the latecomers are still struggling with getting the basics right by setting up the right technological environment (digital architecture and cloud).

All of this of course hinges on having potential consumers be comfortable with using this new breed of services. And that is where user experience and design will come in. Crack this and what we will have is a whole new consumer ecosystem, one that will fundamentally change the world as we know it.

What does a smarter society mean?

Tieto’s goal is to utilize our expertise in digitalization to continue shaping a smarter society, one which anticipates the needs of the people in every phase of their lives. For more insights and examples on how we are doing this, visit Tieto.com/smartersociety.

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