If I had to hedge my bets on which technologies are likely to create the most impact on business in the coming years, it would be specifically without doubt on those technologies that leverage and/or enhance the customer experience. This is because, the greatest organisations in most industries are not those that provide the best products and services. Indeed, they are those organisations that have mastered the art of understanding their customer needs and have built a unique customer experience around that need. You may be right in thinking that all the disruptive technologies that we have explored in the previous sections provide opportunities for enhancing the customer experience. Big Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence provide a better understanding of customer needs and in some cases perform certain functions that have previously been carried out by humans (example Chatbots). DLT gives greater power and control of customers over their data. On the other hand, cloud computing, edge computing and IoT present increased convenience for customers to process data faster across multiple channels safely and securely.
However in my view, the most impactful technologies that are likely to significantly improve the customer experience are those that enhance one or more of the five biological senses of consumers. That is why I believe that Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and more prominently the Metaverse are likely to be the next big family of technologies that will dominate the world in the next decade.
Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality will open up a different view of the world as we know it
I can attest to the effectiveness of the multi-sensory experience provided by VR headsets as some time ago, I had foolishly engaged with my son on a virtual roller coaster ride that ended up with me having a racing heart and an upset stomach. Never again!!! I must admit that it was also fun experiencing basic Augmented Reality by catching Pokemon with my mobile phone in my living room or outside the house for that matter.
The fact remains that the sensory experiences provided by Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality have created tremendous opportunities for businesses around the world to give clients an unprecedented customer experience. In education, students can learn about history by living it first hand. A theme park experience can be provided right to our home. According to Geekflare13, VR is being used specifically in therapy for treating patients with phobias and anxiety in health care, gamification in retail outlets for creating interactivity with the customer as well as providing sensory enhancements for product demonstration, product experiences and result demonstrations.
Future Businesstech14 argues that Augmented Reality will have a prominent role to play in several industries in the foreseeable future including Education, Appliances and Furniture, Clothing and Fashion, Outdoor and Indoor Navigation, Healthcare, the Automotive Industry and sporting events amongst others
The Metaverse will create a completely new world with new possibilities
Sad but true. Our life has progressively transitioned to a virtual world where interactions and relationships are being formed and increasingly enhanced on-line. The Metaverse epitomises this through the creation of an alternative life where people can create a different version of themselves. The Metaverse is expected to play a dominant part of our life in the coming years. Facebook has rebranded itself to “Meta” and is pledging a US$ 10 billion investment to make the necessary transition.
Concerts and Live Events have been first movers in this space. Travis Scott hosted an in-game Fortnite tour in 2020 generating a record of over 12.3 million concurrent players. Arianna Grande followed suit. However, concerts and live events are not expected to be the only industries to dominate this new world. Even players in the conservative financial services industry are recognising its potential. JP Morgan and HSBC have entered the Metaverse this year. Moreover, the Fintech Sokin is expected to launch its own metaverse this year.
Aside from the hype, the Metaverse will be a harder place to be than in real life. It will become rapidly overcrowded and largely dominated by players demonstrating limitless powers of ingenuity and creative content. As in real life, it will become a battle for dominating virtual space, creative content, digital currencies, brands, reputation, networks and interlinkages. But contrary to real life, the Metaverse can defy the rules of physics as well as the limitations of the human body and surrounding environments. In the absence of the physical dimension, it will have a stronger impact on feelings and emotions. For this reason, if organisations want to attract attention in the Metaverse, they need to work relentlessly to enhance the customer experience.
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