This management book is a fascinating look inside the world
as the author believes we will see it in five or ten years
time. Soon your toothbrush will record your tooth brushing
score on the Internet each day and make appointments with
your dentist. Of course, not everyone will want that kind
of toothbrush, and we will still need human dentists. WHEN
DIGITAL BECOMES HUMAN stresses that digital tools but human
interactions are what we will want in the future.
Steven Van Belleghem has written successful books on
management and the subtitle of this is: The transformation
of customer relationships. The first change I saw growing
up was the supermarket instead of the small shop where
customers were served at a counter. Now we can buy online.
We have a world of choices in our hands, thanks to tablets
and phones. If firms want to make us buy shoes connected
to the Internet, they will have to convince us that we need
them. Steven predicts that five waves of tech coming
together are going to make radical transformations. These
are: mobile computers; net-connected items; robots; three-D
printers; and artificial intelligence. Consumers are
finding and adopting new ideas and goods more and more
quickly; in 2012, the word selfie did not exist. Soon it
will be the dronie. The top Fortune 500 companies are only
a few years old, while Kodak invented the digital camera
but failed to adopt it. Banks are losing out to PayPal.
I find the style easy to read but full of assumptions,
based on people the author knows. Nowadays, we look at our
smartphones 150 times a day. Do we? I don't. I seldom
switch mine on. I'm familiar with the marketing separation
of customers into innovators, early adopters, middle
adopters and late adopters, followed by laggards. But these
groups are separated on assumptions about how early they
hear about an innovation or how much they trust new tech.
The fact that brand new tech costs a lot more than tech
that has been around for some years is not given as a
factor, but I would say it is the most relevant. After all,
cost was what made digital music downloads popular.
Steven tells us that the five biggest digital marketers are
Facebook, Amazon, Alibaba, Google and Apple. They are
linked to everything from taxi services to telecomms and
online shops. New tech firms don't go on strike when things
don't go their way. They drop their prices, so that the
consumers demand their service. Meanwhile the traditional
taxi firms go on strikes and teach consumers not to trust
them. But what will happen when there are no jobs left?
When all services are automated and physical work done by
robots? Or when companies that lack digital skills
collapse? Advice is given by Steven on innovating and
adapting in a company, keeping the human touch as well as
improving the digital aspect with RFIDs or scanners, though
consumers can feel that tracking them is intrusive and
I was dubious that the factors named are responsible for
the closure of 10,000 companies which Steven says failed in
Europe last year. The economic crash has left entire
national populations without money to spend, so they are
not hiring architects and lawyers or visiting nightclubs,
no matter what websites are in place. Steven also says that
in the future consumers will have neither cash nor credit
cards. Actually, I believe people like cash and for many
reasons will continue to use it for smaller transactions.
Governments and banks would prefer to do away with cash,
but we've had physical money for thousands of years, and we
like it. We also distrust electronic payments and banking,
as computers can be hacked, fall prey to viruses or make
mistakes. These human elements are not going to disappear.
WHEN DIGITAL BECOMES HUMAN contains some graphs and
graphics to help us understand productivity rises, or how a
good business functions. I find some of the graphics
overtly masculine, with a handgun, a clenched fist and a
thumb's down shown as business choices. No cupcakes here. I
was actually surprised to see this in a modern business
book, as we are often told that women are much better
communicators in business.
Book lovers will be aware that authors often blog or put up
websites for readers to find them and communicate. Putting
the customer first is what Steven Van Belleghem says has
brought companies like Amazon to the world leader position
it now enjoys. Steven suggests that every employee should
spend time on the customer complaint team, and customer
servers should be given some autonomy. This combination of
consumer care and personal communication is what he says
will be needed to survive as a business in our exciting
future. In that, I am sure he is correct.
In an age when customers have access to vast amounts of data about a company,
its product and its competitors, customer experience becomes increasingly
important as a sustainable source of competitive advantage. But success doesn't
just rely on digital engagement and excellence, but also on combining a digital-
first attitude with a human touch. In When Digital Becomes Human, Steven Van
Belleghem explores and explains the new digital relationships.
Packed with global examples from organizations that have successfully
transformed their customer relationships, such as Amazon, Toyota, ING,
Coolblue, Nike and Starbucks, When Digital Becomes Human presents a clear
model that companies can easily implement to integrate an emotional layer into
their digital strategy. This guide to combining two of a business's most important
assets - its people and its digital strengths - covers the latest issues in digital
marketing and customer experience management, including omnichannel and
multichannel experiences, big data and predictive analytics, privacy concerns,
customer collaboration (ie crowdsourcing) and more.