Screen Age. Smartphone Era. Digital Generation. Call it what you like. The fact remains that today’s virtual hyper-connectedness is accompanied, paradoxically, by an unprecedented level of interpersonal disconnect in the real world. But a massive change is afoot and we’ve already been touched by it in one way or another. Now, it’s time to actively harness this shift.

As we sink deeper and deeper into the endlessly fascinating depths of the vast universe behind our digital screens, the quality of human interaction declines. In short, our conversations just don’t have that warmth or depth anymore. We communicate but we don’t converse.

But what if I told you that it’s possible to digitally capture that sense of personal touch, that warmth and life that we yearn for in our real life interactions? That it’s possible to fill that void through sensitively designed and intuitive digital interactions? Wouldn’t that make you feel heard, validated and valued?

But this isn’t something we expect to happen in the future. In fact, it’s the story of our here-and-now!

Conversation is the New Interface

Recall the days of pulling up Google to search for an online course, a book or the address of the nearest plumber, and you will know what a difference your AI smartphone assistant has made in your life. In the past, these ‘interactions’ were dry, and one-sided. In the end, you got the content you were looking for, but getting there wasn’t particularly a memorable experience, was it? Now, all you need to do is pose a question to Alexa, Siri or your Google Assistant, much as you would to a knowledgeable friend, and voila! The answers are at your fingertips!

In case you hadn’t noticed, that was technology holding a digital conversation with you. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if you hadn’t actually noticed this, because that’s how seamless and natural these digital conversations have become. The incredible power of new-age technologies has been harnessed to serve up convincingly human-like interactions and users have responded very favorably to such experiences, opening up entirely new avenues for businesses to reach out effectively to their consumers.

This is what I call “Co:Digital” – conversations powered by digital technologies. Replacing dry, formulaic interactions with personalized, natural conversation that heightens a sense of connect and builds a sense of trust while delivering content effectively, conveniently and on-demand. It re-creates that elusive and ‘alive’ quality of real-life human interactions through artificially intelligent algorithms, intuitive interfaces and emerging technologies that afford previously unimagined possibilities.

Empowering Businesses to Offer On-Demand Experiences

Today’s consumers are more assertive, knowledgeable and discerning. They make well-researched choices, influenced by expert reviews, social media and industry forums. They are no longer willing to “hold the line” until a customer support agent is ready to attend to them. They want information and they want it now. Businesses are finding their resources and ingenuity stretched to the limit in accommodating and exceeding the expectations of an increasingly discerning customer while trying to gain an edge over the competition. With technology-driven disruption permanently altering the industry landscape, enterprises are in need of a strategic gameplan that differentiates them from the competition.

As brands, as service providers, as businesses, we don’t want to be distant or unapproachable. We don’t want to be background noise. We want to be relevant and empathetic. We want to be there for the customer, and in a way that makes sense and adds value to their experience. How do you deliver a personalized, on-demand interactive experience to consumers? And how do you scale up this detail-intensive interaction to cater to consumers in any part of the world, on their own terms?

The Answer is Co:Digital.

It is estimated that, by 2020, customers will manage 85% of their interactions entirely through digital platforms. And what we’re witnessing now is that millennials are the demographic that’s really going to drive this shift. They are tech savvy, they’re always-connected, they’re more assertive and they know what they want.

Brands that leverage seamless connectivity both online and offline will be able to create more responsive engagements. Brands that utilize digital technologies to consistently offer quality digital conversations to provide a unified brand experience rather than standalone products and services will emerge head and shoulders above the field. Retail, healthcare, e-commerce, tourism, logistics, insurance – you name the industry. They all stand to benefit enormously from the Co:Digital approach. Co:Digital allows brands to go to the customers, on the platform of their choice, rather than expecting customers to come to them. It’s all going to be about creating, managing and building conversations in the digital world – around digital experiences – for richer and more engaging brand connections.

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Co:Digital is the Next Paradigm Shift Propelled By New-Age Technologies

It’s familiar on one level, but new on another level. And that’s what gives Co:Digital its power. As a social species, that yearning to connect and converse is hard-wired into our DNA. And any technology that aims to serve our needs must take this requirement into account. Today, we’re standing at the critical moment where we can see that Co:Digital is the way the future is headed and we are fully equipped to offer experiences that touch users on a deeper level.

I see four main technologies as the key drivers of this paradigm shift. The advent of 5G super connectivity, for one, will empower brands and businesses to offer seamless on-demand experiences like never before. The immersive power of altered reality invites customers to explore products and services in rich life-like detail, affording more compelling brand engagement. Next come chatbots, which are eliminating unnecessary and bulky mediating layers of technology, like apps, that hinder a direct connection between businesses and their customers. Last, but by no means the least, is Artificial Intelligence – the magic humming under the hood of conversational interfaces like chatbots. As AI gets more and more sophisticated in its natural language understanding and its machine learning algorithms, it will be able to offer greater nuance and richness in conversational experiences – truly fulfilling that human need for ‘real’ and meaningful interaction.