As part of Accenture Interactive, FJORD's Chief Client Officer Mark Curtis spends a lot of time figuring out what will happen next in digital. He says the first wave of the internet was the desktop web, while the second wave — which we're still in now — is mobility. "Our proposition is that we're on the edge of something based around the "internet of things" called 'living services'," he explains.
According to FJORD's Mark Curtis, the internet of things will change our lives in a very large number of generally small ways — adding up to big shifts. These services will offer increased automation of low maintenance decisions and actions. Based on long-term learning about what we do, they'll be powered by the analytics of data collected from sensor-rich objects in everyday interactions.
There are three things that put the "living" in living services. "First, they are going to change in real time around us," Mark says. "These services are going to respond to contextual data and change the very fabric of the services that are being delivered. The second reason is they'll be very proximate to us, through wearables and nearables.* And the third reason is these things will have a big impact on how we live our lives."
What's driving this movement? Sensors are cheaper, network connectivity is better, the cloud is alive and well, and Big Data is thriving. So a major factor is the growth of connected devices. "The digitisation of everything drives living services," Mark explains. "As objects, cars and our homes becomes connected, we realise that this invisible layer of the internet is permeating absolutely everything."
The implications for businesses are profound. "First, really understand your customer," Mark advises. "Second, flex your technology. If you don't have a platform that is flexible enough to move into new, unexpected places then you will not be able to win this game."
Knowing your customer poses complex challenges as opportunities to gather audience signals proliferate. "We can't know everything. That means organisations need to take a long, hard look at what they want to know in order to deliver living services, and then focus ruthlessly on knowing that better than their competition."
Data plays an enormous role, so any design going forward must put data at its core. "This is about actually using data to inform the shape of the services that are delivered. Secondly — and just as importantly — this is about designing the services to elicit data from the customer and their context. This then goes back into the system in real time and changes the service that you are delivering."
What does this mean for brands? Mark draws a comparison to the four states of matter. Analog or bricks and mortar incumbents occupy the solid state, unable to change unless forced by seismic activity. In the next state are media organisations, which were forced to become liquid by early digital upheaval in their business model. Next is gas, which flows into every nook and cranny; think of OTT players and digital platform owners creating entirely new experiences and audiences. The optimal state for living services however is plasma. In this state matter is charged and can conduct electricity; these web disruptors are dynamic and flexible, enabling value to flow easily through them. "In a word," he explains, "brands are going to have to atomise so they can flow through the internet of things and deliver their services anywhere and everywhere."
Organisations themselves need to adapt to this new environment _ and be willing to live in a constant state of adaptation. "This is really about designing for individuals," Mark maintains. "If you cannot flex around the individual in real time, then you are not going to be able to deliver living services. That means you need to create an organisational structure that is no longer silo based and is no longer focused on efficiency. Those organisations that focus on flexibility rather than efficiency will be the winners."
Watch the presentation below to hear more:
* Nearables are smart devices that use wireless, electronic sensors to broadcast data to nearby mobile devices.