When we think of artificial intelligence, we often think of science fiction films in which robots and people are scarcely distinguishable. In our mind’s eye, we see all different kinds of walking-talking machines and gadgets. And believe me, these things are on the way. Having said that, the AI-first mindset will be less visible than the mobile-first mindset.
The real power is hidden beneath the surface
Mobile first resulted in apps and flexible websites. This meant that not only every customer but also every competitor could immediately see what kind of mobile strategy a company was adopting. It’s going to be a very different story in the AI-first world. Artificial intelligence is an invisible technology. This time, customers and competitors will not see what is going on. The visible robots and gadgets are just the tip of the iceberg. The real power is hidden beneath the surface. Invisible technology provides magical experiences for consumers. Uber is perhaps the best example. The most impressive thing about an Uber ride comes right at the end. You thank the driver, you step out of the car, and before you know it you’ve already paid! You don’t know how. And you don’t know how much. Everything has been settled automatically. Invisible technology leading to a magical experience. Artificial intelligence is not the only technology that is invisible to the outside world. Various other technologies from the convergence point are also hidden from view. Think of sensors. Think of wi-fi. Think of robots that work behind the scenes. Think of data analyses. All these elements can contribute to a magical customer experience, without anyone knowing how they really work. I would like to share three of my favorite examples of services that use invisible technology to boost customer experience.
1. The Magisto app
One of my favourite apps is Magisto. When we go on holiday, I always make Magisto films so that the rest of the family can thrill to our adventures. Magisto is a brilliant interface to edit and compile your photos and videos in a really fun way. When I installed Magisto for the first time, the very same evening I received an e-mail from them. The title was: ‘Enjoy this video about the best day of your year’. Of course, I was curious and so I clicked on the video. The result was mightily impressive. It was a video of our family during our holiday in Disneyworld. I saw my children with Disney characters. I saw myself and my wife Evi enjoying the atmosphere in the different parks. The accompanying music was perfect. I was sold immediately and since then I have used the app regularly. But I still couldn’t understand how they did it. How can an almost free app assess what my ‘best day of the year’ might be? How can the app know who the Disney figures are? Who my children are? The video was perfect. There wasn’t a single wrong photo. I was blown away. It was only later that I discovered how the system works. It’s all done with a simple algorithm. For this first film Magisto chooses the subject where you took the most photos in the shortest time. They probably know from their research that this is a good predictor of enthusiasm – and they are usually right. With a simple algorithm, they create a magical moment thanks to invisible technology.
2. Singapore Airport
When a group of us went on an innovation visit to Singapore, we were impressed by the efficiency of their airport. We were off the plane quite quickly. Passing through customs control also went smoothly. Ten minutes later, we arrived at the luggage carousel, and to our amazement our luggage was already waiting for us. This was a wow-experience! At the time, we didn’t stop to think about the operational processes that made this possible. We just said: ‘What a pity it isn’t like this everywhere’. A few days later we visited Singtel, the largest telecom company in the region. Singtel is the telecom operator in Singapore. Although Singapore only has a population of 5.5 million, Singtel has more than 500 million customers. They are market leader in large parts of Asia and Oceania. During our tour of their offices, they explained how the airport can work so efficiently. Using data analysis based on input from smartphone sensors and security cameras, they monitor which passengers are moving most quickly toward the carousel. This analysis is then relayed to the baggage section, who make sure that the luggage of these passengers is put on the carousel first. They even have self-propelled robots to speed up the process. And it’s all done with invisible technology that results in an outstanding customer experience.
Radiomaze discovered that wi-fi signals reflect on water. People are made up of 90% water. Combining these two facts allowed the company to develop a new product. From now on, every home with wi-fi can add a new alarm function without the need for extra hardware. If the home owners are away and someone reflects the wi-fi signal, it means there is a burglar in their house! The system also has additional built-in safety functions. For example, wi-fi can ‘see’ if someone has fallen. If this person stays still for too long, it is possible to call the emergency services automatically. Radiomaze is also working on a digital lock that they can open at distance when the emergency services arrive. The CEO of Radiomaze told me that their most frequently asked question is: ‘I have a dog. Will your system work in my house?’ Their answer is brilliant. ‘If your dog is less than 50 centimetres tall, yes, our system will work. If your dog is more than 50 centimetres tall, you don’t need the system!’ Radiomaze integrates wi-fi signals and data analysis to create invisible technology.
AI as an invisible motor
In each of these examples AI analysis is the invisible motor for customer outcome. And this AI motor is driven by the hidden technology that surrounds it. Magical customer experience is the perfect output of the AI-first mindset. It leads to greater efficiency, speed, personalization and ease of use, both for the customer and for companies. For companies, AI first offers a huge boost in efficiency. For the customer, it offers a much better user experience, without understanding or even being aware of the technology that makes it possible.