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    Default The race to make everything smart

    The race to make everything smart

    The shift towards smart touchpoints is sparking a race to make everything smart: toasters, clothing, cars, swimming pools, vending machines, restaurants, traffic lights, elevators, faucets, and even your vegetable garden.

    Following my post earlier this week about smart touchpoints, readers asked for a fuller explanation of "touchpoints" and how they impact customer experience. Here goes...

    Any place a company touches its customers is a touchpoint: products, services, packaging, training, pricing, promotion, installation, billing, supplies, and - of course - personal contacts.
    With a list this long, things can get pretty complicated. One way to reduce the complexity of understanding touchpoints is to realize that there are only three kinds of touchpoints: human, dumb, and smart.

    The first category includes not only all your company's employees, but also those of your distributors and partners. I'm not going to explore this category further in this post, because people aren't changing nearly as fast as technology, which directly impacts the other two categories.

    Dumb touchpoints are static. They don't gather data. They tend to send information one way, usually from the company to the customer. Think about a cardboard box, a printed newspaper ad, or a bookcase made by the company. Until recently, most products themselves were dumb touchpoints.

    Smart touchpoints are interactive. They have the capability to sense something happening in the physical world, and they enable two-way interactions between the customer and either the company or its products and services.

    Kinect for Xbox 360 is an example of a smart touchpoint reinvention of video games. The game consule includes both sensors that track the players as well as an operating system with speech recognition. When one of three players leaves the room, Kinect knows who left. When you want Kinect to do something, you often can just talk to it.

    In their most robust incarnation, smart touchpoints include three elements:

    Sensor (sense): The touchpoint includes, or can access, one or more sensors that enable it to better understand the customer's actions and/or events of interest to the customer.

    System (decide): Data from the sensor enters a computer system - it could be a phone, tablet, PC, or company network - which then decides what to do next. For example, if the customer has a question about assembling the bookcase, the system might decide to start the "step 3" video demonstration. The system is where companies incorporate the intelligence that elevates customer experience.

    Products and Services (respond): The system should trigger a response through the company's products and/or services. The key here is to respond intelligently. The more intelligent the response, the more likely it is not only to encourage the customer to share additional feedback but also to value and embrace the company's offerings.

    You'd be wise to interpret "services" as broadly as possible. Sometimes the smartest thing a company can do for a customer is to send them elsewhere, or to connect them with other customers. Plus, smart touchpoints open up nearly limitless possibilities to generate revenues through new smart services.

    This sense/decide/respond cycle produces intelligent behaviors. It is a giant step forward from the product-driven "sell, sell, sell" approach many companies have traditionally used. (If at first you don't succeed, sell harder.)

    Michael Hinshaw and I wrote about this in Smart Customers, Stupid Companies. We believe companies that fail to aggressively compete in this race will end up either dead or forced to compete on the basis of price. That's an ugly place to live, because you are always at the mercy of your dumbest competitor, the one willing to reduce prices below the breakeven point.
    Far better to get smart, asap.


  2. #2
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    Have Smartphones Destroyed A Generation?

    Jean M Twenge, Sep 2017, Atlantic Monthly

    More comfortable online than out partying, post-Millennials are safer, physically, than adolescents have ever been. But they’re on the brink of a mental-health crisis.

    Theirs is a generation shaped by the smartphone and by the concomitant rise of social media. I call them iGen. Born between 1995 and 2012, members of this generation are growing up with smartphones, have an Instagram account before they start high school, and do not remember a time before the internet. The Millennials grew up with the web as well, but it wasn’t ever-present in their lives, at hand at all times, day and night. iGen’s oldest members were early adolescents when the iPhone was introduced, in 2007, and high-school students when the iPad entered the scene, in 2010. A 2017 survey of more than 5,000 American teens found that three out of four owned an iPhone. The advent of the smartphone and its cousin the tablet was followed quickly by hand-wringing about the deleterious effects of “screen time.” But the impact of these devices has not been fully appreciated, and goes far beyond the usual concerns about curtailed attention spans. The arrival of the smartphone has radically changed every aspect of teenagers’ lives, from the nature of their social interactions to their mental health. These changes have affected young people in every corner of the nation and in every type of household. The trends appear among teens poor and rich; of every ethnic background; in cities, suburbs, and small towns. Where there are cell towers, there are teens living their lives on their smartphone.

    Rates of teen depression and suicide have skyrocketed since 2011. It’s not an exaggeration to describe iGen as being on the brink of the worst mental-health crisis in decades. Much of this deterioration can be traced to their phones.

    The twin rise of the smartphone and social media has caused an earthquake of a magnitude we’ve not seen in a very long time, if ever. There is compelling evidence that the devices we’ve placed in young people’s hands are having profound effects on their lives—and making them seriously unhappy.

    So what are they doing with all that time? They are on their phone, in their room, alone and often distressed. One of the ironies of iGen life is that despite spending far more time under the same roof as their parents, today’s teens can hardly be said to be closer to their mothers and fathers than their predecessors were. “I’ve seen my friends with their families—they don’t talk to them,” Athena told me. “They just say ‘Okay, okay, whatever’ while they’re on their phones. They don’t pay attention to their family.” Like her peers, Athena is an expert at tuning out her parents so she can focus on her phone. She spent much of her summer keeping up with friends, but nearly all of it was over text or Snapchat. “I’ve been on my phone more than I’ve been with actual people,” she said. “My bed has, like, an imprint of my body.”

    Teens who spend more time than average on screen activities are more likely to be unhappy, and those who spend more time than average on nonscreen activities are more likely to be happy. There’s not a single exception. All screen activities are linked to less happiness, and all nonscreen activities are linked to more happiness.

    When teens spend more time on smartphones and less time on in-person social interactions, loneliness is more common. So is depression. Once again, the effect of screen activities is unmistakable: The more time teens spend looking at screens, the more likely they are to report symptoms of depression.

    What’s the connection between smartphones and the apparent psychological distress this generation is experiencing? For all their power to link kids day and night, social media also exacerbate the age-old teen concern about being left out. Today’s teens may go to fewer parties and spend less time together in person, but when they do congregate, they document their hangouts relentlessly—on Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook. Those not invited to come along are keenly aware of it. Accordingly, the number of teens who feel left out has reached all-time highs across age groups. Like the increase in loneliness, the upswing in feeling left out has been swift and significant.

    Social media levy a psychic tax on the teen doing the posting as well, as she anxiously awaits the affirmation of comments and likes.

    I asked my undergraduate students at San Diego State University what they do with their phone while they sleep. Their answers were a profile in obsession. Nearly all slept with their phone, putting it under their pillow, on the mattress, or at the very least within arm’s reach of the bed. They checked social media right before they went to sleep, and reached for their phone as soon as they woke up in the morning (they had to—all of them used it as their alarm clock). Their phone was the last thing they saw before they went to sleep and the first thing they saw when they woke up. If they woke in the middle of the night, they often ended up looking at their phone. Some used the language of addiction. “I know I shouldn’t, but I just can’t help it,” one said about looking at her phone while in bed. Others saw their phone as an extension of their body—or even like a lover: “Having my phone closer to me while I’m sleeping is a comfort.” It may be a comfort, but the smartphone is cutting into teens’ sleep: Many now sleep less than seven hours most nights. Sleep experts say that teens should get about nine hours of sleep a night; a teen who is getting less than seven hours a night is significantly sleep deprived.

    Children who use a media device right before bed are more likely to sleep less than they should, more likely to sleep poorly, and more than twice as likely to be sleepy during the day. Electronic devices and social media seem to have an especially strong ability to disrupt sleep. Teens who read books and magazines more often than the average are actually slightly less likely to be sleep deprived—either reading lulls them to sleep, or they can put the book down at bedtime. Watching TV for several hours a day is only weakly linked to sleeping less. But the allure of the smartphone is often too much to resist. Sleep deprivation is linked to myriad issues, including compromised thinking and reasoning, susceptibility to illness, weight gain, and high blood pressure. It also affects mood: People who don’t sleep enough are prone to depression and anxiety. Again, it’s difficult to trace the precise paths of causation. Smartphones could be causing lack of sleep, which leads to depression, or the phones could be causing depression, which leads to lack of sleep. Or some other factor could be causing both depression and sleep deprivation to rise. But the smartphone, its blue light glowing in the dark, is likely playing a nefarious role.



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