Many wild visions of today will be just ordinary reality tomorrow. For example, the disappearance of Nokia, appearance of affordable tablets to almost any home, and the new mobile lifestyle iPhone started, would have been utopia a decade ago for all but the most far-seeing visionaries. Still, one trend was visible already around year 2004; mobile handsets were turning into remote controllers of our lives. That has happened now. Yet, progress doesn’t stop; even wilder things are coming in the near future.
“Cooltown” video made by Hewlett-Packard‘s researchers in 2000 is still relevant, since the future world shown in it is now becoming reality. Avaya‘s recent video of same kind shows a concrete example of using Google‘s controversial smart glasses and new Contact Center technology to create a pretty sci-fi-like customer service experience. The technology required already exists, generally kind of works, and is becomong more or less affordable for others than millionaires. Whoever said that, for example, a banking experience should happen in some particular physical place or by phone or web-browser only?
A human being is a mobile creature. We used to need physical places and certain devices in order to use various services in our lives. You bought flowers from a flower store, music albums from a music store, etc. Then Internet Happened, making it possible for us to order things remotely using our computers. Various net shops became deadly competitors to many physical stores. Soon the remote controller of our lives, the smartphone (or a tablet) made almost anything possible using Internet. We are, indeed, very close to the utopia where we expect everything in our lives to be found using the net, being instantly available 24/7, and accessible by all kinds of devices. Our patience is simultaneously approaching zero: “I want my services – I want them Now!”
This is a big challenge to Contact Center providers like Avaya, but also an opportunity. Avaya has understood that people won’t much longer be satisfied with waiting on the phone listening to awful quality elevator music and hearing: “…if you wish to talk about mortgages, press one…” The current practices are not too handy or user-friendly. We need better, and better shall we get.
Avaya’s video’s example of using Google Glass technology to improve a banking user experience is a nice vision, and also an interesting example of next steps of “hands free” technology. We still remember how funny and embarrassing phone calls used to be using hands-free, since you were kind of “talking to yourself”. Now things get even better. Not only is the man talking to some invisible being on the video; his eyes clearly even see this invisible being (which is true, thanks to Google glasses!)! That’s where we are now going, and Google Glass won’t remain nearly the only example of pretty strange changes in the way we shall interact with the world.
HP‘s CoolTown vision was ahead of its time in showing a future where almost every device in your home or office has its own web-address, and thus a capability to operate with other devices, as well as being remote-controlled by things like smartphones (first smartphone, IBM Simon was introduced already in 1993, but was quickly discontinued due to problems in it).
We are not that far from this kind of a future; for example, both Microsoft and Apple aim to network our homes, offices and life so that we can access anything from anywhere as long as we are using technology from either sandbox provider. Some technology companies like Intel develop things that aren’t necessarily tied to any manufacturer and its own ecosystem. In any case, everything is becoming mobile, and there will seldom be situations where a physical visit to a bank office, for example, is absolutely necessary. Mortgage- and other negotiations can be held as video meetings, and electronic signatures will replace physical signatures. Sounds wild? All before mentioned is already reality, but it gets better; Google’s automatic cars already move around California without a human driver! Just imagine what this will mean to goods delivery business alone – and so much more.
In Avaya’s video the customer was negotiating with a bank official about buying a new car using Google glasses. What would be a logical next step? Perhaps the customer could have continued his virtual meetings with the car sales person, signed a deal electronically, and finally his new car would have automatically driven itself on his homeyard…
That’s something to think about, because it can be reality sooner than we think. Even if your next car didn’t drive itself automatically, it may already park itself without much help from you, and in any case, the next generation customer service solutions will probably blow our minds, making services and delivering of goods faster, more efficient, and omnipresent. Customer service will not be about traditional call centers, but instead about information centers. They utilize the devices and info channels we people use in our everyday lives. When will you buy a new car in the way the guy does it in Avaya’s video? 2024? I doubt that. 2016 is much closer to the truth, and many of the things seen on those two videos are reality already now, even if they are not common yet. Perhaps Google’s driverless automatic car has already driven on the same road with you. And even that is just a beginning. Future happens Now.