Seeking the Human at Web Summit

One of the fascinating aspects of the annual Web Summit in Europe is the astonishing array of new technologies and start-ups on display. But as everyone at the Summit in Lisbon this month obsessed over the alphabet soup of technologies (AR, VR, bots, AI, IoT, etc.), there was an eerie discomfort that permeated the space. While the excitement about new technologies justifiably keeps increasing — the annual festival grew significantly this year! — there is a basic perspective that our industry is in danger of losing.

Attendees, particularly marketers, are intensely focused on chasing the next technology. The promise of finding more targeted and engaging ways to interact with consumers is our holy grail. But in a world of robots taking over the Earth, an evergreen truth remains: We are all (so far, at least) human first. This is the core truth that drives us. And it’s how we unlock the ways that brands, products and services can and should earn a meaningful role in people’s lives. As an industry, we need to shift from a technology-first conversation to a human-first conversation.

Brands can play a major role in this rebalancing. When people are separated from their mobile devices or technology, an increasing number suffer from what has been recently termed “nomophobia,” the anxiety or discomfort caused by being out of contact with a mobile device or computer. Brands can counteract this fear when they create digital experiences that provide seamless assistance to people.

When we think about the notion of bots creating efficiencies for customer service or transactions with brands, the interaction can feel distant and alienating. But what if the brand could sense how you are feeling as you interacted with it? What if it could sense your anger, frustration, or anxiety?

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