You have to admire the folks at Altimeter Research. They seem to like asking big questions and then getting the world to join them in narrowing in on answers (not a bad model for all of us).
This summer they raised a series of questions, one of which, regarding the nature of The Dynamic Customer Journey, I took on in a previous post. Now I’d like to address the last question in the series, about the nature of living, and doing business, in an ever more Sentient World (to use their term for the unending expansion of intelligent devices). Still with me? Good, because it actually matters to the future of your brand marketing efforts.
Altimeter lays out their premise in fairly optimistic terms: “As more and more inanimate objects start to develop data and intelligence as they connect to each other, a network of autonomous interactions will emerge. In the future, our devices will be able to manage, analyze, report, predict, forecast, and more — while humans experience their days more intelligently and efficiently.”
Can We Develop Trust Human-to-Machine? Can We Market that Trust?
As they envision a technotopia in which untold benefits accrue to humans in a device-driven world, one question needs to be asked: How will machines get us to trust them? And how will marketers be able to communicate, and maintain, a trustworthy brand experience?
The Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies frames the issue this way: “Complex social phenomena are strictly associated with trust, which is a key factor to understand how cooperation, economic exchanges and communications develop in society. But how about artificial objects? Can we still talk about trust? At ISTC the Trust, Theory and Technology Group (T3) has shown the answer is more complex than expected.” More complex, indeed. And while the ISTC is about the work of finding a way to measure the trustworthiness of machines “able to solve problems like and better than humans,” we can begin to look at how intelligent devices are received in the here and now to help guide our near-future efforts.
Selling Artificial IQ Requires A Higher Brand EQ
In Britain, the National Health Service (NHS) is in the process of substituting an intelligent in-home monitoring device for many duties previously borne by physicians, at great expense to the NHS. Only 5000 users are currently in trial with the “telehealth” system, but so far the acceptance of the device has been promising, as have the results: a 20% reduction of emergency admissions, 14% fewer days in the hospital – and users are 45% less likely to die than non-users.
Obviously, the NHS will do well to promote the statistical benefits of using telehealth – but they will also need to observe the emotions surrounding it, as begin to emerge in this Daily Mail article on the subject:
“June, from York, credits telehealth with restoring her independence. She is a widow and suffers from diabetes and a heart condition. Early last year, she began to suffer problems with water retention and was eventually admitted to hospital with heart failure. After returning home from hospital she was offered a telehealth system. ‘I kept getting a very fast heartbeat and was nervous about doing anything,’ she says. ‘But I took my blood pressure every time I wanted to leave the house as well as daily checks. If my oxygen levels went down they called me up immediately and checked I was OK. ‘After a couple of weeks I felt much more confident about going out. I learnt to manage the condition myself.’
Confidence. Independence. And, as one other user noted, freedom from endless waits at NHS facilities. By clarifying and communicating solid emotional benefits that proceed from the rationally understood product features, the NHS – or any of us in a similar situation – should be able to build the trust that pure technological performance may not.
Do you have any personal or professional experience with intelligent products and, if so, how did that experience impact your sense of trust in the “Sentient World?”