Humanisation of technology

scan of an eye to represent humanisation

The ‘humanisation’ of tech, from voice of tech recognition to gaming communities, hints at a wider trend that companies can exploit, writes Will Higham

Management consultancy Accenture has just published its annual technology trends report. Excellent as ever, its focus on people was particularly interesting. As technology becomes a bigger part of our lives, Accenture rightly identifies humanising as one of the most important trends of the next few years.

Commentators frequently focus on the dehumanisation potential of new technologies. But far from technology dehumanising us, we’ve traditionally humanised it, as anyone who’s ever named their car or threatened to throw a faulty computer out of the window will confirm.

And the biggest tech trends of recent years have all revolved around human interaction and communication, from smartphones to social media.

That’s set to continue. People make fun of voice recognition service Siri, but according to recent stats it (she?) now receives a billion requests a week. The biometrics industry, which uses individuals’ physical attributes – from iris recognition to fingerprints – to authenticate them, is predicted to grow to $20bn (£14bn) by 2020.

Meanwhile a tech-based pursuit such as video gaming is increasingly communal: from online multiplayer to e-sports, millions of gamers now play with others or watch others play online and in stadiums.

But the trend won’t just affect the technology industry. The more consumers value ‘humanness’, the more important customer-facing staff will be to brand equity. Consumers interact with more and more companies today, so have less time to pre-evaluate each one.

Brief encounters with a brand’s staff will therefore impact brand perceptions more. And in an age of social media, such interactions can be amplified. Meanwhile, as brand trust becomes harder to build, the more of a ‘human face’ a company can show in its marketing, the more effective that marketing is likely to be.

The trend may even provide a solution to technology-based job fears. Developments in AI threaten many administrative, clerical and production jobs, but have yet to offer a solution to customer service. As a result, there looks set to be a huge market for employees with strong ‘people skills’.

About author

William Higham

William Higham

William Higham is the founder and CEO of consumer trends consultancy Next Big Thing.

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