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April 16, 2019
Understanding consumers' tech identities in the post-digital era
By: Annette Rippert

Technology-driven interactions are creating an expanding technology identity for every consumer. This living foundation of knowledge will be key to not only understanding the next generation of consumers, but also to delivering rich, individualized, experience-based relationships in the post-digital age.

The Get to Know Me chapter in the Accenture Technology Vision 2019, our annual tech trend report, delves into what companies can learn from the unique technology identities of consumers. These identities are more sophisticated than demographics, customer segmentation and even personalization because they are based on every individual’s technology choices and behaviors with those technologies.

The goal is to draw insights not only from which technologies a person has adopted, but also how they use those technologies. This unlocks a unique view of consumers as individuals and drives equally unique opportunities to serve them.

I’ll illustrate with one of my favorite examples: SlicePay. Globally, 1.7 billion adults have no bank account or access to formal finance, or what is known as being “unbanked.”i Without any financial history, they can’t qualify for a loan. Without any loans, they have no financial history.

 

Close Up: Technology Identities

Companies are already using tech-driven interactions to engage with their customers at a more granular level. For instance, Alibaba’s “FashionAI” incorporated machine learning into a physical store experience, giving individual customers real-time suggestions and tips while trying on different styles based on the items they've already chosen.1

The next step is to understand a cross-section of these consumer variables to begin to create technology identities for customers. The eventual goal is to create a living, individualized view of each consumer, in order to develop a deeper relationship and deliver products and services that fulfill individual needs and wants—in the moment and on an ongoing basis.

But lending platform SlicePay has found a way to serve a portion of these “unbanked” adults--students who live in India. SlicePay runs credit checks by examining applicants’ use of technology, such as how often they post photos of themselves on vacation or check into restaurants on social media. These may seem like unorthodox measures of financial viability, but they offer useful insight into people’s spending patterns.ii Combined with other tech-derived metrics, SlicePay uses these insights to build applicant profiles that replace traditional financial histories.

In SlicePay’s case, its new technology “credit check” lets the company serve a previously untapped market of customers.

Tech-driven interactions create an expanding “technology identity” for every consumer. Our @APRippert on Trend 2 of #TechVision2019: #CX 

 
 

 

Expanding on tech-driven touchpoints

To understand the potential of technology identities, it helps to look at how companies are currently working to get an edge. Up to now, most have focused largely on the transactions and interactions they have with customers…and these are good because they offer snapshots of consumers at a single point in time.

But as companies move toward building ongoing, customized relationships with consumers, they are having tech-driven interactions with people daily and sometimes several times per day. This level of access and understanding makes it possible to craft individualized, experiential business models to serve consumers in unique ways.

Take, for example, North American life insurance company John Hancock, which has found technology identities to be so valuable that it has done away with the traditional life insurance model. Now, the company offers interactive life insurance policies that incorporate clients’ fitness and health data through wearable devices.

John Hancock’s “Vitality” program policyholders qualify for discounts when they hit certain exercise targets and can get personalized premiums and rewards for their activity.iii,iv The average customer with a traditional insurance plan engages with their life insurance company one to two times per year. The new Vitality policyholders engage with John Hancock more than 500 times per year.v

 

Shifting the enterprise feedback loop into overdrive

Tech-driven interactions like the ones John Hancock is cultivating with customers are contributing to an enterprise feedback loop. The more experiences companies deliver, the richer the technology identities that are created. The richer the technology identity, the more powerful the experience a company can create.

This positive feedback loop will deliver a more holistic, ongoing view of customers’ digital activities, technology capabilities and preferences. This deep level of understanding will unlock new ways to serve consumers.

While this prospect is exciting, your company must assume the necessary responsibility for adhering to data privacy practices and using technology identities in an ethical, unbiased, explainable way. Integrating experiences into customers’ lives requires an ongoing, intimate level of understanding; such insights rely on a strong foundation of trust, which your company must maintain through every consumer interaction.

As you think about the possibilities of this trend, ask yourself these questions: How is technology an inextricable component of your customer’s identities? Is your company using customer technology histories to build and evolve your understanding of individual customers? How is your business determining the limits of personalization to maintain trust?

To learn more about this IT trend, I encourage you to:

  • Read the Accenture Technology Vision 2019 and trend highlights

  • Share your thoughts at #Techvision2019

  • Contact us now to put these innovation-led ideas to work in your enterprise.

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