Organizations will soon be creating a new wave of transformative digital services driven by the convergence of the Internet of Things (IoT) and shifting consumer expectations, finds a new report from Accenture. The report, titled “The Era of Living Services,” predicts a new era of highly sophisticated “living services” that can learn and tailor themselves in real-time to meet the changing needs of consumers, workers, patients and citizens.
Their emergence will create change in every industry while presenting brands with tremendous opportunities for growth and differentiation, and marking a radical departure from today’s dominant approach of companies creating generic and static services designed for mass consumption, according to the report from Fjord, which is the design and innovation group within Accenture Interactive.
The concept of intelligent services that adapt and change based on consumer preference isn’t new, but the technology that enables living services has recently matured enough for brands to create and deliver them at scale, the report finds. The services will start to grow on a new layer of connected intelligence formed by sensors, the cloud, connected smart devices and real-time analytics, also known as the Internet of Things.
“We call them ‘Living Services’ for three reasons,” said Brian Whipple, senior managing director, Accenture Interactive. “They will change consumer experiences such as travel booking and shopping in real time around us. They will be driven by things that are very proximate to us such as wearables and nearables. And, at the human level, living services will affect our lives in a much deeper and more positive way than mobile and web services have. In effect, living services breathe life into what is rapidly becoming a vast network of connected machines and objects, enabling branded services to flow through and utilize this connected environment.”
Giving rise to Living Services
“The emergence of living services is being driven not only by the digitization of everything but also by ‘liquid expectations,’” said Mark Curtis, chief client officer at Fjord, Design and Innovation from Accenture Interactive. “When consumers engage with a brand today, such as an airline or a bank, they compare their experience not only with other airlines or banks but also with any service company, such as ride-sharing providers. Take the seamless and largely invisible payment systems these providers offer. Now consumers want payment experiences like this in every industry, consciously or subconsciously. We call these expectations that bleed from one industry to another ‘liquid expectations.’ In effect, expectations will rise across every industry as innovation increases in any industry.”
The impact of living services on brands and the enterprise
Living services will profoundly affect design and brands and unleash new competitive forces in business and the public sector, requiring all organizations to rethink their business structures and practices in the same way they did at the introduction of desktop web and mobile services.
According to the report, enterprises and their marketing leaders will need to strengthen their understanding of customers through data and analytics; maintain a services platform and technology that is flexible enough to recombine products, services and information in many different contexts, experiences and situations; and concentrate on one or two aspects of user experience delivery and make these as “living” as possible. Design too will be impacted as organizations seek to deliver impactful yet consistent services using challenging new interaction types such as voice, gesture and location across a range of new devices.
The impact of living services on consumers
According to the report, living services will affect people in almost all areas of their lives, including their health, home, shopping, travel and money:
- Health: Living services will help prevent health issues. For example, given the high correlation between diabetes and depression, the app Ginger IO can predict signs of depression up to two days before outward symptoms manifest. It taps into data from a patient’s smartphone to record everyday behavior and can provide early warning signs. Living services will also enable personalized medicine. Proteus Digital Health’s digital medicines feature a stomach-activated sensor that provides information on how the patient is taking and responding to medication.
- Home: The home will become a hub for a range of automated adaptive services that take over time-consuming and reoccurring tasks. Most services to date are related to energy consumption and security. Nest and Ecobee identified that consumers needed a thermostat that can learn and adapt to preferred temperatures. Wallflowr is a fire-prevention system that constantly monitors the status of electricity and gas supplies to a home. The next stage is for these disparate elements to connect and communicate with each other.
- Shopping: Living services will allow retailers to offer less intrusive experiences and move away from the industry’s standard scenario of bombarding shoppers with offers on arrival at a location. By working with Pinterest, a particularly rich trail of taste and visuals, fashion retailer Nordstrom is determining store merchandising on a weekly basis, as well as providing staff with an iPad app to make it easy to show customers trending products and merchandise live.
- Travel: The broader sphere of travel and hospitality will be transformed in the next five years, driven by the reinvention of cars, initially connected and then autonomous. If drivers are no longer required, and cars can become places where you sleep or are entertained in during long journeys, they will introduce a new level of experience competitive with trains, buses and airplanes.
- Finances: A bold vision for living services in the financial arena is a service that links peoples’ financial status directly to other areas of their life. For a traveling customer, the bank could proactively negotiate better currency rates from ATM providers and seek and negotiate the best fuel prices as a customer is driving and prepay the bill. If the customer’s bank account “knows” a customer’s power consumption, it could also predict his or her future financial state. Israeli company 24me is already heading in this direction: its app automatically syncs with utilities and other services to remind and enable users to pay their bills.