The digital platform revolution continues unabated and has reached the next stage in its evolution. The early digital platforms enabled retail and travel booking experiences. Then came the social media platforms designed to enable communication between individuals and communities. The next phase in the platform revolution ushered in the sharing economy with ride-sharing services like Uber, and hospitality services like Airbnb enabling new service models and delivering new experiences.
Meanwhile the next generation online marketplaces have adopted an on-demand model for the delivery of products and services between businesses and customers. Video streaming platforms are redefining the way we entertain ourselves. The advancement in payment technology has enabled faster and more convenient methods of payments which in turn has given impetus to digital transactions. Digital platforms have penetrated every facet of our lives.
The next generation of digital platforms that are in the works will leverage data, A.I. and customer experience technology to deliver experiences that are seamlessly integrated with our daily lives. Here, we take stock of the direction in which digital platforms are evolving.
1. A.I Enabled Platforms Offering more Personalization and Better Recommendations
Data is already enabling recommendations on everything, from recommending products you should buy to the next video you should watch, to people whom you should follow. The technology that enables these recommendations is becoming more sophisticated by making use of A.I enabled Machine Learning (ML) models.
Netflix is even using algorithms to personalize the film posters that you see on their platform! The next generation of digital platforms are enabling more personalization based on users past activities across different interactions, with data aggregated from different data sources over time.
Sophisticated Machine Learning models are able to predict your next move reliably, based on your past activities and seamlessly act on your behalf via Agentive technology. These intelligent agents book tickets for you at the right prices, pay your bills when they are due, order products automatically when they need replenishing and even book a cab when you are ready to exit the arrival lounge at the airport.
2. Live Video Streaming with Integrated Services
Most of the platforms that stream live content have enabled a chat feature for users to exchange comments as they are watching a live broadcast. During the recently concluded Indian Premier League Cricket competition, the HotStar mobile streaming platform enabled some innovative features. It had live quizzes between overs and even had integration with a food delivery service to order food while you are watching a cricket match all from within their platform.
We predict that more and more streaming platforms will collaborate with third-party platforms to enable experiences for users to access services via plug-ins while watching video streams of live events.
3. Gamification of Customer Loyalty and Rewards
Traditional loyalty programs are quite predictable and staid. You know if you spend X amount you will get Y reward points. The next generation of digital platforms will enable gamification by introducing unpredictability in their loyalty programs by using algorithms to calculate the reward points.
In India, the Google Pay digital payments app gives the user a ‘scratch card’ on making a transaction. Every time you scratch the card it will reveal a random amount as a reward that gets credited directly in your bank account. Similarly, a popular food delivery platform gives a scratch card each time one places an order on their mobile platform. This engages the user by introducing unpredictability in the rewards.
4. Private and Trustworthy Social Networking Experiences
While the current generation of platforms have made significant strides, there have been glaring issues like the privacy of user data and security that have eroded the trust of the users. Lapses by social networking giant Facebook in handling user data have created distrust and have driven users away from the platform. The next generation of platforms will have to attenuate these concerns and create an ecosystem based on the bedrock of privacy, security, and trust.
The events in the last few years have done a lot to erode the trust which users put in social networking platforms. Recently Mark Zuckerberg announced changes in approach to privacy and business model. But more will need to be done to win back the trust that social networks had once mustered.
While on one side social networking platforms have been struggling with data privacy and trust issues, Blockchain technology has emerged as a strong contender for creating decentralized and automated privacy enabled trust networks. It is a matter of time the big five tech companies will implement Blockchain as the solution for the problems that are plaguing them. Use of Blockchain will allow users more control over their data, and help restore trust.
The next generation of digital platforms are leveraging Machine Learning, Video and Blockchain technologies to deliver interactive experiences that are engaging, delightful and trustworthy. Enterprises and startups must be quick to adopt experience platform technologies that will enable them to deliver a great customer experience.