Empathy, AI, and People Power. Let's Go!

Empathy, AI, and People Power. Let's Go!

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With the first month of 2019 in the rear view mirror, I’d like to share some thoughts for the year ahead. Rather than pile on to the negative press swirling around tech companies, I’m going to take the high road. This might not be en vogue and may not spark debate, but there are some really exciting trends developing that give me confidence that 2019 will be an inflection point for technology and our society. Empathy, AI and People Power will combine in ways that will unlock new ideas, new products and new experiences.

People Power!

If you checked out my last blog, you’re familiar with Reddit’s perspective that we’ve hit peak social. I’m all in on that. While I appreciate my social network, it’s a bit superficial. I have meaningful engagement with a small fraction of them. That’s a big missed opportunity. I’m grateful for my community of past and present colleagues, family and friends. So it’s time we all make some meaningful connections from those social networks. It’s time we connect IRL and spark our collective imagination.

“Algorithms will never replace the human imagination.”
Scott Belsky, Adobe

AI...More Human than Human.

For anyone who’s read Philip K Dick’s classic Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, you know how important the concept of Empathy is. Here are few choice insights that will shape 2019:
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(1) Be Human: Sales over the Internet remain modest at 12.2%. CMOs believe that human interaction (55.9%) is the #1 barrier to further increases. Given the rise of Amazon, that’s an interesting stat and perspective. Companies like Qualtrics have started to tap into the Experience Economy in a way that brings it all together. Same for Gainsight, a company that has pioneered the Customer Success category. Both approaches are heavily data centric. But require a strong human component to succeed. Source: CMO Survey from Duke University, sponsored by Deloitte and the ANA.

(2) Hug your Haters: Ann Lewnes’ team at Adobe is redefining customer engagement. They do more than just address Adobe customers’ concerns. As a brand with perhaps the largest creative community in the world, they constantly find ways to engage and co-create to celebrate their work.

(3) Customer is King: We’ve heard this before. But Keith Johnson and his team at Forrester believe that as organizations continue their transformations toward more customer-obsessed practices, 2019 will be the year when CMOs prioritize strategies that ignite and harness their customers' energy and ultimately stoke the fire in Customer-to-Customer marketing.

Hey Google!

We all know that empathy is the missing ingredient for AI. It’s also a critical ingredient for product design. And that requires Human interaction, which is arguably more important than technology. So for all the negative press on tech companies, it’s an encouraging sign to see them building programs and initiatives that are focused on developing empathy and human interaction.

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Thanks to Ellen Petry Leanse, Apple has been doing this for years and is one of the early pioneers of user groups. Still, they continue to cover new ground and recently started a new initiative called Today at Apple. Meanwhile, Facebook is bringing community leaders from around the world together for an in-person community summit. More and more, tech companies are realizing the Power of People in order to help build Empathy into their AI powered products. As someone who’s invested in building IRL communities, I love seeing tech companies embraced this approach. Like our friends at Niantic, we need more companies figuring out ways to leverage technology that will not to divide us, but to bring us closer together.

“For all of the beauty of technology and all the things we’ve helped facilitate over the years, nothing yet replaces human interaction… and I don’t think it will ever happen.”
Tim Cook, Apple

What to read next:

Derek Anderson, CEO and Co-Founder of Bevy talks about customer to customer marketing- what it is, why you need it, and how to implement it. The Next Revolution in Marketing

Community. What is is good for? Absolutely SO MANY THINGS! The best companies in the world are pioneering these programs, find out why. What is Community

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