Summary of When Digital Becomes Human

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Steven Van Belleghem, a marketing professor and managing partner of the research agency InSites, examines how the increasing digitalization of commerce affects consumers’ interactions with the companies that serve them. To research his ideas and learn the importance of human connection in a digital world, he undertook extensive research on consumer attitudes and customer relations in two global polls – one of 2,750 people and one with 3,507 respondents. He also embarked on “inspiration tours” of Silicon Valley companies known as innovative trendsetters. Van Belleghem’s insights are not deep or groundbreaking, but he builds his thesis on one strong finding: Companies can’t bypass the digital trend, but no matter how much digital magic they offer their customers, nothing can replace the value of human interaction. Despite some repetition, getAbstract recommends his take on the future of e-commerce to customer service professionals, marketers and anyone seeking insights on the business world to come.

About the Author

Marketing professor and managing partner of the research agency InSites, Steven Van Bellegham is a frequent conference speaker. He wrote The Conversation Company and The Conversation Manager.



Who Shapes What?

Technology shapes people, their interactions and their overall society more than people shape technology. People are “just the extras, the minor actors in the drama that will allow technology to become what it must.” They’re mere facilitators on technology’s predetermined path as it becomes more dominant in everyday life. Today’s average family has three devices that link to the Internet. By 2020, the average family will have 10 or more devices with a web connection.

As digitalization, robotics and the Internet of Things exert greater influence on commerce, the human aspect of doing business will ebb rapidly. As people eventually buy cars and even homes without ever consulting a salesperson face to face, they will come to miss human interaction.

For now, consumers accept and even welcome the convenience of conducting business online, over the phone and by various digital means, but they still want to be in contact with other people. While companies must shift to doing business digitally, they must not dispense with human interaction. Self-service is efficient and cheaper for providers, but computers are never “creative, empathic or passionate...

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