Not long ago, in a time when we were amazed and astonished at the wonders of the facsimile machine, we were, I believe, more aware of each other. Despite the advent of brilliant technology today we appear to be less connected, less aware of each other and less caring.
I could never decry the advantages of the computer, after all this very blog and its ability to reach a worldwide audience is testimony to the advantages technology offers. Yet as much as we have gained, we have also lost.
The world seems a lonelier place as our friends and relations bury their heads in phones, which are supposed to connect us more closely, even if that connection is less intimate. Our feelings appear more easily expressed on Facebook than face to face and in my experience our thirst for human tenderness seems to have deserted us as facts replace stories in the name of brevity. The world is indeed a very different place.
In marketing, there are of course, lessons to be learned from all this, if we are brave enough. We need to adapt and adopt new ideas. We need to embrace the new without sacrificing the human aspects of our society. The new ideas need to be right and left brained, a sort of ambidextrous smorgasbord. The concepts may not necessarily be new rather a synergy of thought, which mark a different approach.
Virgin for example! While the rest of the world races wildly into a technical whirling dervish, Richard Branson chooses to carefully apply the humanities to his flight crew as passengers experience a more human contact. It is the fusion of high technology travel with personality.
There is still a place for connections and while there is no denying the power of online shopping, the rise of purchasing on the Internet may say more about the lack of attention consumers received when entering a store, than the benefits of buying from a computer. Shopping was always a human sport, the hunted and the hunter, but it was conducted with a certain gentile approach, polite and highly personal. Not so much ‘Are you being served’, more ‘Let me be of service’.
Retail stores cannot retreat from the technologies, but technically advanced tools can still be used in harmony with human connectivity. In fact a visit to any Apple store will demonstrate the harmonic morphing of technology and human connection.
As an example of revolution in a retail setting, try this. Forget the old game, strip the store back to basics, and rid the place of counters and obstacles. Ditch the white blouses and plastic badges; forget the Sir and Madam; consign the dummies to the storeroom. Instead bring in the sofas, the coffee tables and comfy chairs, brew the unique coffee brand and exotic teas, arm the iPad with the presentation tools and CONNECT. Create the experience using human engineering and enhance the experience with the technological advantages we have so beautifully honed.
Whatever we all believe, there is absolutely no interest like self interest and if we can remember that a computer cannot and never will be able to love you back, we will find a method of using our technology in a more powerful, human way.