The age of the consumer – we want it simple and we want it now
We live in the year 2014, a time where humans are constantly looking for new ways to make their lives easier. We want to save time. Do things more efficiently. Multitask. We even want to gain time by paying our bills on the go. Customer-innovation is therefore all about creating new technology, services, or ways of thinking, to make the customers´ lives easier and more efficient. It is all about increasing the customer value.
Written by: Torbjørn Krogstad and Bettina Therese Rognås Ellefsen*
It all started with the invention of the smart-phone. It revolutionized our lives by becoming something more than a telephone – it became a mini-computer to bring anywhere. One might even say it has become an extension of our arm, a natural part of us as human beings. It’s the last thing you see before you go to bed, and the first thing you see when you wake up.
In our pocket, right next to our smart-phone, we find a different, but also important, invention; the wallet. Since the 1600’s when the paper currency was invented, we have had a need for a wallet. Later, as the technology evolved, we needed to storage our credit cards as well. Today, in our everyday life as students, our wallets are filled with different cards; VISA, MasterCard, student-card, bus card, membership card for the gym and so on. As demanding consumers we find this to be too complicated and frustrating. Because what happens when you forget your wallet at home? The whole day can be ruined. Our fast-moving day stops.
We therefore ask ourselves; do we really need the wallet? Or is it time for the smart-phone to also get this job done? After all, as mentioned, this is a gadget that never leaves your side.
The technology is fortunately already here. With NFC-technology you can hold the smart-phone (which probably already is in your hand), towards a device and make your transaction. No need for cash or cards; no need for a wallet. Even though this has been pending for a while, we Norwegians can experience this technology already this year. Telenor and DNB are working together on the mobile-app “ValYou”; your mobile wallet. In addition to payment, this technology can also be used to open doors, transfer content between smart-phones to validate a ticket.
While we wait, one can only dream of the possibilities this can provide. This technology will make our every-day life so much easier. Validating your ticket on the bus? No problem. Paying for lunch? No problem. Accessing the study hall? No problem. Did you forget your wallet at home? No worries, the time of the wallet is over. Your best friend – the smartphone – does the job for you.
The most interesting, but also challenging, part is to think one step further. As the credit card came after cash, as the iPhone came after the iPod, there will also be a tomorrow after the NFC technology. How far can this go? Will there soon be a time where the technology is within ourselves? Nowadays, the chips and tags that an NFC-capable phone can read, are so tiny that it is not unrealistic to think that, sometime in the near future, even our own fingerprint can get the job done. Things we visualized as science fiction twenty years ago is now at our doorstep. This is what makes service-innovation interesting and highly important; it is hard to imagine the limit for innovation. Even better, the force that drives it is you, the consumer, just demanding more and more convenient solutions. There is a saying that when one door closes, another one opens; it may be the end of the days for the wallet, but the days of the consumer is just getting started.
*Torbjørn Krogstad and Bettina Therese Rognås Ellefsen are NHH students. This post is a part of an assignment for the course MBM429 – “Service Innovation”.