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Web 3D and its opportunities: interview with Dario Melpignano

Web 3D

On September 20, 2022, Confindustria Brescia hosted an in-depth discussion on the "relationship between Metaverse and Web 3D" for B2B and B2C manufacturing industries.

During his speech, Dario Melpignano, CEO of Neosperience, delved into the logics of Web 3D and the relationship with the Metaverse, offering as an example operational projects such as the one realized for Colombo New Scal SpA, a Lecco-based business active in home appliance manufacturing.

We hear from all sides that the Metaverse is coming: what does this statement mean?

The Metaverse is definitely coming, but at the same time it is still morphing. Nowadays, the Metaverse is akin to the Internet in the mid-1990s, when the Web was still consolidating itself in its protocols and core components.

Today the Metaverse exists in a nutshell, in prototypical, game-like forms such as Decentraland or Facebook Horizon, but no one yet knows what form it will take in the future.

Even so, however, we can already establish some of the features of the Metaverse. First and foremost, it is part of Web3, that is the most recent iteration of the Web. Web3 is based on the idea of a pervasive Internet, whereas Web2, which was born when smartphones first hit the market, is instead limited by the size of device screens.

In the Metaverse, as well as in Web 3D, the three-dimensionality of experiences plays a central role: thanks to Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, combined with blockchain-based payment ecosystems, a new way of experiencing the digital, but also "analog" reality, will rise.

In this regard, what is the difference between Metaverse and Web 3D?

The concept of Metaverse, at least in its current form, describes open social platforms where users can interact and create their own spaces with different devices such as Virtual Reality or Augmented Reality headsets.

3D, as in the ability to represent three-dimensional objects or spaces, is one of the enabling components of the Metaverse, but it has been around for a long time.

In contrast, Web 3D, not to be confused with Web3 mentioned earlier, is a three-dimensional evolution of the Web that poses many more opportunities in business terms.

While the Metaverse still operates on a "gamified" logic that is still difficult to interpret from a business perspective, except for some high-level branding operations, Web 3D opens up the possibility for companies to create a proprietary brand space in which to share content that represents a digital equivalent of their products or services.

Specifically, in the context of Web 3D, Augmented Reality plays a crucial role, since it doesn't replace the real world with an alternative, but it enhances it with an additional "layer" of information and content.

Metaverse

And what are instead the shared technologies between Metaverse and Web 3D?

There are many differences between the Metaverse and Web 3D, but there are just as many contact points that unite these new digital frontiers. There are seven categories at play in this field:

  1. Hardware
  2. Networking
  3. Computing power
  4. Virtual platforms
  5. Interoperability standards
  6. Payment systems
  7. CRI: content, resources and identity services.

On one hand we find a set of experiential fruition devices for experiencing a product or service, learning about a company's product in a virtual world and in an open vision ready for any reality.

On the other hand, there are technologies that take advantage of the scarcity of the digital asset and enable a new kind of commerce, where rights are acquired by navigating a digital environment in Augmented Reality.

However, all these elements can and will have to converge toward an open, free and democratic vision: the strength of the early days of the Internet, before the concentration of power around social platforms.

We hear a lot lately about Web3: now that we have differentiated it from Web 3D, can we explicate this concept as well?

I realize that the names assigned here are not at all helpful: Web3 is the latest evolution of the Web, encompassing and integrating many of the technologies we have just listed.

It should not be confused with Web 3D, which instead focuses on the aspect of three-dimensionality and the use of experiential fruition devices, as well as the enabling of scarcity of digital assets for a new kind of commerce, but can also enhance traditional business processes.

Web 3D

Back to Web 3D, can you give us some examples of how to strategically use this technology from an enterprise perspective, in both the Direct-to-Consumer and Business-to-Business worlds?

In today and tomorrow's businesses, it will be increasingly necessary to establish a direct and ongoing relationship with customers, developing interactive spaces within which they can experience the products and services. Kinesthetic learning, as shown by studies conducted on "learning by doing", is a very powerful tool: in fact, we remember up to 70% of what we experience, compared with 30% of what we see.

I'm going to mention three examples that are representative of the concepts we have talked about in this interview, which further demonstrate how scalable Web 3D is, from large international brands to small realities, through of course Made in Italy SMEs.

Speaking of the latter, a Web 3D project was implemented for Colombo New Scal, a historic manufacturer of home applications based in the province of Lecco, which allows products to be shown within an Augmented Reality environment.

In this way, prospective customers can not only visualize the chosen object in 3D, but also manipulate and place it within the real environment in a simple and immediate way.

This type of application of Web 3D allows companies to connect with end customers, but from a B2B standpoint it also allows stakeholders to get to know the company and product features without the need for physical interaction, thus overcoming distances and barriers.

Another significant Web 3D experience is the one carried out for Haier, a leading Chinese brand in the home appliance field. Thanks to the Neosperience Reality Plus platform, which combines virtual and augmented reality, a real virtual showroom was created, a "Home of the Future" the customer can navigate and explore.

Finally, this experiential evolution of the catalog is also applicable to small businesses: a 3D configurator of frames and lenses was developed for Radius, an optician brand, combining the commercial purpose with a combination of fun, verification and validation for the consumer.

Finally, it is imperative to mention the use of Virtual Reality in the medical field: the Johns Hopkins University has developed a technique for remote spinal surgery using the rendering technology of a video game engine and 5G connectivity.

Several companies, such as in the fashion industry, have already branched out into the Metaverse. How can a company today best use these technologies, particularly in commerce?

In an increasingly complex historical context, where companies are faced with the need to build and maintain a solid community and be resilient in the face of the many crises, the future will belong to companies that are able to establish a direct and ongoing relationship with customers.

With this in mind, the Metaverse, in the forms it will take in the near future, can be the environment where this community meets, but each company has to develop their own Metaverse, coming into direct contact with their customer base.

The key to overcoming the limitations of a technological world that has so far favored efficiency over effectiveness is empathy.

This translates into a series of best practices: putting the relationship with the customer community at the center, using the most advanced technologies to evolve toward new business models, and understanding the psychological needs of the customer without manipulating them.

Metaverse and Web 3D

And can this happen to B2B companies as well?

Business-to-Business collaborative processes can also benefit from this evolution and become tighter thanks to Web 3D: one can quickly share a prototype with one's buyers, remotely visit an industrial plant, present products interactively, and in some cases train the customer on how to use them.

The key, in this digital transition process in the business world, is to skillfully use Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.

Marshall McLuhan already argued this, 60 years ago: "improvements in communication [...] make for increased difficulties of understanding." Too much information is the same as no information: data must be processed and interpreted in order to provide a meaningful benefit.

Before we end this interview, what are your wishes for the future of business in the digital world?

The concentration of power in the digital world has gone overboard, people's online happiness is not where it should be, and algorithms have become too powerful in shaping society's opinions. If we want to affect change toward a better future, for our customers and for our companies, the time to act is now.

We use a technology hat we either do not know, or we learn in a self-taught and limited way. Overcoming the neopositivist approach of Silicon Valley is possible, as studies from MIT and Copenhagen School of Business show on a conceptual level.

One way to do this in practice is to decline technology in its various applications, bringing together – in both academic training and human resources – the STEM disciplines and the cultural capital of the Mediterranean and its Humanities.

As we move from Web2 to Web3, it is time for us as entrepreneurs and beyond to inform and educate ourselves.

Having a clear idea of what is around the corner is essential in order to get informed: education allows us to positively influence the world we live in, the digital as well as the analog one, in which we interconnect in that one formidable experience we are allowed to experience that is our life.

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10 Ways The Internet Has Changed The Way We Live (And Do Business)

internet station

The full-length title of this article should be 10 ways the Internet and the smartphone have changed the way we live - as humans and customers - and how businesses must evolve to improve their customer experience and survive the digital transformation.

We all recognize mobile technology as the real game-changer in the creation of the world as we experience it today. The hidden truth, though, is that there would be no smartphone without the Internet revolution. We are the result of this revolution.

Can you imagine your life without the Internet?

We can start with one simple question: Can you imagine your life without the Internet? Just close your eyes for a moment and think about what life was before the web. You can barely remember that time if you were born and grew up before the Internet. If you are a digital native, this task is simply impossible.

Millennials - also known as digital customers - will never experience a world with no connectivity and mobile devices. Yes, there are still (small) areas of our planet not wired and cabled but - at least for us living in developed countries - it is hard to imagine a life before Google, Amazon, Apple or Facebook.

If you search on Google (where else!), you will find tons of experiments or researches about life without the Internet. They all come down to one single definitive truth: "I cannot even imagine my life without the Internet or the smartphone. It is an integral part of who I am." (Gallup)

The Internet is still relatively young (it just celebrated its 32th birthday in 2021) and yet the connectivity has already produced long-lasting effects. It all started with a cable plugged into the phone line, and now we possess the entire world in the palm of our hand.

There is one exact moment that changed things forever, and that was when the Internet came out of our home, held inside a small box called smartphone.

According to the "Worldwide digital population as of January 2021" by Joseph Johnson, we have reached 4.66 billion connected people in the world. In other words, almost 59.5%  of the worldwide population is now online, at home and on mobile devices.

Every single activity of our daily life is influenced by connected existence:

  • More than 50 million pieces of content are shared every day;
  • More than 1 billion websites are online;
  • More than 500 million Tweets are sent every day,
  • More than 50 billion pieces of content are shared on Facebook each month;
  • More than 15 billion items have been sold on Amazon in 2021, with 40% of those sold by third-party sellers.

What is true for people is, even more, true for organizations. The way you do business today is completely different from the best practices taken for granted only a decade ago. All certainties suddenly disappeared, washed away from a stream of connectivity. The Internet has brought treats but also huge opportunities, for those able to respond timely and unlock the power of emerging technologies.

The years pass by, but the rules of the competition remain the same: you succeed only if you can understand what is going on, if you adapt to the evolution of technology and behaviors, and if you answer to the unprecedented demands of new customers. Business and technology go hand in hand, and so does the customer experience.

Any analysis of how life has changed may look like a trip down memory lane, but it also helps you understand where we are all headed for as human beings, customers, and organizations. So, here are the 10 ways the Internet has changed (and will keep changing) the way we live.

The 10 ways the Internet has changed the way we live

 

RESEARCH

Where do you go when you are collecting information about a product or looking for an answer? Google, of course. The Internet has become the primary source of information, and search engines the main door to access it. Thanks to the smartphone, you have the complete knowledge in your pocket. Education, essays, product comparison, self-improvement tips, technical details, diets, do it yourself, lolcats, the Internet has it all. If you are a brand, you need to be there with meaningful contents.

COMMUNICATION

Do you still remember phone calls and letters? We have witnessed a complex evolution in the way we connect with other people and with companies. First came the chat rooms and forums, then - especially after the spread of smartphones - social networks and online communities. Face to face communication is still important but we increasingly rely on wide circles of strangers to decide what to do and what to buy. In the mobile era, communication is about building networks.

SHOPPING

The success of Amazon, eBay, and online marketplaces says that visiting the physical location of a store is no longer mandatory if you want to make a purchase. Shopping for a particular item looks like a journey across channels: you can see a product in the store, search for information online, compare prices between retailers, make the purchase in-app and pick it up at the store. The disruption of the retail industry always implies the renovation of the retail customer experience.

TRAVELS

Not so long ago, the essence of travel was the idea of discovery. Is it still? Today, you can know everything about a place even before leaving home. And planning has never been so easy and cheap: You have websites for information, mobile apps for real-time discount and offers, virtual reality for a full 3D immersion. Even when you are there, mobile technology is there for you: Uber for affordable transfers, Airbnb for cheap stays, Google Maps to find the way, TripAdvisors for gourmet restaurants. Who needs travel agencies anymore?

ENTERTAINMENT

Remember when you had to visit the video store to rent a VHS, hoping that the movie you were looking for was not taken already? That is the past. With the Internet, you have everything you need in one place, and rarely you need something physical (i.e. a Dvd) to enjoy it. With the emergence of smart TVs and the new generation of gaming consoles, all you need is a connection, be it movie streaming (Netflix), music (Spotify), the sports experience or on-demand personalized contents.

FINANCIAL SERVICES

Once upon a time, people had to visit the bank to check the most basic financial operations. That was before the dawn of online banking, before the disintermediation. Before the ‘Uberization’ of retail banking. Technology trends have forced traditional institutions to face the challenge of evolution, transforming generic accounts into actual human beings. What they must do now is to stop focusing on products and money and start caring about the retail banking customer experience. In the name of innovation (mobile wallets, one-touch payments) and personalization.

RELATIONSHIPS

You do not need to know someone to love him/her. You do not need to feel the pressure of playing all your cards in a few minutes while waiting for the bus. Now you can find the love your life - or at least meet new friends - by simply downloading an app and filling out a profile. Be it dating or building professional relationships, there is a place for you online. This evolution has consequences for businesses: people now rely on a wider circle of trust, other people they barely know that can influence their decisions, one way or another.

HEALTHCARE

In the Internet age, everyone is a doctor. While you should not trust what you read online, when you feel symptoms of some sort, it is undeniable that technology has changed the medical experience and the relationship between doctors and patients. On the one hand we have the risk of misleading information; on the other hand, the emerging awareness that mobile devices can improve the quality of life and help prevent diseases. Wearables technology is the main driver of the self-tracking obsession; connected with health platforms (HealthKit), they will shape the future of healthcare.

MARKETING

When the way we communicate changes, marketing techniques change accordingly. If you try to employ traditional marketing ideas to today’s world, you will soon recognize they are outdated and inefficient. The reason is simple: customers have changed, their purchase behavior have changed. Even when they are in the store, they go online to compare products. The success of proximity marketing is due to the need (for companies) to engage customers with context aware contents, and delight them with meaningful and personalized experiences.

EMPLOYMENT

Do you really need to spend eight hours a day in the office to be productive? Twenty years ago, this questions made no sense at all. Of course, you needed to be there. Today things are different, and it is all about the Internet. The evolution of web-based tools and the growth of cloud services have made the physical co-presence unnecessary. We live and work in an ecosystem of constant connectivity, and this is bringing employers and governments to a complete change of perspective, in the name of flexibility. To improve quality of life and cut inefficiency.

Now it is your turn. Tell us how the Internet has changed the way you live and do business.

For every need you have, for every challenge you are facing, Neosperience has a suitable solution for your company. Select your goal and tell us how we can help you!

(The article was updated and republished on May 1, 2021)
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Digital Opportunities for Furniture and Design Industries

In this article, we will talk about the opportunities for growth and innovation in furniture and design industries 

Today, the environment in which the furniture and design sector is moving is complex. Although major trade fairs have been postponed, and many key market sectors, such as tourism and catering, are in difficulty, the rebound has been more positive than expected, especially as regards B2C.

Many entrepreneurs in the sector have said that - after the lockdown - they witnessed a flow of purchases 50% higher than the previous year. 

Although this is good news, which demonstrates the industry's unwavering value, it is nevertheless necessary for companies to address the changes that have taken place in the last period, both for the B2C  and - especially - the B2B markets 

In this article, we will tell you what are the best solutions to deal with the months and years ahead.

Online Lead Generation for B2B and B2C

As we said before, B2B sales to key furniture and design sectors are still in difficulty. Tourism, events, and catering were important items for the budget of many producers. Today these revenues have practically disappeared. 

It is, therefore, necessary to find - with the courage to look in unexplored “places” - new sources of income. 

Neosperience Customer Generator is the ideal tool to achieve this goal. 

The platform allows sales and marketing departments to automate and optimize the search for new leads. 

How? 

  • Keeping note of identity, company, and other characteristics of those who visit social profiles (LinkedIn) and the company website.
  • Analyzing their unique characteristics, such as interests and personalities (thanks to the Artificial Intelligence).
  • Automating the search for people and companies potentially interested, such as sector influencers (architects, designers, etc.) or companies operating in the sectors of tourism, catering, construction, events, etc.
  • Automating contact with these users and companies with personalized messages.
  • Collecting all this information on a dedicated platform, easily integrated with the systems already in use by the company.

At the same time, the Neosperience Customer Generator allows you to implement the same dynamics also for a B2C audience; for this purpose, it is interesting to mention the possibility of finding and contacting people potentially interested on major social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube, as well as LinkedIn.

Finding new sources of income has become essential: traditional lead generation strategies, such as participating in fairs to talk vis a vis with prospects, are no longer feasible. Sales and marketing departments must move their activities online, using a tool that allows them to achieve quality and efficient work, and that brings certain and measurable results.

The physical store 

The physical store remains the most important touchpoint for the furniture industry. Being able to see and touch furniture and finishes is essential.

Today, the pandemic has forced brands to rethink the customer's visit to the store: it is essential to be able to offer safe experiences, but no less effective or engaging. 

When customers decide to buy new furniture for their own home, they are emotionally involved: it is an important choice, which will accompany them for many years to come. In light of the moment we are experiencing, it is important to remember the value of this experience, so as not to betray the most intimate and authentic side of our customers. 

The Neosperience People Analytics solution helps the sales network give the right weight to the customer experience, enhancing their purchasing behaviour, and ensuring that today's health regulations do not preclude the success of the Customer Experience.

How does it work? 

The solution requires high-resolution cameras in the strategic points of the store. The recovered images are then analyzed by Machine Learning algorithms that allow you to highlight the behavior of visitors.  

What information does it provide? 

  • How many people walk past the store
  • How many people stop in front of the windows
  • How many people go in and out of the store
  • How people move around different areas of the store
  • How customers behave, for example when interacting with products and promotions

Also highlights: 

  • Whether or not people wear the mask, and whether or not they wear it correctly;
  • If the maximum number of store presences has been reached;
  • Possible assemblies.

Thanks to the data retrieved, the retailer is able to find out which products, promotions, showcases, and physical dispositions work - and which do not. As a result, he can change - for example - the layout of the store to meet the visitor's natural behavior. 

In addition, real-time information on compliance with health regulations allows the store manager to intervene promptly to avoid situations of danger not appreciable for the customer experience.

Neosperience People Analytics can be implemented on its sales network or even in multi-brand stores.

Mixed Reality for Furniture and Design

As we have already said, the furniture sector must be able to make customers feel the products themselves. However, the majority of the public - at a pre-purchase stage - decides to inquire through digital channels

Usually, after searching Google or browsing some design magazines, interested users inevitably end up visiting the brand's website, eager to see and learn more about the products. At that moment, on that touchpoint, the potential buyer makes a decision: go to the store to - perhaps - buy, or continue the search. 

It is therefore essential that the brand offers an engaging and effective virtual product viewing experience, which stimulates the user's interest and convinces them to go to the store. 

This is true for B2C, but also - especially today - for B2B markets

The Salone del Mobile of Milan has been postponed until next year: many brands, large and small, have not been able to present their products. But there is a solution to this problem, and it's called Mixed Reality

The term groups two technologies that are conceptually similar, but different as modes of use: Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality.

The first uses a tool - the smartphone mainly - to position 3D models of objects, even animated, in the surrounding environment.

The second instead needs a dedicated viewfinder, which - once worn  - projects the users into a totally virtual reality, where they can move freely and interact with the environment. 

What are the applications of these technologies for furniture? 

As Ikea Place has taught us over the years, there is no better tool than Augmented Reality to allow users to test how the furniture is positioned within living spaces. The success of the experience proposed by the Swedish giant demonstrates that the public is ready and wants such an offer.

Regarding Virtual Reality, this technology has proved particularly effective for B2B market. As we said, fairs and events are currently off-limits: why not offer buyers a virtual experience within the showroom?

By sending viewers directly to the interested agents, they can discover and interact with the new collections. Open a sofa bed to see what it's like inside? It can be done. Today, this technology has reached unimaginable levels of quality.

Enriching the pre-purchase stages has become essential. 

The value of customer experience - now increasingly focused on digital - is the discriminator between success and failure.

Customer Data Platform

Without going into technicalities, in this section we will explain the benefits of adopting a Customer Data Platform (CDP) and implementing strategies to obtain personal information of users and customers. 

Companies selling furniture, both B2C and B2B, often make a mistake: they forget to retrieve customer data. 

Why? 

As far as B2B is concerned, the motivation is only one: since medium-small buyers (architects, restaurateurs, etc.) turn directly to third parties, their data remain with retailers and do not arrive at the brand. 

As for the B2C, on the other hand, in addition to the talk about retailers (equally valid), there is another very simple reason: those who buy a kitchen, sofa or toilet hardly repeat the purchase in the short or medium-term; for this reason, many companies decide not to retrieve the customers' data to contact and retain them. The common view is that this is too expensive and dispersive. 

In doing so, however, the company misses an opportunity to establish a bond with the customer that, although perhaps not immediately, will undoubtedly bring advantages. 

Let's imagine that a lawyer - an amateur but passionate cook - has to renovate his home. He shows up at a retailer and buys his dream kitchen. The brand retrieves the new customer's data asking him to activate the guarantee on the corporate website. 

It then stores its data and inserts it into its Customer Data Platform. 

A few days later the brand sends an email to the client offering him a discount on a cooking course.

After a month, however, it gives him a discount code for the purchase of professional cooking utensils. 

The second month the brand writes to the client to invite him to participate in a contest: by filling out a questionnaire he can win a dinner cooked in his own home by a three-Michelin star chef.  

As time passes, a link will be created between the brand and the user.

When the customer has to advise his friends about which kitchen to buy, he will advise his own. When he has to change the cuisine in the beach house, he will buy it from the same brand. 

The same is true for B2B: perhaps the manufacturer in this case - after the purchase - will offer discounts for a partner's tiles, or to architects a masterclass with a famous international designer. The more benefits the brand offers, the more professionals will go back to buying. 

In any case, creating a relationship with customers is what allows a company to grow over time, with the knowledge that it can rely on a solid base of enthusiasts. 

This is precisely what the Customer Data Platform is for: to create relationships and make contact with the public easier, thanks to automation and customization, and to facilitate the management of customers and their data.

Conclusions

In short, for the furniture and design sector it is time to change some operational and strategic paradigms, to continue to grow and bring the quality of Made in Italy worldwide.

If you are interested in exploring the applications of Neosperience technologies in the sector, please contact us by clicking on the link below.

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Sentient Technology: feelings through sensors

tecnologia senziente

By Sentient Technology we want to highlight the applications of Artificial Intelligence that can read, interpret and respond to human stimuli. 

Man is an emotional animal; for this reason, humans  search for emotions within what they create .

In recent years, we have witnessed a wave of technology development  that seeks to imitate, or rather decrypt, human emotions.

A practical example to explain sentient technology is the case study of the Emotional Art Gallery, a Clear Channel Sweden project from 2019. 

The concept consisted of broadcasting some works by international artists on 250 digital totems inside the subway stations of the Swedish capital. The artworks were selected because they could reduce the stress level of passengers

For this project, developers created an algorithm that could recognize people's emotional state through the study of online and social analytics. Thanks to this "sentient" capacity of technology, users’ physical and psychological well-being improved.

Another example of Sentient Technology is the Ada project, an intelligent sculpture - made up of thousands of tiny LEDs - that Microsoft USA, with the collaboration of the architect and designer Jenny Sabin,  decided to create inside the Microsoft Research Building 99. 

For the project, cameras and sensors able to recognize people's emotions (for example by facial expression or tone of voice) were inserted inside the building. Ada can react to these stimuli through the continuous change of colors and patterns on its surface.

Over the years, sentient technology has also been applied to personal care. In a world where loneliness and depression are endemic, this has been proposed as a possibility to help solving the problem.

The examples are numerous, both for the support of young people and the care of the elderly. Interesting is the case of Lovot, a pet robot for every age produced by the Japanese company Groove X.

Designed to combat loneliness, Lovot can recognize emotions and interact in real-time with the stimuli it receives from the outside. Its surface is also soft and responsive to the touch.

Another interesting example, especially for its underlying software developed in Italy, is Zeno Robot. Behavior Labs, a Catania start-up engaged in the field of social robotics, had the brilliant idea of ​​using a robot, produced by an American company, to help children with autism to communicate and relate with the world around them.

Not all applications of sentient technology are related to the artistic or human cases, such as the two we have just mentioned.

In general, two different uses of this can be defined: one empathic and one analytical.

This technology was primarily born as the core feature of sentiment analysis platforms, used to recover significant insights about services and products, and to manage and recognize possible corporate crises.

Through natural language processing (NLP), enhanced - in the most advanced tools - by Machine Learning, these platforms can read in real-time thousands of posts on social media or web, recognizing the topic of conversation and, above all, the sentiment of the writer.

However, a simple grammatical error, a statement of context or a hint of sarcasm is enough to weaken the reliability of the analysis. The technology used is still limited and limiting due to the complexity of human language and the interpretation of emotions. 

Humanity suffers by nature from emotional illiteracy, especially in this digital and virtual age. We are unable to name the emotions we feel and to recognize the feelings of those around us; so how can we hope to teach an algorithm to be empathetic?

The sentient technology, if not used responsibly, risks becoming cynicism.

The following example can be interpreted in this way.

Not long ago, a Korean broadcaster streamed a show called Meeting You, telling the dramatic story of a mother who lost her seven-year-old.

During the transmission, the authors decided to recreate the 3D model of the daughter in a virtual environment.

The girl was built with the look, voice, movements and real feelings of the deceased girl. In the end, the mother was invited to play with her in this fictional world, to say goodbye one last time. 

A problem appears: a sentient technology that proposes itself as empathetic creates numerous questions from an ethical point of view.

How far can we go? We will find out over time.

Photo by Tyler Lastovich on Unsplash

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Digital Health. Last Trends and the Nestore’s case

Before I start telling you about the Nestore European project, to which we have dedicated some of our best resources in the last year, we would like to draw the lines of the technological and methodological innovations that are emerging in both public and private health sectors.

In recent years, medicine has demonstrated the effectiveness of revolutionary healthcare innovations, ranging from the invention of vaccines to the discovery of antibiotics.

It is interesting to mention the development of telemedicine, which allows doctors and patients to communicate remotely, and to exchange data from monitoring tools such as wearables and smart clothes.

Furthermore, Augmented and Virtual Reality are now able to help students with their studies, for example through virtual and interactive teaching programs, with the possibility of seeing human anatomical structure and operations where and when they want.

This has significantly decreased the costs and timeframes of health education, and perhaps it will increase the number of students enrolled in medical degree courses.

At the same time, viewers for mixed reality (in-between virtual and augmented reality) are spreading on several levels. Doctors can use them to make remote visits or to visualize patient data virtually and in real-time. 

The Microsoft HoloLens is the device that seems to have had the most success in the field; There are countless case studies in which they have been used both for teaching and as real-time support for doctors in the operating room.

Artificial Intelligence is also becoming central to the treatment and diagnosis of health problems. At the moment, numerous studies are trying to demonstrate it by searching for patterns in the medical records of sick subjects, it is possible to predict whether the same disease will take place or not in healthy individuals.

Although the results of these studies have been criticized by the international scientific community, the application of AI for health will probably make a difference in the coming years.

Future innovations, however, do not stop there. There are also the use of 3D printers for the creation of functioning organs, studies on the sequencing and modification of human DNA, and the creation of "living" nanorobots for the treatment of the most insidious diseases.

In addition to the technological applications that are emerging, Deloitte traces the path of future methodologies that health systems seem to have taken in recent years, highlighting three macro-trends:

  • Health systems will shift their focus from disease treatment to prevention and well-being;
  • The technological platforms will allow the free and safe flow of data of individuals, groups of subjects, health institutions and the environment around them. By analyzing these data, operators can make decisions in real-time;
  • Greater involvement of patients in their health dynamics will guide their attitudes and behaviors towards greater empowerment.

In the next few years, the biggest problem that national health systems, especially Western ones, will face will be the increase in the average age of citizens. As per today, the necessary budget for the sector increases every year; it’s necessary to change strategy and modus operandi.

Today, technology is the most practical and realistic solution for the previously discussed issue which it has shaped the three trends highlighted by Deloitte.

All three trends make up the fundamentals of the European project for the sustenance of the elderly, in which Neosperience is participating. Nestore is a health digital coaching program based on AI and Machine Learning algorithms. It takes the form of an application that users, located in the +65 age group, can use independently.

Within the Nestore application, there are some of the most innovative tools, such as:

  • An intelligent activity management system, which recommends wellbeing pathways based on users' habits and physical possibilities, integrated with wearables and environmental sensors;
  • Environmental sensors "count" visits from friends and relatives, to control the user's social interactions and help them not to suffer from loneliness;
  • One of the latest innovative chatbots enables a truly human dialogue between machine and patient, and which can recognize the emotions of those who use it;
  • An algorithm that recognizes food, and its nutrients, via the smartphone’s camera;
  • Personalized games to improve users' memory and reflexes;
  • A social network to share interests and activities among Nestore’s members, to live together and improve their mental health.

In general, Nestore's goal consists in improving users' daily lives by stimulating responsibility in behavior and a healthy lifestyle. Physical and psychological data are shared with doctors and health personnel, who are thus able to act promptly in case problems arise.

Nestore aims to be a useful and essential tool for public and private actors in the health sector in order to reduce the cost of therapies without sacrificing the quality of the service.

Health is and will always be one of the most important fields of application where it’s possible to test the latest technological and methodological innovations. Today, we live in times where the chances of a structural crisis in the sector are growing more and more; working to find useful solutions to avoid it is a satisfaction and an opportunity that makes us proud.

 

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Social Network and Blockchain. Control in User’s hands

blockchain

The Blockchain is a technology in continuous evolution, which never ceases to amaze for its endless applications.

What made it known to the general public was the birth and global spread of cryptocurrencies. Unfortunately, due to the lack of confidence in the reliability of this economic system, the Blockchain has not had an easy life in its affirmation process as a technology of the future.

But things are slowly changing.

Not long ago, Carrefour supermarkets implemented a Blockchain structure in its production chain to guarantee the quality of its products. A simple and intelligent way to bring the Blockchain closer to people's daily lives, stimulating their interest and increasing confidence in the system.

Today, another trend is taking shape, aiming to involve people more and more in this technology: the use of the Blockchain within social networks. The distributed database is used both to guarantee the security of users' data and to enable secure in-app virtual payments without banking intermediaries.

The most emblematic case of this trend, which caused a stir in public opinion, was the announcement by Mark Zuckerberg of the creation of a Facebook cryptocurrency, called Libra, to allow users to pay and exchange money.

The announcement immediately created fibrillation between the institutions, banking, and state, concerned about the stability of the international financial system and the protection of user privacy.

The risk of seeing the traditional banking system collapse from the ground up, or the danger of a reduction in tax revenues to which governments could meet, has immediately undermined the "legality" of Libra. Moreover, Facebook and its partners, having the opportunity to learn about users' purchasing behavior for profiling purposes, risk to endanger freedom and individual privacy.

The path to get to the launch of the cryptocurrency, announced for mid-2020, was therefore more difficult than expected, partly because some of the sponsors of the initiative, such as Paypal, Mastercard, and Visa (which had to guarantee the reliability of the project) had left the association, motivating the decision with a lack of certainty about its real application possibilities.

Yet it is not so much the idea of a "cryptoclaimed" social network that is badly viewed, but the size of the operation itself.

In fact, there are already tools that work in the same way.

An excellent example of this is All.me: an application based on the meToken cryptocurrency, launched in 2016 and counting more than 500 thousand users today.

How does a social network with blockchain solution work?

All.me is a single platform that includes some of the most interesting features of the Digital, namely, the creation of social networks, the possibility to earn from its own content, the sale and purchase of peer-to-peer and the exchange of digital currency. All these features are integrated into a single app.

Each component is linked to the others and integrated within the system to make everything safe and reliable. All.me is divided into five modules:

  • Social network (meNetwork) - Platform for sharing information between users.
  • Marketplace (meMarket) - C2C and B2C sales platform.
  • Payment Service (mePay) - The native cryptocurrency-based payment system.
  • Wallet Service (meWallet) - Area for the control of transactions and their balance.
  • Cryptocurrency (meToken) - The native cryptocurrency of the system.

One of the most important features of the platform is the full control of data by customers. They are encouraged to create quality content, receiving in exchange meToken that can be used to buy products on the Market.

The Blockchain for the decentralization of responsibility and ownership of tools, as happens in All.me, is the future of many fields, especially social media.

With these premises, a central organization will no longer be necessary to play the role of a controller who, with the users' data, ends up earning by profiling members.

This transformation offers a huge advantage to the people who decide to participate, as they end up actively contributing to the development of the product and controlling its value.

On social media, where many users feel exploited by organizations, this is a strength that can make a difference today and in the future.

Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

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Neosperience Tourism Cloud, China and digital tourism in Italy

Chinese Tourists

Tourism is a decisive voice for the health of Italian Economy. According to the estimates, expenditure for the year 2019 will be approximately 112.4 billion euros, up between 6% and 13% compared to 2018.

The greatest increase was in the Asian market, especially the Chinese one, with more than 20% attendance and one and a half billion euros spending. 

The creation of the Silk Road (OBOR) and the visit of President Xi Jinping's in Italy have certainly helped the Bel Paese to improve its reputation in the Far East.

What are the average Chinese tourist characteristics?

Tourists from China have some well-defined characteristics. First of all, they are very demanding, both in terms of services and contents. They are high-spending, young (60% between 20 and 45 years), with a male majority (60%), love the cities of art and willingly buy luxury products, especially clothing.

However, what unites every Chinese visitor is the tendency to use digital tools during the booking phase and when purchasing on the Italian territory.

The use of cash in China, in fact, is rapidly decreasing, while the use of mobile payment instruments such as Alipay and WeChat Pay is on the rise. Just to make a comparison, these two instruments have a billion and four hundred thousand monthly active users in total, while Apple Pay, globally, counts 127 million.

It seems clear that, if you want to attract Chinese visitors and stimulate their spending, the implementation of payment methods with these tools must become essential.

As for reservations, the subject is very similar; being strictly mobile people, Chinese users proceed to search for information through online platforms or applications, such as the above-mentioned WeChat.

In the future, a double-digit growth in visitors from China is expected. Today the Italian hospitality facilities must adapt to a market that is profoundly different from the Italian one.

To support this process, Neosperience has decided to develop the Neosperience Tourism Cloud, a platform for customizing and digitizing the tourist experience.

How does the Neosperience Tourism Cloud work?

It is divided in three distinct but complementary components. The first one, specific for customer acquisition, consists of a psychographics traits construction of the audience, through personal data recovery. The goal? To understand their deepest desires and suggest an ideal journey.

How are these data recovered?

Through the other two components: the NeosVoc platform (a tool for the Voice of Customer that uses intelligent, real-time questionnaires to manage, assist and advise tourists throughout their journey), and the Customer Data Platform Unbreakable Community, always enhanced by AI tools, to integrate all the data coming from different softwares and reconstruct the client's history, in order to predict his future behavior.

What does the tourist gain?

A unique and personalized experience designed on his needs and desires. Today, the customer needs to feel "central", and no longer just a guest, but a citizen of the world; from this point of view, it is important to offer real experiences.

And the tour operator?

Greater customer satisfaction automatically leads to better economic results. Online loyalty and word of mouth are the keys to succeed in the digital market. The possibility, thanks to digital tools, to reach market segments that are very distant both in terms of interest and geographic positioning should not be underestimated.

Neosperience for the Chinese market.

To meet the Chinese audience, we decided to welcome Value China in our family: an innovative startup and entrepreneurial reality, which has set itself the goal of facilitating the entry of Italian companies into the Chinese market and vice versa.

At the moment, the focus of its activities is on tourism. An example of what Value China can make with the right tools was the presentation, occurred during the 2nd edition of the International Congress for Cooperation between Chinese Local Governments and Italian Local Governments in the Chinese city of Chengdu, of a new mini-app that allows Chinese tourists in Italy to book and pay taxis via Alipay and WeChat Pay, thanks to the collaboration with the AppTaxy service.

The news was presented by Dr. Carlo Capria, President of the Council of Ministers - Department for the Promotion and Coordination of Economic Policy - and by Dr. Maria Moreni, President of the Italy China Link association.

Today, the growth of tourism in Italy passes through the digital and the Chinese market.

Neosperience has secured, through the Neosperience Tourism Cloud and Value China, a predominant role in the future of this field, to stimulate demand and services offer, beside products that are consistent with the latest technological innovations.

Photo by Amanda Dalbjörn on Unsplash

 

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The 4 Cornerstones of a Digital Business Transformation

Business transformation: two words that can mean all or nothing, and yet together they synthesize a trend - and a necessity - that is fundamental for companies.

 

A revolutionized market

In 1859 Charles Darwin published his masterpiece "The Origin of Species". His ideas subsequently expanded to many different fields, including Economy.

In the past, large industrial groups seemed unbeatable because of their economic and material strength. Today, the same assumption is no longer valid. It is not the most powerful subject that gets the best from the market, it is the one that manages to adapt faster.

The Internet has completely changed the paradigms of business: the democratization of ideas and products distribution has stimulated a formidable competition within different fields. Small companies that once managed to reach only local audiences are now able to get to the other side of the world, thus threatening large producers.

What the great realities have experienced directly, in these stormy and dynamic years, is the same lesson that the dinosaurs have learned. Too big to adapt to a new situation, they ended up leaving the planet to small and flexible mammals.

 

The new paradigm of Business Transformation

Adaptation: that is the key concept of a successful Business Transformation. But how can a large company, with the difficulties deriving from its human and production apparatus, follow the continuous renewal of market trends?

In order to answer this question we need to analyze what these trends are. Luckily, they can be summarized in two different but mutually dependent aspects: the focus on the uniqueness of the individual and the digital transformation.

The first concept refers to all the trends that in recent years have focused on improving the customer experience, placing people at the center of corporate interests. Nowadays, the Internet allows the user to exercise enormous power over the market.

The latter concept, on the other hand, is expressed in the renewal of the products and services offer, and in the business and private operations, which today are carried out mainly through digital channels.

These two aspects come together as a single concept: the Digital Customer Experience, also called DCX. It consists of all those activities aimed at giving value to the experience of the single person on every digital channel or touchpoint.

The ideal business, thanks to the new tools made available by technological progress, should implement projects on the DCX, both for the benefit of its customers and to improve the efficiency of its managers, employees and business strategies in general.

Digital media are the facilitators par excellence; avoiding to use them would mean losing the opportunity to facilitate the establishment of an engaging and profitable relationship between all the subjects.

 

The four cornerstones to remember

So, what are the four tips to transform and keep your business relevant, thanks to the Digital Customer Experience?

Simplicity. There is nothing more important. If a company intends to survive and prosper in today's market, the first goal to be achieved is the simplification of its operations, both for the customer and for the company. Waste reduction, better management of the work of employees and facilitation of operations to improve the customer (and employee) experience; the means to achieve these goals is the digital and the tools that this makes available.

Consistency. No lie lives forever. If you are not consistent in your relationship with the public and stakeholders, you can only get two things: lack of trust and confusion. Today, thanks to digital technology, it is possible to manage a strategic transformation to face the different aspects of communication and content in a simple, effective, and above all organic way. If you don’t have the expertise to solve your business problems ask for a transformation consultancy.

Empathy. People are not numbers, they are subjects with individual needs. Today, companies must respect their customers by offering them experiences that improve their lives, especially in the digital environment. At the same time, companies need to sustain an empathic relationship with their employees, so that they do not feel part of a mechanism, but members of a large family that takes care of them.

Fun. There is no such a powerful tool as gaming to make people happy. Offering your audience or your employees a moment of leisure will make the company a friend, not a seller or an employer. Gamification practices, implemented on digital channels, are a powerful tool for gaining involvement and loyalty.

 

The best practices of DCX are therefore able to deeply change the relationships between large companies and individual players. Thanks to personalized and valuable experiences, offered both to the public and the stakeholders, the image and efficiency of the company can improve exponentially, maintaining the advantages of a small company.
You don’t have any more time; start your corporate transformation now!

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Customer Satisfaction: “The Bad is the Service of the Great”

customer-satisfaction

While numerous companies claim that they are shifting their business model toward a more customer-centric approach, it is possible to find a few examples of such change.

According to the book Uncommon Service, there are two ways to fit into this kind of ever-changing culture: companies can either improve their service to better satisfy customer needs or convince them they need what they have to offer. The first one, of course, is the only choice that’ll enable you to overcome the challenges of the digital transformation.

As a matter of fact, you need to learn to listen to the voice of your customer to gather enough feedback to act upon. The lack of comprehension between organizations and customers is evident if you look at the numbers: a Teradata report recently highlighted that only 41% of marketing managers are using data gathered by the audiences to implement and improve their strategy.

Common sense is often not enough to determine what your customer needs, data is gathered to benefit your marketing strategy and develop a new customer service model.

What should you do then?

We will start by highlighting a few essential concepts before we move on to the specific steps you need to take to stand out in a customer-centered ecosystem. Frances Frei, Harvard professor and Uncommon Service co-author, analyses the correct attitude of a business to succeed in this specific environment, understanding the financial model of your business is essential, but it cannot be what your company focuses on.

Yes, budgeting and increasing revenues are, but the extreme focus on them could harm the relationship with your customers. Understanding the needs and wants of your clients is a necessity when implementing a specific financial model. What does this mean? Frei introduces the concept of a “bilingual” business, a model where service impacts the economic model of the company and not vice-versa.

With this in mind, how do you revolutionize the structure and business model of your company to put the customer first?

Step 1: Ask Your Employees

Common sense is often overrated when it comes to interpreting customers’ needs. Companies often think the product or service is a fulfilling solution for each segment of the Customer Base, so they don’t think they need to validate that idea. And what is the first step to validate an idea? Ask your first customers, those directly involved with the Brand: employees.

Neglecting employees’ opinions and innovative ideas might lead to an increasing gap between the customer and the company, which then reflects on the customer experience. Your job is to test your people. Create small groups where creativity and equality are encouraged, find out what they think are the most important attributes of the product, what should be improved and how these changes might impact your base.

Step 2: Ask Your Customers

Directly talk to your customer base, ask them what their needs are and what they want from you. Find out why your competitors are being appreciated and where they are lacking. Use those answers to isolate the attributes that are valued the most and, more importantly, use the ones that are valued the least.

Your company can’t focus resources on every aspect, as the dispersion of energies usually leads to mediocrity. The lesson is easy: Have the guts to be bad, don’t be afraid of the weaknesses of your business, be bad in the service of good.

Step 3: Analyze Your Results

With the first two steps you have hopefully gathered tons of information and actionable data. Now it’s the time to strategize, to prioritize and develop a plan where the customer is the center. It is time to take all the data and find solutions. And you will neve be able to do so if you don’t share all the data with your employees and figure out a plan together. Use the Voice of the Customer to set up a brand new idea to implement.

Step 4: Act Upon Data

That’s it. It’s time to reorganize your resources and establish yourself. Apple knew their laptop was the best product on the market in terms of design and operating system, but they were also aware that it lacked memory compared to other options. Yet, it was not a priority for the people that purchased them. Be smart about your strengths and even smarter about your weaknesses.

These four steps give you a general guideline to better connect with your audience, to strengthen the partnership with your consumer by understanding what they want from you and especially what they don’t want. Don’t be afraid of weak performance, use that part that is not performing well and turn it into a powerful marketing lever that could possibly increase visibility and attract attention. Use the data you gather to change, evolve and develop a new model for your business, a model where the customer is the beating heart of every single action.

 

Photo by Lukasz Saczek on Unsplash

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Visual Marketing – Everything You Need To Engage Customers

memorability-visuals

Take a look at the advertising and marketing trends of the last four, five years. You can immediately recognize that there is a common trait: visual content. Today, in fact, people prefer visual contents, rather than texts.

As a result, social networks have become primarily visual oriented - i.e. stories and 360 videos - with optical technologies, such as VR and AR, used as marketing tools to create a full, immersive experience for customers.

Why do people prefer visual content? Also, how can companies choose the right image to deliver valuable content and increase customer engagement?

WHY DO PEOPLE PREFER VISUAL CONTENT?

We are meant to process and respond to visual content better than words: it’s in our DNA. In fact, 50% to 80% of our brain is dedicated to visual processing - colors, shapes, visual memory, patterns, spatial awareness, and image recollection. This tendency leads to an innate preference for images, illustrations, videos, and colors.

Also, today’s customers want to receive information quickly and without huge efforts; thus, they are more likely to consume visual content, which is processed 60000 times faster than text. What about the information we retain from experiences? We actually remember 20% of what we read and 80% of what we see.

It doesn’t mean that text is not important anymore. An extensive textual content, in fact, can provide a level of completeness that is incomparable, and sometimes you cannot use a simple image to explain complicated concepts. Combining the two elements, text and images, however, you can reach the best results.

HOW CAN VISUALS IMPROVE MARKETING RESULTS?

With the enormous amount of content and information running each and every day, companies need to do everything they can to differentiate. Using visual elements is much more effective than text only because - as we have just seen - they can capture customers’ attention.

Moreover, the use of relevant and compelling visuals generate more engagement, as it make website visitors stay longer on page, consume more content, and understand the messages you are trying to deliver.

The use of high-quality magnets such as infographics or canvas can also bring a lot of relevant inbound links, boosting your ranking in search results, and increasing brand relevance. It’s been proved that customers make decisions based on what they remember. Thus, leveraging on the most critical driver of customers’ choices - memory - visuals ultimately increase the chances to be recognized.

WHAT TYPE OF VISUAL CONTENT WORKS BEST?

According to iScrabblers, a real photo produces better results than a stock photo (35% more), and employees and customer testimonials generate engagement respectively in terms of viewing time and conversion rate.

Also, colors capture attention, increase recall, comprehension, and brand recognition. Not to mention how they can influence human emotions: certain colors or color combinations generate particular feelings and affect the way people (and customers) make decisions.

To achieve better results, consider putting more efforts on creating original contents and matching colors with the emotions you want to resonate with your message.

HOW CAN YOU FIND THE PERFECT IMAGE?

Marketers often struggle when it comes to producing engaging visual content on a consistent basis. As a result, more and more companies adopt online tools or software to facilitate the process of producing such contents and enhance their performances.

However, this might not be enough: the fact that your image is beautifully crafted doesn’t mean that it is also effective. Every time you grab the audience’s attention but they don’t recall your brand or product, you are losing a chance to convert and monetize.

So, how can you find the perfect image for your blog post, advertising, or product presentation? You can rely on AI tools such as Image Memorability, which can answer this specific need, revealing the memorability score of images or advertisements before they are published, to predict the effectiveness of your visual marketing.

 

Photo by Tony Webster on Unsplash

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