Just as globalization is changing the customer base, technology is changing the way in which we market and service the customer. Consumers in coming years will flock to those companies whose products offer new conveniences while saving time and reducing stress. Convenience will be a focal point in relation to the delivery of a product or a service, as well as the actual purchase and transaction process. Just as a simple key evolved into a smart key driven by cost, security and other factors, it too will evolve into a smart card. And perhaps this will give way to something even more futuristic — the “touch.”
Many years ago the smart card was predicted — a card that gives access and contains data. Technology, customer demand and a retrofitting cost offset by swings in labor, along with access to more customer information, is making the smart card a reality. Eventually it will be enhanced to provide access and payment for most everything. However, wait a few more years and the smart card will give way to the “touch.”
The “touch” eventually will eliminate all keys as well as all cards. It may become universally accepted as the most convenient and secure means of access while enabling the classification of individual customer data. Driven by the macrotrends of “peacetime war,” crime and terrorism, it will eliminate countless examples of personal and financial disaster because of fraudulent smart cards and identity theft.
The “touch,” inherently unique to each individual, will provide the utmost in convenience — the simple touch of a the thumb on a print reader located at doors, gates, check-out counters, access machines, and so on. Imagine the possibility of “touch” miles — with every five thumbprints you receive a free weekend’s stay or even 5,000 bonus prints or miles. Of course, cash no longer will be the standard medium of exchange — miles or “touch points” will have become the global currency.
“Touch and go” marketing concepts will extend beyond the distribution of products or services to reach the consumer at home, at work or in between. The television and computer screen will be replaced with a communications module where simply touching the screen provides you instant access to your product, service and travel options, all displayed in a vivid, multidimensional and sensual manner. Imagine experiencing the feel of a tropical resort or the actual smell (through smell simulators) of the aroma of Colombian coffee. Touch the communications module again and you are “printed” — that is, booked, confirmed and reserved for a vacation or business trip. Once registered with the “Registry of Prints,” your customer profile and preferences are simultaneously updated and disseminated to all your preferred providers.
Another concept of the “touch and go” system is the automated services menu. Gone will be the days where bills are paid or expense reports submitted. Rather, a simple double touch takes care of all the necessary brainwork. Please note, to edit you may do so by swiping your thumb at a 45-degree angle during the second touch!
Now that you think this is totally ridiculous, I would like to remind you that the reaction you are having is really quite normal. Marshall Ferdinand Foch, French World War I commander, once declared that “airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value.” On Feb. 25, 1967, Dr. Lee Deforest, a father of the radio, predicted that “man will never reach the moon regardless of all future scientific advances.” And who can forget Kenneth Olsen, founder of Digital Equipment Corp. in 1977, in his proclaimed words of wisdom, “There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home.”
What Will Be Out What Will Be In
Key and cards Touch pads and scanners
Print advertising Electronic messages
Cash and currency Miles and time
Television and computers Communications modules
Lines Access mechanisms
Mass delivery Individual experiences
Rules and procedures Conveniences and cost savers
Second chances Win me
Cell phones, Email, pagers Personal global “communicators”
Diamonds and stars Security ratings
Ronald A. Nykiel, dean of the College of Business at Husson University, has a number of books on travel and tourism marketing and served on a presidential commission on travel and tourism, the Board of the United States Travel Association, and on a governor’s revenues forecasting commission.