A few weeks ago, I visited our customer’s head office and encountered happiness. One of our hosts unlocked a door using a microchip embedded in his wrist. The subdermal chip also worked for logging into a photocopier and a few other devices. My immediate reaction was intense excitement: Science fiction movie stuff! RFID in the human body! The Internet of Things and the Human Element combined! The future is here!
I discussed this experience with our host. What does it feel like to have a chip implanted under the skin? It hurt a bit. Where can he use it? With office doors and a few devices. Any worries about data security? Not of any significance, because the employer provides the chip. Broadly speaking, unauthorised remote reading of RFID chips is something to consider. The possibility hackers can literally get under your skin is an unpleasant scenario.
As we spoke about the microchip, he seemed excited and smiled a lot – a clear sign that something had been done right. Following our discussion, I was reminded of the idea put forward by Yuval Noah Harari in his book, Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow:
The most important mission of business – like politics or scientific research – should be increasing happiness instead of reputation, wealth and prestige.
How can we build business solutions that give customers and end users the chance to increase their own happiness? At least then a customer’s project involves more than finding a solution to the customer’s problem. Instead, it requires a series of solutions to problems standing between the customer and his or her happiness.
In the case of the microchip and connected devices, the discomfort associated with adopting it, as well as the possible risk to privacy, are factors linked to ease of use and convenience. These are issues that must be resolved in the smartest way possible. But what caused our host to be happy? It was being among the early adopters. It was knowing that he might be involved in developing something that future generations would probably use on a daily basis. That made him happy.
In digital business, we cannot enhance happiness without both a great user experience and exploiting data. Functionality must be satisfactory for any product or service to become a commercial success. Achieving that requires paying attention to key issues under the hood, including forecast models, machine-learning systems and combining different data sources.
But making people happy requires more. So what makes customers happy? It can be basically anything that brings the customer joy, for example, the beautiful design of a product or the sense of being a pioneer.
To arrive at the perfect mix is challenging, because it requires a great deal of intelligence and hard work. But when it does work out – that is real happiness.