The rapid settling emotions is encouraging a definite distinction between the economic transaction and transpersonal services. Real value-add will occur person-to-person as basic economic transactions are already automated to a significant extent. This will enable a range of choices about the level of interaction that an employer – and subsequently clients, as well – desires and how much they are willing and prepare to pay for it, with some choosing to pay a higher premium for human involvement and interaction. Less for based interactions.
In a knowledge based economy we emphasised people as our greatest asset, endeavour to manage by objectives and use words like ‘mind share’ (i.e. mainly left brain) and added value. In an emotional based economy we recognize that relationships are our greatest asset, manage by meaning, and use words like ‘heart share‘ (i.e. mainly right brain) and purpose. Leadership is more about character than vision and viable organizations focus more on social contributions than chasing profit margins.
In a knowledge economy personal value is directly related to how much a person knows, how much s/he can create or generate and the quality of his/her judgements… in essence the ability to acquire, process and apply knowledge.
But the ongoing digital AI-revolution is completely disrupting current day workplace tasks and activities. Computers will do most of the work currently done by ‘knowledge‘ workers. And this will impact everybody. Are your future or present job at risk? For sure! People will spend less time doing intellectual work and more time engaging with one another. Therefore, the ability to empathize, compassion, to apply emotional know-how and to reach out and touch other people, will be the new source of success, wealth and prosperity.
In an emotions economy personal employable value will be the size of ones heart, not the size of ones ideas, not ones pool of knowledge, nor ones professional network and access to resources. Qualifications, ideas, knowledge, networking and abilities will keep one in the run for an ‘emotions economy‘-position, but our competitive edge will be determined by our work ethics, values and the manner in which we manage to develop and grow (i.e. self-actualize). In essence, manpower – preferred and sought after – will not be determined by WHAT we do… but by HOW we are doing it.
It’s always been important for any businesses venture to understand their clients, the stuff that people need and/or want (i.e. supply and demand dynamics). More recently, this has been done by collecting data on past actions and analysing that data to try and predict what each client’s possible next action might be like. However, this is just half of the puzzle, when attempting to understand what a client might do. Today, we’ve come much further than many thought possible for machines, as is being used to read, analyse and even replicate that missing piece of understanding… our emotions. For organizations (i.e. service providers), it’s no longer just about understanding what we do, but understanding what we feel. This is the core of the Emotions Economy, and recent advances in technology have already place us on an accelerated path towards it.
The futurist Richard Yonck first describes the emotion economy as an emerging “ecosystem” of emotionally intelligent devices and software iterations, that will completely change the way we interact with machines, which is already happening. For example… take Google searches which no longer is a question of merely using a search engine, but how to tailor searches and – most – importantly, which search engine to use for best usable results. Understanding how this “ecosystem” functions, and learning how to draw value from it, will be critical for the success of any organization, company or individual that is looking to engage with clients and stay in front of the pack amongst the many competitors… locally, nationally and internationally.
The main reason why understanding emotion is such an attractive option for many businesses enterprises, is because of the potential revenue streams it could generate. Marketing research estimate and claim that the affective computing market – made up of technology that is designed to recognize, understand and simulate human emotion – is set to rise to a whopping $59 billion by the year 2020.
Many large tech firms have seen the potential of harnessing our emotions, and our feelings are already being analysed by a number of organizations, both large and small. FaceBook began to lay the groundwork for a future in emotion with its ‘reactions’ functionality. This allows users to express themselves more flexibly and freely on the platform, but more importantly for FaceBook, it gives the company valuable data on its users’ reactions. FaceBook can now provide – companies advertising through the site – a much richer picture of how consumers feel. This data and statistics can be used to personalize the service, showing users more of what they prefer, and improving each individual’s browsing experience. Another significant development in the arena of feeling-analysis is Whatsapp, which makes it almost impossible to predict where it will all end some day.
Some companies have already gone further than tracking emotions. Consequential Robotics has designed the MiRo robot as a programmable companion for the elderly, which is capable of letting relatives and carers know how its owner has been feeling in between visits. In another example, BeyondVerbal, an AI-driven voice analytics firm, claims to be able to identify human emotions with 80% accuracy.
The reason for the early adoption into the affective computing market is quite simple… businesses recognize the power emotions can have when it comes to establishing brand loyalty and reputation. Creating and establishing real emotional bonds will motivate present and potential clients to return to the same company, and give those capable of engaging with their clients a significant competitive edge. As more companies begin to invest in affective computing, businesses will be clamouring to claim a stake in the emotion economy, and emotion will become a key component for all businesses that interact with clients and users of their services.
This major shift in focus towards building emotional bonds between a brand, product and/or service and its clients will drastically change the way businesses interact with us on a fundamental level. Soon, implementing technologies that are capable of detecting and analysing emotion will not just be a project for tech firms, but an essential aspect for any organization, as companies compete for the affection of clients. As businesses increasingly invest in the emotion economy, client engagement is only going to improve the everyday experience for clients… as technology will learn to anticipate our needs better, and engage with us in a more natural way.
One of the key differentiators between man and machine has always been that we can understand and interpret emotions, but this will not exclusively remain in the human domain for much longer. While it might seem alien now to be talking about emotionally engaging with a machine, the technology that we currently interact with – in just a few years from now – will be a far cry from the majority of modern day chatbots. Smarter, emotive machines will quickly surpass modern automated technology in client services; eliminating the flawed, ‘I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that’, functionality of many virtual assistants. Machines will be able to analyse tone, facial expressions and language to determine how best to handle a certain individual, using an algorithm the human brain has developed over millions of years in order to survive and avoid danger.
The future scope for emotive interactions is enormous. From an AI recognizing an upset customer over the phone to advanced robotic assistants such as Pepper. Pepper can recognize human emotions by analysing changes in tone of voice, facial expressions, body language and the type of words used, and can be programmed to respond accordingly. Pepper has already been rolled out in 100 branches of Mizuho Bank in Japan, where it handles customer service queries. In the not-so-distant future – virtual and robotic assistants – will be the norm, catering each interaction to the client, and building relationships with humans that were previously the stuff of science fiction.
As data analysis and AI evolve beyond tracking the ‘who, what, when and where’, affective computing will continue to pick up steam. Consumers will soon be dealing with an influx of intelligent, emotive assistants that will transform the way we interact with technology. This age of emotion is set to transform everything we presently know about the human/machine relationship.
For organizations, companies and present or prospective employees, the race is on to discover and determine the best way to utilize advances in affective computing. Those who can carve out a niche will reap the benefits, as they drastically improve people’s experiences and build stronger relationships with individuals than ever before. However, businesses, companies and employees that don’t prepare and invest in the rapid emerging emotion economy will be left bewildered and scrambling in an attempt to catch up (i.e. either to obtain clients and/or finding and securing a job that pays), as both employers and consumers decide with their hearts, not their minds.