Using deduction

Eric Raymond proposed that a computer should ‘never ask the user for any information that it can autodetect, copy, or deduce’; computer vision changes what the computer has to ask. So it’s not, really, a camera, taking photos – it’s more like an eye, that can see.
Ben Evans

There’s a big buzzword going around our industry at the moment called “omnichannel.” Consider it an interaction pathway, where a user can choose to interact with any number of channels – phone, email, online, USSD, retail store, IVR, app, etc. Not only that, but smartphones have made it possible to flip backwards and forwards between channels. This can be done either as dictated by the workflow (eg using an app which launches a USSD hash-code to return a URL to current offers, etc) or by the customer choosing the channel they’re most comfortable with.

In the past, process designs have tended to be done within the silo of just one channel. One of the challenges for modern process designers is to design user journeys and state transitions that jump channels and have a multi-channel decision tree built-in. Exacerbating this challenge is transitioning data between channels so that the journey is seamless for customers – each channel is likely to have its own back-end OSS/BSS system/s after all and data handoff must happen before a transaction is completed (ie intermediate storing and transferring of records). Eric Raymond’s quote above holds true for ensuring a great customer experience in an omnichannel environment.

I’m fascinated by Ben Evans’ take on Eric’s quote and how that relates to omnichannel user journeys for telcos (see the link above for a fascinating broader context around Ben’s prediction of computer vision). When the computer (ie smartphone) begins to gain more situational awareness via its camera, an additional and potentially very powerful interaction channel presents itself.

We’ve all heard of image recognition already being available in the purchasing process within retail. Ben’s concept takes that awareness to a higher level. I haven’t heard of image recognition being used within telco yet, but I am looking forward to when Augmented Reality combines with this situational awareness (and the data made available by OSS) in our industry. Not just for customers, but for telco operators too. The design packs that a field tech uses today are going to look very different in the near future.

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