Technology has changed the world, and almost every area of our lives has been touched and influenced by the seamless integration of the internet, smartphones, and improved computer capabilities to such an extent that it is causing a blurring of the lines between our online and offline worlds. As we continue to expand our uses of technology, and as the possible computing power continues to grow, the distinctions between real-world experiences and online experiences is fast becoming a symbiotic relationship that benefits and grows for both. Looking at the different ways that society is merging the online and offline experience, it’s clear that the lines between the two are becoming less distinct, and that trend looks set to continue.
The consumer experience
New generation consumerism has seen a dramatic change in the ways that businesses function at every level. As the millennial generation becomes the consumer market with the greatest buying power, retailers of every sector are having to adapt to the changing demands of a whole new demographic. Although the priority has become consumer/business interaction, that is simply the start of the new consumer transformation.
Online shoppers expect more than ever, and businesses are racing to keep up with those demands. No matter the size of the company, their customers demand both broad service standards that are applicable to all, alongside the personal attention that you get in-store. This has led to an increase in live-chat options on e-commerce sites, enabling visitors to a website to browse through their options and then chat to an assistant in real time in order to personalize the experience and the product. This has put the purchasing power firmly in the hands of the customer, and that can only yield positives for those who want the best in customer service.
AI and the shopping trip
Artificial intelligence is no longer only found in science fiction. As customers now expect their online shopping to be delivered immediately, they are also providing companies with a vast amount of personal data, and that data is being given to AI with astonishing results. As companies fight to provide the best service possible in order to keep customers consistent, they are using AI to predict customer activity and predict buying trends. This means that consumers are far more likely to find satisfaction whilst shopping, whether that’s online or offline.
AI is going to be used increasingly as businesses become more aware of its capabilities, and they’ll be able to minimize instances of not enough stock, while also being able to deliver products faster and faster at any time of the day. With tools like Memory Mirror becoming more popular and practical, expect to feel the full benefits of technology as stores begin to make less and less distinction between real-world visitors to their store, and those browsing online.
The gaming industry has been at the forefront of technological innovation, and that is not changing anytime soon. As the processing power of PCs and consoles continues to grow, the line between reality and games is becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate. That truism is set to become even more relevant however, as Virtual Reality plays a larger and more significant role in the gamer experience.
Even without the benefits of VR, game-players now have access to a variety of games that are increasingly realistic, and not simply in terms of the graphics. With sports games becoming hyper-realistic, they now include player statistics that make the games almost indistinguishable from real-world sporting events, with updates that reflect real-world transfers and management changes.
Even online casinos are making good use of the blurring of the lines between the online and offline experience, by recreating the casino environment as realistically as possible, giving rise to games with live elements such as live dealers. This creates an environment that feels more real despite the players being scattered around the globe, and that seamless interaction between the real and the digital will continue to become more utilized as technology advances.
One of the most significant benefits of the internet has been the rise of the community. Due to the fact that internet users can communicate with anyone in the world, there has been a dynamic progression in the growth of like-minded individuals coming together in order to discuss their shared interests. This has created some interesting effects, as underrepresented groups are now able to join together in order to create a voice that stands a better chance of being noticed in the ever-constant volume of the social media world.
From protests by school-children across the USA, to government petitions, having a collective voice is significantly more useful, and as the communities interact both online and offline, their power continues to evolve and make more of an impact.
The world continues to grow and technology continues to find its place through innovation and need. While that process may often seem slow, the truth is that the rate of change is growing exponentially, and the next few years are going to see even more blurring of the lines between our online and offline worlds.