Customers are the center of any business but, in digital business, customers are made of data.
Companies collect a large amount of data from customer´s interaction every day, that provide them with information about users habits and behavior, navigation patterns, geo-localization, etc. It is a valuable source to define user profiles. These lead to decision making, marketing campaign strategies, website updates and interaction between business and customers. I think this is great, but not enough.
When we make a research in a company website about how people purchase, for example, we usually give users a predesigned context to interact with, similar to other purchase processes. We try to identify the difficulties they may have during the process, we observe what is relevant for them, etc. in order to improve the experience of buying in the company website. In my opinion, this is only a tiny static picture of a big dynamic 3D virtual reality software. We only have footprints, like a dinosaur trace telling us that a long time ago they were there, of people repeating patterns and doing what is expected of them. We are not able to expose customers to an unexplored scenario to see how they react, not just because of the technology, but because of our lack of creative intelligence.
I often wondered why Google Maps exists as a free product! It is an amazing tool that makes our lives much easier. Imagine the amount of resources needed to maintain the system accurate and updated, but why? What is the business model behind Google Maps? Obviously, to provide companies with a map service but, what else? Imagine for a moment that we were researching how people interact with Google Maps, we could track and analyze the data, identify requirements, design a user journey, interfaces, etc. However, what did Google do? A self-driving car. Google reframe the problem to find new solutions.
It is not about money, or engineers, or developers. In my opinion, it is about creativity. It is about picturing reality based on interdependencies rather than linear events, it is about imagining what people wish to do instead of what they are accustomed to do. It is about reframing the problem before asking customers to define what problems they have. It is about finding the meaning to find out the solution.
Digital businesses need any technological breakthrough available to improve their revenue and to evolve with their customers, but they also need creativity that guides them to imagining new ways and possibilities of relating with their customers.