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Building Human Connection in the AI World

AI is eating the world. Or so they say. Every tech cycle is somewhat predictable. At first, we look skeptically at early adopters talking about the new trend – AI, blockchain, VR. Then, a Cambrian explosion happens, and the new trend is slapped on seemingly everything – AI-powered luggage, toasters, pet rocks. But consumers are brutal, and reality quickly syncs in. That’s when technology becomes mass adopted. We’re seeing this in real time with AI, and it shouldn’t be a surprise that ChatGPT usage is dropping.


The same technology that makes consumption easy also makes change faster. For every new product that’s launched, there are tens of similar or adjacent concepts competing for the same space. If I don’t like one product, change is easy and frictionless.


Building moats is increasingly harder because consumers want connection and brands often offer features. Take NFTs. At the peak of the NFT hype, it was hard to understand what exactly brands were trying to achieve. You might have heard about blockchain, tokenization, authenticity, transferability. Or maybe you heard pictures of apes were worth millions, or that Jack Dorsey sold a tweet for a few more millions, only for its value to plummet. Now that the dust is slowly settling, we see brands using the technology to build meaningful experiences for consumers, such as the Starbucks Odyssey program or Dior’s B33 sneakers. You’ll be hard pressed to find the word NFT on either of these brands’ marketing materials, yet the technology is the underlying glue that makes the consumer experience possible.


This is human-centric technology at its best. Steve Jobs was a master at this and has probably the best quote summarizing human-centric technology – “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backward to the technology. You can’t start with the technology then try to figure out where to sell it.”


How often do you encounter a terrible customer experience? Maybe it’s too much paperwork for a trivial process; an unpleasant line; a bad product that doesn’t deliver on its promise; or plain terrible web design. This needs to be the starting point for building better technology with the consumer in mind, instead of thinking what’s the next AI application that we can churn out of GPT-4.


Human-centric technology is about delivering remarkable experiences that create connection and memories. These are the moments in life that move you and stick with you. At GMR we call that the String of Lights Effect. Done right, technology offers unbeatable scale for brands to deliver these types of experiences, as long as the customer experience is at the center.