The line between real and digital is becoming blurred. Where does the digital world end and the real world begin? Is it when you click the ‘buy it now’ to make an e-commerce payment? Is it when a package arrive at your doorstep?
Perhaps it’s even more fundamental than that. It could be the point at which money lands in your account from advertising revenue on a website or when you receive an email with an online order from a customer. Wherever the line sits, it is clear that the physical and digital are drawing closer and closer.
So what does this mean?
For companies, a website is still just a platform to advertise themselves. It acts as a window where people can view what they do, without necessarily entering into their space. Many believe that e-commerce sites are the only ones who really need to worry about this, but banks, insurance companies and utility companies are increasingly finding that people want to have control of their physical life whilst online.
Many companies are not truly embracing this blurring of the lines. Yet the evidence is clear that those who are are reaping the benefits.
Take Apple as a prime example, they have successfully put the virtual world within the pockets of their customers. Not only this, but they have seamlessly allowed them to see it from a variety of different windows wherever they are. From the bus on their phone, the office on their computer or the sofa on their iPad.
When we have this level of connectivity to our virtual world, it is difficult to argue that the physical world and virtual, are not one.
I want to be able to virtually control every element of my life, I don’t even want to move from where I am to access this control. I want to to have it with me at all times and not need to go to a desk to complete it. It is why companies who look at problems from this perspective generally get the best results.
So are companies doing enough in general to provide this for their customers?
Many are and those who aren’t are seeing the flaws in not doing so.
The ultimate story of not embracing this is Blockbuster. In 1994 they were bought for $8.4 billion, today they are bankrupt. This was because they did not believe in the merging of virtual and physical. Despite having the option of buying their ultimate assassin, Netflix, for $50 million (it is now worth $28 billion), they failed to see the link and paid the ultimate price.
Is your company doing enough to recognise the changes?