With innovators like Uber leading the way (it’s now offering on-demand flu shots!), more businesses are blending the digital and physical worlds to meet customer demand.

The increasing connectivity between humans and machines, as we discussed last week, is a natural outgrowth of the fact that our world, laced with sensors and overlaid with software, is being transformed by digital.

Trend No. 4: More physical actions and items will become data-driven services.

This is evident in the fact that startups with broad vision are mixing digital and physical for the first time, across industries.

A prime example in the general consumer sector is the Uber ride-sharing platform, which has gone from obscurity in 2010 to omnipresence today. The new digital revolution has found ways to make physical objects—like cars in the case of the ride-sharing economy—go digitally viral. Uber’s famous market disruption and stunning growth rate are due to the same utilization of a smart data-driven service model. As if that’s not enough, Uber is poised to disrupt other industries as well, having recently expanded into health by offering on-demand flu shots.

This is happening in insurance as well, and is probably most evident in the demand for government clearance to use drone technology for evaluating property damage for future claims assessment. In the U.S., State Farm and USAA are leading the pack in the demand for drones. Last year both insurers filed applications with the federal U.S. government seeking approval to test drones for research. USAA plans to test the system on privately owned, rural land in Texas, using a trained pilot and crew, and State Farm’s filing says it will test the technology for “insurance functions” including “underwriting, re-underwriting, catastrophe response, roof inspection and claim resolution settings.” In Europe, insurers are also looking at the potential of drone technology. In Europe, Groupama, a major French insurer, has recently signed an agreement with Airinov, a leading provider of drone technology for the agriculture market, to help Groupama’s clients better manage their agriculture risks based on new data an software capabilities.

Fjord suggests that companies seeking to blend the physical and digital should:

  • Consider service design techniques like trends reframing to get a big picture on what’s needed to disrupt before someone else does.
  • Look at those who design these services with consistent delight in mind will win.
  • Determine where a sensor can revolutionize your business or, at the least, your customer understanding.

For more information, download the full Fjord Trends 2015 report.


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