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Creating the Connected Experience in Smart Cities

Back in 1999, Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning started Napster, the peer-to-peer file-sharing software that emphasized sharing digital audio files. No longer did you have to wait around for your favorite radio station to play that one song you wanted to hear. You were now in control of listening to what you wanted to hear. For me, that was the genesis of the “on-demand” society and economy prevails today.

People want what they want, when they want it.

The on-demand experience has crossed over into other industries including taxi services (Uber, Lyft), meal services (Blue Apron, HelloFresh, Green Chef, etc.), and food delivery (Uber Eats, GrubHub & DoorDash). 

Now, that same desire for instant gratification is becoming part of the Smart Cities, Smart Campuses, Smart Malls, and Smart Airports popping up around the world. At the core of all these is the “connected experience.” In other words, how do entities create more memorable experiences for people within their eco-systems so they will want to come back?  For that, we must understand the “connected customer.”

Like it or not, information-savvy customers now control the marketplace. Pile on the fact that our culture of immediacy drives mobile-first expectations, and you have an always-connected lifestyle culture. As a retailer, as a city, as an airport, how do you tap into this new connected customer?

It starts with trust.

The term I like to use is “asymmetric trust.”

In this environment, both parties or entities are at ease with one another, creating trust and comfort between both parties. Trust is vital because in any type of “smart environment” corporate and customer information (data, analytics, etc.) will be flowing freely back and forth. For both parties, a positive experience will be based on the smarter use of customer information, expanding opportunities for engagement, and eventually “sales.”

What does it take to get there? 

The Smart City of the future can be defined as the integration of data and digital technologies into a strategic approach to sustainability, citizen well-being, and economic development. At the core of this integration, there needs to be heightened security, not only to protect the consumer but also to protect the retailer, the city, and all the entities tethered together to create a brilliant connected experience.

Without proper security, no parties will be safe. Without this, the promise of on-demand services and the related benefits and enterprise value creation will not be allowed to manifest fully. Security today must be a forethought, not an afterthought, and integrated into platforms as part of a model for sustainable – smart – success.