From passivity to experience : an history of digital interactions

Since the economy has started its digitization, concepts rise and decline at such a high speed that many people are losing track of what’s happening and find it hard to distinguish profound trends from fashion phenomenons.

The last trendy concepts I decided to write a series about is experience. Why, in a very short time, did experience become the Grail of digital interactions, replacing anything else as the “ultimate goal”.

In fact that’s the result of a logical process. Let’s try to understand what happened. Note : the links I make between the “ages of the web” and digital interactions is not always an exact match but it helps to have points of references.

• Web 1.0 and the age of passivity

At the very beginning, the web as we knew it in the 90s. A top-down media dominated by the “usual suspects” : large businesses and old media. The level 0 of digital interactions.

• Web 2.0 and the age of conversations

With the evolution of technology, usages and the reach of a critical mass of users the web becomes “web 2.0” and, most of all, becomes relational and conversational. People want to have conversations with peers, businesses etc. That’s also the golden age of communities as places where conversations are stimulated. An age that starts in 2005.

• The social web or the age of networks

Between 2007 and 2010 the web becomes social and, just like Facebook becoming more and more popular, we’re entering the age of networks (don’t mistake networks for communities !). In the end few changes change regarding to web 2.0 except that people are more and more seen as individuals and less as community members. What leads to the rise of platforms like Twitter and many others that are more personal media than social networks.

• Le web of experience

It’s been an underlying trend for 2 or 3 years and it became mainstream in 2014 to be a major trend for, maybe the next 2 years. Interactions are becoming hyper-individualized, contextual and qualitative. That’s a trend we’ve been observing for years.

In 2011 an IBM study showed the gap between what internauts were expecting and what businesses thought they were.

customer expectations


It’s easy to see the gap between “being a part of something” and “getting something”, in an unique and personalized fashion. It’s also the end of the community myth or, rather, of seeing communities as the solution to anything.

That said, I don’t see it as a such a big change. Relationships are a part of experience but are not the experience. Experience means going beyond communication and relationships to think all interactions jointly in a coherent fashion, what also includes transactions, while we’ve seen the increasing gap between businesses’ digital postures and the way they actually operate.

Experience, between it means coherence, will also raise the questions of how to articulate digital and physical.

Last, as I’m considering any kind of digital interactions, we’ll see that experience is not about customers only  but all stakeholders, including employees.

That said, we can start wondering what experience is in the digital era. To be continued in a future post…


Image Credit : Interactions via Shutterstock

Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler
Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler

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