WHAT IS AN EDM?
A tremendous consumer phenomenon has occurred. Having arrived in the current, post-digital phase, it is now possible to show the chronology of how the consumer has transformed to become an Educated Decision-Maker (EDM). With regard to technological developments, people have probably learned more in the last 15 years than they have in the previous 50. This learning curve is lightly referred to as “digital literacy”, but this clearly doesn’t fully define its meaning for society and the individual. People don’t merely apply knowledge in their daily lives, they also develop a new level of knowledge, abilities and skills. The consumer emancipates itself step-by-step through the everyday use of new technical possibilities. He creates himself a new reality.
Oops, how did that happen? Well… quite unobserved; if you just look at what people buy, your chance is high to miss how these people change. Though … what happened is good to tell and easy to understand; it is part of our own personal, individual development. But … it is really hard for companies to react to; because they have to rethink the customer. It keeps them awake at night – some of them, at least. Maybe the rise of the EDM is not the only reason for rethinking the customer, but definitely the most important aspect for change and transformation.
STAGES OF CONSUMER DEVELOPMENT
1 EXPLORING – For a chosen few.
The first phase, the exploring phase, began in the mid-1990s. Individual users discovered the Internet for themselves – often more by chance than by design. Say hello to CompuServe. New websites were created, but many of them were of limited use and far from being or wanting to be understood by everyone. But at least we had taken the first steps.
2 ENABLING – We got the tools.
New platforms helped people to buy and sell online. More and more users had learned to navigate the net in a goal-oriented manner. For example, eBay created the basis for social commerce and explained the advantages of the Internet to a large number of consumers – not only in the field of buying, but also in terms of selling. Google optimised search results with its mission to organise the world’s information and to make it accessible. Social networks were added in the professional and private spheres (Facebook, Xing, LinkedIn). Products, jobs, private things – everything could be found, connected and, above all, compared on the Internet. Better-informed decisions could be made.
3 EMPOWERMENT – We got the power.
Smart features and advanced apps offered new possibilities. Whether from the Apple world, a little later from the Android universe, or simply new smart devices – these applications not only ensured that consumers had access to services, information and entertainment more quickly and easily, they also empowered consumers in numerous ways. Among other things, people could adopt a new negotiating position with their own data, something that was not possible in the past. A new flexibility and sovereignty of the consumer emerged. Furthermore, we learned from our experience, applied our new-found knowledge and transferred these experiences into all possible areas.
4 ENHANCEMENT – Superpowers for everyone.
We are currently in a transition period leading into the enhancement phase. Its main feature: technological developments such as the Internet of Things, roboting and big data / personal data are even more closely linked to the user. The enhancement phase supports the EDM individually in strengthening its capabilities and, to a certain extent, making it even more self-sufficient. It does this by using new technologies to increase the EDM’s physical limits (e.g. new hearing), to learn and use something new (see differently – VR and drones for everyone) and to let others do the work for it (my robot and me). What looked like science fiction ten years ago will quickly be integrated into the behaviour of EDMs. After all, you can already build on the knowledge of the first three EDM phases. You can learn faster and incorporate innovations into your everyday life. The Covid-19 disruption will accelerate the EDM’s adoption of new technologies and increase the demands on companies.
5 EVERGENCE – We transcend.
The evergence phase is going to change you as a person – physically, mentally, you name it. Technology will become a part of you, forever. Think about Elon’s Neuralink and iEDM. This will be covered over the coming years. We expect the beginning of the next phase in 2025.