This is a short story from the future.
A1 Books recently deployed a revolutionary new system, iDarpan. Jeni, the eCommerce head, is eagerly waiting to see it in action. Across the city, Arun, an avid reader and a regular patron of the A1 Books website, settles in for his nightly digital exploration. As his fingers move across the tablet screen, unbeknownst to him, ArunDT, his digital alter ego, comes to life in the iDarpan world, the virtual avatar of the A1 book store.
ArunDT is a replica of Arun’s literary predilections and purchasing tendencies. Interacting with A1 Book’s virtual catalog, ArunDT browses through a collection of the latest mystery novels. It remains a step ahead, anticipating ArunDT’s actions and being ready with the next set of books he would like to purchase.
In the physical world, Arun activates the A1 Books app on his tablet. A personalized welcome message is followed by a meticulously curated list of mystery novels. This list includes some of his favorite authors and promising newcomers catering to his literary palate. Arun’s eyes light up as he wonders how the website has gauged his reading mood while eagerly adding them to his cart.
Meanwhile, Jeni observes the seamless operation from the control center with a satisfied smile. iDarpan has performed its task flawlessly. The AI correctly predicted Arun’s reading preferences, enhancing his browsing experience and increasing the likelihood of a purchase. The promise of a superior, tailored customer experience is being fulfilled.
As Arun browses the website, real-time insights from ArunDT allow A1 Books to offer timely recommendations. The second Arun completes reading a book description, a strategically placed pop-up suggests another novel that may pique his interest. Arun engages with the pop-up, eventually adding two more books to his cart.
Jeni is delighted with the results. Thanks to the iDarpan system and ArunDT’s predictive accuracy, the duration of Arun’s browsing session increased by 15%, while the value of his purchase rose by 30%. iDarpan promises to be a game changer and a profit amplifier. Affectionately dubbed PxL by Jeni, it is the dawn of a new eCommerce era.
Later that night, as Arun drifts off to sleep, he dreams about the enthralling narratives and new worlds that await him in his new books. In the digital realm, ArunDT, emulating its counterpart, shuts down for the day. However, when Arun accesses his tablet again for more literary gems, ArunDT will be ready with a perfectly tailored e-mail, seamlessly transitioning Arun’s commerce experience to his inbox.
For Jeni, iDarpan is like a secret weapon, working tirelessly to ensure that every customer’s experience with A1 Books is exceptional.
I recently came across this in the Scientific American.
“Martha is an octogenarian who lives independently and uses a wheelchair. Each object in her home is digitally cataloged. Sensors and devices controlling objects are internet-enabled, and a digital map of her home has been merged with the object map. As Martha moves around the house, the lights switch on, and the ambient temperature adjusts accordingly. The wheelchair would also slow down if Martha’s cat crossed her path.
When Martha enters the kitchen, the table moves, improving her access to the refrigerator and stove. It then moves back once she is ready to eat. Her furniture can even prevent her from falling by shifting to protect her and then sending an alert to her son and the local monitoring station in case of a mishap.
At the heart of this scenario is ‘spatial computing,’ the next step in the convergence of the physical and digital worlds. It does everything virtual reality and augmented reality applications do, such as:
- Digitize objects that connect via the cloud.
- Allow sensors and motors to reach one another.
- Digitally represent the real world.
It combines these capabilities with high-fidelity spatial mapping, enabling a computer coordinator to track and control movements and interactions as the individual navigates through the physical and digital worlds. Spatial computing can bring human-machine and machine-machine interactions unprecedented levels of efficiency in several walks of life. These include industry, healthcare, transportation, and home. Several major companies, including Microsoft and Amazon, have heavily invested in the technology.
Like virtual and augmented reality, spatial computing builds on the ‘digital twin’ concept from computer-aided design (CAD). In CAD, engineers create a digital representation of an object. This digital twin can be used to 3D-print the object, create new versions, provide virtual training, or join it with other digital objects and create a virtual world.
Spatial computing makes digital twins of objects as well as people and locations. It uses GPS, LIDAR (light detection and ranging), video, and other geolocation technologies to create a digital map of a room, building, or city. Software algorithms integrate the digital map with sensor data and digital representations of objects and people. This creates a digital world that can be observed, quantified, and manipulated, and also manipulate the real world.”
Digital twins in marketing
As I was reading this, I thought about the possibility of digital twins in marketing. I know the idea is used in manufacturing, but what about marketing? This is what I will explore in this series. Can brands and marketplaces that have our data create a digital twin for each of us? Could they use that to predict our next best action? Could a digital twin help brands personalize their offerings to us?
In some ways, Adtech platforms are already doing this when they show us ads. Could this be expanded to Martech? Generative AI uses large language models to predict the next word. Could a ‘large customer model’ help marketers predict the next step in a customer’s journey? It could even simulate the various paths customers are likely to take.
What would a future of digital twins look like? I think of this as iDarpan, inspired by an idea about mirror worlds I came across 30 years ago. (Darpan means mirror in Hindi.)
Continued in Part 2