Yesterday, @sweetsudha1 shared this hilarious evolution of Deepavali wishes over the years.
As I laughed, I realized she had shared something very profound.
Over time, Technology has rendered full-service transactions into self-service transactions. We are good with this transition – it saves us time, effort, and costs. We had to visit Banks for withdrawals. ATMs made this more accessible as we just had to drive over to the nearest kiosk with our Card. Desktops allowed us to do our transactions from home – so we didn’t have the bother of going to the ATM now. And today, Mobile apps enable you to transact anywhere – and you don’t even need to type stuff, you can just talk, and the App will do your bidding. It’s hard to see where this evolution isn’t helpful. Lower costs, convenience – on any parameter, it comes out on tops. You can extend this to other areas – taxis (hail a cab from your Uber app instead of going to the taxi stand), shopping (amazon as opposed to the store), food (have it cooked and delivered to your taste as opposed to visiting the restaurants). All full services are becoming productized – and we are the beneficiary.
But in her tweet, there is a fascinating context. Deepavali is a festival, a period of leisure and friendship. Leisure demands our attention – that’s what makes it worthwhile. You stroll to the beach – for walking – there’s no other reason. If adventure travel is your thing – you do it because you like it. If you take the effort and the personal touch out of the interaction, you render the experience sterile. It’s worth ensuring that we don’t end up killing the experience while attempting to productize a hobby!
Companies like IKEA use experience (drive to the big warehouse on the outskirts of town, choose and transport the furniture components to your home and then build the table yourself) as their differentiator for business too. The customer pays for the experience of building stuff – for the customer’s experience and sense of fulfillment.
I’ll leave you with that thought. I feel we should be careful about productizing “personal” experiences out of the equation. Doing so may risk robbing us of our identity – we come alive when we interact with people and celebrate – we are a social animal after all!
Would you agree?