Between Trump and 'the rocket man', aka Kim ...., the truly awful earthquake in Mexico, ongoing misery from the storm Maria, and the jaw-dropping lack of care, experienced by many thousands of travellers caught up in the Ryanair debacle, there's no shortage of fear, despondency and gloom in our world this week.
Amidst all of this there were some amazing science and medical stories to provide some respite and take our minds into a different zone, perhaps ponder possibilities. My favourite story was the birth of Molly (which means miracle) to mum Tess after several failed rounds of IVF and years after her menopause. No amount of profiling, research or stats could ever have predicted this event, seemingly impossible, yet like so much of our human experience, continues to surprise and shock us in equal measure.
We learned this week that Artificial Intelligence can be trained to spot structural changes in the brain linked to Alzheimer’s disease nearly 10 years before doctors can diagnose it through symptoms. According to New Scientist, a team at the University of Bari in Italy has developed a machine learning algorithm that is able to spot alterations in how different regions of the brain are connected – alterations that could be early signs of the disease.
At any level this is surely an incredible breakthrough, however I was interested to read some negative comments questioning the usefulness of enhanced knowledge, without a cure or critically adequate care facilities for sufferers and carers for this burgeoning condition. In other words seeking commensurate effort to caring and curing as finding out more.
This strikes a chord in today's data driven world where it sometimes feels as though we are being continually bled of all our personal information, but there doesn't seem to be a fair exchange of value in terms of a better service in return.
Take the Ryanair experience, like all airlines they know everything about their passengers, return dates, ages of passengers; perhaps even including forward car-hire arrangements and hotels booked, this being used to profile and market us even more services. And yet, when things go wrong, Ryanair's response was to treat their customers like random strangers, forcing them to expend all the effort in sorting out the mess caused not by them but wholly by Ryanair.
Depressingly, one financial expert urged investors to buy shares as 'the balls up will bounce back' affirming a belief (based on recent experiences) that we will forgive and forget in return for cheap flights. The jury's out in this one, our tolerance has surely been tested beyond this time.
My final medical research story is all about the assumptions we make based on consumer research and customer profiling. Baby boomers are wealthy; digital natives are self-managing and never need to speak to anyone; the elderly like to speak and won't go online. Increasing NPS is the only evidence we need that our ship is in good shape. Sound familiar?
Researchers from Nipissing University in Canada looked at how different facial features affect sexual behaviours. A sample of 314 students who are romantically involved were polled. We learned from the results that men with broader than normal faces are more sexually driven, likely to have affairs, and are more aggressive. Wayne Rooney was cited as an example of such a fit. Although the findings seem to be conclusive, some commentators have questioned the claims saying that there are too many variables, but it nevertheless demonstrates how we love to segment and categorise and often retro-fit supporting evidence to our existing beliefs. Although come to think of it Donald Trump and Kim fit the description. Let's not go there, it's way too depressing!
Conversations with the CCA network over the last week have all centred around the need to find out who is doing what in breaking down the barriers to digital success, and how to win the business case based on credible evidence.
As ever there's no substitute to sharing experiences and introducing serious challengers to the whole debate so make sure you join us at the highlight of the year, CCA Annual Convention. More than 350 leading customer service minds will convene to explore new concepts, exchange ideas and ultimately look to break down the insight to make sense for our business and colleagues as we work to realise our future service ambitions.