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As we enter the era of data driven decisions, AI, predictive and prescriptive analytics where we are told algorithms will “eat the world” we all must remember the key purpose of these advancements is to put a single person at the center of the value chain.

Hospitals are trying to treat the patient as a consumer. Schools want to individualize the student journey. And, banks want to create a customer-centric experience. What each industry is saying is that in an era of increased digital engagement we need to restore humanity. The question and challenge though is how? Demographics? Big data? What drives human understanding?

We recently read this great article by Michael Rhodes of TD Bank who highlights their bank’s efforts at humanizing the digital experience. It is worth the time and attention.

Customers, students and patients are not numbers and they are not demographics. They are embodiments of their life experiences. To engage with them we need to know who they are and what makes them tick. This understanding, which we use in day to day human interaction is key to overcoming obstacles and creating more relevant, contextual and meaningful experiences.

The sooner we understand that the digital channel is just that: a link to the person, the better off we all will be in driving real demonstrable value.