Digital will boost like never before, but the offline world will boost even more.

I love online tools. I’m a big fan of technology. Asking Siri and Alexa for music is part of my daily routine. I love those things. But there is more to technology than the gadget aspect, of course. It really makes my life more efficient and more fun. During this Corona crisis we are all heavily relying on our tech. Never before have so many people worked from home. The number of virtual meetings is booming. This morning, we had our first virtual board meeting for our company Nexxworks and to be honest, it went well and we rather liked it. The process was very efficient and nobody had to lose time travelling to a fixed location. It could very well be that in the future, once this crisis is over, we will still hold virtual board meetings. Thank God for these digital tools, imagine a world of quarantine without all our digital assets of todays world.

Without any doubt, this crisis is the biggest educational program ever for the usage of online tools. Today people have time to try them out and the urgency for adoption is there as well. My parents finally learned to use FaceTime to have conversations with their grand children. Before the crisis, they didn’t feel the need to try it out. Today it has become urgent.

This crisis will boost e-commerce as well. Amazon recently announced they were hiring 100,000 new employees to keep up with rising demand. This gives you an indication of how much this already huge player will grow in the future. So online tools, virtual meetings and e-commerce will benefit from the Corona crisis. Barriers for virtual meetings and e-commerce are massively being removed and they will never return again.

 

The end? No, this is not the final conclusion.

 

I told you I’m a big fan of online and digital. The last ten years I have spent my life writing books and giving keynotes about the role of digital in customer experience. But If I am really honest with you, I have to admit that I miss the offline world more than ever. I miss hanging out with colleagues & friends and I miss the audiences that I always had the privilege to speak in front of in my life as a keynote speaker. Giving a presentation via a webinar is great and I’m happy that we have them, but they don’t compare to a real-life event. Seeing and feeling the presence of other people creates a different dynamic altogether. A virtual board meeting with the Nexxworks team is efficient and it works, but it’s not fun. The small talk, the jokes, the body language is just not there. I miss that.

You know, there is this old economic law that comes into play here: the law of scarcity. When something becomes scarce, it increases in value. Interhuman interactions are at an all-time low and because of that, human interaction has never been more valuable. I am convinced that when this whole crisis is under control, we will go out to meet with each other in real life. More than ever we will feel the need to socialize. Once it is safe to have a drink with friends, we will cherish the occasion. And I can’t wait to reunite our children with their grandparents. Facetime is a good alternative for a few weeks, but it only goes so far. A few months ago, so many people were dreaming about working from home, but the happiest day in 2020 will be the day that we can go back to the office. More than ever, we will appreciate our human connections.

We can wait until it’s safe but we can’t replace these human interactions with digital tools. That will never happen and this crisis has made that abundantly clear. Don’t get me wrong: of course I’m still a HUGE believer in digitale interfaces. After this crisis, we will still all use zoom more than before the crisis. Home delivery of food will really take of now and that won’t decrease. But at the same time, the offline world will florish more than ever. The positive energy that the real world brings cannot be replaced by any virtual platform. So yes, the Corona virus will boost the digital world, but it will also increase our appreciation of everything that happens in real life.