The Digital Future

Kevin Benedict

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I love receiving gifts in the form of new insights!  It doesn't matter if others received the same gift years ago and I am just getting it now.  If it is new to me, I get excited.  It is like waking up in the morning and discovering a new room in your house.  I read an article by Thomas Friedman in the New York Times this weekend titled, "And Now for a Bit of Good News."  The subject of the article was the new "sharing economy," think Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, etc.  In the article, Friedman calls Airbnb a "Trust Platform."  To me, this weekend, this term was a gift.  He is so right.

I have used Airbnb many times when traveling with my family, and to date have been very pleased with our experiences.  Often the transactions are sizeable as I am reserving a home in a desirable location for a week.  I am engaging in a transaction of some size with a person I don't know, in a home I have never visited, most often in a foreign country using different currency, involving different laws and customs.  Why did I risk it?  I trusted the platform.

The travel and hospitality industry is experiencing an incredible amount of digital transformation already.  Hotels are competing for best mobile app experience, fastest broadband Internet connections, Apple device support in the rooms, and increasingly they are digitizing and mobilizing the check-in and check-out experiences to improve the user's overall experience and convenience.

Competition amongst business class hotels like Marriott, Hilton, Starwood etc., was traditionally focused around a certain quality of environment, convenience and a standardized experience for the business traveler.  Business travelers trusted the brands to provide them with their expected experience. In business and in travel there is enough inherent chaos.  The business traveler does not want additional chaos from their hotels.  They want a trusted experience.  I am speaking from personal experience.

Business class hotels have built their brands on trust.  They have invested heavily for decades in their "trust" level.  This "trustonomics" or the economic value of trust was substantial and represented a barrier to entry for start-ups.  I can imagine incumbents felt pretty secure in their position of trust and the trustonomics it represented.  Today, however, competing digital "trust" platforms are emerging.  The reputations that took incumbents decades and hundreds of millions to establish can be challenged by digital "trust" platforms seemingly overnight.

The trustonomics model in the travel and hospitality industry is changing all around us.  It will be interesting to watch how the incumbents respond.  Will they get defensive and attempt to minimize up-and-coming digital "trust platforms," or attempt to delay them through political lobbying and legal restrictions, or choose to respond with their own digital "trust platforms."

I wonder how much economic value "trust" really represents?  Although Airbnb is not targeting the hardcore business traveler today, the sharing economy and emerging digital "trust" platforms represents a major shift in the economic value of "trust" in this industry.  As both companies and consumers more effectively use data or "Code Halos" to build trust in each other, even more digital transformations will be expected.

Are there other industries where start-up "trust platforms" and effective "Code Halos" strategies will digitally transform the market and introduce a different trustonomics model?

Kevin Benedict
Writer, Speaker, Editor
Senior Analyst, Digital Transformation, EBA, Center for the Future of Work Cognizant
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Recommended Strategy Book Code Halos
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***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and digital transformation analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

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Kevin Benedict serves as the Senior Vice President, Solutions Strategy, at Regalix, a Silicon Valley based company, focused on bringing the best strategies, digital technologies, processes and people together to deliver improved customer experiences, journeys and success through the combination of intelligent solutions, analytics, automation and services. He is a popular writer, speaker and futurist, and in the past 8 years he has taught workshops for large enterprises and government agencies in 18 different countries. He has over 32 years of experience working with strategic enterprise IT solutions and business processes, and he is also a veteran executive working with both solution and services companies. He has written dozens of technology and strategy reports, over a thousand articles, interviewed hundreds of technology experts, and produced videos on the future of digital technologies and their impact on industries.