We stopped the conversation for two decades: AI is bringing it back

We stopped the conversation for two decades: AI is bringing it backThe first two decades of the “online century” were about forcing interactions with customers into forms and websites–the silent and rigid channels–because we believed we couldn’t afford conversations. We didn’t really want people to come into offices and we didn’t really want people to call up.

We believed we couldn’t afford it. We now know that we can’t run a business or government or interact with the community without conversations.

We stopped the conversation. Or at least we tried to.

Citizen-centric or customer-centric in the first two decades of the century was redefined; ‘go online’ was the mantra, it will be faster, cheaper, easier.

Every organization large and small, including governments and individuals, raced to stake out their place on the Internet–linking documents, linking information, a place to showcase their brand, sell products, tell the citizen or the customer what government or the brand was doing for them.

Remember the catch cry from ‘inline to online?’ But the reality became ‘inline’ to ‘online to ‘on hold.’

And so it began.

The silent nightmare

As big economic players, the direction by governments in the year 2000 to go online translated into “put all high-volume transactions online.”

Organizations flung open their doors and put everything online, like hanging the washing out on the front porch. Uncurated. No transformation. The complexity was pushed out onto the citizen.

Websites unleashed an unimagined nightmare of complexity onto the citizen–great lists of forms, even lists of apps, lots of information nested in a hierarchy of web pages, beautifully bureaucratically and legally written but not easily found or even understood.

The forms industry boomed. To get a sense of the forms nightmare that lurks today, just search any government website for “forms.”

With the proliferation of websites came the strategic response–portals, the mega websites that would consume and link to all other websites. A structured response to a structured nightmare.

Everything vacuumed into the portal and a labyrinth of feeding websites A hierarchy of everything where people would be able to find things.

Not so, according to Glenn Archer, former Australian Government CIO, who said that expectations for usage of ‘one stop shop’ portals have not been met.

This is the structured era, a world of data, forms, formats, websites, apps and mega portals.

And what about the lost souls stuck in this maze? We have all been there.