To get omnichannel personalization right companies have to overcome some barriers and drive growth taking the following five steps. (Mc Kinsey)

Personalization across physical and digital channels is the next big marketing opportunity. The secret is figuring out how they best work together.

When it comes to personalization, the next digital frontier is in the physical world. As surprising as that may sound, companies that are able to personalize the customer experience across physical and digital channels—omnichannel personalization—can achieve a 5 to 15 percent revenue increase across the full customer base.

While the focus of personalization efforts has generally been the customer’s online journey, in industries such as retail, convenience, grocery, and hospitality, more than 80 percent of sales occur in a physical location (Exhibit 1). Getting better at personalizing the offline journey is just part of the answer. The best companies are focused on improving how they personalize the on- and offline journey together.

We strive to provide individuals with disabilities equal access to our website. If you would like information about this content we will be happy to work with you. Please email us at:

Barriers to omnichannel personalization

Many companies recognize the need for omnichannel personalization, but a number of reasons tend to stop them from carrying through on it:

  • Assumption of large technology investments with far-off return on investment. Personalizing the in-person experience requires enabling digital touchpoints (which often don’t exist) in locations such as customer-facing digital screens, kiosks, or tablets for store associates to use. Further, many companies are still working to strengthen the links across their marketing tech stack and on-site systems such as inventory management, which together enable better omnichannel personalization features. Putting the tech to work—both hardware and software—can feel like a large investment of time and resources.
  • Difficulty of delivering seamless customer experiences and training employees. Personalizing the in-person experience often results in changes to the customer-journey flow, which, if not done thoughtfully, can hurt the customer experience. The bar is high in making the physical experience intuitive and simple for the customer—such as signing in at a kiosk, downloading and engaging with an app, or providing information to an associate in a live interaction. The front line needs training to understand and reinforce the customer benefit of these new journey steps.
  • Complex organizational and cultural shifts. Omnichannel personalization requires companies to rethink their organizational structure, capabilities, and incentives across the digital and physical parts of the business. This shift can happen only when incentives are aligned with outcomes and measurement is done across online and in-store channels. Traditionally, however, companies operate their digital and physical channels independently, each with its own strategy, goals, and ownership of the results. There is little incentive for one channel to support the others. Further, channel-specific teams lack visibility into what’s happening elsewhere, which prohibits meaningful collaboration.

Getting omnichannel personalization right

To overcome these barriers and drive growth, companies should take the following five steps.

1. Define the omnichannel personalization strategy and learning agenda

The best companies have a crystal-clear understanding of the key influence moments in the customer journey, from generating awareness pre-visit to converting during visit to deepening engagement post-visit. They then identify the desired business outcomes at each step of the journey: incremental trips, basket size, and/or customer satisfaction. Finally, they prioritize the use cases to start testing based on ability to deliver business benefit and value to the customer. Here are a few ways companies have done this effectively:

  • Driving traffic and awareness pre-visit. Whole Foods wanted to build brand awareness and drive traffic to new locations, and especially attract new customers, a key element of its strategy. The company deployed geofenced notifications to drive store visits when customers were near either a Whole Foods store or a competitor’s. Roughly 5 percent of those who engaged with the notification visited a store, which is three times more than the industry average for post-click conversion.1 Driving traffic to stores via retailers’ apps is still a relatively untapped opportunity. In a recent analysis McKinsey conducted in a large US city, fewer than 25 percent of retailers attempted to draw their engaged app users into the store when they were nearby. Of course, companies need to exercise extreme care when utilizing pop-up notifications, to avoid message dilution and customer dissatisfaction. Nevertheless, contextualized messages will still drive traffic to stores when deployed correctly and selectively.
  • Converting during visit. McDonald’s had identified increasing order size as a core element of its strategy, which led the chain to integrate the physical and digital worlds at its drive-thru facilities. It implemented decisioning-engine technology on the drive-thru menu boards to tailor the menu based on time of day, trending items, location, and weather. These efforts have made the ordering experience easier, driven stronger conversion, and increased basket size, as customers can more easily find the products they want and purchase additional recommended products.
  • Deepening engagement post-visit. Sephora’s strategy to increase its customer base led the company to make efforts to increase store visits. It sent location-based notifications to mobile-app users, reminding customers of reasons to visit local stores. These notifications could be tailored to customers’ communication preferences or time since last visit, to keep the retailer top of mind.

2. Address five digital touchpoints to help activate personalized experiences in the physical environment

To achieve omnichannel personalization based on identified use cases, companies need to connect digital and physical footprints. Companies should focus on five touchpoints where this convergence happens: mobile app, digital displays, interactive screens, tech-enabled associates, and point of sale (Exhibit 2).

We strive to provide individuals with disabilities equal access to our website. If you would like information about this content we will be happy to work with you. Please email us at:

By systematically evaluating the consumer impact of these touchpoints, organizations can understand customer behaviors and develop more effective two-way communication strategies. For these interactions to be effective, however, companies need to identify customers accurately, typically through self-identification or digital identification. Customers can be identified automatically via location tracking on their app or through a wearable device or by means of visual recognition (which varies by market due to legal issues), or they can self-identify with a digital screen or by talking to an associate. Prompting a customer to self-identify should be done as openly as possible, such as by asking for an email address or phone number, with a tangible benefit to the customer in return, such as a personalized offer, free services such as Wi-Fi or phone charging, or a promotion. The point of sale also provides a natural opportunity to encourage customers to identify themselves in return for incentives such as tying purchases to a loyalty account or getting an e-receipt.

To get the most out of these five touchpoints, companies should consider how the digital and physical channels can best reinforce each other to deliver a great customer journey. For example, in hospitality, most bookings occur online—but the in-person experience is the primary part of the customer journey. Hotels use “tap” apps and interactive screens to provide a personalized omnichannel experience before, during, and after the customer’s visit. There are also opportunities to expand the apps’ use to additional personalization use cases (Exhibit 3).

We strive to provide individuals with disabilities equal access to our website. If you would like information about this content we will be happy to work with you. Please email us at:

3. Use an omnichannel decisioning engine to deliver experiences and measure performance

To accurately and quickly identify the next best action to take with each customer, companies need a decisioning engine using artificial intelligence or machine learning. Over time, as the decisioning engine ingests and adapts to more data on customer behavior and sales metrics, such as store offers, inventory, and web publishing, for example, its business logic improves, and the engine becomes more successful in providing what customers want. Many organizations have already laid the foundation for a decisioning engine by investing in marketing platforms and embedding analytics and data into their decision making.

For example, if a customer has opted to be identified through an app or facial recognition, the decisioning engine can automatically push specific offers or messages once the customer enters a store or other physical location. Even when a customer hasn’t been identified, a decisioning engine can make real-time decisions based on contextual, location, or basket-level data. Weather conditions, time of day, trending purchases in a specific location, or complementary basket items (“Customers who purchased this item also purchased . . .”) are all automated via the engine. As the engine becomes more sophisticated, even more test opportunities become possible. The key is designing thoughtful tests that allow the measurement of both online and offline impact—for example, capturing the journey of a customer who works in person with a tech-enabled associate but actually purchases after receiving a follow-up email with personalized recommendations.

4. Implement agile operating practices

Moving to personalized marketing requires more than better tech; it calls for a fundamentally new way of working.

Agile marketing teams, or pods, bring together different functions to work collaboratively to achieve omnichannel personalization goals. They generally include data scientists to measure performance, marketing teams to build test hypotheses, marketing-technology experts to help execute, and team members who represent the offline channels (touchpoint-specific product leaders for mobile app, kiosks, and interactive screens, for example), on-site operations managers who take the lead on training frontline personnel, and hardware and software technologists to address technology solutions. The best agile teams focus on specific consumer segments or journeys (new shopper, shopper returning a product), iterating with customers on new services, offers, and experiences in a process of rapid learning and adapting.

Assembling this cross-functional team promotes joint ownership of the customer journey, rather than a single department being responsible for each isolated touchpoint. The team then works quickly, brainstorming ideas and hypotheses with the existing data, designing and prioritizing omnichannel personalization tests, executing, and measuring the results across channels to gain insights, all with the support of leadership.

5. Activate omnichannel personalization in the field

Bringing all these steps together to capture the full value of omnichannel personalization requires an aligned and trained sales force. In-person teams can make (or break) the experience, so it’s critical that frontline personnel actively support personalization efforts, understand their value, and learn to use digital to deliver the complete omnichannel experience. For example, one retailer gave in-store associates a sales-assist tool on a tablet and conducted targeted training that helped them use it to better support customers and upsell products and services. The reward was clear: average basket size increased by 5 percent in the test stores.

Training cannot be done once. The best companies provide online and offline training at least quarterly and supplement that with a culture of continual feedback to continue to build skills and ensure that changes stick. Further, top omnichannel performers ensure that incentives are aligned with key performance indicators, such as number of customers contacted, percent of customers who make a purchase, and additional products sold.

Omnichannel personalization is challenging, but it need not be overwhelming. Instead of waiting to develop a complete system, companies should start small, with the highest-value use cases and existing touchpoints, to prove its value. That’s a proven model for success and one that companies will need to develop as the lines between the digital and physical worlds continue to blend.

About the author(s)

Gal Gitter is a director of new capability in McKinsey’s Philadelphia office; Meg Raymond is a consultant in the San Francisco office, where Kelsey Robinson is a partner; and Jamie Wilkie is a partner in the Boston office.

How Teens are spending their times: Understanding Gen Z’s Devices and Digital Usage

Relating to and connecting with teens—the core of Gen Z—can be confusing. For marketers, reaching this cohort starts with understanding how and where teens spend their time.

Smartphones Reign Supreme

Teens are all about staying connected, and smartphones make it easy—especially as the age at which children and teens get these devices continues to trend downward.

We previously estimated that in 2013, just 49.6% of all 12- to 17-year-olds had a smartphone. In 2020, that figure will jump to 83.2%. A March 2019 survey by Comparitech found that 73.0% of parents said their kids had a smartphone by ages 11 to 13, and 31.0% said their kids had one between ages 6 and 10.

Tech Device Ownership of US Children and Teens, March 2019 (% of respondents)<

Phones are the first sense of freedom a teen likely enjoys, so it’s no surprise that they rank the device as their favorite form of technology. According to a January 2019 report by marketing agency Fuse, nearly half (48%) of teens surveyed cited mobile phones as their favorite technology, topping gaming (27%) and social media (20%).

Less Impressive Are Wearables and Voice Assistants

Knowing nothing other than constant connectivity, teens—true digital natives—are perhaps less impressionable than older generations when it comes to new gadgets or features.

“They’re surrounded by technology, stuff is being introduced on a weekly basis,” said Bill Carter, a partner at Fuse. “They see it, and it’s just not all that impressive to them.”

Low wearable penetration among teens illustrates their less-than-impressed mindset. We estimate that just 14.7% of those ages 12 to 17 will be smart wearable users in 2020, compared with 36.0% of those 18 to 24 and 38.2% of those 25 to 34. Lower penetration is also likely influenced by parental reluctance to buy more than one pricey device for their teens.

Similarly, just 18.6% of 12- to 17-year-olds will be smart speaker users this year—less than half the levels among those ages 18 to 24 (35.1%) and 25 to 34 (42.5%). Just 36.4% of 12-to-17s will be voice assistant users vs. more than half of 18-to-34s.

“They’re not seeing the value in certain kinds of technology that other consumer groups and age cohorts are,” Carter said. Citing new voice technology as an example, he added that there are “not that many use cases for it to actually make their life any easier.”

How Much Time Is Spent Online?

Almost all US teens are internet users; we forecast that 97.4% of 12- to 17-year-olds will use the internet at least once a month in 2020. But that doesn’t mean that all their time is spent online (at least not according to teens themselves, who may not be the most reliable judges when it comes to how much time they really spend online).

In YouGov polling from September 2019, more than half of respondents ages 13 to 17 self-reported going online for less than 2 hours on a typical day, while roughly three in 10 reported spending 3 or more hours.

Daily Time Spent Online by US Teens, Sep 2019 (% of respondents)<img class=”cb-widget-chart_placeholder” src=”data:;base64,

And contrary to what older folks may think, teens aren’t just spending time “Snapchatting” friends or scrolling through Instagram. In polling for a 2019 report by the Girl Scout Research Institute, 68% of girls and 59% of boys ages 11 to 17 endorsed the statement, “I have discovered a new talent or interest [by exploring online].” And 60% of girls and 51% of boys agreed that they are “more connected to social issues and causes [because of the internet].”

YouTube and Netflix Top Charts with Teens

On whatever device they’re using, teens are big on video. We estimate that 93.7% of 12- to 17-year-olds in the US will be digital video viewers in 2020.

YouTube is a mainstay of teens’ digital activities. March 2019 polling by the National Research Group (NRG) identified 92% of 13- to 17-year-olds as weekly viewers. And in the fall 2019 edition of Piper Jaffray’s twice-yearly “Taking Stock with Teens” polling, the average share of time teens spent with YouTube (37%) edged past that of Netflix (35%) for the first time since at least fall 2017.

Share of Daily Time Spent Viewing Video Content Among US Teens, by Platform, Fall 2017-Fall 2019 (% of respondents)

“We believe YouTube offers a much wider scope of content that is of interest to teens, including music videos, video game streaming, celebrity streaming and other user-generated content,” said Mike Olson, managing director and senior research analyst at Piper Jaffray.

But Netflix remains a major presence for teens, as 71% of US internet users ages 13 to 17 reported viewing the platform on a weekly basis, according to the NRG report.

TV Still Matters

Amid all of this digital usage, it is easy to overlook traditional media like TV, but the time teens spend in front of the television isn’t negligible.

We estimate that 12- to 17-year-olds will average roughly 81 minutes per day watching TV in 2020, 10 minutes fewer than that of 2019.

Similarly, Nielsen data for Q1 2019 showed 12- to 17-year-olds averaging more than an hour a day viewing live TV.

The three major trends that will drive customer experience in the next decade


Steven Van Belleghem B W

Steven is an expert in customer focus in a digital world and in how our customers will behave in the Day After Tomorrow. He is a popular speaker at home and abroad. In his keynote… 

“The ‘easy’ years of customer experience are behind us. Yes, we’ve seen truly spectacular changes in service levels in the past two decades, but I foresee even bigger challenges in the next ten years. Just think of how developing a LinkedIn communication strategy is a whole lot easier than developing an AI-driven one in order to offer near real time and highly personalized services.

I love to give this example of ‘love brand’ Starbucks in my keynotes: it has been striving to give its customers access to their favorite drinks, anywhere and at any time. Let that sink in for a moment. We’re talking about hot drinks (or ice-cold drinks that will melt in summertime). Waiting for an hour won’t do here. But if you think that Starbuck’s dream of near real-time delivery is ridiculous, just know that the Chinese logistics company Meituan-Dianping, the world’s most advanced, according to FastCompany – is very close to it today. It is able to deliver orders in less than 30 minutes to the consumer’s current location through efficient collaboration with both the end consumer and with their various B2B partners. No surprise that Starbucks is eagerly looking eastwards for inspiration. This is exactly the type of tour de force that you’ll be up against in the coming years.

A rise in expectations in 3 domains

All of these new digital and logistic possibilities increase the complexity for companies, but at the same time, they also create an unprecedented level of customer service. And this, of course, leads to a significant rise in expectations. Remember when we only needed one USP (unique selling proposition) to survive: great location, the lowest price or friendliest service? These days, though, I’m finding that consumers expect both a good service and a competitive price. And the internet has made ‘location’ a lot less relevant.

I like to group these continuously rising customer expectations into three distinct domains: time, hopes and fears:

  1. TIME: These days, time has evolved into a scarce commodity (we all wish we had more time to spend with our family, dine with friends or enjoy a forest walk) and customers expect companies help save them their precious time.
  2. HOPES: Our customers all have different personal dreams and ambitions – saving for a home, travel to the Andes, or even pay off their college debts – and they expect more and more that companies help them achieve these.
  3. FEARS: But are concerned, too: global warming, the new ‘cold war’ between the United States and China, the volatile situation in the middle east, the refugee problem, Brexit and many other macro-economic conflicts. More and more customers expect companies to tackle these issues. I talked about this with my long-time friend, ‘purposeful business and marketing’ advocate and FLRISH co-founder Herman Toch in one of my latest podcast conversations. You can check it here.

So companies are standing on the brink of an enormous challenge to answer to these huge expectations. That may be scary, but it’s above all very exciting, because trying to do so will multiply your company’s impact by 10X: it’s no longer just about selling great goods and services. Or even about offering an ultrapersonal and spectacular customer experience. These have just evolved into the new minimum. In the coming years, it will be about helping consumers become who they want to be, on a planet and in a society that they want to save and cherish.

The way I see it, there are three well-defined strategies you can use to answer to the modern customer’s expectations, all of which I will also tackle (among other things) in my upcoming keynote at the next nexxworks Kickstart Innovation Bootcamp in May:

  1. Offer Time (by saving time) – Fully automate transactions so that they become invisible and frictionless;
  2. Answer Hopes – Become a true partner in the life of your customers;
  3. Solve Fears – Change the world together

1. Automate transactions so that they become invisible and frictionless

Time is the customer’s scarcest commodity and the big technological unicorns understand this like no one else. Take Amazon, for instance, freeing up customer time with its ‘one click order’, ‘dash button’ and the automated ‘Amazon Go stores’. Technology frees up the most time when it’s ‘invisible’, working in the background without customers noticing it, or even having to consciously interact. So I believe that as the years tick by, customer interfaces will slowly disappear and blend into the background.

In the very near future, these interfaces will switch to a perfectly working ‘digital butler’. Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant, for instance, are early signs of this. For now, they are far from perfect, but with a little imagination, we can all see how the next generation of these AI-assistants will become a common aid in the daily life of the consumer. Theses digital butlers are the dishwashers of the 21st century. They ensure that people invest less time in the things that have to get done, so that they have more time for the things close to their hearts.

The next phase will consist of automatic and invisible interfaces, which will take decisions and execute commands without actual input from the consumer. It’s all done automatically. If you look carefully, there is already evidence of such ‘invisible interfaces’, like in the case of the app of my Belgian bank KBC: my favorite part is that it allows me to drive in an out of certain car parks without doing anything. I don’t need a ticket, and don’t need to pay for it at the pay terminal, the app does everything for me.

So I believe that every organization should be asking itself these questions:

  • Which customer interactions can we render invisible?
  • Which aspects of the process still require a relatively big effort, by the consumer?
  • And how can we use his or her time more efficiently?

2. Become a true partner in the life of your customers

Simon Sinek’s ‘Start with Why’ has become standard terminology in the global world of business. Every self-respecting company has regular discussions about their ‘why’?, and so they should. But the deeply flawed limitation of this ‘why’ exercise is that it emanates from within the company itself. What are WE going to do? Filling in the ‘why of the customer’, on the other hand, is largely virgin territory.

With the rising expectations of customers, we will have to think about this ‘emotional’ part – or this systems I thinking as Daniel Kahneman called it (as opposed to systems II thinking, which is our rational part) – too. Consumers are not just commercial creatures, needing us to save them time. We’ll need to address their entire persona to stay successful in the coming years, and their emotional needs, aspirations, worries and dreams are a huge part of them. Organizing yourself—as a company— to help realize those dreams or challenges is, perhaps, the biggest opportunity of the current era. The more you understand their context – data playing a crucial role here – the better you can see things, from their perspective.

And the better you can see things from their perspective, the more you’ll need to become involved in their lives. We have been seeing several early signs of this and this trend will only gain in importance. Being healthy, for instance, has become an important aspiration in these times of fast food, obesity and lack of movement. And a lot of players from other industries are starting to tackle this crucial customer need. Take Chinese insurance company Ping An, for instance, which launched affordable Ping An Good Doctor services. Amazon is developing its AI-assistant Alexa as an in-home health concierge. Apple is actively turning its consumer products into patient health hubs. All of them are jumping on this evolution as we speak, but the key question will be: how can you become a true partner in the life of consumers?

3. Save the world

But being a true life partner will not suffice. Consumers expect brands to take away their most primal fears (global warming, flooding, water shortage,…) and (help) solve world problems, too. They are fed up with the tradeoff: they don’t want to choose between convenience, privacy, saving time, their dreams or doing what’s good for the planet. They want it all. Many companies have already started projects aimed at making the world a better place. It’s encouraging to see how investments in sustainability and social projects, among others, have risen sharply over the past decade. Their efforts often need more work though: I see that often their projects are not part of the core business, and lack involvement from and collaboration with the customer. That has to change. But there are already great examples, like the success story of Tony Chocolonely, which has honesty and sustainability at its very core. The ‘doing good’ part does not just happen at the peripheries, it’s an intrinsic part of their product, their brand and their marketing.

Organizations that manage to get consumers to join a movement to save the world (in some small way), will add an extra layer to their customer relationship and make themselves more unforgettable in the process. Time to start thinking how you can join that movement.”

AdTech: 2 millions d’euros pour Qwarry et sa solution de ciblage publicitaire sans cookies


Qwarry, spécialisé dans le ciblage publicitaire via des données contextuelles, lève 2 millions d’euros auprès de Normandie ParticipationsWest Web Valley, Apicap et Crédit Agricole Innove en Normandie.

Fondé en 2019 par Geoffrey Berthon et Julie Walther, Qwarry développe une solution de ciblage publicitaire sans utiliser de cookies. La startup utilise la data sémantique pour permettre aux annonceurs de diffuser des publicités ciblées et en rapport avec le contenu que consomme l’utilisateur. L’entreprise normande indique qu’elle ne récolte ainsi pas de données privées comme l’identifiant, l’âge, le sexe, la localisation ou encore l’adresse e-mail. En revanche, Qwarry s’intéresse à la sémantique des sites Internets que les utilisateurs visitent pour permettre aux annonceurs d’établir leur stratégie. Basé sur un algorithme de deep learning, la solution de Qwarry permet d’ajuster une publicité en fonction des mots clés qui s’y trouvent.

Le poids du RGPD

«La sémantique nous permet d’offrir un ciblage unique car le message publicitaire est inséré selon le contenu lu en temps réel par les internautes et non pas en fonction de données précédemment collectées sur eux», décrit Julie Walther. La startup espère être au premier rang si les entreprises sont amenées à supprimer définitivement leurs cookies pour leur proposer une nouvelle solution. Rappelons que le RGPD exige que les cookies soient utilisés uniquement après consentement de l’utilisateur ciblé et que son modèle s’étend à l’international.

Au vu des dernières recommandations de la CNIL concernant les cookies publicitaires, Qwarry espère anticiper les besoins des entreprises qui souhaitent suivre ces recommandations. Dans le cadre de cette levée, la startup ambitionne d’ouvrir un pôle R&D à Caen et prévoit d’y recruter 30 collaborateurs. «Nous allons accélérer notre développement et proposer aux annonceurs, éditeurs et agences médias d’utiliser la data sémantique de Qwarry directement au sein de leurs propres outils publicitaires», commente Geoffrey Berthon.

Qwarry : les données clés

Fondateurs : Geoffrey Berthon et Julie Walther
Création : 2019
Siège social : Paris
Secteur : AdTech
Activité : solution de ciblage publicitaire via des données contextuelles

Use AI Ethically To Build Relationships, Not Data Warehouse

Follow Alan Trefler on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Alan Trefler

As technology evolves at a rapid rate – especially technology that incorporates artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities – so too does the potential for bias, disconnect, misuse of data, and the automation of impersonal actions or decisions. With the vast amounts of data collected, stored, and exchanged, capitalist societies risk the commoditization of personal data at the expense of the individual, instead of using personal data to foster valuable individual and societal relationships.

In business, AI and machine learning are increasingly used as part of smart systems that analyze large amounts of data to identify trends that will benefit the business, like capturing more consumers and increasing profits, as opposed to building long-lasting relationships. AI shouldn’t only be focused on the business’ bottom line. In fact, a recent AI and empathy survey by our company of 6,000 consumers from North America, the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, Germany, and France found that 69% of consumers think businesses have a moral obligation to do what’s right for the consumer, beyond what is legally required. Doing “what’s right” includes actions that factor into consideration for the individual or community. This can involve using AI to understand that a customer with large amounts of high-interest debt should not be aggressively marketed a new high-interest credit card, or leveraging AI-based quality analyses to identify production line flaws that need to be fixed to help ensure defective products don’t go to market.

AI makes decisions based on hundreds or thousands of propensity models and algorithms, but that data-centric decisioning, especially when put into action, should be informed by human-centric considerations. This way of operating requires empathy for the people and communities connected to a business. By building empathy into AI-based tools and operating them within an ethical framework, we can provide powerful insights that are more focused on the person, and not just the person’s data.

Today In: Innovation

An ethical framework is one created and guided by responsible humans, where AI-based analyses and decisions are transparent and understandable. It’s a framework that values human input as much as data analyses and may use human decisions as fail-safes. This type of human-machine partnership gives businesses the power to leverage infinite sources of big data plus ensure the knowledge extracted from this data is understandable and used in an appropriate context. It’s an empathetic approach that is beneficial on an individual, business, and societal level.

For example, one concern leaders in business and government continue to address is how to identify, understand, and improve circumstances for underserved populations. A 2018 Pew Research Center study on “Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Humans” suggests that one of the ways to help AI-based technology enhance human capacities, instead of lessening them, is to build empathy into AI-based systems so technology is in line with the society’s social and ethical responsibilities.

An emerging application in the U.S. of such an approach is using AI to analyze disparate amounts of social determinants of health (SDoH) data. Public and private organizations are analyzing contextual data such as neighborhood, environment, education, economic stability, and access to health and healthcare to identify communities with higher health-related risks. The data is then used to determine the best way to engage with these community members to improve individual and population health.

Societal and ethical applications of empathetic AI are also being used by research institutions like MIT to study what they call Deep Empathy. MIT’s program studies the use of AI-based tools to help people visualize and contextually understand suffering that may be happening in other areas of the world affected by a range of disasters.

Using AI within an ethical and empathetic framework is also important for helping to establish trust in our increasingly digital and tech-powered economy and grow trust for the business and government organizations that use these evolving technologies. In our aforementioned AI and empathy study, for example, 54% surveyed believe it’s possible for AI to be biased in decision making and 27% were concerned about the rise of robots and the potential enslavement of humanity. Both concerns illustrate different types of distrust in AI. By operating in a transparent, empathetic, and ethical framework, where humans help guide the application and evolution of AI technology, organizations can help allay fears of robot overlords or concerns about bias. The human element in the empathetic and ethical framework exists to help reduce bias and build inclusive analytical models. It also helps support and foster understanding and trust between humans and machines.

Being empathetic doesn’t mean compromising the evolution or application of technology nor does it mean sacrificing the bottom line. Greater, more long-term and beneficial economic success can be created by looking beyond the blinders of shareholder profit. If we are concerned about accelerating entrepreneurial, educational, and employment opportunities in the 4IR economy, we need to ensure that the person is valued as equally as their data.

Thibault de Barsy réunit les acteurs du paiement – (EMERGING PAYMENTS ASSOCIATION)


Thibault de Barsy, ex-CEO de Keytrade Bank Luxembourg, revient aux affaires en tant que directeur général de la nouvelle division continentale de l’Emerging Payments Association, basée à Londres. Son objectif est de rassembler les différents acteurs du paiement présents en Europe.

Un an – quasiment jour pour jour – après  son départ de la direction générale de Keytrade Bank Luxembourg , Thibault de Barsy revient au cœur de la place financière. Toujours passionné, comme il le confirme, «par la finance, la technologie et l’esprit entrepreneurial», il a reçu pour mission d’implanter l’Emerging Payments Association (EPA) au sein de l’Union européenne, depuis Luxembourg.

Cette association est basée à Londres où elle a été créée il y a dix ans pour mettre en réseau tous les acteurs de la chaîne du paiement, notamment tous ceux qui sont impliqués dans la digitalisation de la finance. Elle compte 150 membres. «L’EPA a atteint le stade de la maturité sur la Place britannique», explique Thibault de Barsy. «Elle ambitionnait de s’étendre en Europe continentale, ce qui a été accéléré dans le contexte du Brexit.»

L’EPA ambitionnait de s’étendre en Europe continentale, ce qui a été accéléré dans le contexte du Brexit.

Thibault de Barsy,  directeur général,  EPA EU

Le Bruxellois, arrivé au Luxembourg il y a six ans, a donc pris la direction générale et officiera également en tant que vice-président au sein du conseil d’administration de l’EPA EU. Un conseil au sein duquel prendra également place  Nicolas Mackel , le CEO de Luxembourg for Finance, qui a joué un rôle d’intermédiaire pour l’implantation de l’association.

LFF est d’ailleurs considéré comme membre fondateur. Parmi les autres membres fondateurs, Thibault de Barsy pointe les deux géants des cartes de crédit, Visa et Mastercard, ainsi que la société britannique Banking Circle, dont le CEO est également le président de l’EPA à Londres. Pour la fin 2020, il espère avoir rassemblé 25 membres.

«L’EPA cherchait un pays avec une grande tradition financière et qui soit également neutre. En tant que carrefour, le Luxembourg était le choix idéal», poursuit le responsable, qui prend officiellement ses fonctions ce 13 février au sein de la Lhoft.

Sa première mission sera de partir à la chasse aux membres afin de pouvoir créer, comme à Londres, un véritable écosystème de l’ensemble des acteurs du paiement. «Nous voulons créer de la valeur pour notre réseau de deux manières», explique M. de Barsy. «Au travers de différents événements réservés à nos membres et en menant à bien certains projets.»

L’EPA ambitionne ainsi de publier un atlas européen du paiement, qui fera l’état des lieux des différentes technologies disponibles en Europe, et de développer un second projet sur la thématique de la criminalité financière.