I was watching this video a moment ago – Productivity Future Vision (2011) – and it made me think about the way we make decisions.



I am used to making decisions and asking for decisions via email. Once I send an email, I do not necessarily expect an immediate answer. A sense of ‘delay’ has been built into email’s DNA. Yet email by its very nature is not really about decision-making. Email is about considering and thinking about the decision that needs to be made. It is about conveying the information, or at least a version of the information, that is required in making a decision at some future point. It is about storing and archiving. There is a permanence to it. The decision that needs to be made, the product or service in question, the people involved all seem to be discrete parts, that somehow come together to make the decision.

In the video, we see a different kind of decision-making take place. Decision-making becomes much more flexible, more agile, more immediate, more tangible in a sense. This does not mean it becomes more impulsive or spontaneous (although there is perhaps a greater requirement for responsibility on both the part of the sender and receiver to be a bit more discerning). Decision-making becomes an integral part of my behaviour as it becomes increasingly tied to my activity or conversation stream. The space between the decision and the object of the decision condenses. The time between between the decision made and the decision asked reduces. A decision, admittedly not always, is not something I park to one side to think at length about, to come back to later. In the context of this video, decision-making becomes more collaborative, more iterative, more participative, more integral, more immediate to the world around me.

As our decision-making possibly becomes increasingly and inextricably linked to activity or conversation streams, what is the implication of this on how customer service is provided? This question is not about the death of email, it is perhaps more about the rise of other types of communication channels. Email may well still have its place, in the same way that the fax machine does. But when decision-making becomes more agile, more participative, more iterative, more about the ‘now’, how will that affect the need for a knowledge base, a single customer view, a content management system, the type of customer service agent skillset that is required?