Mass adoption of the Internet introduced the Third Industrial Revolution, which completely upended the ways in which we live and work. Now, experts are starting to weigh in on the Fourth Industrial Revolution - the rise of digital lifestyles and the new ways in which technology becomes embedded within societies, business and even the human body.
Technology is only as good as the thinking and planning behind it; and new customer initiatives are only as good as their design and implementation. The companies that fail to understand this are risking not just money, but their reputations and livelihoods too. Good customer experience programmes can hold the key to every business's future.
As businesses and high-street retailers join the race to reinvent themselves, an analysis of consumer loyalty trends in Britain over the four years since 2009 shows that the days of pleasure shopping and retail therapy are behind us - as bargain hunting and rampant discounting have become the norm in a tough economy.
With a mobile wallet the process could be quite different. Consider this: you're walking past your favourite Indian take-away on the way home. As you walk past you get a text offering you half-price on your favourite curry. The next day you walk in and order the curry, paying by flashing the back of your phone at the point of payment with the offer applied automatically.
Is your wallet or purse bulging at the seams with receipts and loyalty cards? That's the problem which inspired Kartina Tjandra to create Kooki, a new app for the iPhone and Android that lets you put all those reward cards onto your mobile phone.
They are a long-term investment and achieve their return from retaining profitable customers and increasing their spending. In contrast, Groupon-like programmes attract promiscuous shoppers, whose spend isn't profitable and who quickly switch to a competitor whenever they are offering a better deal.
At a branch of Tesco Extra at the unpromisingly named Gallows Corner, in Romford, Essex, an unusual experiment has taken place. Customers owning smartphones installed with Android OS 2.2 or later were offered the chance to download a prototype app, which syncs their online shopping list, stored in their phones, with a map displaying the optimum route through the aisles to find their groceries.