If the last hundred years represented a shift from the Industrial Age to the Information Age, we’re seeing a new shift now: a shift to the Experiential Age. Here are four ways this is taking shape.

1. Quality of experience gives competitive advantage

In the Information Age, companies gained a competitive edge through information: how much you knew, whether anyone else knew it too, how connected it was, how well you could analyse it. There was scarcity around this because not everyone had the same information and not everyone had the tools to use it well. That’s changed. Even state secrets aren’t secret anymore, and powerful analytics platforms and tools are affordable and widely available. Instead, competitive edge now comes from the quality of experience we’re able to offer our customers. It means going beyond analytics to empathy. Provide customers with an experience they love and that makes them feel valued from start to finish, and they’ll never want to leave. And for the love of all that’s good, don’t have airport security beat them up and drag them off the plane

2. Show, don’t tell

Show, don’t tell is the first rule of good storytelling, and it’s also the first rule of the Experiential Age. We don’t want to know things just because we’ve been told, we want to know them because we have experienced them for ourselves. In everything from the way we learn, to the way we create and collaborate, to the way we shop, we’re moving from information to immersion, from abstract to concrete, from learning by telling to learning by doing, from pondering to making. 

3. The screen disappears

Pages, screens, and keyboards have become the way we interact with the world of information, but in the Experiential Age, the screen will disappear to give us more direct, natural ways of interacting. We’re already seeing this with the move to voice interfaces. Virtual and augmented reality will soon give us interfaces that let us use much more of our bodies--eyes, expressions, voice, hands, and other movements. The distinctions between how we interact with the physical world and how we interact with the digital world will blur.

4. Humans get their mojo back

In the Information Age, humans had to learn to think like machines and make our bodies do unnatural things like sit all day staring at a computer monitor in a sterile office environment. It’s taken a huge toll on our collective health, mentally and physically. In the Experiential Age, we turn this around to get our mojo back. Machines will be designed to work with us while we interact with each other doing what we do naturally--moving around, using conversational language, working with objects with our hands, using facial, voice and body expressions. Built environments will be designed as enjoyable spaces for humans to live and work in. We’ll have more and more opportunities to exercise our creative and intuitive faculties as well as our analytical ones.

How will you and your organisation fare in the Experiential Age?