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Another Age Of Innovation For Customer Experience?

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Innovation of the time focused on architecture and this led to a concentration of great cathedrals in the area: Notre Dame, Bourges, Chartres, Noyon, Tours, Beauvais, Laon, Amiens and Reims – all within 250km of Paris.

The area around Paris was where many leading innovators were based – architects, sculptors and masons – and soon the skills were exported internationally. The construction of many of the great cathedrals was led by French masters and their skilled workforce – Lincoln, Cologne, Peterborough, Salisbury…

Today, Silicon Valley has led the way while other international hotspots have become known for particular areas of excellence. London and New York are famed for user experience and interface design, Tokyo and Seoul are strong in mobile development, and the two Cambridges (US and UK) have individually become experts in algorithmic design and computer programming.

The 12th century saw important ‘software’ developments that revolutionised how buildings felt when you were inside. France was the birthplace of musical notation – a code for reading music – and Paris was the centre for the development of choral harmonic music, which replaced the earlier style of un-harmonic chanting by monks. A previously unheard language and customer experiences grew in the cathedrals, designed to fill the newly created spaces.

Harmony as a concept was crucial to the philosophy that underpinned these new buildings. Inspired by the ideas of Plato and Aristotle, which had just been translated for the first time in Europe, 12th century innovators strove for perfect harmony between elements.

The development of musical notation meant that for the first time music could be exported as ‘soft’ copies – usually noted on cowhide, so literally soft – and given to singers in cathedrals anywhere. The new style of music along with the new buildings resulted in mind-blowing experiences for people during the 12th century. There are many positive accounts of this but, just as we find today, some people clung to the traditional ways of doing things and found the new ways too radical.

The parallels between our age and the 12th century are numerous. Both have seen explosions in the development of immersive customer experiences, which have been enabled by technological advances, and both have seen a growth in infrastructure technology, which has led to developments in software – from the first musical notations to algorithm marketing. And given how pervasive musical notation became, we can look forward to exciting developments in algorithms to help us understand many more things!

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