A redefinition of luxury, the rise of health data, and a shift towards bringing design thinking in-house will each have a profound impact on business, government, and society in 2016.
Drawing on insight and inspiration from our global team, here are Fjord’s 10 top trends for the year ahead that every marketer needs to know about.
Watch. It Listens
The connected devices we wear or have in our homes listen and respond, encouraging us to exercise more, or eat less, or re-order products.
Already, this listening technology has made it acceptable to share data previously kept private. Listening technology is breaking the customer journey into a series of real-time, intent-driven “micromoments.” Consumers are switching from long-term, immersive research pre-purchase to short-form, bite-sized information-seeking; they go online more often, but spend less time per visit.
Brands must act fast to deliver on these micromoments or someone else will. They must listen to the customers, design to show they’ve listened, and learn.
Services With Manners
How best to share and protect customers’ information is a social responsibility and an increasingly important issue for every business. Get it wrong and you may very well alienate customers. Get it right by building services with manners.
Manners mean proper, respectful data practices. Increasingly, privacy standards will be embedded into technology and the product design process from the get-go. So be prepared by upscaling resources dedicated to data privacy and security and always be human, creative and transparent in data exchange.
Employee experience design is growing fast and set to accelerate as technology-enabling skills that are easily transferable across industries leave companies battling for top talent.
Successful organisations will be those that acknowledge financial remuneration isn’t everything, and that the experience they create for employees is as important as the one they create for their customers. This will mean bridging the disconnect between slick consumer-facing software and clunky workplace tools.
Invest in tailored experiences, fast evolution and personal connection in employees’ careers. Let them feel acknowledged and supported. Build cultures of purpose--using automation technologies for rote tasks--to leave humans free to focus on what they do best, such as creative decision-making.
The landscape in which apps operate is changing dramatically; from being user-controlled to proactively powering a user’s life.
With technologies and services able to intersect and interact with each other autonomously and independently of hand-held devices, brands such as Spotify and Nest can super-distribute their products and services across various platforms and third-party services to offer themselves to consumers more intuitively. Moving forward, app design will need to be intuitive and predictive.
Most organisations currently concentrate on the transaction of a service. But by focusing more on the interaction (or what we call “points of x”) and making it as smooth as possible, the transaction will happen naturally.
Success will lie in the attention on interactions instead of transactions--designing for humans.
The Flattening of Privilege
Digital technology is enabling scalable yet personalised experiences once reserved just for the wealthy. Think of the personal assistants now available to the masses courtesy of Facebook M. Or personal limousines courtesy of Uber.
Privilege is being flattened. And as luxury services democratise further, they will be redefined with the emergence of a new strand of luxury products and services; personalised technology platforms, for example, available only to the wealthiest elite.
To capitalise on this, organisations must build multi-disciplinary teams today with business analysts, designers, marketers, product and service managers working hand-in-hand to better understand their users, as well as building scalable platforms, empowering future users to find solutions to their problems.
For The People
Digital presents an opportunity for governments to bring humanity back into their interactions with citizens; using digital to connect communities around a cause, address asymmetries of information, or give the underrepresented a voice.
Technology will also enable government and the private sector to come together and solve major challenges, as The White House and the UN Refugee Agency did recently by raising money for Syrian refugee relief with Kickstarter.
Plain language focused on content, structure and navigation will be key to future successful government service design. Innovation will be sparked by “outside-inside design”; rich insights generated by a research-led approach. And government services will move away from a today’s one-size-fits-all approach to more tailored experiences.
Healthy Is The New Wealthy
As consumers increasingly use health monitoring for leisure and preventative care, a new set of emerging currencies is being created that may actually be worth more than money: health data. According to a recent survey by Accenture Interactive, wearable fitness applications stand to see sizable growth, with 33% looking to adopt in the next five years. These wearables depend on the collection and consolidation of health data.
Health data isn’t just an opportunity for health-focused businesses. Already, insurance companies are creating monitoring apps that incentivise healthier lifestyles; offering lower insurance premiums for improved risk profiles, for example.
Brands should assess the potential for their products and services as “wellness agents.” Explore opportunities as pharmaceutical companies seek to provide added value through digital services that empower the user.
VR’s Dreams Come True
The imminent launch of consumer versions of VR products from Sony, Oculus and Samsung means 2016 will be the critical year for virtual reality (VR), moving it beyond the realm of science fiction to practical reality.
Extending beyond gaming, companies are creating platforms for experimentation in diverse sectors such as education, tourism and health. Imagine being able to tour a travel destination before booking your trip to Tahiti, or for a classroom to explore the depths of the Great Barrier Reef without leaving their seats. VR will also impact business processes; an obvious example being how it will change how workers meet and collaborate.
All brands should examine VR’s place in their business and the best first step is to try it. But resist establishing a VR unit; instead develop ideas through a unified, device-agnostic team.
Taking Things Off The Thinking List
Digital has increased demand for decision-making and interactions, which is taking a physical, mental and emotional toll on everyone. Data presents an opportunity to ease the chore of choosing. Services that automate low-maintenance decisions are an important first step.
Consider ways to help customers stop browsing. Re-think traditional push/pull interactions that typically required a user’s attention, decision-making ability and learned behaviour. Algorithms and expert curation can automate this process, saving the user valuable time.
Design From Within
With unprecedented pressure to innovate, a growing number of businesses are investing directly in incubators and innovation labs. More will bring design thinking in-house as design is more widely recognised as the catalyst for business change.
There is no one solution to where in an organisation the design department best sits. But a common success factor is senior management engagement and an innovation culture that extends organisation-wide.
Achieve this by bridging departmental silos, encouraging collaboration and co-creation workshops. Having the right mix of skills, facilitation, conceptualising, prototyping and experimentation is vital.
At The Core Of Our Trends
Developments are emerging fast, both at a technology level and at the demand level, with liquid expectations spreading exponentially. Underpinning our predictions for 2016 is Living Services--the drive toward constantly evolving services, responding to user needs and context in real-time. Be it in the workplace or at home, Living Services resonates at the core of so many of our trends, impacting our predictions for the year ahead.