This article is part of our June series about the future of work. Click here for more.
By 2020—less than two short years away—creativity will be a non-negotiable in the workplace. According to the World Economic Forum’s “Future of Jobs” report, tomorrow’s employees will have to become more creative to take advantage of the coming avalanche of new products, technologies, and ways of working.
But if everyone becomes more creative, what does that mean for those already working in the creative industries? The answer is that you need to evolve rapidly and develop new skills to stay relevant in a market that never stands still and where consumers expect tailored experiences that genuinely enhance their lives.
Ready to take the next leap in creative thinking? This can only be achieved by growing our skill set. Here are the four skills I believe creatives will need in 2020.
1. Incorporate Tech And Data Into The Creative Process
This should be a natural evolution, given art and science have always been closely aligned. By 2020, all creatives will need to have a better understanding of the technology platforms that will power the customer experiences they design. They will be expected to know the opportunities and limitations afforded by each tool and how they can be joined up to create omnichannel experiences that truly engage customers.
Creatives, already familiar with influencing behavior through contextual algorithms, will be expected to design “new nudges.” These leverage data from myriad sources and use it to create real-time dynamic offers, delivered using hyper-relevant targeting.
2. Go Beyond Designing For Screens
Gartner predicts that by 2020, 30% of web browsing sessions will be done without a screen. Whether these interactions are controlled by voice, gesture, or neural prosthetics, they will be part of the growing movement of “free UI”—that which no longer requires physical interactions (keystrokes or screen taps) from users.
Amazon’s documentation on design patterns can help creatives develop new voice UI skills. And for those who’ve already mastered them, what’s next is coming to grips with the recently released monetisation features and how they can be woven into existing voice interactions.
Then there’s augmented reality (AR), which can evoke the “wow” factor in customers and is set to revolutionise our smartphones. It’s good news for marketers, too: Snapchat has reported that its sponsored AR lenses result in an average 19.7 point lift in ad awareness and a 3.4 point lift in action intent.
Some 100 million consumers will shop via AR, according to the aforementioned Gartner research. Context will take centre stage in this new world, as AR assets will have to interact seamlessly with real-world locations and objects. To craft successful experiences in this new dimension, creatives will need to think differently and develop expertise in 3D modelling and game design.
3. Collaborate With Machines
Progress in artificial intelligence (AI) accelerated when we entered a new phase of machine learning—one that has led to a dramatic decrease in the cost of prediction. As a result, digital tools used in the workplace are being given added intelligence to provide “decision support” to workers. This is helping staff make more better decisions, faster.
As machines are increasingly used to generate assets, the roles of all creatives need to evolve to include curating and iterating the best options. The figures bear this out, with 60% of creative practitioners saying that they now spend more time creating content than they did three to five years ago, according to an Adobe study about creativity. Two-thirds are meeting this demand by using more and different creative tools, and 69% believe AI would help support this trend over the next five years. From content classification to curation and optimization, machine learning can make creating content much more efficient for creatives and marketers.
4. Be Better Humans
The AI systems developed in the past have been modelled on human behaviour—which makes sense given they were designed to engage and help humans. As new creative tools are used in the workplace, they will learn by watching and mirroring our actions. This means we need to be the best versions of our work selves we can possibly be. The result will be a more emotionally intelligent workforce.
Indeed, empathy has always been at the heart of how we connect and communicate. And it will be the creatives who work to build an empathetic layer into their interactions, rather than focusing on efficiency or the bottom line, who will shape the future.
We start picking up the basics of emotional intelligence in infancy; it feels as if it’s a uniquely human trait and couldn't be learned by machines. However, it can be quantified and reduced to logical procedures and algorithms. And if it can be encoded, it can be learned.
As AI develops, artificial emotional intelligence will transform the way we interact with technology and, more importantly, how we, as humans, interact with one another.
Fuelled by data, AI has the power to create emotionally engaging experiences. Coupled with connected, empathetic human workers, we’ll witness a paradigm shift in the quality of creative output.
Tomorrow’s creatives will have huge power to affect behaviour change and leave their mark on the cultural zeitgeist. What is very clear is that the roles and requirements of creative practitioners is changing.
New skills need to be learned, new tools mastered, and new ways of working embraced. The creatives you’ll want working in your business in 2020 will have the attitude to experiment with all three.