In 2014, brands will need to be digital first -- and we need to help them change

The director of information architecture at agency Nomensa details the biggest design trend for 2014.

The shift into a new phase of 'digital' is well known to designers, technologists and most businesses. From Mobile First, to Big Data, Cloud Computing and the Internet of Things, the data carried via digital channels is more pervasive than ever. Our experience over the past year however has seen a new request emerge from organisations: 'We know we need a great website and mobile experience but how do we transform our business to put digital first?'

Many factors speak to this development: organisational maturity, the economic pressures of the last five years and increasing market saturation. More specifically, the polite hat tip to digital channels (while the main of business remains unchanged) has become insufficient for the growing volumes and efficiencies provided by digital, both internally and externally. Digital channels crucial to develop and impossible to ignore.

Joining the dots

The shift in perspective from micro to macro, from website to ecosystem, from process to people and product to service requires a rethink of the role of digital. Business is starting to see the untapped benefits it can provide. Of course 'digital' exists in many forms in companies already: databases, automated processes, telephony, intranets and customer-facing channels such as websites, apps and social media. The challenge is how to join these dots together.

Where digital first emerged within IT and then extended into marketing, it is now settling into the space of business. And you don't need to be ecommerce enabled to do business online. The growing expectation, from both staff and customers, is that business is online and digital in all respects. So while digital now warrants standing shoulder to shoulder with IT, sales or marketing as a further organisational silo, its pervasiveness cries out not to be siloed at all. Besides which, it doesn't feel like an organisational function anyway. It's a more fundamental shift: a layer running horizontally through the hierarchy, slicing across silos, and out the other side into society.

The challenge to design

If you believe, as I do, that everything is design then leaving this evolution of digital to either technologists or management consultants is more than worrying. I feel strongly that we have reached a turning point where people are looking for vastly more meaningful experiences in their personal lives as well as in their day-to-day jobs. And digital remains the upstart: the disruptor that blurs the boundaries between home and work, organisation and marketplace, inside and outside, water cooler and social network.

So the question is, how should this macro experience be designed? And by whom? How can we encourage the design to embrace more than efficiency, profitability and market dominance? It seems to me that the answer lies in human-centred design at the structural, systemic level. We need the information architects of the 2000's, the people who were joining the dots between users, the medium, programmers, marketers and business for websites; doing the same thing at the macro level where the needs of people, business and society are better balanced.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Latest Videos

More Videos

Well done, team at Larsen. Fantastic story of how to continually invest in customer experience.

Adam Frank

A designer jewellery brand's take on customer relations

Read more

Great piece Katja. It will be fascinating to see how the shift in people's perception of value will affect design, products and services ...

Paul Scott

How to design for a speculative future - Customer Design - CMO Australia

Read more

Google collects as much data as it can about you. It would be foolish to believe Google cares about your privacy. I did cut off Google fr...

Phil Davis

ACCC launches fresh legal challenge against Google's consumer data practices for advertising

Read more

“This new logo has been noticed and it replaces a logo no one really knew existed so I’d say it’s abided by the ‘rule’ of brand equity - ...

Lawrence

Brand Australia misses the mark

Read more

IMHO a logo that needs to be explained really doesn't achieve it's purpose.I admit coming to the debate a little late, but has anyone els...

JV_at_lAttitude_in_Cairns

Brand Australia misses the mark

Read more

Blog Posts

Why marketing technology utilisation is taking on new urgency

Disparate data sources, fragmented technology and a lack of funding has left many brands struggling in the battle for online customer attention amid a global pandemic. Now more than ever, brands need to focus on unlocking the value of their marketing technology.

Suzanne Croxford

Marketing technology partner, Wunderman Thompson Australia

How to design for a speculative future

For a while now, I have been following a fabulous design strategy and research colleague, Tatiana Toutikian, a speculative designer. This is someone specialising in calling out near future phenomena, what the various aspects of our future will be, and how the design we create will support it.

Katja Forbes

Managing director of Designit, Australia and New Zealand

The obvious reason Covidsafe failed to get majority takeup

Online identity is a hot topic as more consumers are waking up to how their data is being used. So what does the marketing industry need to do to avoid a complete loss of public trust, in instances such as the COVID-19 tracing app?

Dan Richardson

Head of data, Verizon Media

Sign in