Tag: Design thinking
Shamir Duverseau

2019 Panda Predictions

The new year is upon us and, if 2018 is any indication, we will likely see the world transform in ways big and small, including disruptions in culture, technology, and business. While we may not have a crystal ball, our smart pandas most certainly have some predictions for the world of digital marketing in 2019. Here are a few of our forecasts.

It’s all about voice. Voice search (“Hey Siri, where should I go for brunch today?”) will gain even more ground, becoming 60% of mobile searches. (Heads up digital marketers: optimizing your content for voice search requires creating content around long-tail keywords, focusing on knowledge-based content, and writing in a way that people commonly speak.) And, get ready to listen more as well. Our cars, for example, will recite not only our text messages but our emails, too. For better or worse, we’ll be “replying all” while merging into traffic.

Facebook will buy Twitter. TWTR has been a buyout target for the past two years, and it might finally deliver on its promise to its shareholders. Facebook’s political problems have come home to roost; acquiring Twitter might be just what it needs to sort it all out. The social media behemoth can encourage more users to head to Twitter for the best news and political coverage, while those suffering news burnout can focus their Facebook streams on personal updates and pics of their perfect nacho plate (#hungry #nachoenvy).

Creativity will set competition apart. Consumers have lost faith in some forms of digital advertising; they are exhausted by and wary of sales pitches and clickbait. Brands will need to become increasingly creative in their pursuit of views and clicks and think about advertising as high-concept, high-engagement campaigns. Look for an increase in multimedia, motion graphics, and augmented reality.

Green consumerism will finally take off. We’ve heard a lot of talk about the rise of the “green consumer” in recent years, but there has been a disconnect between the intention to buy sustainable and actually doing it. Decades of polling has shown that a large majority of Americans say that they would gladly buy a green or ethical product, but less than 10 percent of them actually do. We think 2019 will move the needle. Not only is evidence of the damage caused by our throwaway culture impossible to ignore, millennials—who are driving the green shift—are expected to outnumber baby boomers officially in the coming year.

Email will get high-touch. We’ve said it before on this blog, and we’ll say it again: the future of email is interactive. New features are making it possible to highlight contextual content and capture key behavioral points for a more data-driven experience. For example, it is now possible to infuse email templates with unique components such as profile options, local store info, and prioritized navigation. Consumers can tap, expand, and reveal particular items—in other words, emails that function more like an interactive web page. In turn, this interactively enables brands to capture useful consumer data for future segmentation and personalization. Get ready to finally see more of this in action.

Email will also get real-time. Expect to see your inbox get smarter, using data to shift more pertinent emails to the top. For example, if it’s noon on Sunday and your favorite team is playing, the first email in your inbox might be from ESPN and related to your team. But, once you leave your house to go shopping, that Target coupon email will take the top spot.

Push notifications will get pushier. Not necessarily a bad thing, more brands will experiment with shorter email notifications that can be displayed on devices beyond the phone, such as the Apple watch or your smart refrigerator.

Consumers will be heard. The rise of design thinking and inclusive design means that brands are making an effort to empathize with consumers, achieve a deeper understanding of users, and design better solutions that actually meet their needs. In 2019, more and more companies will make design thinking, experimentation and testing part of their DNA. As a result, we’ll see an uptick in helpful, authentic solutions and digital experiences that resonate with consumers.

These are just a few of our panda prognostications. We promise to stay ahead of the curve on all these topics and more, reporting back from conferences throughout the year and sharing key findings as they arise. Keep your eye on this blog for more!

Key Takeaways

  1. Voice search will gain even more ground. Have you optimized your content for voice?
  2. Look for an increase in multimedia, motion graphics, and augmented reality.
  3. 2019 will move the needle on green consumerism.
  4. Email will get more high touch, more interactive.
  5. Email will get real0time—and your inbox will be smarter.

Tag: Design thinking
Cheryl Myers

Diversity and Inclusion by Design

Early last week, Starbucks shut its stores to conduct an inclusion class for employees. The following day, the ABC network canceled its hit sitcom “Roseanne” due to racist twitter remarks by its star. It’s 2018—why are we as a society still struggling with diversity, inclusion, and race? And what can we do about it?

I recently attended the Design Management Institute’s first Design Leadership Conference on Innovative Thinking on Diversity & Inclusion, a two-day event in Cincinnati, Ohio. Industry leaders from Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, General Electric, Carnegie Melon, McKinsey, Google, and others converged at the LPK Mansion in the heart of downtown Cincinnati to brainstorm, collaborate, and share ideas that will help the design community lead the charge in shaping conversations around diversity and inclusion.

Sessions covered topics like inclusive design, gender dynamics in the workforce, designing for sustainability, and other discourse intended to help participants and presenters chart a path forward for our field. As Proctor & Gamble’s William Gipson put it, “diversity and inclusion should be led by design.”

Gipson was referring to the practice of design thinking, an iterative process focused on developing an understanding of and empathy for users of our products or services. This process-heavy, people-oriented approach includes researching existing products, interviewing and observing customers, quick and iterative prototyping, and resonance testing–all with the goal of achieving a deeper understanding of the user and designing better solutions. It is practiced by some of the world’s leading brands and is taught at top universities around the world. (Watch this video by MIT and Altitude | Accenture to see a demonstration of design thinking in action.)

The outcome of design thinking typically includes solutions that were not previously considered because our perspective is challenged. And, it is this shift that gives us the ability to understand real needs and help us connect with those around us.

“If we ask questions, seek differences, and gain an understanding of others’ needs, this engagement will drive inclusion,” said Patricia Pope from Pope Consulting during her presentation, The Illusion of Inclusion. She is not referring here to simply making better products, but creating more diverse workplaces. If you aren’t creating an inclusive work environment,” she added, “you’re putting your company’s future in jeopardy.”

In recent years, there has emerged a core business case that can be made for diversity. Research by McKinsey, for example, shows that companies with more diverse workforces perform better financially. Recent studies by Cloverpop show a direct link between inclusive decision making and better business performance:

  • Inclusive teams make better business decisions up to 87% of the time
  • Teams that follow an inclusive process make decisions 2X faster with 1/2 the meetings
  • Decisions made and executed by diverse teams delivered 60% better results

In other words, if you want to create an uptick in your bottom-line, you need to create a diverse and inclusive environment.

And yet, here we are, struggling as a nation to embrace diversity and to reap the true benefits—morally, socially, and fiscally—of inclusivity. It’s time to think about the problem in a new way.

“Solving any problem is more important than being right.” — Milton Glaser

In my work, and as a company, it is our practice to prioritize the customer’s needs when creating digital experiences and analyzing the data we gather about their behaviors. Doing this allows us to better connect the products and services of the companies we serve to the emotional responses that drive user intent. Likewise, being fearless in our testing approach is also a product of design thinking. We aren’t afraid to test and retest until we deliver the right kind of experience at the right time.

Of course, we tend toward diverse and inclusive thinking somewhat naturally; Smart Panda Labs is founded by minorities, and our team comprises a majority of women, many of whom are working moms with flexible schedules. We highly value this inclusivity and try to serve the needs of the individuals that make up our team. In return, our team provides our clients with a range of expertise, a unique set of perspectives, and a passion for pushing the boundaries.

Thank you to everyone who participated and shared during the dmi: Design Leadership Conference. Each roundtable, breakout session, keynote, and panel were deep exchanges of knowledge, from which I know we all walked away challenged and changed. Here are just a few of my favorite takeaways from the two days:

  • Practice Empathy: The key to understanding and better serving your market is to be empathetic to their needs.
  • Diversity ≠ Inclusion: It’s not just about checking a box. We need to seek, lead, and engage across differences. Be curious and ask questions.
  • Follow the Platinum Rule: Treat others the way they want to be treated. Not only will this make our workplace relationships more effective, but we’ll also create more valuable products and services for our customers as a result.

This conference was a great reminder to myself—and let it be an inspiration to you, too—that taking a design thinking and human-centered approach not only helps us create better services and products but can connect us more meaningfully to the people around us.

Key Takeaways
  • Design thinking is an iterative process focused on developing an understanding of and empathy for users.
  • This process-heavy, people-oriented approach includes researching existing products, interviewing and observing customers, quick and iterative prototyping, and resonance testing.
  • The outcome of design thinking typically includes solutions that were not previously considered because our perspective is challenged.
  • In our work at Smart Panda Labs, it is our practice to prioritize the customer’s needs when creating digital experiences and analyzing the data we gather about their behaviors. Doing this allows us to better connect the products and services of the companies we serve to the emotional responses that drive user intent.
  • Taking a design thinking and human-centered approach not only helps us create better services and products but can connect us more meaningfully to the people around us.