Today we’re releasing our annual trends report, FutureView 2021. It was an interesting exercise as the partners of Punchcut sat together and discussed what we’ve learned from, arguably, one of the most tumultuous years in business history.
As we looked at the agility and innovation of our clients in the face of the pandemic, several clear themes emerged. We believe that the unusual experiences of 2020 are going to provide a foundation for innovation at a pace that we’ve never seen before, and that human-centered design is going to take center stage as we now must design a more conscious future.
The key themes that we see driving design and product innovation in 2021 were borne of 2020 experiences. They include: 1) Human Renewal, 2) Intelligent Empowerment, 3) Immersive Enrichment, and 4) Systemic Balance.
Business Agility and Evolution We Couldn’t Have Predicted
Last year, we predicted that 2020 would mark the beginning of a decade focused on more mindful use of technology to empower humanity with conscious experiences. We introduced Conscious Experience Design, a human-centered design discipline that powers business growth through four dimensions of conscious digital transformation: cognitive intelligence, sensory immersion, behavioral systems, and human ethics. These cornerstones have become fundamental in our design ethos.
What we couldn’t predict was that 2020 would be a year of exponential change that would shock us all in unprecedented ways. The 2020 pandemic forced companies to change their relationship with their customers, therefore accelerating digital transformation. In the midst of the disruption, technology became a lifeline that gave hope to businesses, economies, and families. Already a force of change, artificial intelligence adoption increased and is now poised to be an even more essential link between technology and the people who use it.
Consumers Will Expect More Conscious Experiences from All Businesses
Now, more than ever, businesses must accelerate the adoption of conscious design to ensure that rapid digitization aligns with the changing values and sentiments of consumers. The change will magnify the positives and negatives of digital experiences. Consumer values will continue to shift as they explore reinvention and revitalization. After a year of social deprivation and digital fatigue, people will demand more in every engagement, whether professional or personal. And, they’ll tolerate less inconvenience.
Companies will become more creative in response to consumer demand. This will be a transitional year of renewal and growth that will require creativity, deep sensitivity, and conscious innovation as mantras of development teams. Success will be driven by a renewed focus on the relationship between the technology they’re building and real-world experiences.
“Human ingenuity during crisis and recovery will spawn a new focus on personal innovation — rethinking our lives for optimal wellness and value.”
Constant health vigilance and social isolation are prompting a renewal of personal values and a search for dynamic human connections. People struggling to cope with the lasting effects of the pandemic will seek comfort in more human-centric solutions that are empathetic to both personal and social values.
Disruptive change has been traumatic but it’s also exposed people to new possibilities for life-improvement. This enlightenment will spark creative approaches to evolve old rituals into new rituals that improve daily life in more meaningful ways.
“Digital intelligence will expand to empower ‘digitally fatigued’ consumers with more automated experiences enabling greater freedom and productivity”
For the past year, technology has been our lifeline to connection — providing remote “on-demand” access to virtually all parts of our lives. Digital transformation of our health and wellness, work style, media consumption, family, and personal interactions is accelerating.
While fantastic, there is also the reality that we all suffer from “digital fatigue”. Fatigue and “on-demand” expectations are rapidly driving consumers and employees to seek more intelligent automation that frees them from the cognitive overload of constant digital management.
“Multisensory immersion will enrich and unite hybrid digital-physical experiences for more authentic connections and seamless collaboration.”
Digital technology has sustained our connections across distances, but the desire to interact more authentically will continue to drive new experiences. People constantly seek to fill the tactile void that distance has created through the use of haptics and other sensory technologies.
Mixed spatial dynamics such as online and in-store shopping, at home or in-office working, or local or distant commerce, is rapidly creating a “hybridization” that is uniting digital and physical spaces and experiences.
“Redistributed systems of services and teams across diverse contexts will drive new operations models and more equitable responsibility to ensure balance.”
Social distancing has forced the distribution of services and teams to extend beyond fixed spaces or locations. Remote and distance approaches are radically transforming vast business sectors including how we work, how we get healthcare, education, and of course commerce. Despite being temporary, many of these models will remain to provide flexibility into the future.
As sectors become more systemic, they’ll require major advances in edge infrastructure and more inclusive operating models. This innovation can open up opportunities to new populations but also trigger challenges for others based on variable conditions like economics, abilities, etc. Leaders will have a responsibility to extend flexible and equitable systems that find balance and harmony across distributed contexts.
To explore each of the themes in detail, see business actions you can take, and download the full presentation please visit FutureView 2021 at the Punchcut website.
Author: Ken Olewiler
Principal, Managing Director, PUNCHCUT