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Sun 1 May 2016 02:50 PM

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Stop thinking about technology

Steve Blyth, founder and CEO, Engage Works, explains why an established process of thinking is more important than cutting edge technology for your brand to create game-changing experiences.

Stop thinking about technology

When describing what it is that we do, we use the term ‘interconnected experiences’. While that may not seem to carry particular significance, there was much thought around picking it because that term carries a lot of weight.

As organisations are completely revising the way they conduct their business and the way they use their assets, both human and physical, it is more important than ever to ensure that all the moving parts of a business still remain connected in a way that is thoughtfully put together and provides genuine value.

Many feel that technology fills that need.

And, in some cases, that is fine. However, too often it is easy to fall into the sandpit of relying on technology as the solution and neglect all the other important pieces necessary to creating a meaningful and successful result.

In 2016, we are surrounded with technology.

We wake up with it next to us, use it to keep in touch with our friends and loved ones, spend hours on it at work, bring it with us when we exercise or to entertain us when we want to unwind, and barely even think twice about it when we are doing any of these activities.

In 2016, technology has become almost as much of an afterthought as air- it is necessary in our lives, but we do not focus on it when using it.  And that is the approach we should have when creating solutions.

Regardless of what the solution is for - be it brand experiences, collaborative work experiences or retail experiences, regardless of whether it is internal or external, technology cannot be the focus of an experience.

Otherwise a brand may find itself with a solution that can be categorised as a fad; and when your audience has the ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ mentality about the experience on offer, it is almost guaranteed to result in passive interest which will ultimately do nothing for your brand. No one wants to be considered a fad.

Take Segway as an example - a piece of technology created for the sake of technology itself.

It definitely was not the result of a well-thought out strategy because if it had been, it would have been obvious at the insight stage that there was no real need for such an item. And, while it looked cool and caused some excitement when it first came to market, it failed to make any genuine, authentic connection with its audience. Resulting in no staying power, and therefore, embodying the characteristics of a fad.

That goes to show just how important having an established process of thinking should be in the creation of game-changing experiences.

Once an organisation has put together a process, it will be empowered with a structured approach to thoughtfully considering its challenges and goals and how to ensure the two meet in a way that is genuine and meaningful for any audience it is intended for.

At Engage, our process is called the Four Is and consists of Investigation, Insight, Innovation and Incorporation.

When a brand is able to clearly identify and articulate what they stand for – their brand promise – and what they want their audience to walk away thinking or feeling, a brand is then able to focus on the brand behaviours that will help to get them the results they are looking for.

A fantastic example is Disney’s MagicBand.

As a visitor to the park, you can top up the band with money and personal details. While that may not seem magical, the entire experience that this band unlocks throughout the park really is something special. Imagine having Mickey Mouse walk up to your Mickey-obsessed child and greet them by name because of the communication and connection the Band enables. That is magic!

We were recently commissioned by the Mohammed bin Rashid Centre for Government Innovation to help create a space, called the Edge of Government, which would effectively communicate what 11 of the most innovative and current government initiatives are. The initiatives were presented at the World Government Summit, which took place February earlier this year in Dubai.

The brand promise of the centre revolves around being a catalyst for encouraging a culture of innovation within the government sector.

One of the ways this is done is through education.

One of the challenges was that visitors would be moving quickly through the space, meaning we had a very short time to capture and educate about each initiative.

By delving deep into each initiative and linking it with the ultimate goal of education through engagement, we were able to develop a pavilion which brought visitors on a journey through a number of different displays using a variety of different forms of technology, all the way from holograms to simple projections.

Success was determined by the fact that all visitors left the Edge of Government having learned something new.

The key for any brand is to create an experience that its audience can genuinely benefit from.

By creating something that is thoughtful and intuitive, relevant, uses technology as an enabler and not a solution in and of itself, when its communication is engaging, consistent and authentic in delivery, the brand will hit a home run every time.

About the author:

Steve Blyth, Founder and CEO at Engage Works.