By David Blyth
As the world hurtles into a future which is defined by more content, more information, and more intrusion of technology into our lives, the need for curated, simplified and relevant experiences will grow.
To achieve this, our interaction with technology will become ever-more tactile.
Instead of reams and reams of copy, we’ll drag and drop, zoom in and zoom out. We’ll skip videos and skim articles – all with our fingers. We’ll pull files across screens and widen our fingers to open or zoom in.
We already find touchscreens in places we could not have imagined them a few years ago – from mobile phones and tablets, to billboards and signage. Soon we will be surrounded by objects with responsive, interactive glass interfaces.
The ‘internet of things’ will be born, as our refrigerators communicate with our shopping trolleys to remind us to get milk, and the GPS in our partner’s car lets our oven know that they’re running late, so don’t start cooking just yet.
The future is hands on.
But there is more to this trend than predicting a peak in sales of hand sanitisers! Brands will be digging in deep and becoming ever more immersive in our lives. But they need to do it in a subtle way, a way that feels like they’re not there at all.
Our tactile, hands-on relationship with technology will bring us closer to each other. Technology will not push us into isolation, as was once thought. It will make us get out and see each other more, and winning brands will be those who facilitate that.
Research conducted by the University of California found that increased access to telecommunications technology did not provide a substitute for business travel, as was hoped by the business executives hoping to cut travel costs. Telecommunications was found to increase air travel. The more people connect virtually, the more they want to connect in the real world, and the more they want to explore the real world.
What does this mean for hands-on brands?
It means that brands need to think of innovative ways to use technology to help us connect with one another. Brands need to be affirming and nurturing our humanity; they need to facilitate real-life interactions with real people, and to create meaningful experiences for their customers.
Some leading brands of today already understand this shift. Volkswagen tapped into exactly this sentiment with their recent TV ad campaign featuring a woman who impulsively decides to drive down from Johannesburg to Cape Town overnight to hand deliver an email she had been about to send to her partner, with the line “Some technology connects us. The best technology brings us together.”
Google is working on ways to integrate social activity into everything we do, with innovations like Google Glass.
But you don’t have to be a technology company to get this right. Think of interesting ways to allow people to get their hands dirty with the swoosh of a finger or new experiences and activations that encourage people participation. Build video community forums and webinars, organise crowd-sourced philanthropic activities, make it easier for people to share and give and meet like-minded customers.
Stop expecting the cold and sterile predictions of our technological future to take over, and use technology in tactile ways, in ways that make us feel warm, social and human.
Source: David Blyth is group MD of Yellowwood www.ywood.co.za. TREND.spotters, Yellowwood Future Architects is an independent marketing strategy consultancy with offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Its core competence lies in delivering solutions that link the business to the brand through marketing strategy, brand strategy, research insights, data analytics and strategic design solutions.