Rob Bischoff, Director of Digital Experience Design, Gensler
In the light of your experience what are the trends and challenges you’ve witnessed happening in the Digital Experience space?
Like the days of Web 1.0 to date, digital within the physical environment has been pinned to content on black rectangles. Now, with the ubiquity of mobile devices, sensors, data and processing power, we’re seeing the need for a seamless integration of physical and digital: progressive architects and digital designers are defining user experience opportunities that are focused on the design of holistic and seamless experiences. Our digital behaviors have changed our expectations of the brands we interact with and the physical spaces they occupy.
Together, we are defining a process and collaboration model that brings greater diversity of ideation to the table early—leading to more immersive and symbiotic spaces; and technology seamlessly blending into architecture, interiors and even within public spaces. We are also seeing the emergence of what we call “Experience 2.0,” where we create customized, immersive, and deeply connected spaces that map directly to internal organizational needs and challenges, or that of their customer.
How do you see the evolution of the Digital Experience arena a few years from now with regards to disruptions/ transformations?
The creation of connected spaces is just the beginning. Today, the investments are justified based on high-traffic customer and / or public facing arenas, and in large part to support brand and marketing efforts. However, as the value created from these spaces becomes more widely understood across organizations and “beyond the CMO,” they will become more omnipresent across spaces as the value extends not only to the environment or its visitor, but in the data that is collected from these systems.
This helps us better understand space usage in real time - creating products, services and systems that use this data to plan for the future, serve the customer, as well as create highly personalized and connected spaces.
CONNECTED CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
As far-fetched as these ideas seem, we are already seeing companies get ahead as they look to define the new future of physical retail in a digital world. Projects like the new Amazon Go store represent how they come together. Amazon, as they always do, is focusing on utility and path to purchase. But as these systems become more universal, companies will integrate their unique perspectives and services to create breakthrough, branded experiences that are heightened by the design of the space holistically.
INTELLIGENT BUILDINGS & OPERATIONS
Whether in the workplace or in an airport, data-driven systems will help create highly personalized environments that tailor themselves based on user preferences, time of day, throughput, etc. Take a walk around your office: how many “booked” conference rooms do you see vacant? Or seven people crammed into a four-person space, while that ten-person meeting room is being used by less than three individuals? Smart systems are able to respond in real time to those needs, allowing for more effective space usage, as well as encouraging a more productive workforce due to better utilization of their office amenities. The future is the adoption of integrated systems that foster collaboration and creativity, or drives organization initiatives like wellness and interactive, data-driven solutions that keep employees hyper-informed and deeply connected to their organization’s mission.
As we scale these systems, we will see a broader rollout of smarter and more sustainable cities across the globe. While we are all familiar with Sidewalk Labs’ vision for a connected Toronto, there is pushback on privacy and data security. However, just as we see today in the web world, utility and convenience overshadow concerns customers have with privacy. Think of the future of city commutes as we more seamlessly link multimodal transport between real time traffic patterns, rail systems, and last miles services like those rentable electric scooters. A world where we ditch our cars at precisely the right stop - with that parking spot already reserved – hopping on the train to find an electric scooter perched in the station, ready for use, allowing us to make that nine o’clock meeting just in time.
With today’s consumer already being tech-fueled, these transformations are highly possible when we think about today’s technology and the push for enhancing the human experience holistically. Digital technology and design are indeed part of the new language for designers to provide a greater and broader range of agile and immersive experiences in our built environment— all while increasing business value.
What would be the single piece of advice that you could impart to a fellow or aspiring professional in your field?
Become fluid in the language of business value and that of user needs to effectively bridge differences in process, reduce ambiguity, and de-risk investment. Focusing on purpose and business value are your core strategies and great solutions and design will flow from there.