Mixed realities, humanized AI and other digital trends to watch in 2017

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Accenture has released Fjord Trends 2017, its tenth annual report examining the most significant emergent digital trends expected to disrupt organizations and society in the year ahead, from mixed realities (AR, VR, etc) and humanized AI (chatbots) to corporate transformation and “storydoing”.

This year’s report highlights the evolving role of design as more innovative, responsive and emotive than ever, after a year in which we learned that digital technologies and hyper-connectivity are bringing user-led innovation to market faster than ever, and that successful organizations today are those that best adapt and respond to unceasing change.

Three meta themes emerged that challenge long-held norms and assumptions, Accenture says:

  1. The rise of the autonomous vehicle, smart homes and digital assistants is creating new ecosystems that threaten the smartphone’s dominance as the main command center of our lives
  2. Storytelling takes new shape through the popularity of live stories and raw, personal content as a refashioned form of broadcast
  3. The rise of social experience will soon be a consideration for any organization wanting to cut through in a post-truth world.

“The year is about making us smarter humans and fostering human potential by creating helpful, meaningful services across an expanded array of digitized environments,” said Mark Curtis, chief client officer, Fjord. “Interfaces are becoming faster, smaller and automated, and organizations will need to adapt to the kind of supercharged, responsive and immersive environments now possible.”

Trends 2017 examines eight digital trends expected to shape the next generation of experiences:

Shiny API people: re-wiring for innovation. Organizations will need to completely re-wire to inspire creative thinking and become more people-centric. They’ll do this by upscaling the principles and practices of innovation to effect organization-wide transformation.

Hourglass brands: don’t get stuck in the middle. With a polarized brand landscape, brands sitting in the squeezed middle will need to change their strategies and either lean towards a clear purpose or advocate a ‘we can do anything’ voice.

Blurred reality: beyond AR vs VR vs MR. As mixed reality moves towards the mainstream, organizations will turn away from single, siloed enhanced reality experiences to focus instead on harnessing and combining all types of reality – both enhanced and real.

World on wheels: go slow to go fast. With autonomous vehicles so close to becoming part of everyday life, organizations will focus attention on the car as a connected mobile environment in which things happen via multiple devices. Leaders will explore ways to integrate experiences between car and home.

Homes without boundaries: domestic help finds its voice. Organizations will need to look beyond device-centric strategies to focus instead on designing and serving home experiences that better meet individual householders’ varying wants and needs.

Ephemeral stories: what’s next now that everyone’s a ‘storyteller?’ Brand content is shifting from storytelling to “storydoing” – creating stories by what brands do, rather than what they tell. Brand owners will step back and make room for audiences to shape their own stories through highly personal – often, ephemeral – content.

Me, myself and AI: humanizing chatbots. While AI has evolved exponentially, in 2017 we will see a shift in organizations’ approaches to developing products and services as emotional intelligence (EQ) becomes a critical AI differentiator.

Unintended consequences: customer-centric cannibals. Organizations will focus more closely not just on their customer and employee experiences, but on their social experiences to guard against unintended consequences of their activities.

“We are witnessing an unprecedented era of innovation, placing the need for companies to rewire in order to succeed,” said Brian Whipple, head of Accenture Interactive. “Organizations across every sector are learning to harness digital to become more customer-centric. It is through this lens that organizations need to rethink their purpose and what they call a service in order to convert change into opportunities.”

Trends 2017 draws upon the collective thinking of Fjord’s 800+ designers and developers around the world based on first-hand observations, third-party research and client work.

For the full report, go here.

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