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Innovation and Creative Technology aren't about Technology

14 Jun 2019 · 4 min read

Kevin Mar-Molinero, Creative Technology Director at AmazeRealise, discusses how the latest technology can blind us to the true source of innovation.

Innovation isn’t new and shiny technology, that’s gimmick.
Innovation isn’t the latest design principles, that’s trend.
Innovation isn’t service design or CX, that’s HCI.
Innovation is working with extreme edges of the bell curve to solve human problems.

 

Existing, as we so often do, within the confines of this agency/tech bubble it's easy to find ourselves obsessed by buzzwords. Trends that permeate our culture, be they creative technology, service design, voice, AI or immersive technologies, are treated as the de-facto explanation of innovation.

In truth this bubble is one that acts more as an echo chamber for own obsessions than as a true definition of innovation.

Naturally as technologists, user experience specialists, strategists and designers we are drawn to the power and imagination of the new. For many of us it's the answer to the “why” of our jobs. However, more often than not we don't question our own motives for chasing these trends, nor question if our definition of innovation is correct, instead we are (to misquote the situationists) returning to the normal.

Beware the blandness of the pack

We've all fallen into the trap of staring wide eyed at the latest tech demo, design tool or white paper, dreaming of its potential.

That projection mapping concept we had in 2014; the IOT device that would change everything in 2015; the pitch that was Pokemon Go but for… in 2016; an innovation solution of how we could use Watson to create the campaign of 2018 and so on and so forth.

But instead of our desired result the "innovations" began to mirror each other, ideas become separated only by rice paper, designs mimicking the tools we use, (Sketch as a design trend) and our technologies flooded with the same fashionable coding library and tools.

We resolutely pull the wool over our eyes and convince ourselves this was being creative with tech, or thinking in ways others didn't. Yet in truth we were merely the sheep, copying, following trends, and thinking from the wrong beginning.

Many brands are stuck in technology pilot purgatory. There needs to be real substance behind our use of technology, driven by real understanding of human need. In short: We need to think beyond technology, tactics or task force to something a lot more human-focused.

— Baiju Shah - '3 Misconceptions to Abandon While Implementing Brand Innovation' (AdWeek)

It takes a certain sense of maturity in your career to realise that innovation doesn't come from those positions. In fact, true innovation begins from somewhere completely different. It’s agnostic to technology and trends, at the edges of the bell curve, solving a problem for people first. It's perhaps easiest to look at some examples of how this manifests.

The ‘real’ internet on your phone

Apple's iPhone is rightly heralded as a game changing piece of innovation, many parts such as the touchscreen or UI could have been hailed as breakthroughs alone, though both had been done by others.

So then what was the key innovation feature that set it apart?

It’s perhaps fair to say the most insightful innovation was one Steve Jobs cited as the revolutionary part of the device. The ability to have a real web browser in your phone.

A simple key human insight, that having the internet as you were accustomed to it available in a phone, transformed both the purpose of mobile devices, and arguably the way we act in all aspects of our lives.

This is a revolution of the first order, to really bring the real Internet to your phone

— Steve Jobs

Creative technology, and the innovation of campaigns

Likewise, we can re-imagine this people first, technology second innovation in modern campaigns that are given the title of “creative tech”.

There are many that look amazing, or that harness incredible technology, but the best are those that solve a human insight, or business problem, at the edge of the bell curve.

Take the recent campaign from Burger King that allowed you to ‘buy’ a Whopper at a McDonalds, the insight here was that McDonalds had more stores in New York than Burger King, and instead of going down the traditional route of sign posting to their stores, or opening expensive new premises, Burger King (alongside its agency FCB New York) instead took a more creative, innovative route.

By making the best use of geo-fencing (an old technology), and mapping their 72,000 US stores they allowed for a campaign whereby anyone within 600ft of a McDonlads could order a Whopper at the nearest Burger King for only 1¢.

Not only was this a huge success, increasing customer spending by 26%, but it also allowed Burger King to hugely expand usage of their app, geo-fence their stores, collect data on where their customers were and collect email addresses for direct campaigns. Moreover, it allowed the agency working with Burger King to trust them to do more experimental work, based on the insights of edge groups and real problems.

Adding in the benefit of human advantage

There are, of course, many more stories where small human insights, create far more interesting innovation and business value than simply chasing that newest technology (a particularly interesting one, albeit an article of its own, is accessibility & it's rebranded cousin Inclusive Design).

It's with that culture in mind that we operate at AmazeRealise, in understanding that by putting the person first, and in finding a real human advantage in applying our technology, we can make more incisive and interesting innovation, and engaging Creative Technology.

In working with clients to create foldable digital "origami" to explain the precision and attention to detail of Lexus, and surface their culture in a fun and meaningful way. Or to run a design jam with NSPCC to create greater efficacy in their reporting process, it is thinking in a human first manner, in creating human advantage. That means we can start from a more creative and innovative by nature beginning.

 

We’d be very happy to talk to you about how we can combine technology with human-first thinking to provide you with a genuine advantage. Simply fill in the form below, or contact Kevin

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