What We Can’t Change — but Shape

Design for more balance

The internet is currently emerging into our physical world which will have an immense impact on how we live and behave in the future. In his book „The Inevitable“, Kevin Kelly, founding executive editor of Wired magazine, brilliantly gives an insight about his thoughts about technological forces that will shape the future. In an interview with Mozilla he introduced his thesis with that the Internet is inevitable, but the character is not. As an example he mentions that copying is inevitable but the iPhone is not. There are many things which will happen but at the same time we have a lot to say about the characteristics of them. Related to the digitalization of our physical world (IoT) he said, that everything that can be tracked, will be tracked.

When we think about it as designers, we always have to have in mind, that this will be inevitable — but we can have influence about the characteristics of it.

In 2020 there will be 50 billion devices which are connected to the internet, Cisco IBSG predicts. It will come a time where every device is connected and we don’t even know it. Mikko Hyppönen, chief research officer at F-Secure speaking at Cloud Expo Europe: “It’s going to be so cheap that vendors will put the chip in any device, even if the benefits are only very small. But those benefits won’t be benefits to you, the consumer, they’ll be benefits for the manufacturers because they want to collect analytics,”

Kevin Kelly says that the internet will always be present, and will feel more like a conversation and experience than a „place“. It feels that we are currently at a really early stage of this evolution. There are a lot of things which have to be improved and solved before it reaches its full potential. This trend will also challenge the core values of our society and raises questions about privacy. When we add sensors to ourselves, and to the objects and places around us, we will create a virtual blueprint of our physical world.

Related to a survey of the Altimeter Group, it says that top concerns of users will be around privacy and security. „Who is seeing my data?“ and „How will they use them?“.

This is where design comes into play. One important job of Service Experience Designers will be, to design for trust. „Trust is something people are willing to pay for“, said Kevin Kelly in the interview. „Trust is an unique asset which can not be copied. It has to be generated in exchange“. Those values will be extremely important in the future and will drive the new economy. We have to involve ourselves and start questioning — to turn bad ideas into good ones.

To build trust in this new economy, it will be important to think on the balance between customer and companies, their values and benefits. When the user feels an imbalance in what he offers for a service or product (the company) and what he gets out of it, the realtionship will never be fulfilling. There should be a mutual benefit with more transparency. Kevin Kelly says, that currently there is an asymmetrically: „I know that they watch me but I do not know who they are and what they do“.

Trust will be created not only by what a company says, but how it acts. Actions should be followed by values — which can be created. Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, said in an interview: “They’re gobbling up everything they can learn about you and trying to monetize it. We think that’s wrong. And it’s not the kind of company that Apple wants to be.” You have always a choice on which side you want to stand and what kind of future you want to create. Good design has to start by empathizing with users and should always be built on enjoyment and trust, not suspicion and frustration.