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Design Trends

Putting Design at the Heart of Business, Government and Society: New Report Highlights the Rising Role of Design in 2016

From disappearing apps to micromoments, Trends 2016 takes a provocative look at 10 digital developments expected to disrupt organizations in the year ahead, according to Fjord, Design and Innovation

Toronto - Amidst the rapid pace of innovation and changing consumer expectations, Accenture has released Fjord Trends 2016, its ninth annual report examining the most significant emergent digital trends expected to transform design, organizations and society in the year ahead.

With more than 750 designers and developers working in 19 studios around the world, including a new studio in Toronto available to service clients across Canada, the base from which Fjord trends are created is now three times as deep as in 2013.

Underpinning these trends is the continued drive toward constantly changing Living Services, dynamically responding to user requirements and context in real time. The report also notes an acceleration of services moving toward faster delivery in smaller chunks of activity and content, enabled by APIs and platforms. And the trends aren't confined to technology alone: there's an urge to design for social change, which is a critical mindset shift that's occurring at many organizations. These meta themes will present an array of design challenges and opportunities that the most successful organizations may adapt to, says the report.

"We're hearing a lot of excited talk in the market about design thinking," said Scott Weisbrod, Toronto's Studio Head and Group Service Design Director, Fjord. "Our clients are trying hard to move on to design doing, and it's a tough hurdle to overcome. Everything is becoming smaller, faster, and flatter, requiring organizations to quickly pivot, to flex their technology and to evolve their approach to design."

Trends 2016 highlights 10 digital trends expected to shape the next generation of experiences:

1.) Watch. It Listens. Today, many of us use devices that encourage us to run farther or eat better. Whether wearables or nearables, the latest crop of devices now listen and respond. Whether it's literally listening to voice commands or to the streams of data we create, they are learning from users and responding in real-time through intent-driven, increasingly effortless, "micromoments."

2.) Service with Manners. With the surge of big data comes extraordinary responsibility. The most successful organizations appreciate that digital trust must be earned. "Privacy by design" is being embraced at companies like Microsoft that are embedding privacy standards into technology and product design from the start.

3.) B2We. Liquid expectations are spilling over into our work lives, as workers expect the same best-in-class consumer experiences to converge with the workplace. A new emphasis on employee experience (EX) design is reimagining workplace processes, structure and culture.

4.) Disappearing apps. The glut of single-use apps in our daily lives will disappear into platforms as they become "atomized," or super distributed, across platforms and third-party services. The next wave may not even require human interaction to activate.

5.) The Flattening of Privilege. Digital experiences have democratized luxury and elevated our standard of living -- bringing luxury services like personal chauffeurs (like Lyft) and virtual assistants (like Facebook M) to the masses.

6.) Approachable Government Design. Governments are rethinking the citizen experience from a one-size-fits-all approach to finely-tuned services tailored to individual needs. Both the U.S. and U.K.'s digital government departments have even published meticulous design style guides.

7.) Healthy is the New Wealthy. Self-monitoring is no longer the domain of a small, tech-savvy customer segment. Newly empowered consumers are embracing health tech to measure their wellness. Even insurers like Kaiser Permanente and Aetna are opening up their platforms to third parties to enable the building of Quantified Self services on top of their data connecting third-party wearables, apps and services.

8.) Virtual Reality's (VR) Dreams Come True. No longer a futuristic fantasy, VR will make its mainstream debut in 2016 with the first consumer versions of Sony, Oculus, and Samsung products expected to hit the market. Expect designers to think beyond gaming and put VR to novel use in everything from scientific studies and virtual tourism, to immersive learning.

9.) Taking Things off the Thinking List. With rapid speed of innovation comes a never-ending cycle of decisions and choices. Services that can anticipate needs by suggesting options or automating low-maintenance decisions, such as Google Now, can be a welcome part of consumers' lives.

10.) Design from Within. Corporations are embracing design thinking to catalyze change for their customers and employees. By taking a human-centered approach, these companies are using design as an agent for problem solving across the entire organization; but it's an emphasis on design doing that will bring the promise to life.

"As the digitization of everything alters what we think of as a service and the physical world becomes more connected, organizations will need to understand these new battlegrounds to adapt and convert change into opportunities," said Brian Whipple, senior managing director, Accenture Interactive. "Our Trends reports aims to provoke, inform and inspire but, above all, to provide actionable insights into designing for the rapidly evolving world of experience."

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