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The Power of Digital Design and Strategy for Affectionate Human Interactions

By Dave Fletcher, Founder and Executive Director, The Mechanism

Dave Fletcher, Founder and Executive Director, The Mechanism

I am a designer who decided to shift gears from traditional advertising and branding to the early days of websites in 1995. I later moved into the wild west of digital website consultancies in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, through the tech bubble burst, further into developing web apps and traditional apps in the mid 2000’s, to now.

"Devices and likely the wearable industry will continue to steadily infiltrate and replace the experience of a single website for an organization and brand's digital expression"

For the better part of 15 years, I’ve run a digital design, branding and strategy firm called The Mechanism. We started in New York City in August of 2001, a few weeks before our fine city (and the entire world) changed forever. Mind you, this wasn’t the most opportunistic time to start a technology-dependent company anywhere, but the vibrancy and resilience of the city’s tech industry, thanks in part to a technology-focused CEO/Mayor (Bloomberg) enabled a good work atmosphere for The Mechanism to grow and thrive in the years following 9/11. We’ve weathered technology and financial storms over the years, and seen plenty of trends come and go.

Truly innovative CEO’s, CTO’s and CIO’s and leaders are inquisitive and don’t keep a tight leash on talent. Innovators focus on enabling human beings to utilize the most important tool in their shed: Their Minds.

Our developers, even when nearby and not outsourced, occasionally enjoy their programming time in their gloriously dark caves offsite. The cloud, whether through Google, website hosting providers, and version control systems like github.com or iCloud provides us with faster access to our work, private work time outside of the office, and the ability to avoid the horrors of multiple tracked files between clients.

Thus, working in the cloud is a great enabler, but also a destroyer of the traditional concept of an office as we know it. In fact, big cities are doomed unless they figure out how to present cheaper alternatives to connectivity and real estate prices.

For many years, The Mechanism depended on internal redundant backup systems to house our files and data. The fear of a pack of jack als hacking into early cloud-enabled hosting systems kept us cautious - but as security, internet speeds and ubiquitous access has improved, we’ve begun to justify the leap. A digital design company like ours has enormous files with historical importance: full backups of websites and databases, client archives, Photoshop files with hundreds of layers and video content comprise of many of the bits that we have to keep track of. A failed internal hard drive can be devastating to an agency, especially when the work isn’t backed up elsewhere and available from anywhere.

Transition is what the technology industry is about. I’ve seen developers over the years embrace a new framework or programming tool on a weekly basis. Some new technologies, such as wearables, will only gain traction when an industry, such as Pharmaceuticals embraces them fully. Big Pharma is evolving - digitally. By trusting modern creative agencies to innovate within the eLearning and branding space, and by cultivating micro-branded communities and unique gamification-centric learning techniques (typically reserved for modern university-level education), to transcend their internal curricula, they are educating their teams, physicians and care givers in profound ways - through the cloud. Granted, there are always going to be government-controlled conditions to prevent certain online communication from being immediately accessible, but it's the agencies that are able to think outside of the regulatory box that will usher forth a new paradigm in pharmaceutical learning and sharing.

In January 2014, according to information taken from comScore, cited by a research firm, Enders Analysis, mobile devices accounted for 55 percent of Internet usage in the United States. Traffic from PC's clocked in at 45 percent. A mobile strategy is no longer a "nice to have" luxury - it's the present and future of communications with regard to B2C and B2B communications. Companies and corporations that have yet to allocate resources for a mobile strategy, or have taken shortcuts with their mobile approach are building a house of cards – and it's about to take a tumble. Mobile has won.

A dear departed friend once quipped, "What happens when everyone has a website?" Now that's a bit naive, but I get his point. The convenience of smart phones, tablets as well as virtual and augmented realities are steadily pushing us into a post-PC world, where expansive and fully immersive experiences are increasingly more desirable and useful than just a website. Websites, by definition, are just a group of connected pages regarded as a single entity, and they are practically free if you look hard enough. The modern digital branded experience is much more.

Mobile devices and likely the wearable industry will continue to steadily infiltrate and replace the experience of a single website for an organization and brand's digital expression. In recent years, the idea of social media has raised the stakes by creating two-way conversations in real time with real expectations from your audience. We prefer to not be removed from experiencing one form of entertainment or educational media to sit down at a computer and look up a website. We want to experience all things collectively and collaboratively with our friends, and the distraction of a website, as we once knew it, is not nearly complex enough to satisfy our desires.

Data is King - the device is currently just the royal messenger. “Big Data” however, is nothing more than term dreamed up in a marketing professional's brainstorm, used to excite business leaders. In truth, its usefulness is dependent on structure and search ability.

Artificial Intelligence is the magic sauce resulting from Big Data.

We will soon live with systems that interpolate Big Data seamlessly - by plugging directly into an artificial or ambient intelligence to manage your life, curate your interests, drive a vehicle, keep track of your day to day travels and never force you to remove yourself from an existing experience to use a website to research what the Network will already know you’re looking for. The next generation will be the “Mighty Un tethered”, ubiquitously connected to the cloud. You and your friends and colleagues interests will be part of the system, and as they change, so will your personal experience to match your tastes. Diseases, dangers, economies and civilizations will be repaired on a global scale due to mass shared information and the artificial intelligence to be gained from it.

Imagine: The glorious global cross-pollination of ideas.

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