The Business of Experience
Last week I had the opportunity to attend the Adobe Symposium 2017 held at Grand Hyatt, Mumbai. In the 5 hours that I spent at the event, Adobe (the company that created Photoshop and a bunch of other incredible software) transformed my outlook toward the design industry. How? By talking to me about what it means to run a business today and how design is such an inextricable part of it.
Make experience your business!
Four powerful words with a message quite simple. Today, we aren’t going to brands solely for the product or service – we’re going for the experience. There was a time we would shop only on the terms laid down by businesses. If stores were shut, we were forced to come back later. If products were out of stock, we wouldn’t know unless we physically went to the store and checked. We had to plan every single purchase due to this uncertainty. This experience proved quite troublesome until the day online shopping swept us off our feet. The convenience of having a product delivered to our doorsteps with the much-needed benefit of exchange upon dissatisfaction is why we fell in love with click and mortar. The consumer-business dynamic underwent a paradigm shift with design guiding it along every step of the way. How? By constantly allowing for innovation in products and services.
Take the success of Uber for example. Essentially a cab service, but with a remarkable understanding of user requirements. Barring price, what is the key differentiator between the services of Uber and that of any regular Cool Cab in the city? The beauty of the former’s overall UX. At the click of a button, an Uber can be made ready for me at my doorstep - I don’t have to walk to the stand or make a phone call. Since the Uber driver already knows my drop location, I can sit back and focus on other things during the ride. I don’t have to worry about asking locals for directions because the fastest route has already been detected and displayed to me. If I’m travelling in a new city, I can share my exact location with someone ensuring that I am being watched every step of the way. And lastly, it’s up to me to decide how to pay the driver at the end of the ride. If I took price out of the equation and offered both services to you, wouldn’t you prefer the Uber? Yes, because even though both services help achieve the same goal, the experience with Uber is far better, proving that whether we know it or not, we are all in a quest for great experiences.
Your smartphone serves as a brilliant example for this phenomenon. We don’t choose a smartphone based on its ability to make phone calls or send text messages anymore. We choose it for its interface, speed, memory, colour, finish, grip, camera, music quality and way more – we choose it for how smart it is. If we only cared about telephonic communication, we’d all be walking around with basic Nokia handsets. It’s fascinating to see this drastic shift in consumer behaviour and the resultant change in the way we react to businesses. Thus, companies are not just in the business of products and services, they are in the business of experiences.
Adobe, a design veteran, has developed unique tools that help analyze and track consumer reactions. Businesses can use these tools to generate better content, offer better services and thereby, create better experiences. The funny thing is, no business has perfected its experience. Why? Because the perfect experience doesn’t exist. There is always room to do better because consumer difficulties are endless. While some may call this a vicious cycle, we designers choose to look at it as an opportunity to grow, learn and make the world a better place, one experience at a time.