Inspiration + Ideation + Implementation = Ideo
That’s the concept behind the global design firm Ideo that takes a different approach to human design, making the technology second to the human point of view to resolve functional challenges.
Dana Cho, partner at Ideo, spoke on “Space, Service and Story in a Tech-Forward World.”
Noting that what was formerly the domain of science fiction was becoming a reality — think drones delivering packages — Cho said her firm focuses on the human side of the lens to solve problems, zeroing in on non-obvious solutions. “We are inspired by, and design for, real people,” she said. That means that someone who isn’t trained as a designer can still use the creative tools that are available to address a problem. The benefit is that “we don’t lose human insight” on technological advances. “We need breakthrough innovations to help business and people,” Cho said.
She spoke about the firm’s work with the Wounded Warrior Project in creating the ideal home for injured veterans. Learning what works and what doesn’t is just part of the research. How it fits the needs of the individual is the other part of the equation. In one scenario, the obvious solution was to make certain kitchen adjustments to accommodate the veteran’s injuries. However, that obvious solution wouldn’t have addressed the need of the veteran in question, as the individual was looking to be challenged instead of accommodated.
In applying Ideo’s design thinking process to physical spaces and technology, Cho said, “I believe the physical store is not dead. We still need to experience the physical space. Technology doesn’t change that. Technology will make smaller spaces more powerful for retailers.”
While smaller spaces will require fewer sku’s and automation can help in inventory management, Cho said flexibility in the smaller footprint could bring new small-store formats into play. “The store [perhaps] should thought of more as a gallery,” she said.
The gallery idea can serve to inspire consumers and work to engage them in the store experience. Cho cited museums as one example because of their use of interactive installations to create an experience for visitors.
And while the idea of how storytelling plus technology has propelled augmented reality to disrupt the gaming and educational industries, the “retail opportunity is tremendous,” Cho said.
She emphasized that the “future of digital content is not about replicating the in-store experience online.” Rather, it’s about creating new fantasies in the digital realm, Cho said. She cited a running app called “Zombies, Run” and how the app pushes runners to run as if they were in a post-apocalyptic world. The key is an interactive collaboration, instead of just a way to consume entertainment, Cho concluded.
She noted a design prototype from Ikea regarding the kitchen of the future using a countertop that can teach one how to cook based on the ability to scan what items are placed on the countertop. Another example is Eatsa, a restaurant start-up in San Francisco that has automated service by taking orders online, and thereby helping businesses to eliminate some labor costs, and serving food from robotic cubbies. And finally, there’s Enjoy Technology, a Menlo Park, Calif. start-up that has former Apple executive and J.C. Penney Co. Inc. chief executive officer Ron Johnson as its ceo. The company allows consumers to buy their tech product online, schedule delivery, and have an expert set up and train them on how to use the item so buyers can enjoy their purchases right away. Cho described the modern service of Enjoy Technology “high-touch and high-tech.”