In A World Gone Tech, People and Creativity Still Matter

Ces Pov 10K

Amid the mind-blowing technological advances that debuted and were debated at CES this year – from driverless cars and personal robot assistants to 5G and AI – one takeaway that really stood out was the ever important role that humanity and creativity play in business transformation.

Sure, AI can arm marketers with a crazy amount of first-hand data, but it takes human minds to define the problem to solve, generate strategic insights from the data, and apply creativity to do something useful and impactful (and ethical!) with it.

A number of CES panelists confirmed this. David Webster from IDEO discussed the need for combining a human touch with tech in innovation. The online personal styling service Stitchfix is an example of this. The Stitchfix process begins when algorithms develop a client profile, but then editors and designers are needed to curate the information and create a level of personalization and with a special touch that is truly customized for each client.

Gina Garrubbo, president and CEO of National Public Media, echoed this. They have a listening app that allows them to know what people are listening to, but machine learning only goes so far. Their editors are essential for curating and creating the content listeners want. It’s a marriage of human and machine.

While marketers may be eager to chase new shiny tech trends like AI (and they should), it’s important to think about how the technology will help solve an existing business problem and provide real customer utility. The technology should be the tool, with humans responsible for training the tool.

And while humans are still proven essential, it’s becoming clear that technology advances are changing the types of human minds and skillsets that are needed to solve problems. Alfonso Albaisa from Nissan Motor Co. talked about how innovation is requiring them to rethink their talent pool and who they hire. Where they once may have hired a product designer, they now look for experience designers. These designers are inherent storytellers who can stitch together concepts and ideas that do not seemingly relate, but can be brought together to create one cohesive narrative or experience.

We see this happening in the world of design, where what used to be fundamentally static is now becoming dynamic, causing designers to not only adapt their skillsets, but their mindsets as well. They can no longer conceive experiences and bring them to the world with the assumption that they will remain pure and untouched. Instead, they are jumping off points that will evolve. Designers will benefit from adopting an influencer mindset versus a control mindset, and to being open to vulnerability.  CES may inspire people to go “iRobot” and start thinking that data and machines will soon make people irrelevant, but it’s clear that the industry also needs strategic, creative minds who are ready to embrace technology-fueled creativity. And if done right, the pairing of technology and creativity can lead to transformative business ideas and more humanized end experiences for the customer.