Corporate transformation will soon switch from digital to purpose – Interview with Mark Curtis of Fjord


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Today’s interview is with Mark Curtis, Chief Client Officer at Fjord (part of Accenture Interactive). Mark joins me today to talk about Fjord’s new Trends 2020 report, some of the trends, what they mean and what we should be thinking about when it comes to improving customer experience.

This interview follows on from my recent interview – Rethinking the experience of life insurance – Interview with Adam Weinberg of Haven Life – and is number 334 in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things, providing valuable insights, helping businesses innovate and delivering great service and experience to both their customers and their employees.

Here’s the highlights of my chat with Mark:

  • Mark has been doing digital since 1993.
  • Fjord have recently published their annual trends report: Trends 2020.
  • Fjord have been publishing their trends report for 13 years now.
  • The guiding principle behind the trends is that they should be about stuff that will affect the way in which we think about products and services over the next 2 to 3 years.
  • They are crowd sourced in so far as they are pulled from all of their designers from around the world.
  • The trends are:
    • Many faces of growth – Corporate transformation will soon switch from digital to purpose, in response to people’s demand for success metrics that enhance our lives more than financial growth.
    • Money changers – Our experience of what money is and what it can do is changing, opening the door for a host of pioneering products and services, and the rise of biometric wallets.
    • Walking barcodes – 5G’s impact will extend beyond faster data connection to enable new physical experiences, with personalized content made possible by facial and body language recognition.
    • Liquid people – Organizations will increasingly need to support individual consumers’ and employees’ increasingly changeable desires and their pursuit of greater meaning in their lives.
    • Designing intelligence – The next step for Artificial Intelligence is a generation of systems that blend it with human intelligence to unlock the full potential of people and machines working together.
    • Digital doubles – Brands will need to learn how to interact with our digital doubles – the virtual home for all of our data, and gatekeepers of our digital lives.
    • Life-centred design – As people’s focus moves from “me” to “we”, user-centred design will feel increasingly selfish, and emphasis will need to switch toward design for all life.
  • There are big regional differences.
  • Design at the edges frequently creates things, which which then become incredibly useful for the mass market.
  • Regarding the ‘Many faces of growth’ trend, people are asking fundamental questions about how well capitalism is serving society.
  • Sodexo, one of the world’s largest corporate services companies that provides catering and cleaning and all sorts of stuff to all sorts of institutions, committed a few years back to reducing food waste by 50%. And, they’ve done it.
  • Regarding the “Liquid people” trend, people are defining and redefining themselves in increasingly fluid ways on digital and it is really important for organizations to understand both from an employee and a customer standpoint.
  • Increasingly, this is not just about gender. We are defining ourselves in a number of fluid ways.
  • People are beginning to ask questions about why they consume things. And, what does it mean to be an employee?
  • The questioning, particularly on the consumer side, is so profound that actually the word consumer may well have to disappear from the public lexicon of large corporations over the next 10 years because there is a chance it’s so associated with consumption as a way of defining yourself.
  • Companies are having to rethink what they’re about at the most fundamental level.
  • We’re calling for a redefinition of user-centred design, which has served its purpose well, to life-centred design, which is thinking more broadly about the system that we’re in and the effects on the system that we’re designing for.
  • Systemic design and systems design are academic discipline that have been exploring this for some time.
  • Thus, design will have to think about three things: desirability, feasibility and viability.
  • This forms a triangle of questions: Will it be desirable for the user that we’re thinking of here? Is it feasible? Can we make this? Is it feasible? Is it viable? Can we make money out of it?
  • Example: travel to New York form London in an hour. Desirable: Yes. Feasible: It may be. But, if we can’t make money out of it, then it isn’t gonna happen. But, if you roll in some of the other trends like “Many faces of growth” then profitability will have to be combined with sustainability.
  • We have to consider externalities.
  • So we have to start thinking about Triple purpose alignment: How do you align the purpose of the organization with the purpose of its customers? How do you align the purpose of the organization with the purpose of its employees? And then, how do you align the purpose of the customers with the purpose of the employees?
  • The last one is the one that many organizations will miss.
  • Many of the signals that go into the trends are pointing in the same direction and they pose lots of interesting questions about data and trust.
  • Mark’s best advice on where to start with all of this: The crucial question to answer circles around purpose. Organisational alignment around purpose and how you use purpose to define new ways of growing.
  • Mark’s punk CX word(s): technology hacking.

About Mark

Mark CurtisMark Curtis is a serial entrepreneur and innovator who has worked in media, digital, mobile and design for 30 years.

His first company, Curtis Hoy, pioneered a new market sector of radio sales promotion in 1989 as the commercial UK radio industry flourished under deregulation. Highlights included introducing fixed frequency low cost radios as a sampling driver for the Pepsi taste test, bringing drive-in movies to the UK for the first time ever (Diet Pepsi) and commissioning and designing the first marketing use of virtual reality in 1993 (as a roadshow for a Unilever brand) anywhere in the world.

In 1994 he and Mike Beeston set up CHBi, an offshoot to Curtis Hoy, to explore the marketing potential of the (then) emerging interactive and “new” media. The company created Yell for Yellow Pages, interactive retail games for Allied Domecq, one of the first online communities (using dial up access), and launched the first (global) online traffic news and route planning for the RAC.

In 1998 CHBi became part of Razorfish. Mark’s role evolved to EVP Products and Service in which he ran a change management programme for all 2,000 employees which restructured and radically simplified Razorfish’s approach to clients and projects.

In 2001 he co-founded service design consultancy Fjord with Mike Beeston and Olof Schybergson. At Fjord Mark is Chief Client Officer, and his role spans offer definition, marketing and business development. Fjord was acquired by Accenture in May 2013.

Between 2005 and 2011 Mark stepped out of Fjord to run Flirtomatic, a mobile dating start-up incubated by Fjord. As CEO he raised over $10m and pioneered the mobile dating industry, in particular bringing the freemium revenue model to mobile for the first time.

Mark is a frequent speaker at conferences and commentator in the media. He has published a book, “Distraction – Being Human in the Digital Age” about the social effects of new technology. Inspired by the wisdom of crowds theory he also invented a reality TV format “You’re The Manager” which gave fans the ability to choose players for their football team each week using mobile. The programme was commissioned for a season by C4 in the UK, only to be banned by the football authorities a week before broadcast as too disruptive to football’s established order. He remains convinced that digital technology can help give football back to the fans.

You can find out more about Fjord here, check out the Trends 2020 report here, connect with Mark on LinkedIn here and don’t forget to say Hi to Mark and them on Twitter @FjordMark and @fjord.


Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adrian Swinscoe
Adrian Swinscoe brings over 25 years experience to focusing on helping companies large and small develop and implement customer focused, sustainable growth strategies.


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