“Dataful” Informs Almost Everything We Do
PSX: How has the work at Publicis Sapient Toronto changed over the years with respect to creating experiences?
Eiko Kawano and Chad Borlase of Publicis Sapient Toronto respond:
The concept of “experience” has really changed. In the past, the term was sometimes synonymous with UX; there was a sense that a specific discipline or skillset “owned” the experience. Today, the experience comes from a diverse, cross-disciplinary team, and what that team creates together. The power of collaboration can’t be overstated – both in terms of how our culture has shifted and in the quality of what we make.
PSX: What are other big shifts you’ve seen in the past five-ish years?
EK/CB: We see four big shifts today:
- CX vs UX
- Design systems
Let’s double-click on them to go deeper:
CX vs. UX
The aspiration to design customer journeys as opposed to individual channels is nothing new. But now, we as an industry have finally matured to the point where we’re able to actually do it. Many of the clients we work with have a tremendous appetite for understanding the “big picture” customer journey. And they’re ready to break down barriers across touchpoints and channels that have prevented it in the past. As designers, this shift gives us so much more scope and impact.
The Toronto office has a hub of incredibly engaged designers and developers who have established a center of excellence for creating accessible experiences over the past few years. Much of their expertise was grown from the bottom up, and today, our designers make experiences accessible by default. They share a belief that Accessibility is simply the right thing to do. It’s not just a compliance issue to be checked off a list.
We’re having fascinating conversations about the intersection of data and design that go beyond what it means for the customer. Our focus is also on how our data and design teams work together. This lays the foundation for a powerful conversation with a client because the work we do is driven by tangible insights that can be measured and iterated upon. And, at the same time, we’re creating a culture of learning, experimentation and yes, sometimes failure – which is invaluable when it comes to innovation.
As our clients’ digital channels continue to mature, and as teams participating in the creation of those channels grow and transcend geographies, design systems have become the foundation of scalable experiences. For example, we run a design system that powers six brands on one of our accounts. We’re big fans of finding new ways to be systematic about design, constantly iterating on various approaches. Design systems that create cohesion across digital and physical channels excite us and motivate what we do. We’re always working toward creating harmony among all mediums.
PSX: How does the word “dataful” make a difference (or not) in the work that you all lead and make happen?
“Dataful” informs almost everything we do. One day we might be creating an experience that allows us to connect a customer’s in-store and online behaviour, helping us build the profile of the high-value “omnichannel” customer. And the next day, we’re working with data analysts to understand why a particular customer segment is or isn’t responding to a certain piece of content. Then we’re layering behavioural data with insights from 1:1 customer interviews to understand what people do across their journeys and why. It also means we get to work with data analysts and data scientists more, which is a ton of fun. However, data isn’t perfect. It tells us what people do, but it doesn’t tell us why – at least not yet.
PSX: What’s the role of “gut intuition” in the process of creating work today — how does it relate to being “dataful” or not?
Data gives us all sorts of rich information — proof, if you will — about how people behave. It tells us what content we should show them and how the layout of screens might respond to their behaviour as well as their implicit and explicit needs. It’ll even tell us the types of products we should offer people. This is powerful stuff, but intuition is still critical to the process because data doesn’t tell us why people behave in those ways. In fact, intuition is even more important now when so much of what a customer experiences is informed by data.
We like to think of applying both the “head and the heart” when working with data. Because intuition is really about being human. It’s about applying everything you’ve learned to what you interpret and what you make, whether you’re a designer, researcher or data scientist. Data isn’t at odds with intuition – the best data analysts are data strategists. And those people can move beyond simply gathering data and interpret what that information means. They can answer important questions about data. What are the implications? What do they tell us about what we know? What assumptions do they challenge?
PSX: What do you say to folks who are just starting their first month at PS Toronto in Experience as key advice?
Find the thing you love about what you do, and we’ll help you do more of that. Our office celebrates an entrepreneurial spirit. So, if you have an idea, bring it forward. If you want to do something in your career, you have the opportunity to make it happen by working alongside your new team members. And if you feel like you need help, reach out to those around you. We really are here to you. And have fun! We have a special, energizing culture, and there are so many ways to make a difference in PS and our wider community.
PSX: What characteristics are you looking for to join the PS Toronto team in no more than 5 words?
Never leave a team member behind. (Okay that was six :+)
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