The Future of Experience: Adobe and Goldsmiths University reveal the impact of emerging technologies on consumer experiences

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Adobe today launched ‘The Future of Experience’ report (PDF download) revealing the new rules of engagement when it comes to creating great experiences using a range of emerging technologies such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), artificial intelligence (AI), wearables and the Internet of Things (IoT).

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    Carried out by Goldsmiths University of London, the study used a mix of research methods including workshops with consumers, interviews with technology experts and quantitative research online with over 2,000 UK adults in Great Britain*.

    The findings identified five new dimensions for brands to consider when it comes to creating experiences of the future:

    Empathy: Creating deep and meaningful relationships

    The research found that with these new technologies, especially VR, creating more immersive and deeply private environments that impact on both physical and mental states, brands will need to practice extreme empathy. Participants felt that these technologies have the unique ability to lend themselves to developing more meaningful experiences, with 32% of GB adults saying that this is the top attribute of a great experience followed by personal (19%).

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    Serendipity: Using technology to aid discovery and surprise

    The study found that emerging technologies should be used to create experiences that fuel imaginative thinking: all participants, regardless of the technology used, reported their potential in making them more creative as well as allowing them to discover new things. This is backed up by nearly two thirds (64%) of the adults surveyed online who said that a good digital experience allows them to discover new and unexpected things that they like and love. Elements of serendipity in an experience will build authenticity and, as a result, trust in brands.

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    Privacy: Technology enabling people to experience private moments

    Over half (52%) of those surveyed agreed that a good digital experience empowers them to use technology to not only connect to the world, but disconnect from it. While it facilitates deeper relationships with the external world, emerging technologies like VR and wearables are also empowering consumers to create their own private digital worlds, where they choose the brands they interact with based on the quality of the experience offered.

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    Reciprocity: AI has the ability to radically change experience, but we need to teach it

    The research also found participants were excited about the possibilities AI applications presented and recognised the reciprocal nature of the relationship. Over half (52%) of the survey respondents said they would be happy to help ‘teach’ a machine if the feedback improved a number of elements in their lives like personal health, social services, everyday services and decision-making around purchases. For now, the findings suggest that people will accept AI into their lives as long as the applications provide helpful, practical, personal and progressive experiences.

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    Adaptability: Using technology as an enabler for seamless experiences

    Participants testing IoT and AI technologies were excited about their potential in terms of making life easier, but frustrated that the experiences were not as straightforward and seamless as they wanted. Brands must therefore adapt to provide seamless, integrated experiences, not only across many different channels – both offline and online – but across products and services, and even entire markets. This multichannel requirement is highlighted in the retail environment particularly, where 35% of adults surveyed online said they preferred making transactions in person, 30% via a device and 32% stating no preference between the two.

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    John Watton, EMEA Marketing Director, Adobe says: “Digital transformation has presented enormous opportunities for businesses to reach customers in more meaningful and personal ways. What we wanted to understand through this research was the opportunity for brands to use new techniques and channels to build deeper relationships. It’s clear that the potential is enormously exciting but these new experiences must be built with great care. What doesn’t change is that we must stay absolutely focused on the customer, show that we know, value and respect them and give them experiences that are consistent, personal and surprising.”

    Chris Brauer, Director of Innovation and Senior Lecturer in IMS at Goldsmiths University, says: “The research shows people want experiences facilitated by technologies that enhance the flow and meaning in everyday life. The call-to-action is for experiences that are empathetic, learning, and adaptive. Emerging technologies are set to transform how we live, learn, and understand. Instead of dehumanising through technology, the future of experience is about technology supporting and amplifying the best qualities of our humanity.”