The biggest professional insight of the past year was coming up with the Digital Design approach. It came from my experience of working with people who think of digital strategy only in terms of practices they are familiar with: engagement planning, communications planning, propagation planning, you name it. Nothing can be further from the rich and broad digital reinvention of the ways we do business and live our daily lives. I became convinced that more than a gap in knowledge, there’s a rift in values between those who understand digital and those who merely use it.
I realized it’s important to emphasize that digital insights need to be the hub of any solution and/or idea. Enter Digital Design. It’s an approach and methodology focused on solving problems in a way that improves human lives. It thinks of digital as a new source of value for both the business and the user. As an approach, Digital Design is behavior-first, collaborative, additive and evolving. It’s driven by making the world a more open, social and sustainable place. It's based on the fact that we've run out of time for solutions that are not sustainable, that hyper-consumption is a waste, and that we need a much more efficient economic activity. As a methodology, Digital Design is human-centered. It’s a set of tools and methods oriented towards creating and capturing economic value through helping people do things in a more playful, human, sensible and efficient way.
In practice, Digital Design informs strategy. The focus of strategy is on understanding problems, not enforcing a particular solution. Strategy's job is to outline the experience that connects the business and the user. Best strategies help solve problems by generating an idea on how to creatively improve human life. Best experiences are holistic: they grow business and bring value to users.
In theory, Digital Design draws on design thinking, business modeling, organizational analysis, sociology of innovation, systems thinking, complexity studies, experience design, behavioral economics, and cultural studies. Think of Digital Design as Design Thinking 2.0, updated for the dynamics of the digital world.
To bring Digital Design to life, I drafted a Digital Business Gameplan. It's a tool meant to help businesses identify new market opportunities in the digital space. I also made an overview of digital business in 2012. Coming up next are a Digital Design Curicullum and Digital Business Models. In my everyday work, I want to combine marketing and business ideas, new business modeling and revenue streams, and service design.
I had a chance to share my take on Digital Design with a lot of curious and interesting people in 2012. I was a panelist at a well-attended SxSW conversation this past March. Shortly afterward, I found myself in a good company of other keynotes at a Croatian advertising festival, IdejaX. And then, in September, I had an opportunity to realize how hard (and great) it is to guest-teach a graduate class at SVA. In December, I was again part of the fun crowd of IAB judges. Throughout the year, I had teamed up with the amazing Ale Lariu to teach Digital Strategy course. In between speaking and teaching and working, I put my thoughts in writing for Fast Company and also went back to contributing to AdAge. I plan to continue to make speaking and writing as part of my monthly routine. I look forward to teaching an online digital marketing course with MediaBistro in March.
I enter 2013 quite content. There's a lot to be done in the next year, but the past 12 months provided a solid ground for me to build off. I look forward to the fun and excitement of 2013. Wishing the same to you.