The 2018 Digital Trends for Creative and Design Leaders, conducted by CR’s sister brand Econsultancy in partnership with Adobe, explored the priorities, opportunities and challenges facing creative and design leaders, both in-house and within agencies.
The research sought to understand the extent to which companies regard themselves as design-led. More than a quarter (26%) of senior creative and design professionals surveyed for the report regarded their organisations as ‘definitely’ design-driven, while a further 41% said this is ‘somewhat’ the case. Those surveyed believed that design-driven companies are almost twice as likely to be significantly outperforming their competitors than non-design-driven companies, backing up prior research such as the Design Management Institute’s Design Value Index, which found that design-driven companies outperformed the S&P 500 Index by 211% between 2005 and 2015.
The report notes the continued acquisition of digital design and creative firms by corporates. “The eagerness to harness these skills reflects the growing strategic importance of the frontend experience as companies offering anything less than first-class customer experiences are floundering in a world of digital disruption and lower consumer tolerance for poorly designed products, services and experiences,” it states. This is helping to drive acknowledgement of the value of design within businesses.
PERSONALISATION LEADS WAY
The digital design leaders and creative directors surveyed saw personalisation as the most exciting medium-term opportunity for them, but also highlighted the pressures such an approach places on their processes and workflows as demand for high-quality content and digital assets grows.
Asked to choose from a list of technological advances impacting them in the medium-term, those surveyed cited “delivering personalised experiences in real time” as the most exciting prospect. ‘Engaging audiences through virtual or augmented reality’ came second, with “utilising artificial intelligence / bots to drive campaigns and experiences” third. Just 4% cited voice interfaces as the most exciting opportunity.
Social media engagement was seen as the top digital priority for respondents’ companies for 2018, with video content second and brand-building third. In terms of overall priorities that were seen as “key to the success of your organisation in 2018”, those answering the survey saw “creating standout content and campaigns” as their most important concern, with “maintaining consistency of the brand” second and “ensuring high-quality experiences on any device or channel” third.
Unsurprisingly, “optimizing the customer journey across multiple touchpoints” came out as a major priority for those working within companies.
INADEQUATE BUDGETS BIGGEST CHALLENGE
In terms of major challenges, both agency respondents and in-house saw “inadequate budget to create the best experiences” as their biggest internal barrier to making great work. Other major issues cited included “outdated workflows that slow down our processes” and “finding and retaining people with the right skills”.
Asked what external challenges keep them awake at night, the top answer for both groups was “emerging technologies to keep up with”. They were least worried about sourcing creative assets and supporting legacy digital standards.
Respondents to the survey came from across Europe (50%), the APAC countries (33%) and North America (11%). Of the 50% of respondents from Europe, 19% came from the UK.