Barney Voss, Head of Production, London
Someone, somewhere, has just had a great idea that could change all our lives. Whether the idea will actually come to fruition is dependent on a lot of things happening, like funding or finding an audience. And whether the person with this great idea is working for a big brand, an agency, a government, or even from their bedroom, how they approach the product’s development will be key.
The growing number of ways to reach a user digitally – through an ever-expanding environment of platforms and devices – naturally increases the complexity of developing a product (whether that’s a creative idea or a tangible object). Because of this mercurial environment, unlike in traditional agencies, the work going on at digital agencies is often untried and untested.
So it’s not enough to simply get Creative Technologists (the team who will build the product) into the room to sanity check whether a concept is “possible” before building it when the time comes (as has long been the accepted approach in agencies).
It’s only when a project is very safe and simple, with everyone aligned with what the final outcome will be, that a prescriptive waterfall approach is ever valid.
But safe and simple isn’t what today’s feature-rich, multi-platform environment is about. It’s complicated enough as it is, and we make it more complex by trying to solve problems in new and innovative ways. After all, the products need to stand out, engage, and inspire the consumer.
If we are going to engage and inspire the audience we have to engage and inspire the folk who are going to bring the idea to life. That’s why Creative Technologists should be actively involved from the get-go.
Everyone on a project needs to not only understand the concept, but also why it solves the problem, or provides an opportunity. Only then can there be a complete consensus as to how they develop the product.
The team that will design and build the product have years, if not decades, of combined knowledge, and will have experienced many projects and the problems they had. So for them to learn about the concept from its inception will reduce the uncertainty and risks in the project. But to use that knowledge in the evolution of the concept – to help form it as a viable product – is hugely powerful and key to developing truly great creative tech products.
And that’s just the start. Now that the project team has a shared goal and understand how to achieve it, then let them share a physical space too. The same team sat together allows easy communication, insight sharing, and actually witnessing the work in progress. The team can plan, design, and develop the product together.
This involvement of everyone in the development from concepting to a released product also brings ownership of a project, and with that comes a protectiveness of it. It will be nurtured throughout its lifecycle.
The net result of all of this isn’t just a harmonious team and a beloved project (although that’s great) – it’s a robust piece of creative tech which is true to the concept, that the user actually wants.
So involving the Creative Technologists isn’t just what the techs want, or even just what we should want. It’s what the user wants too.