5 Steps to Help Creatives Survive the Digital Transformation

Human qualities and values are at the forefront of customer experience

The digital world is reshaping what creativity means.
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With increasing frequency, my conversations with industry colleagues and peers seem to evolve into a discussion around the impact of digital transformation on creativity. A year into my career experiment as an agency creative infiltrating one of the world’s largest consultancies, I have discovered just enough to be dangerous and not enough to lose sight of the blue sky ahead. For the curious, courageous and skeptical alike, I want to share some observations and nuggets of advice as a creative inspired by digital transformation.

Big ideas can come from anywhere—and anyone

Wait … wut? I know. Today’s workforce is packed with creative technologists, consultants, business strategists and inventors whose days are spent thinking up new ways to innovate alongside clients in the fast-moving age of digital transformation. And let’s agree: They’re extremely good at it. The world around us is an innovation lab and, as a creative, you’ll have to get used to the fact that everyone around you is pitching an idea that could become the next big thing.

Get to know your creative partners

They’re not who you think they are. When I joined Accenture Interactive, I realized I stepped into a global creative sandbox that rivals the Sahara, with an unparalleled group of players exceptionally skilled in their fields. Whether they’re producing the CGI for Game of Thrones, redefining the entertainment experience as Disney’s Innovation Partner or reimagining the guest experience for Marriott, it’s hard to deny the expansive range of ability.

Human beings and our values are beginning to overtake technology as the focus of digital transformation.

As a creative leader, it’s my daily business to look beyond my own immediate environment with humility and appreciation of this massive scope, allowing my dreams and future vision to rise to the occasion. I feel fortunate to have been exposed, possibly a bit sooner than I may have otherwise been, to the shifting landscape and accelerating change. As creatives, we will be asked, sooner rather than later, to elevate our game.

Never. Stop. Learning.

Commit to increasing your depth as a specialist, while gaining perspective and context about the world around you. This education-based tactic is a big part of how we can apply design thinking to the digital world. The teams competing for our clients’ trust and attention are jam-packed with individuals who possess highly specialized knowledge (e.g., mobile cloud strategy), understand how their expertise plays into overarching customer experience and adeptly apply those skills inside industries we serve (e.g., global automotive).

If you’re a UX creative, there will be plenty of times when your general knowledge of the customer experience will inform a breakthrough, but you need to continually hone your craft and utilize your mastery of experience design to surprise, delight and inspire loyalty for our clients.

We are in the second (and perhaps third) chapter of digital innovation

Companies like Airbnb, Netflix, Uber and their contemporaries have made a huge impact on our perception of possibility inside this brave new world. Their innovation opened our minds, brought convenience of choice to our lives and brilliantly illustrated the basics of digital transformation—its processes and potential.

The businesses at the forefront of that tectonic shift are now the fabric of our everyday expectations. We’re more demanding and empowered and less patient than ever before. And those demands accelerate every time we experience the magical comingling of creativity and technology.

There are no rules for how to transform successfully, but creatives have a unique perspective on how to move and inspire people—a key role, as our relationship with technology dramatically influences the next chapter of human history.

Our business has always been about inspiring people

While creativity finds new mediums and avenues for expression, I think the most beautiful trend in digital transformation is our renewed focus on humanity. The convergence of technology, data and creativity provides boundless opportunity to improve people’s lives. Through continued focus on brand purpose, empathy and two-way conversation inside innovation, we elevate everyday experiences and benefit from deeper, more personal engagement.

Even more than we want a great product or service, we long to be drawn into the magic of a powerful story, the shared ethos of a community and the beauty of artistic expression. In a thrilling shift for creatives, human beings and our values are beginning to overtake technology as the focus of digital transformation.

This moment not only presents the opportunity to shine creatively but to infuse meaning, compassion and consideration into people’s lives. I can’t wait to see what you create.

This story first appeared in the June 11, 2018, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.