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SXSW:  Cats, Kimchi, Joygasms, and Catalysts

Megan Hillen

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In the scene at SXSW, one could feel like a ball cast into a high-tech pinball machine, jumping from wall to wall, trying to take it all in without getting entirely consumed by it. On the third day of intensive sessioning, our Intouch team mastered the madness. We ventured to panels outside the convention epicenter, experiencing a bit of Austin culture on the way - complete with kimchi fries and a grumpy cat. In the midst of the craziness, we stayed mindful of our duty to be change catalysts for our Intouch home base. Here's a peak at a few discoveries we found along the way, wrapping up our series from SXSW Interactive 2014.

Marty Canniff, VP Creative Services

I saw: Is There a Neurological Recipe for Success?

I thought: We can create experiences that are habit-forming and that change behavior - and it's not that hard. Habits are likely formed in the Limbic part of the brain. Our experiences need to reward that part of the brain so it releases dopamine. Dopamine is the experience designer’s greatest weapon. It includes pleasurable effects and it is how positive experiences are remembered.

What next: We really need to incorporate ALL three rules to creating experiences that reward the user’s Limbic brain when creating digital experiences.

  1. Joygasms:  these are created when the user feels that he or she is achieving something. We can do this by having structured steps toward a goal. (think gaming)
  2. Kudos:  encouragement through altruism. MRI studies the show reward center is activated when you do something nice. Good feeling invites good feeling. We must allow sharing.
  3. Commas: This is the Biggie! The most important insight from the speaker studies. Never have a solid conclusion in order to keep them wanting more.

A survey of the most successful apps in the App Store possesses all three.
The speaker concluded by stating that being aware of what makes you feel giddy, excited, and happy makes you want to continue things because within those feelings are your design solutions.

Kyle Clawson, Social Media Analyst

I saw: How Social Technologies Create New Languages

I thought: It's pretty crazy to see how far we've come as a society as it relates to digital media. The speaker showed the slow yet steady progression of social language used in the social space creeping its way into our every day "real lives." Social media and language are in a co-evolutionary state, every day social is changing the way we communicate and the way we expect to be communicated with. We have to stay in contact with our audience if the way they communicate changes; brand messaging obviously has to change with it.

What next: As marketers we have to stop describing our solutions as "digital," or even "social." Social media and language being in a co-evolutionary state is a small example of what is going on in society. Our digital lives and "real lives" are quickly becoming one in the same; digital is becoming less of a distraction and more of a necessary piece to our existence. From now on let's agree that we aren't creating "digital solutions," we are simply creating "solutions." It's all one thing.

Megan Hillen, Planning Supervisor

I saw: Loyalty 3.0, Big Data + Motivation + Gamification

I thought: The terms "big data" and "gamification" in this headline initially struck me as yet another esoteric and somewhat dated monologue, but this session proved that the broader gaming techniques that are now applied to marketing are real and unignorable. Gamification is so often wrongly interpreted in literal terms. It's not Candy Crush-ing your brand. The true definition is motivating people through data. Techniques that work in the gaming world tap into basic human motivators that can be applied to everything from how you motivate employees to how consumers want to engage, and in essence, continue engaging. People are motivated either 1. intrinsically (for autonomy - "I control," for mastery - "I improve," for purpose -"I make a difference," or for social acceptance - "I am needed.") or 2. extrinsically by an outside force. Understanding the motivational science leads to behavior, which can be elicited and controlled by data-driven gaming techniques. Instant feedback, points/badges, transparency, competition, etc. are just a few of the ways to tap into our most basic human motivators that keep us loyally plugged in.

What next: With every kernel of work we churn out, we must not only ask WHO we're designing for and what ACTION we want them to take, but what MODE OF MOTIVATION we're using. Is the experience itself intrinsically appealing? If not, what external factor (pressure from doctor/caregiver, social acceptance, etc.) is expected to influence action? Identifying the motivator is a crucial layer of consumer understanding within our creative approach. We can and must start applying the social science of gaming to keep them coming back for more.

Angela Tenuta, EVP

I saw: Agile methodologies from an agile continent

I thought: Agile is hard. It’s imperfect. But it works and it is becoming a common practice for software design, with big and small projects, big and small teams. These presenters from Globant are perfecting the science.

Welcome to an “Agile Pod” concept for team-setting.  A pod is the group assigned to a sprint, generally 7-8 people maximum, including: project manager, architect, developer, UX, design, and planner.  They are given a challenge as a pod, they are dedicated to that challenge, they sit together, they decide together, they succeed or not . . . together.

So, how can this work? Thinking about a big website project that just hit, here’s my take on their system could apply.

  • Start at the Ecosystem for the website – define the stuff that must be consistent. What’s our platform for the build and general code structure? What’s the creative purpose, the tone, etc. I would put UX, design systems, and general page templates into Ecosystem planning. Also, of course, an estimate of how many sprints and time/cost per sprint.
  • Next assign a core Pod to the first sprint. Presenters recommended that the first pod, your core, should consist of your strongest parties in all areas. Let them stay together for a while on the first sprint, let them learn, let them drive, let them sit together. And don’t let them work on anything else.
  • Pod maturity – the first sprint is harder, and as the pod learns, it gets more efficient. As you move to the next 2 or 3 sprints, you may need to break up that core pod. But those core people can move to new pods, become leaders, and imbed their initial culture and learnings.
  • Make goals for the pods real and make sure they matter – Presenters recommend game mechanics. Pods name themselves, the work is tracked and quantified against time spent, pods can see their ratings vs other pods. That’s all fun. But to make it matter, tie rewards to the pod as a whole: bonus structures, compensation, promotions become driven by pod performance. Great question asked: “What if I’m on a core pod and we rock and I get promoted and get a raise, but then I get put into a less great pod and we don’t hit our goals. Does that mean I get demoted or make less?” And the answer, without batting an eye: YES!

What next: Obviously, this is just one approach to embarking on a process change. Agile would be a big change for Pharma, with more reviews (7 smaller sprints vs 1 full website), more client participation in creating the plan and involvement in the sprints. But this would also be undoubtedly more efficient, reduce at-risk development which skyrockets costs and team frustrations, and in the end it could very likely yield a better outcome.

If you haven’t heard enough, see this long white paper to learn more. My brain refuses to process because it is thinking about food trucks. Your brain may have more luck.

Jill Groebl, VP Client Services

I saw:  Penicillin 2.0 - wearables + health + design, where the owner of a wearable design firm talked about incorporating emotional and data intelligence to drive the design and functionality of wearable devices.

I thought:  With the wearable health tracking devices on the rise (17MM predicted by 2015), is there an opportunity to leverage this technology to incentivize humans to be more adherent? In addition, of those that wear trackable devices now, 46% of them will change their health approach, so there is a huge opportunity to influence health behavior, prevent disease and improve current outcomes.  Focusing on the consumer side of healthcare could augment and drive medical research in ways it has not been done before.  In the near future, perhaps only 5-10 years away, ambient sensors and UI will be available to physicians.  There will be a half dozen "things" attached and embedded into us.  Soon, our digital personas will be on a cloud and available to HCPs and payors and researchers.  The traditional pyramid of health care will be turned on it's head; consumer markets will drive applications and shift traditional medicine in a big way.

What next:  Determine how Intouch and our clients can partner with wearable tech to make an impact.   People are empowered more than ever to take control of their health and understand through technology what is going on within their own bodies.  This evolution opens up new ways for patients and doctors to communicate; it opens up new doors for patients to communicate with insurance providers and their caregivers.  In a world of transparency and big data, how can we as marketers harness this for the power of good?  People no longer have excuses for not following the doctor's orders when apps are being prescribed and prescribed behaviors are being tracked.  Is there a way to partner with various technologies for adherence programs?  Could our brands track a patient through the entire phase of treatment with their product?  Could we incorporate impactful incentives with wearable tech for addiction patients to get through the rock bottom moments of their disease state? Promote sharing and incorporate community tie-ins to connect with other patients and get and stay inspired to continue care.  

Luke Perez, Group Planning Director

I saw: The Connected Body - Can We Get Value from Wearables?
Today's wearables are designed "out of context" to user  needs -  meaning that they are getting very little out of the data that is collected and represented. The adoption curve is high, as users have high hopes of the device helping them to achieve their goals. However, the actual experience is too static – too numbers-driven -  and does not connect to them "emotionally" enough for them to perceive long-term value.

I thought: Also, we need to be a bit futurecasting and think about how implantables and digestables  might augment our current wearable development approach. And we need to think about this now as this technology is here, today.
OBVIOUS: Difference utilization mindset [and expectations]  between disease monitoring+fitness wearables

What next: I'd like to see wearables track and feature more emotive and environmental features [i.e. mood + sounds] and offer observations – and stimuli - based upon real time events. It's about bringing emotion to data or making the data emotionally relevant.

Jeff Huggins, Director of Technology Strategy

I saw:  A couple of guys from NASA’s HCI (Human Computer Interface) Group that were tasked with making the computer User Interfaces (UI) more usable for the NASA scientist and engineers. They took computer screens that used to have massive amounts of information and created interfaces that make sense of complex data. They presented several examples of what the screens looked like originally, then the interfaces they created. The upgraded UI’s are so good that people that weren’t meant to use the interfaces began using them to get data for their specific needs. This required the design team to go back and make further changes to the interfaces to support these unintentional users.

I thought: We must apply the design principles NASA uses to create great interfaces for the websites and applications we build. Their interfaces boiled information down to most relevant and commonly used data for the user. Then the interface provides feedback to the user that highlights what they should be looking at and confirms user input and changes. This is how we should approach UI.

What next: We will be digging deeper into the HCI’s methodologies and designs to help improve the interfaces of Intouch Solutions products.

Elyas Shaiwani, Senior Front-End Developer

I saw:  The Future of Genetics in Our Everyday Lives

23andMe’s Anne Wojcicki shared her perspective and the impact of 23andMe on the medical industry. She started 23andMe after a long career in healthcare investment and gained understanding into the economic drivers for care in the US. One thing that came back to her was, very simply: There’s a lot of money to be made when people are sick. So how can we reverse this so the incentive is to keep the population healthy?

Anne started 23andMe with the intention to change healthcare in the US by empowering patients with access to their own genomic data. This challenged the normal paradigm by making it easier to introduce better preventive planning and personalization. Merging the data with tech such as API access and aggregate research, they are able to push boundaries of how healthcare has traditionally operated.

I thought: Increasingly empowering patients with their own data is quite distinct from past approaches, but it is a reality that is upon us. Much like the music industry experienced in recent years, this shift in power will have dramatic implications for our industry. While the change may not be as rapid as was the adoption of mp3 files and file-sharing, it is important to be aware of the trend and understand the implications for our clients and their customers.  

What next: I am going to get more involved with my own healthcare, because the premise of empowering individuals with their own health information is sound.  The first step is get my genome sequenced.  Then I can download it and play with the sequence to see what the heck is in there!
See our full series of insights from all three intense days at SXSW Interactive 2014. A special thanks to the on-the-ground team of Intouchers who attended and contributed to the series. See you next year, SXSW!



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