There’s a different kind of “design thinking” that’s changing the way brands and businesses are interacting with consumers via technology and their spaces.

While there has been a shift among businesses to fully adopt technology and give consumers a fresh, new look that excites their senses, there’s been little regard about how all retooling and innovations can positively impact the way retail spaces help achieve the bigger, long-term objective of the brand itself.

That was until the idea of “design thinking” came into prominence.

Micro-D International, Inc. (MDI), a pioneering technological design organization – which is also the leading catalyst of the Digital Transformation (DX) movement here in the Philippines – believes that any design that does not prioritize the integration of technology within a physical space and aligns itself with the brand’s promise is an incomplete design.

“The challenge for businesses today is how they can integrate their back-end with their front to bring their brand aspirations to life,” said MDI CEO Myla Villanueva. “Look at other innovation pioneers, like Apple or GoPro. Every groundbreaking technology today should take into consideration the human element and interaction and how it complements its surroundings.”

The entire design process behind a brand’s transformation, Villanueva shared, isn’t something customers can readily understand, but it should be able to trigger refreshing, revolutionary experience from them when done right. This has been the idea behind Villanueva’s efforts to rethink how commercial spaces become catalysts of remarkable customer experiences through the coming together of the DX Trinity — design, the physical space, and the brand’s aspirations.

Transforming spaces via DX

It has become important for brands to understand that technology is utilized within their respective spaces not just for technology’s sake. More importantly, it must serve a bigger purpose in their DX journey as an “enabler of experiences.”

For the past 30 years, MDI has partnered with the country’s leading corporations to do just that: recreate spaces and embrace the DX Trinity, ensuring that their brand’s promises are manifested across all contact points with their customers.

The first step in MDI’s DX journey is taking the time to understand the aspirations of the business.

Afterwards, the next item to tick off the list is bringing in their fellow DX and innovation advocates.

“We collaborate with the right partners in promoting true digital transformation to make sure that the DX Trinity come naturally together. This way, we can ensure that an enterprise can make a significant impact, while generating the ultimate customer experience,” Villanueva said.

Redefining ‘third spaces’

Perhaps, one of the finest examples that illustrate the coming together of the DX Trinity is the work that MDI has done together with Union Bank of the Philippines for “The ARK” — the brand’s groundbreaking retail and banking space in Makati.

“The ARK is a bridge between the real-world banking experience and the digital experience, which we have made possible by teaming up with our partners, led by MDI,” said Ana Aboitiz-Delgado, deputy center head for Consumer Finance and chief user experience officer of UnionBank.

The ARK is a refreshing space that uses digital technology to augment an actual banking experience. It has been an interesting project for MDI simply because of what they were able to accomplish given the kind of vision UnionBank shared with them.

“When we spoke to UnionBank president, Edwin Bautista, he made their aspiration very clear to us: to be the leading digital bank by designing a brand experience like a tech company that has a banking engine,” Villanueva said.

The result was a space where clients can move around freely, make themselves feel comfortable, order a free latte at the coffee bar, or log on to the Internet to get some work done.

The ARK also becomes an avenue for off-site productivity, encouraging creative tech ideas not just from its partners but from its customers as well. Banking also does away with long queues, and The ARK’s design looks clean and minimalist, yet comfortable.

Still, within the space, there is very powerful technology that allows customers to save time, fulfill their usual routines, enjoy a more hassle-free banking experience, and interact with the space positively.

“We’re very delighted at how MDI and our partners have interpreted our vision and brought our ideas to life at The ARK,” Delgado explained. “Look around you and you’ll see that this is not just a bank anymore. It’s now become a ‘third space.”’

Source: Manila Bulletin