The CEO of Smart Design.. Tucker Fort
29 October 2018
Tucker Fort is a brilliant product designer, and a partner and CEO at Smart Design Company in New York. He is a pioneering designer in the field of solving strategic design challenges. He holds 70 patents in design, and he employed emerging technologies and the common interests of businesses and design in directing and developing personalized services. On October 12, 2018, he took part in the Tanween Creativity Season Program at the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) in Dhahran where he gave a talk entitled "Personalizing Tomorrow." In his talk, he spoke about the relationship between consumers and products, and how products can be personalized in the future to cater to specific individuals.
Fort began his talk by saying that a designer needs to be optimistic about the future, and that there is always room to improve products and services to be better suited to the intended users. Naturally, there is no better way to improve the quality of products than to personalize them and tailor them for each user: customization. The speaker talked about his enthusiasm for the idea of personalization which has started spreading widely, saying that he believes that it will become a catalyst for the radical change soon to affect our lives.
Fort gave a brief background about some of the reasons and factors that enabled this seismic and disruptive change in the markets, represented in the trend to customize products and services in place of mass production. He said that users' tastes have become more complicated in recent decades with the increasing options available, which makes the process of making a decision almost impossible especially since people do not have enough time to know what they really want. Consumers are also seeking emotional experiences in products rather than the stereotypical image of traditional products. Meanwhile, companies want to commercialize consumers' desire for experiences, and want to open new doors for creative prototypes that did not have markets before, giving them a strong competitive edge compared to other traditional product and service providers. In terms of technology, advancement in that field has finally allowed us to measure needs and personal trends accurately using advanced technologies such as the Internet of things, biotechnology and wearable technologies.
Fort then talked about the three main pillars of personalization: data consumers give about themselves; data that can be measured with different medical exams; and data that can be traced with modern technology. Using all three pillars allows designing customized and personalized experiences tailored to each individual users. Fort said that designing personalized services is a strong tool available to designers, but companies and designers must use it with caution. He discussed some of the pitfalls that should be avoided when adding a personalized touch to a service or product, such as putting the consumer in a narrow corner where they are repeatedly served what they like. Fort questioned the value of watching or hearing only what one likes all the time without being exposed to new ideas or experiences. Personalization of some services might also uncover secret data about the consumer that they might not want exposed. Some products might not be suitable for personalization or customization.
Fort then talked about his experience working for the Gatorade Gx project as an example of applying personalized products to solve a problem. Gatorade is a sport drink and food company that was established in the 1960s when Dr. James Cade from Florida University noticed that the university's sports team suffered dehydration during games. He invented a drink that helped rehydrate their bodies with electrolytes to improve their sports performance. Fort summarized the idea of the Gatorade Gx project by saying that every athlete has a unique body with unique needs, and this is important to understand in order to reach better results. So he created a platform to analyze the personal differences among athletes that is then able to immediately offer them the drinks and nutrients their bodies need in a personalized and sustainable manner. The platform works by using modern technologies to track the bodies' needs and vital signs, such as measuring the person's physiological responses to exercise, measuring the rate of perspiration, and so on.
Fort concluded his talk by stressing that personalization will take the markets by a storm in the future. He pointed out that this is the right time for this trend due to the immense capabilities of tracking and measuring technologies, which allow companies better understanding and communication with their clients and their needs. He said that this trend will make markets more competitive, stressing the importance of striking a balance between occupational and emotional needs when offering personalized products and services.