/ How do I turn this thing on?

Earlier this week, when I began writing this article, I was inspired by the new Nike+ Fuel Band — and about Nike in the digital space. Their sense of user interface is second to none, just absolutely brilliant and clear. However, the path down the road of this article was much darker and lengthy than I originally anticipated. The thing I admire most about Nike is that they are never complacent in their role, there is always a new product, art project, health initiative or website they are actively involved in. And like l mentioned before, they always make it look fantastic and cutting edge.

Then it hit me. That’s the problem, or rather, the solution.

I cannot begin to count the number of times I have heard lately, “it’s a tough time for (insert market here)” or, “this isn’t the time to be investing in (insert anything here)”. But, I beg to differ, this is precisely the time to start investing. Since I’m part of the boisterous digital generation whose earlier memories include classic PC video games, MS DOS, and countless hours “talking” to friends online, I feel confident in saying that the digital landscape today is no more advanced than it was 10 years ago. Sure, technology made it easier and more openly available, but the services have never really changed. In today’s economy traditional job roles are being bent, twisted, and melded together, it doesn’t make sense to not do the same with services offered — web, emailers and video — because the traditional digital business model has died. Shot in the head and thrown in the ditch. The future of digital is all about adding in product/software development, stronger digital strategy, and data visualization — the things that, with the help of agency mentality, can really benefit a client.

When I was in high school, I took a Graphic Arts class for a few years with one of the greatest teachers I could have ever asked for, Mr. Jones. Now, Mr. Jones was easily one of the most sarcastic men I have ever met and was known for his quick wit. So, one day when a girl in his class asked him how to turn on this menacing-looking photo emulsion machine he replied with, “Talk dirty to it”. And, that’s what needs to be done from here on out, we can no longer be polite and work within this chivalrous agency-client-customer edict. For example, when a client wants to do an event — especially in the technology field — everything should be done on iPad or tablet. You’ll hear, “but not everyone has one”, “not everyone knows how to use it” or “it would be too expensive”; but, I ask in return, can you afford to have a workforce that is not adapting to the newest technology? Who is being trained to say “no” to advances in your field? If you start looking at digital as an investment in value and learning you will realize it’s all about engagement and experiences, which, in the end is priceless.

Apple changes the iPhone and people go bonkers, they don’t change the iPhone and the same people become raving mad. Netflix raises its rate, pisses customers off, but proves that the service is still a game changer for content delivery. Facebook constantly changes its features and interface and users will eventually accept it as an improvement. There is no reason agencies or other brands (i.e., Nike) can’t take a page out of the Silicon Valley playbook and be industry disruptors. If we change the value we bring to the table, clients or customers may be upset that their routine has been interrupted, but in the end I’m a believer that new solutions, designs, and revenue will emerge to change our world for the better. (DW, NY)

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