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One trend that has me really excited this year is the use of analytics in redesign. No, not process design, which is what I normally discuss, but actual physical design.  Given my father was an architect, I thought I had left that part of my childhood behind, but seeing what can be reworked with what we know about usage is getting me re-engaged with the physical world and its ability to influence our behaviour.

I am not the only one excited about how thought in design is going to produce a better outcome for all of us.  Here are a couple of the articles I am reading:

UPS: How Technology and Big Data will Create a New Golden Age of Retail

New York Times: Dear Architects: Sound Matters

I think part of my re-engagement with physical design has to do with the shift of people from being present in their physical location to instead really being present in their digital space.  I see many people oblivious to where they currently are, engaged with their phone or tablet, and not taking in their surroundings.  Or, even worse from my perspective, just filming the concert, event, etc. to show others what they are ‘doing’ instead of engaging with it.  This is partially due to the inability of the environment to offer digital engagement activities.

One area we are looking at is the engagement of fans with the sporting experience.  If the data of what the fan is doing in the space can be fed back to the owners to analyze and create an even better experience, we will keep coming back not only to see the event, but to be ‘in the experience’ instead of streaming live online.

The death of shopping malls as ‘an experience place’ does break my former teenage heart, as this was a safe place for young people to get together and even to get part-time work while in school. Seeing ToysRUs and FAO Schwartz closing down their flagship locations in Manhattan due to high rent is another heart-breaker, but a fact of digital commerce is that many locations become not financially viable.  But if these locations were experiences as well as retail outlets, it can change the business model and the stickiness of the location to be re-visited.

I think 2016 is going to be the start of the regeneration of physical spaces to be more in line with the digital world.  No, I am not talking about WiFi, although that is as obvious as electricity in this regard. I am talking about locations as experiences that are linked with digital guides and tokens.  For example, the mobile app that went along this year with the Rose Parade in Pasadena, and that you could locally text for more information on a float’s background.  It will be more than checking in to show you are there, but gamification and other mechanisms to keep you engaged and coming back again. Restaurants and hotels with in-location apps with special features are going to be made to engage with the client in real-time and modify the experience “on the fly”.

Yes, I still hold my privacy beliefs, and from a privacy point of view, the client should be able to opt in or opt out.

Even amusement parks are getting into the act, with VR rejuvenating old rides for new experiences. Europa Park in Germany is currently testing a virtual reality (VR) system that allows roller coaster riders to experience VR while on the ride.

Get set for a whole new hospitality, banking and retail era, where our choice of engagement level impacts the experience for us.  And we can opt in for a deeper experience, or opt out for an ad hoc shop if we so choose.