Is User Experience Design the Real Mission of Digital Agencies?

Author: Alex Papanastassiou

By Brice Le Blévennec, translated from an article in Inside magazine.

Emakina is proud official sponsor of the 2016 LIFT conference in Geneva.
A logical match, with organizations trying to implement a holistic digital strategy and catching the train to online fame. But beyond the buzz, what will this customer centric approach change for business and society?


Brian Solis, principal analyst at Altimeter Group and long standing Emakina friend, will be one of the speakers on this topic, under the title ‘The Wild Promises of the Digital Customer Experience’.
Emakina Group’s CEO Brice Le Blévennec  shared some thoughts on the very same topic in the January publication of ‘Inside’. So, as an appetiser for Brian’s speech, here’s a translation of Brice’s recent article.

User experience designers … the future of agencies?

Earth has once more made a full revolution around its sun.
2016 is well underway and we have entered the age of digital transformation, in full force. Faced with this new reality of to the core digital native start-ups, some bricks & mortar companies increasingly internalize services they before outsourced to digital agencies. It is essential to rethink their role and ask ‘What future is there for agencies?’


Digital transformation applies to all sectors of the economy.
Whole industrial ecosystems are in turmoil, and traditional companies are challenged by a new breed of players, now and then wrongly labelled as ‘mere start-ups’. These new organisations are infused by a truly modern corporate culture, based on the sharing economy. This makes them far more flexible, more open to questioning their own models, thus giving them a big advantage over more traditional businesses.

Are traditional companies ready to handle digital natives?

The new kids on the block are true masters of the user experience.
That’s a big bonus for them, when competing with traditional organisations. Airbnb is now playing in the major leagues, but not necessarily because of the quality of the accommodations people are putting up for rent or the range of services these new providers offer. The same applies for Uber, Amazon Fresh or iTunes.


They do not owe their success to the quality of their product or service, or discount rates. It’s the quality of the user experience that makes the difference. When deciding on any service, today’s customers are always hungry for ergonomic and user friendly experiences. Around the clock availability is expected, along with ordering in two clicks wherever you are, automated payments, real time tracking of your package location or the expected driver… there are plenty of arguments making the best interface more important, compared to having the best product.

Today the user experience makes the difference

Be honest, how many of us still call to order a taxi? Even when the taxi driver is a pro in finding the best route and even when he’s a far more experienced driver than the accidental driver picking you up, you want to go with the new digital flow.


Who wouldn’t prefer to order groceries on a tablet, to have your goods delivered at your door? Maybe the app is already integrated with a connected refrigerator, making it even more convenient… Isn’t that far more sexy than having to visit the website of a hypermarket chain – or I shudder to say it… go to the store IRL? Even when that last option would be less expensive, it is becoming more and more unlikely.

Who still prefers to go to a FNAC or another mediastore, to buy an album, when in a few clicks the two songs that really interest you are integrated in your online library, to be accessible anywhere, any time? More and more people – and not only young consumers – stand to benefit from the advantages of the digital transformation.

More than in any other industry, the banking sector has understood the importance of this challenge. Big banks go the extra mile to create clever ways to offer their customers the best possible user experience. You name it, from management of money transfers and budget, over standing orders, to stock portfolio tools… all major financial groups have invested heavily in web and mobile applications, to keep up with the competition, first from ‘virtual’ banks without agencies, then from other major brands.

Making your digital transformation a success: agencies to the rescue!

All sectors are facing the same absolute need to question their user experience, both for their customers and staff. Hotel chains must beat Airbnb on their turf, distribution companies must be ready for the arrival of Amazon Fresh in their markets, airlines must offer a relevant alternatives to Kayak.com.


Philips, for example, pulled off a great stunt, by swiftly reacting to LIFX’s connected Hue bulbs, but not all traditional companies have the technological DNA necessary for that ruthless war with new digital native players determined to use their advantage that they know is temporary.

User experience or death

So what is the role of agencies in this rapidly evolving stream of consumption patterns?
It’s the skills of designing and implementing user experiences that will allow agencies to help the bricks & mortar companies to tackle newcomers.


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