Chris Costuna
Prue Jones
Luke Tengstrom

#FjordMelbourne Kitchen: A night to remember

What happens when you combine incredible people, mouth-watering food, a genius drink menu and intense discussion of the world around us? Complete magic. Add in a sprinkling of robotics, cocktails and desserts in the shape of the poo emoji, and you have a recipe for an unforgettable evening.

Who would expect anything less from a Fjord Kitchen event?

Together with Accenture Interactive, Fjord Melbourne recently held its Fjord Kitchen at Ichi Ni Nana Izakaya, Fitzroy. Each year across the globe, we hold Fjord Kitchens to share the latest thinking, ideas and thought leadership on innovation, design and technology. This year’s Kitchen focused on the 2017 Fjord Trends – which just happened to be our 10-year anniversary of Trends. Judging by the time the last guests leftIchi Ni Nana Izakaya (let’s hope they didn’t have an early start the next morning!), we think the event more than lived up to the high standards set by our global Fjord family.

Mark Curtis, Fjord’s Chief Client Officer, and Baiju Shah, Fjord’s Co-lead, made the journey to Australia to host the evening. The evening kicked off with drinks and canapes on the roof terrace which looked out onto the Melbourne city skyline. Guests got to know each other as a sushi chef demonstrated the fine art of preparing Ichi Ni’s signature sushi morsels. There was animated conversation as guests explored the themes in advance of the presentation along with demonstrations of the latest Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality technologies that kept guests intrigued during the night ahead.

As guests descended into the dining hall, they were treated to a cocktail titled, “Blurred Reality,” named after one of the trends. After an introduction by Evan Tremblay, Design Director, Fjord Melbourne, and Bronwyn van der Merwe, Managing Director, Fjord APAC, Mark Curtis took to the stage and presented two of the 10 trends in detail: Me, Myself and AI and Shiny API People. Baiji Shah followed with Hourglass Brands and Ephemeral Stories.

Key insights from Mark’s presentations focused on the coming 12 months, when artificial intelligence is poised to become mainstream, featuring seamlessly in our day to day lives. From simple customer service chat bots through to solving real human needs, AI will assist humans in many ways: Dispensing medical advice and predicting disease outbreaks before they occur, for example. Mark spoke about the importance of designing smart AI systems that understand human emotion and have empathy built into their operating system. AI is becoming increasingly humanised and as a result we need to ensure it can both receive emotional input and respond in an emotionally intelligent way.

In his presentation on Shiny API People, Mark explained the increase in organizations looking to rewire their operations to bring innovation to life more rapidly, reducing waste in the process. There’s been a trend of building innovation labs and programs to bring new ideas to life, however many fail to innovate at scale. This often results in a culture of resistance to new ideas. Instead, Mark posited, innovation should not occur in silos but requires organization-wide alignment to truly bring it to life. All staff need to be trained on the principles of innovation; encourage teams that are cross-functional to bring new perspectives to problems and implement an innovation framework that is built for scale, allowing new ideas to be funded, tested and brought to life quickly.

Baiju’s presentations highlighted that the impact of technology has resulted in an hourglass-shaped brand landscape, with large platform brands (WeChat, Google, Amazon etc) sitting at one end and at the other, unique focus-driven brands (SoulCycle, Sweat with Kayla, realestate.com.au) sitting at the other. Brands sitting in the middle of the hourglass need to rethink their purpose and reposition themselves in order to be able to charge premium prices for their services or have a competitive edge over others.

Brands have been pushing storytelling for some time now, however 2017 shifts this motion from storytelling to ‘storydoing’. Empowering consumers to create the story of a brand, in real time. Brand owners are being challenged with stepping back from creating a brand voice, to instead inspire audiences to generate content and shape the brand story themselves. Snapchat, Instagram and Youtube users amongst many other platforms now control the way a brand is viewed and perceived.

Following Baiju, Bronwyn took to the stage and presented the final trend for the evening, Unintended Consequences, the trend that has received the most attention around the world. She shared an anecdote of Amazon’s Alexa ordering people dollhouses after hearing its name on TV as an unintended consequence of the relentless pace of innovation. She closed by proposing that we now need to consider the social experience and unexpected outcomes as part of innovation.

The evening ended with a panel session where Mark, Baiju and Bronwyn fielded guest questions on a range of subjects, from the dangers of AI through to strategies on empowering consumers to create meaningful stories. The greatest take out was that to truly bring innovation to life, it must be truly organization wide, with KPIs for every business unit focused on training staff in design thinking and shifting company culture to accept change.

All in all, it was an incredibly inspiring evening that wouldn’t have been so successful without the input of our esteemed guests from far and wide. Special thanks to Mark and Baiju for making the long trip to Australia. We are already looking forward to next year’s trends and brainstorming a cocktail idea or two! 

For more on Trends 2017, please click here

Chris Costuna
Prue Jones
Luke Tengstrom

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