Fjord Family

Web Summit 2016: Designing for emotional intelligence, social experience and living services

Web Summit 2016 promised to be different than previous years. Not only had it doubled in size since 2015—going from 27K to over 50K tech-hungry and web curious visitors – it had also relocated from its hometown of Dublin to .

Lisbon, with its azure sky, sunshine (yes, even in November), hilly cityscape and suspension bridge, has long been compared to San Francisco. And now, with the arrival of Europe’s largest tech conference, it’s clearly looking to make a mark for itself as the next tech hub in Europe.

Fjordians are naturally curious, and we would never miss a chance to scope out trends in the tech world and listen to some superb speakers cover topics like automated cars, smart homes and digital transformations.


Mark Curtis, Fjord’s chief client officer, MC’ed one of the morning sessions on the first day.  Before introducing speakers such as Antoine Blondeau, founder of the world’s highest funded AI company, Sentient Technologies, and Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Renault-Nissan—who took part in a panel on ‘driving the connected future’, Mark delivered his opening remarks to the audience, in which he asked them to consider three things as they listened to the talks they were about to hear:

Living services run through everything

We’ve been talking about Living Services for a while now, and while Web Summit is very much about tech, apps and digital experiences, we’re beginning to see things moving beyond this. It is no longer only about the technology itself, but also the services that flow through it. At Fjord, we’re already adapting the way we design experiences and services to fit with people’s liquid expectations and their desire for greater connectivity. Companies and brands will also have to rethink the way they work and how people experience them. With the rise of living services and digital assistants, such as Amazon Echo and Google Assistant, traditional brand touchpoints will change. Therefore, reframing the brand experience, as well as the way we design services, will be key over the next couple of years.

Technology needs to develop emotional intelligence

As we move into a reality that is increasingly digital and autonomous, we must be mindful of not losing the human characteristics. We need to look at how we build personality into the things we’re communicating with, and that are driven by technologies like chatbots or AI. We need to design so that technology picks up on psychological triggers from the user, and, in turn, is able to project a personality back to the user.

Designing for the social experience

Machine learning, a part of AI, allows for data from devices to be collated, organized, analyzed and visualized, much to the delight of users, who are seeking self-knowledge through numbers. But for every advancement, there is also a darker side that needs to be considered. As we design experiences, we must make sure we implement enough checks and balances, and consider potential negative uses and experiences of artificial intelligence, chatbots and connected devices. It is part of our responsibility as designers.

The talks we witnessed over the first three hours of Web Summit definitely set the scene for what was one of the hot topics of this year’s conference: artificial intelligence and connectivity, and how it will impact the way we work, live and play.


As part of our Web Summit program, we were also fortunate to host a 20-person strong round table on Living Services. Questions from participants revolved around the brand experience, personal data and data sharing in terms of security, as well as how business will be impacted by the emergence of Living Services. Mark noted that “companies that will succeed are the ones who focus on agility,” while “brands should focus on how they behave when interacting with customers and on delivering their services at the right place and time.”


Three days pass very quickly when having fun, though we did manage to squeeze in a few talks, speak to a number of the start-ups, and stalk some of the robots whizzing around the place.

Web Summit Lisbon, you were great. Vejo você em 2017!

Fjord Family

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