Punchcut's perspective on convergence builds on ideas that come not from pristine think-tanks, but from understanding how people move and how their use of technology attempts to help them keep pace. From our interaction design and visual design disciplines and multi-device background, we have collected the following considerations in the hope of grounding the conversation on convergence in the context of making real impact on real people.
Convergence refers to "convergent experiences," not "converged devices." The distinction is important. While there is tremendous diversity across different types of devices, the resulting convergent experience must be holistic and cohesive to truly offer value to users.
The Swiss Army knife approach to creating a single, all-purpose device misses the mark. For convergence to deliver the seamless, high-value interaction it promises users, it must enable the distribution and cooperation of digital experiences across multiple devices and platforms.
Each step toward a convergent experience requires deeper connectivity and richer integration in technology, data, and user experience. When partnering with our clients, we chart them along following path:
Progressing beyond cross-channel experiences that dominate current ideas of convergence involves developing shared, symbiotic relationships across digital ecosystems, and requires establishing holistic models that integrate both fixed and portable environmental touch-points.
Convergence is the distribution and cooperation of digital experiences across multiple devices and platforms.
Convergent experiences are most relevant within shared contexts. Consider the "digital home" and its variety of shared contexts:
Our view is that convergence must focus on environmental context. Based on our research and observations, effective convergent experiences establish pathways that bring new value to consumers in the same familiar situations.
Our in-depth contextual research and specialized workshops reveal the most pivotal innovations focus on symbiotic relationships – between devices, people and their devices, and people and other people.
To date, the idea of convergence has remained superficial. Functions or services are unified at points that feel obvious, forced, and ultimately less valuable. They create more connected experiences, but not fully convergent ones. (Think: mobile devices as remote controls.) Taking a holistic, long-term approach that examines the opportunities between various contexts is vital for meaningful innovation.
Users don't talk about convergence. Business people do. For all their digital devices and growing proficiency using them, users still want devices that are simple, intuitive, and convenient. Convergence must offer simplicity, not complexity, to provide the greatest value. In the end, it is all about connecting users; that only really happens when the lives of users are enriched through the coordinated support of digital devices and services.
We understand this is no small undertaking. The diversity of options and considerations can be overwhelming. Success depends on new mindsets and approaches that must be adopted in all areas of a company – organizational, financial, design, and technical. That's why Punchcut advocates a progressive approach, one that continually works toward fully realized, effectively distributed convergent experiences. And by creating a flexible, scalable user interface framework that is distributed across the digital ecosystem, Punchcut helps companies make incremental progress to support users through their essential but constantly changing day-to-day activities.