If you’ve even heard of Creative Technologists, chances are you probably already have one in your organisation. Or perhaps come across a recruitment ad that’s attempted to accurately define this exciting, varied and nuanced role – one for which the actual job description is deliberately fuzzy.
Who are Creative Technologists?
At its core, the role of the Creative Technologist is all about not fitting into a defined role at all. You could start by saying that they bridge the gap between creative and code, but this briefing barely scratches the surface. They are the designers who will often jump straight to coding a prototype to communicating an idea, or the developers with a great sense of concept and design. Creative Technologists must also be skilled in leadership, strategy and creating a vision: they will often lead from the start on projects, exploring new models and determining the approach while cutting through entrenched processes.
On top of being early explorers, these hybrid disruptors are ‘makers’ at heart and not afraid to roll up their sleeves and push the limit of what’s achievable. Their demonstrated ability to work directly in the medium from the start enables them to lead the trend of working fast and iterating often, versus replicating ideas in other formats (which tends to be the norm now with some of the creative process).
Where did they come from?
Creative Technologists are filling a vital gap within the creative industry. That this role has now been officially recognised says a lot about how digital service development has evolved over the last few years, and how the traditional fault lines between development and design are now blurring.
The much-maligned waterfall methodology – which was the mainstay of development for many years – ensured a wall was maintained between creative thinking and development. The Agile movement was meant to remove this barrier, but if anything strengthened it, with designers and developers working separately while the core creative driving force was often missing.
How do they help customers?
When it emerged, the lean start-up methodology broke down a lot of these barriers. When the customer is made the true goal and focus, the traditional segmented roles become less important, while velocity and constant innovation become the prime focus. The Creative Technologist has emerged as a key player in this environment of cross-functional teams designed to experiment and fail fast.
With digital transformation now a key focus for organisations, these barriers had to be removed. Given that emerging technologies like voice interactions, AR and AI will eventually become standard, a new approach is required. A more unified creative approach is essential for a company to be ‘digitally fit’ in this new developing ecosystem. Driving industry leadership in digital experiences, a Creative Technologist should be an essential contributor to any digital transformation vision.