The big move towards anticipatory design

The Internet has made our lives infinitely more convenient

Decision fatigue

The Internet has made our lives infinitely more convenient, helping us decide what to have for dinner, choose a movie, make important financial decisions–even select a mate. Intermediaries who used to structure our choices have been eliminated, putting us in solid control of our lives.

That said, the abundance of information and choices can be overwhelming. By one estimate, the Internet is the major contributing factor to our having to make about 35,000 decisions a day. This has lead to widespread, well documented “decision fatigue.” …Bottom line–the more decisions we have to make, the poorer our choices become, especially by end-of-day. Unfortunately, small miscalculations over time can cascade into irreversible losses.

Clearly, we could all benefit from help in making the decision making process more efficient, with better outcomes.

Anticipatory Design improves decision making

Designers and software engineers have been aware of this challenge for a long time. They ‘get’ that the ultimate purpose of any interface is to make things simpler but that decision fatigue is sabotaging that goal. Their solution? –Automate, as much as possible, the Internet decision-making process according to one’s individual preferences and objectives by leveraging prior behavioral history, big data and sophisticated logic algorithms.

First generation AD can be seen in how Amazon and Netflix recommend choices based on previous purchases and viewing habits. In addition, AD is at the heart of Internet-based appliances like the Nest Thermostat (The Internet of Things)

Companies need to adapt

As Anticipatory Design revolutionizes the consumer selection process, companies need to adapt. When customers begin to see its many benefits, they will avoid dealing with companies that don’t provide it.

Big Data brings AD to life

AD is quickly becoming indispensable to our daily lives. It leverages Big Data’s capacity to crunch vast quantities of Internet-based information to automate decision-making. How?

  • It utilizes a wide array of ‘outliers and subgroups’ that extend beyond conventional preliminary samples for instantaneous analysis.
  • AD then applies algorithm-based real-time corrective feedback mechanisms to generate increasingly accurate information about our individual behavior over time.

As with all tech breakthroughs, there is a downside to Big Data collection. Many people, for example, don’t know that their smartphones continually track their locations, including where they live, and that this information can be accessed by third parties, including, tech savvy individuals who may want to stalk you. If this troubles you, by all means, adjust your security options–which vary according to your operating system and phone model.


In the near future, AD-based tools will monitor your calendar to book a flight automatically when you schedule a meeting requiring air travel. This will include seat preference, preferred airlines and a flight time based on your prior travel behavior. Payment will be transmitted automatically. Similarly, in the future, Uber may automatically schedule a car to pick you up from work when you walk out of a meeting, without your having to do anything.

Google Now is a digital assistant app that is already predicting your wants and needs based on your search history, including providing recommendations of where to eat and what to do based on past preferences and current location, though it doesn’t yet make automatic purchases or restaurant reservations…

Released just a few months ago, helps folks make automated savings decisions by analyzing their income and spending habits, then automatically moving money into their savings account. The service estimates what the client can afford after factoring in general expenses, when bills are due, etc., with the overriding goal of helping people save more money.

Of great benefit to society-at-large are apps like Google’s Flu Trends. Several years ago, Google realized they could track the spread of influenza using searches for keywords such as ‘flu symptoms,’ associated with users’ locations. They found their analysis predicted flu outbreak incidence and prevalence faster and more accurately than government epidemiologists, who–until this revolutionary breakthrough–had to rely on doctors’ reports. Designers of government disease response initiatives are now using this Google’s data gathering technique in their epidemiological predictions. –Many more socially beneficial Big Data breakthroughs are on the horizon.

Anticipatory design is integral to device data collection

We already have seen the benefits of new generation Big Data collection in devices like smart watches and the Fitbit Activity Tracker. As consumers, unified data provide us with instantaneous comparative product/service prices and consumer ratings, even the latest metrics on our daily fitness profile compared with friends.

Massive quantities of unified data, of course, need to be ‘filtered’ by AD-related tools before we can make better choices or to fine-tune decisions that other parties are making on our behalf.

Breakthrough advances in Big Data now on the horizon will provide us with continuous, inclusive information about all aspects of our environment. Increasingly sophisticated ‘interpretive’ AD filters will make those data immediately actionable to further improve our personal, professional, financial and health related decisions.

What this means for your business

This rapidly emerging technology has direct implications for your business. To ensure you’re visible to the new generation of digital devices–

  • Do an inventory of all the ways that your products or services enable consumers. Think in terms of basic functions as they relate to needs and aspirations.
  • Ensure and reinforce, by as many means as possible, digital access to your services/products.
  • Get the help of a company like OWDT to apply AD-related tools to streamline the delivery of your offerings.
  • Carefully monitor consumer satisfaction with your automated recommended purchase options and refine, as appropriate.
Marketing benefits already available

Unified data streams already permit easy access to your web traffic, help you monitor the effectiveness of your different marketing initiatives and determine how best to communicate with customers. Now that we all can see how data is much more valuable when used with other information, the era of AD-aided data aggregation truly has arrived.