Digital Agency

Conjure Circle Highlights: March 2023

Sam Hannah

March 26, 2023

Key takeaways from March’s Conjure Circle Breakfast: Exploring Digital in 2023 and Beyond

This month we hosted our first Conjure Circle Breakfast of 2023, joined by industry leaders from Aston Martin, BT, Navico, Picnic Bank, VoucherCodes, Zero Gravity, and more. This month’s event saw us delve into what might be disrupting industries when digitising, what’s next for digital transformation, some of the success stories of digital implementations across companies, and a few other key issues.

Below, Sam, Anna, Rachel, and Bob from Conjure’s Circle team, and Jake Rayner from Aston Martin delve into their key takeaways from the conversations.

Sam’s Key Takeaways

I decided at this Circle to kick things off with a provocative question - would AI kill the role of junior designers? My angle was simple. Designers traditionally kick start their careers in associate or junior roles working alongside their experienced counterparts. They learn the ropes and mature their design eye through ancillary, and sometimes repetitive, tasks. If AI can do this, why bother hiring juniors? An interesting counter to this was made; someone has to command the AI and perhaps one day we’ll see the role of Design Overseer arise. This dovetailed into the another point; someone has to know what good looks like and be the arbiter of design output, regardless of how it was created - a skill that is part and parcel of design leadership.

As with all step changes in technology, it’s difficult to predict how it will all pan out. One thing was clear however, everyone in the room was glad they’d cut their teeth in their respective fields before the AI revolution had gotten fully underway.

Anna’s Key Takeaways

It was refreshing to meet with others and gain fresh perspectives on issues that affect us all.

We had a diverse group of attendees, and we discussed various topics ranging from sustainable fashion to the power of Chat-GPT. One issue that particularly resonated with me was the role of humans in an age where AI is becoming increasingly dominant. We discussed how AI may take over our jobs in the future, but we still need humans to do what humans are great at — soft skills like empathy, particularly in design, and other skills which simply can’t be replicated by AI.

Another fascinating topic we discussed was whether AI tools are making us lazy, or whether it’s a “work smarter, not harder” approach. We debated if tools like Chat-GPT should be banned in universities; should students be commended for their use of these tools or condemned?

Overall, the Conjure Circle event was an excellent opportunity to engage with industry leaders, learn from their experiences, and engage in thought-provoking conversations. It was clear from the attendees’ discussions that there is a drive to find solutions for the issues raised. It was inspiring to see attendees engage with the topics raised and work towards finding solutions to the challenges ahead.

Rachel’s Key Takeaways

The intersection of design and technology was a key topic of discussion. We explored the rapidly growing use of AI and technology in the design field, and the implications for junior designers in this new world.

The conversation sparked a debate about whether AI and technology are making things “too easy” for designers, or negating the need for junior designers to learn their craft through more menial tasks, as was traditionally the case. While some argued that these technologies were reducing the scope of work for junior designers, others contended that knowing how to use these tools effectively is the new status quo and shows proactivity. We contested that knowledge and use of technology and embracing this changing landscape allows designers to focus on more creative, empathetic elements of the customer experience that technology cannot replicate. Hierarchies may quickly become a thing of the past, with a shifting focus on cross-functional design experience instead.

Another area of discussion was the shift towards experience and service design in digital transformation. Participants agreed that technology will be a critical factor in this shift. However, they also emphasised the importance of using technology with a purpose that aligns with human experience. Doing so will become a market differentiator for companies as they seek to deliver services that enhance customer experience.

This Conjure Circle highlighted the importance of embracing technology while remaining mindful of its limitations. We learned that while AI and technology can enhance the design process, they cannot replace the value of human intuition and creativity. Additionally, we recognised that digital transformation will continue to evolve towards experience and service design, and that using technology with a human-centred purpose will be crucial in creating a competitive edge for businesses.

Bob’s Key takeaways

Our first Conjure Circle of 2023 inevitably was disrupted and intoxicated by A.I in every conversation to the point it felt like a frenzied dialogue from ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’. It gave me pause for thought and reminded me of why we need to think of people first, and think progressively, particularly about designers when establishing a healthy business-led people culture.

Championing and helping designers — our curious and creative thinkers progress in organisations today requires a combination of support, recognition, and opportunities for growth. And taking the time to think about this reminds us of some ways to help designers progress in their careers such as:

Providing feedback and recognition — offer regular feedback on designers’ work and recognise their accomplishments. This helps designers understand what they’re doing well and what areas they can improve on. It also motivates them to continue to excel in their work.

Offer professional development opportunities — provide designers with opportunities for professional development, such as training, workshops, and conferences. This helps them stay current with industry trends and learn new skills that can help them advance their careers.

Create a culture of collaboration — encourage collaboration and teamwork within your organisation. This helps designers learn from one another, share knowledge and expertise, and develop new ideas.

Establish a clear career path — establish a clear career path for designers, with opportunities for growth and advancement. This can include promotion to leadership roles, opportunities to manage teams, and involvement in strategic decision-making.

Recognise the value of design — help educate others within the organisation on the value of design and its impact on business success. This can help designers be seen as valuable contributors to the organisation and encourage them to take on more challenging roles and responsibilities.

By providing support, recognition, and opportunities for growth, you can help designers progress in their careers within your organisation. This not only benefits the designers themselves, but also contributes to the success of your organisation as a whole by ensuring a talented and motivated design team.

Jake’s Key Takeaways

In terms of first impressions, the location and atmosphere of the restaurant was great. It made everyone feel really comfortable and willing to engage. The introduction and positioning from the Conjure team was good and some great discussion points were floated before the conversation started flowing. Sam did a great job of kicking things off with an initial discussion point. From then onwards the entire session was very fluid. The discussions were not too rigid or restrained, quite the opposite, there was broad participation from everyone in the room rather than a few leading voices.

Topics covering AI, sustainability, and industry transformation/evolution were really interesting. Lots of focus on the role a human designer can/will need to play in the future as design tools get more and more capable. Humans will still need to deliver input and manage output from any tool that exists. Is there the potential for a “Design controller” role in the future? If the churn and deliverable side of design becomes more and more automated, the human role will be to ensure the tools deliver upon expected outcomes, having the right inputs to create the right solutions or analyse data with the right perspective. Humans will also be key to ensuring this drives society in the right direction.

Closing statement

Thank you to all who attended this Conjure Circle event. The engagement, perspectives, and ideas you have brought to the table were incredible and helped make the breakfast a real success.

We will be back with more Conjure Circle events in the coming months, so as always, if you’d like to come along please get in touch!