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2004 World Technology Awards Winners & Finalists

Macromedia, Inc.

Please describe the work that you are doing that you consider to be the most innovative and of the greatest likely long-term significance.

In the Spring of 2002, Macromedia set out on what was undoubtedly our largest endeavor ever, the introduction of the Macromedia MX product family. Three seasons later, I'm happy to say that Macromedia MX has been a huge success—in fact, our biggest ever. It is thanks to our loyal developers and designers, and the feedback they've given us over the years that we've been able to build what they need to keep producing great work. And, even more importantly, it is because of their amazing work that we've come to the simple truth that should lead all of us, as members of the digital community, in all that we do. What is this truth? Well, it is really self-evident in all aspects of our lives. It is simply this: experience matters.

Think about it. Why do people buy certain brands, drink only specialty coffee, stay with the same type of cars for years and years? It is because these companies have mastered what is most important in our mature economy: an experience that draws users in and keeps them there. The fact is, in today's world, there are many products out there that can do what we need but few that allow us to do it quickly, elegantly and memorably. Take a 49¢ cup of coffee and serve it at Starbucks and customers will pay anywhere from $2 to $4 per cup! Why, because the customer is engaged in an experience - a series of memorable events that engage the consumer in a very personal way.

Just consider the evolution of the birthday experience. In the agrarian economy, mothers made birthday cakes from scratch, mixing farm commodities (flour, sugar, butter and eggs) that cost mere dimes. In the goods based industrial economy, mothers paid a dollar or two to Betty Crocker for premixed ingredients. In the service economy, parents ordered cakes from the bakery or grocery store, which at $10 or $15 cost ten times as much as the packaged ingredients. Today, in the experience economy, parents spend $100 or more to outsource the entire event to places like The Discovery Zone or Touchstone Climbing that stage memorable events for the kids and often throw in the cakes for free. When Apple made the decision to try to compete in a rapidly commoditized PC market through clones and cheap computers, the company almost folded. Now they have returned to profitability and acclaim. "Think different" is the tag line for Apple's move into the Experience Economy. Every aspect of contact with the customer, from the ads and the devices to the highly customized stores, is a carefully crafted experience.

So, what does this mean for all of us? It means that we should strive together to make the digital experience as memorable and immersive as the offline experiences that we have come to know and love. You can compare the evolution of the digital experience to the birthday experience. When the web first started, we had flat HTML sites that basically got a company's identity online and perhaps offered some phone numbers or maybe even an e-mail address for contact. Next, we added function with Perl script that changed brochureware into more tailored information. Soon after that we started delivering dynamic content and more "desktop"-like features with web applications that let you place an order through an online store or customize something you'd like to buy using product configurators. At each step, the information became more relevant to customers and enabled companies to bring their unique brands online. Today, we are at the experience level, where you, the developers, are creating experiences that draw consumers in and envelop them in their own personalized world. Just look at what Nike is doing at nike.com (where you can accomplish everything from customizing shoes to keeping an online personal running journal) to understand the new levels of experience we're seeing on the Internet today. And, of course, we have a whole new canvas to think about it in the digital economy: how will we extend these experiences to devices?

Why this ultimately matters to you and your customers, as well as to us, is that great experiences are great business. Great experiences improve customer interactions; they directly improve sales while delivering a compelling brand experience, leading to financial return through increased use, brand loyalty, and customer satisfaction. Forrester Research found that investments in the user experience can deliver as much as 250% Return On Investment (ROI) in online commerce applications and significantly lower the cost of deploying enterprise-packed applications.

We believe that the Macromedia MX product family helps increase ROI by bringing the tools needed to create the best experiences today. We also believe that Macromedia MX lowers costs by streamlining the development and delivery of these experiences, giving you more time and funds to spend on the creativity behind these amazing experiences. The Macromedia MX product family is a huge step forward for Macromedia and hopefully for you and your work. But rest assured that we are just getting started.

We believe it is possible to create more natural and effective interaction models, ones that allow for a better relationship between people and the things they want to accomplish with the technology they work with every day. Imagine nearly transparent interfaces and presentations where people feel engaged with and immersed in the actual content and communication that they are attempting to access. That would be a revolution. And that is the Macromedia vision for rich experiences.