IKEA, and their human-centric approach to the metaverse – Part 1

Omnichannel Podcast Episode 16

In this episode, we hear from Timi Stoop-Alcala, the Principal Content Strategist at IKEA. 

She and Noz Urbina discuss what the metaverse is, how it relates to human usability, and how IKEA is focusing on being human-centric in the metaverse and beyond.


“I think most of the time when you start talking about metaverse, you talk about the technology and the platform, but it’s really about the content. It really needs to be based on real-world concepts and relationships because that’s going to help us develop better metaverse experiences and extend the thinking around it.” – Timi Stoop-Alcala

I think most of the time when you start talking about the #metaverse, you talk about the tech & platform, but it's really about content. @delunna / @NozUrbina #Omnichannel #Podcast. #CX #CustomerExperience Share on X

What you’ll learn

  • Start educating and start getting people curious
  • Build approaches that make the metaverse another channel in the existing multi- or omnichannel strategy
  • Start looking at content as objects – representations of the real things in the world – that can be reused, referenced, and linked in the metaverse and across other channels


Also listen and download on…


Noz Urbina
Noz Urbina
Urbina Consulting

Full session transcript



Noz Urbina  12:05

Welcome to the omnichannel podcast by OmnichannelX. I am your host Noz Urbina, founder of omnichannel X organization and Urbina Consulting and I am here today with Timmy stoep Alcala who is coming to us from IKEA. I’m very happy to have her. She was a very active participant in lat and this year’s conference, the one that just passed, and it was asking questions and on the slack groups and engaging and really a really, really great participant and so much so that we continue the discussion and we said you know, we got to have a chat on the podcast. Come join me. So today we’re gonna be talking about the metaverse and I’m gonna we’re gonna define the metaverse for you to talk a little bit about how it’s being really applied, and things like that. But without any further ado, Tim, Timmy, would you like to introduce yourself to the group a little bit about your background? And how did you hear about all this? How did you get into this area?

Timi Stoop-Alcala  13:12

All right, thanks. Noz. I’m so happy to be here. I’m Timmy and I’m the Principal content strategist. They care. I sit in the content team, the content strategy and design team which is one of the centres of expertise and experience design group. And so I attended the conference omnichannel X conference. I actually wanted to attend that I think back in 2020 I believe but I kept missing the deadline. And then finally I saw I saw you tweet about it and I thought okay, I’m gonna attend I’m gonna ask my team to come with me. Because one of the things that really attracted me was how all the topics are most of the topics really in the omnichannel conference were really geared also towards content like really you know, the deeper layers of it. And that caught my attention and my team’s attention and also, you know, looking a lot into the underlying structures of content that were really attractive for us. But a little bit about myself. I am, I’m from the Philippines, but I’m living in the Netherlands. And I got into a Yeah, because No, we were very keen really into having a content strategy as part of experience design. And I think that’s such a great you know, a great sign and means that the game is really serious with a strategy with content strategy, not just, you know, the kind of wonderful content that you see, but really thinking about the future content, especially with all the emerging technologies that we’re facing and all the changes that are happening at the moment and my background is really started with education actually, in writing. And up to now, I get a lot of inspiration from those two fields. Looking at content as knowledge resources, and really, you know, how can that make my life relevant How can it make others’ lives better? And if you kind of have that mindset of, you know, content as something that helps you learn and discover the world. I think that really shapes the way you would like to create content Yeah. And I’m very into looking at how different influences actually different fields can affect content, I think, especially the way it’s evolving. You can just be looking at it with one lens. So the more different fields that we can get inspiration from draw inspiration from and then the better.

Noz Urbina  15:58

That’s couldn’t be more in line with the whole OmnichannelX philosophy. You know, it’s we’ve always said it takes a village and that the experience in the relationship or not the domain of any particular role of the department. So, if we’re going to be successful in building better relationships, and facilitating better experiences, which then in the long term, drive more revenue, drive better brand loyalty, etc, etc. Then it’s inherently multidisciplinary and collaborative. We have to get together. Although I think we’ve always had, as you said, there is lot of content material at omnichannel X. It fits. It’s very suitable like what you said about that it’s part of its user experience design. I know pisses off some of my content colleagues, but I still say that content is a subdiscipline of experience because everything rolls up to the experience we’re trying to deliver at the end of the day, all the tech that we do all you know all the channel design and the visual design and the content design. It’s all facilitating that experience. At the end of the day,

Timi Stoop-Alcala  17:11

it’s all for, you know, for the people, for the ones that we’re trying to serve. And so if you have that mindset, then you know, then it’s almost imperative that we must collaborate and we must work together. But also quantum is, I think, especially now, it really demands that collaboration. And that’s so easy to say, but we know that this, its also quantum is in a lot of silos, as we know. So the collaboration part is always the hardest, the most challenging, but I think that’s, that’s the problem worth solving. How do we, how do we get together and if we lean into, okay, this is our goal and the people, the many people are the ones that we are serving? Then we’ll find ways and that’s something I really liked with IKEA that’s, that’s really it’s, you know, the way it’s the service and the way it’s doing the work. It’s always how we try to create better lives for too many people. And of course, in our realm in the content team, then we ask, how can we make sure that content works better, where it’s harder for our teams? And then, of course, we’re the people we serve. And that’s a great, you know, great challenge. Another easy one, for sure.

Noz Urbina  18:30

Well, no, but is it I think it’s a beautiful way to conceive of what we do. And, you know, it makes sense now why you why IKEA came down as a team because you actually came down like three or four of you together. And your whole team was super engaged. And I think that’s, that’s, that’s awesome. And I can see why. So, thank you for that. So today, we’re gonna jump into our main topic for today. Which is the metaverse it’s a very popular topic. I’ve been presenting a lot about it in the past year. It’s kind of hit that point, which is it’s becoming a major buzzword, but it has been around as a concept and has been receiving investment for many, many years. And this is always the story of these megatrends is that in a very, very small slice of the population, it gets developed and then actually when it becomes a buzzword, it’s when it has hit a certain critical mass, then the general media is starting to take it seriously. So what what the general population sort of sees as the new thing, it’s actually rare. It’s being recognized, with a certain level of maturity, that now the rest of the world is newly hearing about it, but it’s been around as a concept and underlying technologies. And principles have been around for many, many, many years. And we’re not going to go into the whole history of how we got here. But today, I’m gonna give the kind of like the high-level definition of the metaverse and then I’ve got lots of questions for you to me about your thoughts about it, what IKEA is doing, and how our listeners can kind of learn more about it and possibly start to streamline it into their jobs. So the metaverse short, the way that we’re defining it is not a technology. It’s not a product that comes from a particular brand such as meta or competing meta versus when we’re talking about the metaverse. We’re talking about it in the singular like we talked about the internet. So the metaverse is the three-dimensional immersive internet it’s nothing, nothing more, nothing less. It’s an intranet where we can be in it. It is it can be all around us. And it is extended into our census. We can reach out and grab it. We can look around and see in the full. They say six degrees of freedom up down, left, right back and forward. And it is made of the content. You know, it is the combination of text audio, images, 3d rendered assets, either completely virtual or completely go into it or augmented. So it is a reflection of the real world interacts with the real world and extends our abilities within the real world. So that’s a very quick kind of definition. The reason we say the 3d Internet is because what’s what when you hear about it in the news right now, you hear about the Metaverse, it’s the big brands fighting to create their walled gardens. They’re trying to create their ecosystems and their environments to get as much control over this as possible. But the eventuality that we’re we’re talking about is the idea that you will be able to go from one metaverse environment to another as easily and fluidly as you click between two websites today. And that’s starting the underlying plumbing and architectures are for that are starting to be built. But yes right now. All the big brands are fighting to take their fair share of that and we’ll see what happens when Apple joins the fight in the next couple of years. I don’t get quite interested. So is there? Is there anything else you would want you wanted to add to me to what you when you talk about the metaverse, is there anything I’ve left out that you would say ideas or ways that you explain it?

Timi Stoop-Alcala  22:46

No, I think you covered it pretty well. And I was pretty articulate because and of course you do and I but I’m smiling now. Of course, our audience doesn’t see it. But one of the biggest challenges I think when you start talking about the metaverse at work, how you start defining it. What do you what level of detail? The Share? How do you start a conversation? And this is one of the things that our team is actually trying to do. It’s all about it starts with words. Of course, it starts with the way we what’s our vision and how are we going to describe it and of course looking into what is it exactly, and I love the way you were saying about the 3d aspect of it and giving it really like solid points to anchor on. Because otherwise, of course, it’s like very easy to describe it as if it’s a fantastical world. And there is an element of magic, of course, when he talks about

Noz Urbina  23:47

with all new technologies. Exactly.

Timi Stoop-Alcala  23:51

But as you said it’s been around and the foundations are there. And so the more that we define what is it made of and you think, you know, the dome was like the objects in the definition of a metaverse and the clearer it becomes and the more accessible the notion becomes. So yeah, thank you for saying that and I might just, you know, listen to this and just really share with the team know what it is. But I think the one thing that I do hear a lot when we’re talking about metaverse in our team and our company is around shared experiences. How does this become an extension of that one of the efforts from our group is to go away from the bus or at least not to deepen the conversation and really talk about how this extends our values as a company how do we extend or expand our ability to care? To help people connect, know those things that don’t seem to be connected with metaverse or high-tech stuff, but actually, it is I think I’m very, very interested in the notion of the metaverse is a way to help us remember to help us care. To help us understand. Empathize the world, yeah, to help us empathize. Yeah. Yeah, that’s, and that’s crucial, I

Noz Urbina  25:28

think. So I think that that touches on something that I was gonna leave out but I think that it’s I think you raise a very, very important point, which is not just what is it but why do we think it will be successful? And, you know, I have a lot of opinions on this. And I think that when it would come back to how you explain the metaverse to your colleagues or I understand it in non-technical non-buzzy terms. You have a simple statement like what if you could walk into the internet you know what if the internet was a place you could be inside and how what could experiences could you design in that in that environment in that environment? But then what is the metaphor is going to be for us as a society? Society is, I think, the greatest storytelling, empathy-building tool that we’ve ever invented. You know, for all, of history we’ve been trying to, share experiences, trends, transport, and free our experiences both lived and met and imagined. From across space and time, you know, and bring other people into that. And we’ve created writing and painting and music and all of these different ways to capture that and share that to build empathy. And the metaverse is one where you can you can have someone else get as close to living the experience that you’re imagining or have had. There’s nothing that’s ever been able, to propose that level of fidelity where you can walk a mile in my shoes, you know, I can create, I’ll give I’ll rattle off some examples. I want to get into IKEA specifically in a second but to give some other examples, I have seen very beautiful work done looking at very very human, very emotional stories like when I first experienced virtual reality. One of the first things that I saw in my first couple of days was a story about human trafficking. Where they were it was a woman and it was like a podcast and a documentary film. So you are in her childhood home and you can see her children playing outside her door, you can see where he or she slept, you can look around when you turn your head, you can see what the floor looks like, you know all of these details which you could not, you couldn’t convey in the same way. No matter how great of a filmmaker you are, you will you can’t let someone have that freedom to experience it the way they when you’re looking at the details that they want to look at and turn their head and focus where they want to look at in a guided way. And the most powerful moment of that was when she was telling them about telling a story of when she’s actually being trafficked when she when she’s, gets taken out of her home. And you are in her seat on this train. And you’re surrounded by these men who are making eye contact with you. And that it’s incredibly like it makes the hairs on my arm stand up. And you know, these guys are looking at you and like I literally kind of turn my head away and then you turn your head away and there’s another guy looking at you from another angle and you feel trapped and oppressed because the film can’t do that. You can always look away from the screen. If you’re inside the environment, the way that she was and when you try to look away you’re still there. You’re her story comes alive in a way that none no other format could make it and it was grainy. Like the video quality was bad. It wasn’t high fidelity. It wasn’t amazing technology. But the story just came alive in such a powerful way. And I think that’s an incredible example of why the experience is so compelling that it once people do that once it’s just like when you sweat when people switched the switch from reading text to watching a video or from text to podcasts because it’s an experience which connects with us as human beings in a different way. And so, go ahead.

Timi Stoop-Alcala  30:11

Yeah, it’s not just like you, you read something. It’s not just words. It’s everything all at once. And exactly. That’s such a different experience. And I wonder sometimes like yeah when you are able to tap into that, right? You know, what’s, what’s the impact, like even if it’s just a one-time encounter or one kind of content? I think you already achieved a lot more and opens up a lot more and maybe that’s another thing like how do we you know, how do you start measuring the impact of this kind of content? Are those practical things that the team not usually would think of, but just as you were describing it, that alone is such something so unique, and maybe even, you know, maybe it doesn’t happen at that exact moment, but later on, it stays with you. And so it leads into more, I don’t know, reflections questions, so it’s still lingering there, I think. But I can only tell from what I’ve experienced more from like in games, for example, you know, those kinds of interaction that I deliver much more than just one, you know, one single way of looking at content.

Noz Urbina  31:21

Yeah, absolutely. And if you imagine like you imagined no matter how well you blew away, like the design and the writing on your about us page. Yeah, it’s never gonna be as compelling as being able to step into the story of your company. You know, show people a guided experience that shows the motivation of your of what your values are, why you what your reason for being or what you’re doing in the world, that like that. It’s still the same about us content, but you could bring it across in such a way which is just the word that is used and like the term is immersive, and that being immersed in something is so different than reading it off a screen. And so I wanna I want to get to your story to me specifically and understand a little bit so coming so that we’ve I think we’ve done a very good general illustration of what we’re talking about. What has IKEA done today already? going in this direction? And what and why, were the drivers Well, how did they justify this investment?

Timi Stoop-Alcala  32:36

Well, I gear notice a big company with lots of different teams working on these kinds of technologies, but also working on our big goal, you know, is how do we bring How do we create better everyday life for the many people and so it’s always a lot of any initiatives that we do. It’s always anchored that like, how can this help someone in our daily lives? And one of the like, in one of the life at home reports that we had, we found out that 60% of customers had to change significantly their home function since the pandemic and they weren’t functioning. The way that the home is the way they use their home, because then suddenly you have to adjust like you have to work from home. You have kids there and what do you send me you have you have all these physical objects around you and some of them are fixed, but your entire context of change. So how does that how do you know the

Noz Urbina  33:45

requirements the requirements that they have of their home environment changed?

Timi Stoop-Alcala  33:49

Right, right. And then, um, so one, one of the things that that we do have that involves more like a rendered reality would be the aka creative, which is an app, which basically helps you reimagine the space where you’re in your home. So basically, you know if you have this app, and it’s also you can use it also on your computer, you can scan your environment. And it’s smart enough to know that to see those objects that you have, and you can digitally erase that furniture so that if you want to, you know redesign your home, you can do it and it sounds so simple, but it’s so much it’s so magical, actually. It is magic so that’s one of the things that Medicare does, it’s really being able to connect, you know, these kinds of technologies with really practical, helpful things. That everybody could use and

Noz Urbina  34:52

is available.

Timi Stoop-Alcala  34:56

I think it’s on Yeah, it’s you can download it from from the App Store or Google Play

Noz Urbina  35:02

from Google. Yeah. So that was called IKEA creative.

Timi Stoop-Alcala  35:06

Creative. Yeah. Created for the Wii at the end. Creative. Okay, great team. Yeah, so it’s just it’s so that’s just a start. So of course, this is something that is always being done very, with, you know, with a lot of user research and connecting really with people but it’s such a great help already. Just to reimagine just the three imagining suddenly add this layer of this extra superpower almost, right? Yes. So yeah, imagining a better life at home from anywhere. That’s one of the driving thoughts behind that. Yeah.

Noz Urbina  35:49

Excellent. Excellent. So and you also raise a very good point, which when we talk about the metaverse, I think people go straight to VR goggles and glasses. But that’s not necessarily true in the same way that you can access the internet on a watch or on your phone or a desktop or, you know, a huge touchscreen, interactive display, or via voice. The metaverse will also be omnichannel. So you can have metaverse environments which you’ll be able to step into with specialized controllers or cameras, headsets, goggles, etc. But yeah, it’s still the metaverse, it’s an app on your phone. Where the internet is interacting with your reality. In an in a 3d in a 3d way. You are looking at so you’re using the phone screen or the tablet screen as a sort of glass rather than glasses on your face to experience and interact with this metaverse. And I think that’s that. That’s something really important for people to understand is it’s not a jump from webpages to VR goggles. There are lots of interim steps. I actually created you know, I should have had it ready for this session, but a sort of a metaverse maturity model. Oh, yeah, I’m gonna I’m actually going to dig it out quickly.

Timi Stoop-Alcala  37:23

I love your point, though, as you’re getting it about, you know, it’s again, it’s centred on the human centres on the person in the metaverse or work, those kinds of applications. It’s all about helping you do what you need to do and Rukia that’s, you know, always like helping you fulfil your omnichannel mission. Whatever that mission may be. Your job to be done. Very simple can be a bigger goal. You know, but the aim is that again, it’s all about you. So we design with that in mind. So yeah, I love how you describe that. Thank you. So

Noz Urbina  38:08

maturity model. So I call this kind of immersive technology spectrum. So, and this is where, when we’re talking about this, it’s I think it’s a good context for our audience to understand the rest of our discussion. So you’re already seeing today 3d on the web. If you go on Amazon and you look for a product, you’re you often get products that have like a little 3d version that you can spin around you can Google has said already that 3d results and images get more clicks than 2d. So if you actually bring those 3d renderings into your search engine results that are more attractive to people, being able to even with a mouse or your finger on a screen, touch it, spin it around, zoom in zoom out, is very attractive. So and if you’re talking about industrial applications, being able to for example, look at the way that parts interact or take a take virtually on the screen, explode a motor into its components and see how they connect to each other is incredibly useful for all sorts of operations from maintenance to go shopping to spares and replacements all sorts of different ways training there’s an incredible number of ways that just 3d on the 2d screen or on the flat screen is already useful. And then there’s what you were just talking about, like the creative app where you have augmented reality, where you’re bringing those 3d assets and you’re mixing them through an app or something that has a camera and a screen into your real world. That’s kind of stage two. Then there is augmented reality on the headset where you when you are talking about glasses, but you’re you’re still in the real world, but you’re able to bring in 3d things to give you more information to allow you, for example, to connect with a real-world object that’s in another country. You know, I want to bring your car’s motor into my living room. It’s virtually so I can twiddle some settings, and then maybe you know, you will execute the actual operations with your hands over wherever you are. And if I’m in Spain and you’re in the Netherlands, I kind of show you and you do it or I do it and then a robot executes it in a factory somewhere and fixes the actual engine. So as we’re seeing already there are many stories that come out about remote surgeries, where multiple doctors collaborate by coming together in a virtual space augmented into the surgery room. So then virtual reality is full on your complete field of vision and your senses are taken over by the virtual world. And so all of these steps you can get started just doing 3d In the browser today. But those assets those skills, that way of design thinking and designing wilt is on the spectrum taking you towards the metaverse and that’s it’s really important that we understand that it’s not this just huge jump into Oh, now I’ve got to create a virtual world. Like I can step into this and start to bring this into my team and my way of working

Timi Stoop-Alcala  41:29

Yeah, it’s like what can you do next week? Exactly. Next week? Yeah. Yeah. Start getting your assets. The 3d versions.

Noz Urbina  41:39

Yeah. Just a Kira 3d designer or find a 3d agency. Start working. There’s a reason that Microsoft bought like spent, I don’t know $49 billion on buying one of Activision one of the biggest game companies in the world. Yes, Microsoft has a big games division. But there’s a longer game there’s a longer play than just games there. So what does IKEA want to do next? What is your kind of longer-term goals? Do you have any specific thoughts about where you think you’re going to take the metaverse?

Timi Stoop-Alcala  42:14

Well, I am for experienced design at least in one of our Centers of Expertise. Actually is the strategic experience designers research team, and they’re you right away. A lot of interesting folks there that maybe you would love to connect with. And we are partnering we are collaborating with them on just on the whole, you know, emerging tech and what are the driving factors for change that we need to look at because we’re always looking at it from the human perspective, right? And in terms of the next steps, I can only speak for what we think is important right now and that is really to generate understanding and framing of what it is and why is it important for us and how is this going to help and support the many people and so

Noz Urbina  43:16

within IKEA you’re trying to build that understanding?

Timi Stoop-Alcala  43:19

Yeah. A lot of teams, of course, research teams and product teams that are looking into spatial computing you know, and of course, you’re also in touch with other partner with other companies on more on the technology side, but you might even experience design. It’s about that’s great, first, the shared language around this. Let’s understand what it means. And let’s ask critical questions. And then also that’s why we’re partnering with weather, strategy and research friends. What’s the content perspective here? Because I think most of the time, you know when you start talking about metaverse, it’s really about that becomes about the technology and the platform and everything but, you know, it’s really about content right? I think that was it you said hope I’m not putting in correctly that what is the metaverse but content, content, it’s made of content, right? We’re all made of content and that whole thinking around I think there’s also a big need to Okay, let me rephrase it. We start with a shared understanding of a common language because we need once we understand it, then, then we need to see what are the changes we have to do or to undergo for us to be ready to be successful and deliver experiences in the metaverse and then we go into the path of, you know, my mind shifts and behaviour change in the way we create content, then it becomes more tangible because this problem is a problem now, like how do we start changing the way we think and create content? It’s already a challenge now. I think it’s even going to be more you know, a challenge if we do not start thinking of how this is going. How is the how metaverse is gonna change this or what would be demanded of us to really be relevant in this space? Because we don’t want to just create just, you know, content for the metaverse. It needs to

Noz Urbina  45:32

metaverse for metaverse sake.

Timi Stoop-Alcala  45:33

Yeah, yeah, that’s exactly why we like let’s talk about this and let’s have conversations. And let’s start with defining things and even just the definition. It’s, there’s a lot of, it’s hard to define it. It’s changing. Like it’s a great start, like what you how you define it, and then also okay, what is important for us, how do we start working for this? How do we prepare like, that’s those 3d assets in place? That’s great. But other things like how do we imagine what would be the pipeline, you know, for metaverse content? And what are we doing now? What needs to you know what needs to change? So it’s a lot about change management, they think, and it’s not new and then that notion of something like high tech, low metaverse suddenly, you know, gets pulled to the ground because then you realize, oh, you have to work with teams and people. What do they need to understand? So you might remember from when social media you know, started evolving and then businesses didn’t know how to work with it. And there were a lot of doubts can it be you know, part of a core you know, proposition? It’s just something outside but now everybody knows.

Noz Urbina  46:50

It was the whole thing. It was cat videos and you know, yes, and it was it relevant.

Timi Stoop-Alcala  46:57

Sorry, when I got the videos still persists. The power of cats and the internet. I think that’s the ultimate content strategy. Getting aside? Yeah. Now that we are faced with the same thing, I feel like in terms of day-to-day, you know, work. What does this mean in terms of our centre of expertise, what do we need to do? And how do we start educating or how do we start getting people curious and looking at it as something that also is interesting for them? Because I think if you’re not working directly with either the text or you know, if you’re in the store, for example, house, it’s going to be relevant for you. It is going to be relevant because you’re in the physical space, and that’s why it’s exciting. And then just making sure that we, we know what we’re talking about, and then understanding the changes that need to happen. And also start looking at content really as objects. And by that, I mean, they are representations are real things in the world. They’re not just a thing that we like, think or invent. Because we think, Oh, this is going to fit this nice, you know, component on the screen. It really needs to be based on real-world concepts and relationships because that’s going to help us develop better metaverse experiences and, and do extend the thought. That’s why I think also storytelling as a core competence needs to really be developed and I know storytelling is already you know, everybody knows how important it is. But hopefully, the metaverse really does take on like a, you know, another dimension because we need to start thinking of the in the meantime, parts of the story. You know not everything will be chronological. And you know, especially if we want our participants or users to have shared experiences, how do we really design this environment better and the whole story behind it? So all the mechanisms of storytelling, I feel like we need to, you know, we need to look at that again and how will this apply to the way we think about metaverse experiences? Yeah, so there are two things because not everybody’s still understanding, I think or appreciating how content should be structured into you know, these intelligent building blocks. And these are building blocks of the stories that you want to pray and experience. You want to pray into the metaverse.

Noz Urbina  49:38

I love that. So you touched on so many things there. First of all, I want to tell people that if they look if they Google for New York Times interactive, they can get several lovely examples and I’ll try to put them in the show notes about where you can see as simple as, for example, tracking climate change data. And you can as you scroll down through the different regional descriptions as the climate change data, it’s being superimposed on this 3d Globe. That kind of rotates to the countries of the region that they’re talking about and overlays the data the on the maps and stuff. And then there’s a beautiful example about birds, where as you scroll down, the birds that they’re talking about the kind of are there and they actually flutter around and if you move your mouse that kind of just above their heads in reaction to interact. Yeah, and there’s and then when we’re talking to very telling really important like New York Times, way t stories, there’s they do, they do, they do a piece on the Tulsa race massacre, which again, is like a human trafficking story. These are real deep human stories, and they and they transport you through, you know, a significant historical event and the way that they kind of stole respect for this. Try to make it a real thing is that they, instead of scrolling down a story, like scrolling down an article page, yeah, you’re, as you scroll like, Well, I tried to describe it as they’ve reimagined the scroll as a hallway. And you walk through the story at the pace that you want, and as you walk through now, images come up and text comes up and then the key point where you get into understanding what Tulsa was and what happened to it. You’re actually doing a flyover or a walkthrough of the town itself. And you know that the buildings light up and you see what, who lived there and who had a business there and what happened to them and you kind of walk through the main street of the town and you can stop at any point you can go walk backwards, walk forwards, and this is all being done with the control of the scrollbar and so it’s an incredible they’ve they’re like the people that the New York Times interactive department is a great place to see how metaverse future-friendly experiences are being developed for all sorts of reasons, important social, and historical reasons. Simply communicative ones, or there’s great variety there. If you want to check those out. I really recommend

Timi Stoop-Alcala  52:34

definitely check those out. And I think that’s something also very again, another great thing to help prepare teams for this. Look at great examples, but also look at other examples. Just try to see where are we right now. And yeah, we’ll start there. Because I think that’s also where you know seeing those things experiencing those things will spark you know, the connections.

Noz Urbina  52:57

Yeah. What can we do with it? Yeah, yeah, I think you also touched upon something super important, which is this intelligent content in the background. So the that connects with it connects in a very important way because connects with a user-driven, experience-driven way with a very technical concept, which is we’re seeing the rise of, of in the mainstreaming, I should say, because it’s been around for decades. of domain modelling, content modelling, semantic web ontology, ontologies, and graph databases, all these technologies that have a human-centred understanding of the content. They don’t understand it as pages and widgets, but rather as what it actually is and how it relates to itself. So there’s such a thing as a piece of furniture and furniture have types and they have rooms that they go in and they have uses and those uses go with personas and tasks and those those those personas have interactions that had interactions have interaction data, which then drives personalization, like the full web of the understanding and the full complexity of content. You can’t do that very well in an age-based environment. And so the graph you know, I’m not going to get into graph databases, but graphs and ontology is a lot of taxonomies. All a lot of these words, semantic web a lot. Of these words that you might be hearing. They’re all the way that we do that. They’re all the way that we bring that human understanding into the technology so that it can, it can help us build human-centric experiences.

Timi Stoop-Alcala  54:35

That is so crucial and our team really is into finding ways to collaborate with finding ways to work with our knowledge graphs or is also developing knowledge. Because exactly because of this that we need, how else can we sustain actually content development? I think if we do not start treating it as knowledge, resources, and turning it into connected, you know, content. And so, for me, so you’re weaving these conversations around, okay, we prepare for the future. And why is, you know, why did we start to look at content as objects? Well, this is why it’s all about, especially with the kid’s knowledge and home furnishing, you know, how do we make sure that this is this knowledge is accessible, reusable, and findable? And then how do we turn how do we use that, you know, to turn our content into smarter really building blocks are aware of itself and those will help, you know, will work harder for us. And that’s really a big shift in that whole thinking about content. That’s one of the challenges that we’re facing today. How do we do that? How do we know, let’s show examples? How can we start with that? Yes.

Noz Urbina  55:56

Yeah, so I will, I’ll bring him the concept that has been very successful. The concepts that have been very successful for us in our implementations with companies like IKEA is journey mapping, and jobs to be done like really getting a good research, research-backed, methodical description of who are we talking about. What are they really trying to accomplish? And then what is their experience look like? What is the map of that experience today? Not those stupid diagrams you get on the internet have like a line where like you see an email newsletter and then I click a thing and then I look at a brochure. And then now I do a download with smiley faces and stuff, but something much richer that maps the user questions to their goals to the channels that they’re using to the specific content requirements that support those goals, and then what call to actions you want to do and then how you will measure success. That’s what I when I say journey map. That’s what I’m talking about.

Timi Stoop-Alcala  56:52

I love that, especially the questions part. Yeah, we got to forget about that. And that’s directly related to a pool of big beautiful questions. We need.

Noz Urbina  57:04

Exactly, so questions over time. You know, it’s an equation question over time questions every time Yeah, yeah. And so that’s how we help put it all together in a way that kind of gets like everyone in the company can kind of get that. Here are the questions over time. Here’s what we’re trying to address. Over time, rather than here’s what we want to publish wishes are the completely backwards way. Like here’s what I want to scream about, is the old way of, of doing content. Here are the questions we’re trying to answer for our users to help them towards our objective. That’s the modern way of thinking about that, and then it maps directly to them. Okay, well, if this is their question, what’s the component of content that might answer that and what are the different ways that I need to express that answer? I’m not going to do PDFs. images, text, metaverse, 3d environments, there might be many expressions of how they might how and where that might answer that question. But the question remains consistent because that’s what the person is trying, to answer to get them to the next stage. So that’s super helpful and remains relevant. Yeah, yes, it’s in the end, it kind of it brings content to the front, through a user experience lens, you know, and then the next thing we do is what we call content prototypes, which is, actually before we get into designing interfaces and doing UI prototypes, and building software prototypes. Let’s just take the words and the images and say if we were to make this into a different kind of experience, how would we then break it down? So we’ve got our questions over time. So all right. How would we answer that? Let’s take what we currently have, transform it, you know, rewrite it, augment it, add stuff, take away stuff, and then package it up so that it properly addresses those questions. Now, what would that content look like? And you can do that without doing any user interface. You can just do that. We’ve done it in Word documents. And then we show the users the before and after, and you can do like a usability lab on the content, no, no UI, no search, none of that stuff. Just how does this content address your questions versus that this content and that can really you can come back with numbers and go look, this is the impact of just changing the content. Now let’s imagine what would happen if we layered SEO and UI design and all that good stuff on top of it.

Timi Stoop-Alcala  59:44

That’s another thing that you know you can start doing next week and that will help you, you know, be relevant and be successful when you do go into the metaverse or whatever other you know, things that may come up in the future. But that’s what that’s the whole content will. Of course, it’s always user first but you know, model first, content structure first approach. So that we don’t end up just pouring things in the pouring content in a container to a visual design comes becomes the container itself. The content is the container in a way so yeah, that’s what inspires us. And I think that’s also where we’re focusing on so that we, we start preparing for these kinds of experiences. And again, the metaverse is one part of the whole experience that we are developing for people.

Noz Urbina  1:00:38

Fantastic. Okay. So we’re just coming on time now. You coming back to how we originally kind of met and how the scouting kind of got we got inspired to have you on the on podcast you placed them into the conference slack discussions and questions inspired by Chris Arkin Berg. So I wanted to ask you a little bit about who Chris Eichenberg was what you know, how you got inspired by him why you found it memorable, and engaging, and what and I’m gonna I want to bring up some of those questions in a second a little bit about that Chris Harkin Berg and what that was all about.

Timi Stoop-Alcala  1:01:15

Well, this was like, I think 10 years ago or around the time so he was one of the, like, technology, computing guys that I was following online. I saw this article I think it’s from I remember correctly, breaking open the cloud heads in an augmented world is what I put in my blog. And because I saw that, you know, and I started blogging about it, and I just liked the way that he was posting questions around usability and, you know, human usability and how technology should be followed, following the, how we evolve evolution from that perspective. And I found that so interesting, all of those kinds of things yet, we’re talking about, you know, like, more about technology and you know, some a lot of the other articles before we just focus on the tech itself when he was making the connection to human evolution. So I really liked that part.

Noz Urbina  1:02:21

Right. Well, there’s, that was I think, the question that I wanted to kind of bring back to you is your question you posed in the group how are these technologies in line with the deeper evolutionary needs the human needs of human beings and I’m interested in your thoughts that take us home here.

Timi Stoop-Alcala  1:02:40

Yeah. Well, you know, especially like when extended makes all of this metaverse it’s not just you’re not just you know, experiencing things in on a screen interface. It’s going to be a lot of blending with where you are exactly, and what you know, you’re here and now. And yeah, so just thinking of how is this experience going to affect the way I feel or how it makes me dizzy. Am I going to feel tired or confused if I start being in these kinds of experiences because I know that’s it How does it make me feel? So all of that all of those things, you know, emotions and physical conditions, and to continue to be considering that more and knowing how things work, you know, in your physical spaces, I think that’s so important. From the human, like the evolutionary side, I would say, I’m more I was also more just interested more on the, like the seeing or the way we look at things and the like the I also read somewhere around the pleasure of spectatorship. This window with these kinds of realities. It’s, it’s based on the fascination for the visual, and if, if that’s the case, will that help us be better humans? I think you can have you know, you can answer that in many ways, I think, yeah, it will be temporary. But it can also be like this, it doesn’t mean that we’re just looking at the surface of things because it’s just the visual aspect. How will that help? I guess, accessibility for example. These are all just questions I’m asking. I don’t know the answers, but that’s why I thought, you know, this whole discussion on metaverse and how it really affects us as humans, it brings those questions up. Yeah,

Noz Urbina  1:04:45

I think I had a very interesting experience talking about the metaverse I teach. I teach in the master’s degree program at the University on content strategy. And the last day of the last physical session where we actually got together with the students. I did I did an hour on the metaverse at the end of the day. And it was amazing and it was great and beautiful in a way that I almost couldn’t get through the points I was trying to make because the students were so interested in equity and accessibility, that, you know, like how can we make this how can we make sure that everyone is able to participate? How can we make sure that this is available and designed properly for everyone, which is, you know, I not taking away from the importance of those questions, but it is it’s so much part of the way that we are especially the younger generation of content professionals are driving how to design things. It’s so present, and it’s what I kind of got to was that it’s the same questions as we have for the internet. You know, a video is a video a podcast is a podcast show you there are only there are ways that you can make the content that’s in a podcast accessible to someone who has challenges with for example, a hearing sense or a video someone has a challenge with the visuals visual sense, but you are always providing them with an in you’re providing them with an inroad, which is suitable for their situation. You cannot make a video not a video and you cannot make audio not audio. So there’s a limit like we can make the experience accessible in the content accessible, but there’s no way to make something that inherently is one way and can is designed and exists to stimulate that sense available to someone who doesn’t have that sense. It’s not part of their reality. So it’s not about you know, it’s the same accessibility discussion extends into the metaverse. It’s not I don’t think it’s a whole new accessibility discussion.What do you say about how it supports human needs? I think I am very inspired by that question to have to look at something where you know, there’s a lot of research about how young people are actually saying social media is hurting me. You know, they’re they are saying you know, that this, you know, I am addicted. I can’t get off it, but it makes me depressed like when we were kids, and we played video games all day or we watch too much TV you know, our parents had to pry us off of it. We never kind of walked in and sadly setting you to know, I played too much supermario today I’m getting depressed like it’s different. It’s not there’s a lot of people who are tempted to go Oh yeah, well, we had screen addiction when we were kids. It’s a different thing and the metaverse will be a different thing again, and we have to be sensitive to that. It will have negatives which are new and it will I think will also have positives that are new. That will be bringing back live 3d multimodal multi-sensory experience rather than text which I think has inherent problems as a way of interfacing with our communities and with the world. It brings back more reality in a way you know because it is multimodal because it it’s multi-sensory. It’s more like real interaction. Like if you’ve never been in the metaverse, it’s hard to say but I can tell you even if you’re going in and talking to someone’s avatar, and that avatar is a giant chicken saying to someone’s giant chicken face, something that you would tweet in a text is not the same. Like you see their body language reaction to being in a physical room. You know to for to have them do to kind of be able to kind of like if you turned away for them to be able to walk back in your space and go What did you say? Like yeah, it will change I think for the better. That kind of interaction is because we’re taking away the wall of safety that text creates and the anonymity of asynchronous communication. So I think there are lots of beautiful things which by bream Bay are more ergonomic and are more about extending real human senses into the digital world. It will bring back things that we we’ve lost with the internet and with

Timi Stoop-Alcala  1:09:35

social media. That’s a great reflection because it’s, as you said, it’s multi-sensory. So there are many ways of expressing yourself. Whereas indeed, if you’re bound to only words, you know, only to one thing, I mean that has its

Noz Urbina  1:09:52

own not only words, text, text, because it’s different text. That’s true. That’s true. Yeah, the text is technology words, words. These are our words, but the text is a technology we have invented to capture them and communicate them in a particular way.

Timi Stoop-Alcala  1:10:05

Right. And now we kind of mix that actually like using words something but because and there’s a bit this is going a bit sideways, but you know there’s this tendency to make things more concise, more, shorter and Bucha feels sometimes it’s a bit theoretical. Because some things need to be you know, need to time to, to evolve and for you to understand you will not understand something right away and that’s okay. But now that you’re saying Indeed the difference of text and words that you know, that I can relate more into Yeah, we need a better design that not just text, other ways to bring the experience, get the senses, other senses into it. And of course, we can do that like just on a page, but something like a metaverse that’s possible. Then they all gain a deeper level of understanding and making, you know, enriching the meaning of things around us. It actually would help that I still have a positive view of them.

Noz Urbina  1:11:12

Fantastic. All right. Well, I think we’re going to make this into a two-episode one because this has been a fantastic conversation. I had so much fun. I just want to close this off and say I hope everyone had a really engaging conversation. I would love to hear your comments, you know please do like and subscribe on whatever channel you’re hearing this on. Tell your friends of course share and check out OmnichannelX.digital for more. This is an exciting time. You know, I think we’re seeing the rise of a new medium. You know, like it was like 100 years ago when you were seeing the rise of film for the first time. And then film became filled with audio with colour and then with audio. Actually another way around first with audio and then with colour. So we’re in the same way that we’ve seen whole industries specialisms types of artists rise with that new medium we are seeing the new same thing again and we’ll see in the same way that different mediums displace others, the metaverse will become its own thing and we’ll have a whole new language and set of skills come with it. But our skills today as content people will be transportable, understanding user experience, understanding user needs, storytelling, and then on the technical side, you know metadata design, content modelling, database design. Systems, integration, all that stuff, personalization analytics, all will still be just as true and just as important. So I want to thank you so much, Timmy, for joining us today. It’s been fantastic having you. Sure. I’m so glad we got to have you. Maybe we’ll have you back one day and maybe one of your colleagues and we have a wider discussion.

Timi Stoop-Alcala  1:13:02

Yes, I’d love to continue the conversation. Thank you so much for having me.

Noz Urbina  1:13:08

My pleasure. My pleasure. And I hope and assume that I’ll see you at this coming omnichannel. So thank you to everybody. And I hope you had a good episode. Let us know what you think via comments via email via whatever medium you like, because of course, we’re all about the omnichannel. So see you next time. Thank you, Timmy.

Timi Stoop-Alcala  1:13:54

Thank you. I enjoyed talking to you so much.