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Five Minutes With: Jacek Grebski, Founder and Partner at SWARM

What are your biggest opportunities and challenges for the next 12-24 months?

As a product studio, SWARM is in a unique position to capitalize on emerging technology trends. I’m personally excited for the ever growing prevalence of streaming (OTT) set top boxes, like the new Apple TV. We’re going to see a lot of product innovation in apps delivering content to your living room TV in the next 12-24 months, thing ecommerce, social networking, live karaoke, all from the comfort of your couch. This is just the start, but the living room is about to undergo a massive overhaul.

However as much as we want to push adoption or this and other new technologies in order to work on all sorts of new and amazing things, it’s going to be end consumer who drives the demand for this tech, and the jury’s still out on when the Chromecasts, and Apple TVs will be in the majority of U.S. homes, the figure currently stands at 21 percent, which is certainly nothing to sneeze at.

What keeps your clients up at night?

The world is moving at breakneck speeds, and whether they’re spending their money in the right places, on the right things. I’ve seen so many agencies deliver product that was either technologically lackluster or had poor user experience that it eventually detracted from these companies pursuing digital, which they had do. At the end it’s about collaboration and knowledge transfer between the agency and client, and vice versa: only this way will we creat products that people love.

What’s the hardest thing to educate clients about?

Good product takes time, it requires a team that understands the problem which an application is trying to address, the unique business goals behind it, and all of the stakeholder’s objectives. For us to do our job well, we need to have a discovery consulting session at the beginning of every engagement, this aligns everyone on both sides of the project and lets us “download” the necessary information to make an incredible product.

More often than not clients will give us wireframes put together by their in house print designer which don’t adequately reflect a seamless value-driven user experience on mobile or web. This is an unfortunate vestige of an older agency model where digital product wasn’t a key strategic component to building brand while providing your userbase with something worthy of their time.

What are some unmet needs in the marketing technology landscape?

I think the world of marketing automation could use some disruption, current platforms carry with them substantial onboarding costs, too few things are actually automated, and we should very much start applying machine learning to help with better targeting, positioning, and prediction–and all this should be bundled together with a solid UX that lowers entry barriers to this software.

What social network do you anticipate accelerating growth in 2016?

YouTube. It’s easier and easier to create good content, YouTube celebs are huge, YouTube reach is huge. With Google democratizing Virtual Reality with Cardboard, I think you’re going to see a much bigger uptick in 360 video which YouTube already supports, which is likewise accessible in the living room from VR network apps like LittlStar.

–Jacek Grebski is a founder and partner at SWARM, a digital product studio in NYC.

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