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The pace of business change is accelerating, with new brands, products, apps and services hitting the market faster than ever. So which ones will survive and actually secure a place in the lives of overwhelmed consumers?

“The successful ones,” says a recent report from market intelligence firm J. Walter Thompson, “will be those who understand human behaviour and emotion.”

In 2016, user experience designers will increasingly preach empathy in the design process as a way to gain an edge over the competition. Pitching your product as the best, fastest or cheapest on the market will still be an option—but you should add “friendliest” to the list.

Microsoft and Apple are busy competing to make Cortana and Siri, their respective “virtual assistants,” chattier and more conversational, while Facebook is touting M, which will do things like book flights or restaurant reservations using the same chat service people use to talk to one another. How’s that for a friend request?

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Have you noticed an increasing emphasis on empathy in product design? Let us know by commenting below.

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