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Putting People First

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Posts in category 'Business'

18 March 2014

People first, technology second. It’s time for businesses to get personal

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Todd McKinnon, CEO of Okta, explains in Re/Code how also in a business context a people-centric focus is increasingly essential.

“In order to unlock the opportunity for “people-centric” experiences and to realize the new kinds of business value those experiences can generate, IT leaders need to re-prioritize, understanding their people — employees, customers and partners — and their needs first. The technology that should serve those needs comes second. The ease at which end users are able to interact with your business and get the information they need on their terms becomes the differentiator.[...]

Experiences can now be defined by an individual’s preferences, what information people have access to at various points of time, what devices they’re able to access that information from, and the extent to which they’re allowed to interact with that information. There are a lot more rules to follow — and businesses are under much more scrutiny by which rules are enforced. The only relics of the old world are the users involved in each instance, but even that variable has gotten more diverse and outspread.”

7 March 2014

The Great Convergence

hubble-galaxies

Jesse James Garrett of Adaptive Path argues that the constellations in the user experience field are shifting and that we are experiencing some sort of collision of three different “galaxies”:

“The customer experience community developed out of the marketing and customer support functions in organizations — in other words, the people traditionally mandated to pay attention to customer needs. They’ve led the charge in helping organizations create operational strategies based on measuring customer feedback, and along the way have developed a sophisticated understanding of how to make the business case for experience design initiatives.

Originally championed by a handful of academic design programs, and finding success in the public sector in Europe, service design has now made the jump to the commercial sphere. The service design community wrestles with the operational implications of delivering services by a variety of means, including those messy, ephemeral human-to-human experiences.

Meanwhile, user experience design has pushed beyond its origins in digital product design. More and more people have discovered that the UX toolkit, with its emphasis on the human context of use, isn’t particular to digital products. As a result, the discourse about UX has expanded to encompass the wider world of products of all kinds.”

Either we fight it. Or we embrace it. Obviously Garrett endorses the latter.

6 March 2014

The user experience of enterprise technology

 

Most big businesses globally are locked into some kind of reliance on enterprise technology. Unfortunately such systems are not only fiendishly difficult to install and maintain, but often equally challenging for the workforce to use. So asks Rob Gilham, why is the user experience of enterprise systems so bad, when the stakes are so high?

“The problem from a user experience perspective is that enterprise systems are generally procured and implemented with the focus purely on solving problems for the business with little attention paid to who the users are and how they want to work. [...]

The result of this lack of user-awareness is that enterprise IT vendors and their business customers often build unfounded assumptions about users into the system – which in turn can lead to a deeply flawed user experience. The consequences of being wrong on this kind of scale can be highly damaging. Companies can find themselves stuck for years with the legacy of a difficult to use, inefficient system with higher-than-expected ongoing costs for user training and helpdesk support to compensate.”

(via InfoDesign)

24 February 2014

Will your clothing spy on you?

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In his lecture “The Ethicist’s and the Lawyer’s New Clothes: The Law and Ethics of Smart Clothes,” I. Glenn Cohen, Professor of Law at the Harvard Law School, warns of the potential for wearable technology to annihilate privacy for good.

According to Fortune’s David Whitford, Cohen drew an analogy with Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, where the action takes place in two locales: Venice itself, a hotbed of commerce and greed; and nearby Belmont, the refuge to which the protagonists escape for love and art. Smart clothes threaten to “disrupt the place of refuge,” even when we leave our phones behind. “At some point we squeeze out the space for living a life,” he warned. “Lots of people have things they want to do and try but wouldn’t if everything was archived.”

13 February 2014

Qualitative research in industry – videos from the Qualitative 360 Asia Pacific conference

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Qualitative 360 Asia Pacific 2013 took place in Singapore in November 2013, and some videos are now available:

Winning with shoppers via qualitative research [23:57]
Michael Biscocho, Consumer and Market Knowledge Manager, Procter & Gamble
• Leveraging qualitative techniques to complement quantitative methods in consumer behavior
• Exploring FMCG consumer decision making through qualitative research engagement
• Harnessing different methodologies of qualitative research to gain better understanding of market trends
• Implementing qualitative methodologies as part of overall research to develop retail strategies

Taking qualitative research to the cloud [33:38]
Jasmeet Sethi, Regional Head of ConsumerLab, Ericsson
• Learning the art of how to transform qualitative research from a 12 year old kid.
• How could you build and run on-demand insight communities with zero investment?
• Case study from Ericsson on the first ever ‘Over the Top Qualitative Research’

Tapping into the informal economy to create new opportunities for innovation. A case study in recycling and push cart aunties [24:45]
Juliana Koh, Director, Consumer Faces
Manisha Dikshit, Managing Director, Consumer Faces
• Informal economy is a large contributor to the global economy and presents several opportunities/learning for the commercial world
• This paper presents a case study to understand the role of informal economy and how it can be applied in commercial businesses
• The paper further provides pointers on how the corporate/formal world can implement this

Achieving maximum insights from challenging consumers using ethnography for product development in China and Vietnam [27:38]
Christelle Michon, APAC Sensory and Consumer Insights Manager, Symrise
• Understanding the culinary habits of low income consumers in Vietnam through ethnography
• Observing the fun and excitement of kids related to foods in China
• Benefits and challenges of using ethnography: what were the lessons learned?
• How actionable insight were achieved and used for new product development in Symrise

Exploring the meaning of digital: a case of ethnographic research on mobile life in Singapore [26:33]
Masao Kakihara, Senior Research Manager, Google
• How Google does research globally and locally
• Making sense of the meaning of digital life in Asia
• Methodological challenges in the age of big data

Great Wall, Great Reward: finding design-actionable insights for medical devices in China [28:43]
Tico Blumenthal, Global Customer Insights Manager, Medtronic
• Learn how qualitative research is used to drive applied medical device innovations
• Hear a thought-leader introduce examples of how medical devices can be optimized for Chinese customers
• Understand the designer’s viewpoint when filtering observational data
• Hear about some of the unique challenges doing qual. in China
• Tips and tricks for getting better insights

Performance discovery project: emerging market update [25:31]
Ajay Mohan, Director of Partner & Web Marketing APAC, Intel
• Understanding what “performance” means to customers and how they respond to advertising and branding
• Using visualisation techniques to gain unarticulated emotional drivers and emotions behind “performance”
• Employing trained professionals to conduct “therapy” interviews across US, Brazil, China, Germany and India
• Discussing the outcome of the research: What have we learned and how new insights help answer business questions

Digital Qualitative: from add-on to core research [29:25]
Nehal Medh, Managing Director, Consumer Experiences, GfK
• Can online qual methods replace offline qual?
• What advantages do they offer?
• What are the pitfalls we should be aware of
• What are the best ways to engage and motivate the participants in an online qual research?
• Within online what potential does mobile qual research have?
• Going beyond the obvious online tools such as bulletin board, focus group?

Consumer understanding through unarticulated responses and points of expression [26:48]
Marilyne Chew, Head of Qualitative, Nielsen
• Understand how Neuroscience insights are working to make a discussion flow sharper and more precise
• Identifying ways Neuroscience and Qualitative works best together
• Overcoming the challenges of combining the two methodologies in a research study

31 January 2014

The Facebook ethnography kerfuffle

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At the center of this kerfuffle is an anthropologist, Daniel Miller, his ethnographic research with teenagers in a small town in the UK, and a press report on a blog post about his research that went viral.

What’s exciting about this story — leaving aside the business implications for Facebook for a moment — is that we get to observe the treatment of qualitative research in its moment in the spotlight. It’s not pretty.

Much of the drama came from the manner in which it was reported, which certainly is worthy of some discussion. Most came to the story with hyped expectations. But there is more to the story. Namely, how qualitative aids decision-making by giving access to insights unavailable to quantitative.

Peter Spear revisits the story, and particularly the bias towards quantitative and against qualitative understanding in the modern business world.

18 January 2014

[Book] Practical Ethnography

 

Practical Ethnography: A Guide to Doing Ethnography in the Private Sector
By Sam Ladner
Left Coast Press
April 2014, 200 pages
[Publisher link - Amazon link]

> Download free sample: pdfkindle

Abstract – Ethnography is an increasingly important research method in the private sector, yet ethnographic literature continues to focus on an academic audience. Sam Ladner fills the gap by advancing rigorous ethnographic practice that is tailored to corporate settings where colleagues are not steeped in social theory, research time lines may be days rather than months or years, and research sponsors expect actionable outcomes and recommendations. Ladner provides step-by-step guidance at every turn–covering core methods, research design, using the latest mobile and digital technologies, project and client management, ethics, reporting, and translating your findings into business strategies. This book is the perfect resource for private-sector researchers, designers, and managers seeking robust ethnographic tools or academic researchers hoping to conduct research in corporate settings.

Sam Ladner, PhD, works as both an academic and a practitioner. A sociologist specializing in the social aspects of technological change, she has published articles in peer-reviewed journals such as Time & Society and The Canadian Journal of Communication. Ladner successfully operated her own research firm, Copernicus Consulting, until recently joining Microsoft as a Senior User Researcher in the Microsoft Office division. She served as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Ted Rogers School of Information Technology Management at Ryerson University in Toronto, where she also taught qualitative research methods as an adjunct professor. She holds a PhD in sociology from York University, an M.A. in communication from Simon Fraser University, and a Bachelor’s of Journalism from University of King’s College.

12 January 2014

The UX of commercial drones

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In order for commercial drones like Amazon’s or Australian startup Flirtey’s to become a reality, the drone (or any future-world technology, really) can’t merely do its job—meaning, it can’t randomly drop off deliveries and simply fly away as the drone in the Amazon demo video does. There’s a lot more to it than that. To make this kind of service take off (literally), companies will have to consider the user experience, and especially the microinteractions, the drones will have with customers, writes Dan Saffer in UX Magazine.

There are quite a few issues to be resolved, clearly.

12 January 2014

150,000 job listings in the user experience field in the USA alone

 

Hiring managers know that design plays, and will continue to play, a critical role in the success of their companies because: What has been seen cannot be unseen., writes Dr. Leslie Jensen-Inman of the Unicorn Institute.

And what has been seen is companies like Apple, which are investing a lot of resources in design. We can see how much design matters by looking at Apple’s profits in comparison with their competition.

This understanding is leading to an increased demand for designers, and even more specifically it’s leading to an increase in demand for user experience designers. In fact, in the United States alone, there are around 150,000 job listings in the user experience (UX) field.

17 December 2013

Videos online of the Service Design Global Conference

sdnlogo

Nearly all videos of the recent Service Design Global Conference in Cardiff, Wales (19-20 November 2013) are now online:

DAY 1

Making Data Useful

Complex Service Systems

Co-Design & Co-Creation

Micro Services

DAY 2

Morning presentations

Afternoon presentations

28 November 2013

Design Week reflects on the business potential of service design

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Design Week investigates a new wave of service design proponants who are helping to embed design in big brands.

Taking the two-day Service Design Global Conference as a context, the author highlights the radical changes businesses are making by using design to deliver profitable customer-focused experiences.

In particular, the article profiles four cases:

The work of business management firm Capita in helping their clients reshape entire services – the recruitment process for The British Army, and the UK TV licensing process for example – through long term consulting contracts.

Barclays, and in particular the Barclays Pingit project, a payment mobile app that allows users to make and receive payments using their phone’s contact book.

Xerox’s transformation from a tech manufacturer into a services business.

Ideo.org‘s work with Unilever, Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor, and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition to design a scalable business in Kenya selling water alongside hygiene and nutrition products.

27 November 2013

[Report] Leading Business by Design

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Design is now firmly on the business agenda. No longer the cherry on the cake for high-end goods and luxury brands, over the past decade it has gained relevance for the way organisations are structured, how they operate and how they think. An increasing number are starting
to use design strategically – to differentiate themselves from the competition, to launch new brands and strengthen existing ones, and to inform strategic choices. There is already considerable evidence for design acting as a mechanism for business growth and innovation.

This research, conducted by Warwick Business School on behalf of UK Design Council, aims to build on such evidence by asking business leaders of various organisations how they use design, and how they benefit from it.

Interviews with business leaders from world–class companies like Barclays, Diageo, Virgin Atlantic and Herman Miller led to three main findings:

  1. Design is customer-centred – Benefit is greatest when design is intimately related to solving problems, especially customers’ problems.
  2. Design is most powerful when culturally embedded – It works best when it has strong support in the organisation, especially from senior management.
  3. Design can add value to any organisation – Design can benefit manufacturing and service-based organisations, small, medium or large.

The report’s eight recommendations for how companies can maximise the impact of design:

  1. Don’t limit the context in which design can operate
  2. Use design to differentiate
  3. Integrate design and branding
  4. Introduce a design process
  5. Trust and support your design talent
  6. Embed design in your organisational culture
  7. Design your work environment
  8. Don’t let the designer’s role be a straitjacket
27 November 2013

[Report] Next generation working life

Screen Shot 2013-11-27 at 09.01.59

How will work be organized in the Networked Society? Fundamental changes are taking place. Cultural changes and rapid technological development are changing the rules and opening up for new ways of structuring business and changes in the workplace. Ideas and innovation are fueling this move forward. It is becoming more important, if not essential to stay in a constant state of evolution while creating a climate where new ideas can surface and grow. So how will you survive in this new game?

In its report ‘Next generation working life – from workspace to exchange space’, Ericsson has identified eight themes that are affecting the future of work and that are likely to have fundamental implications for working life, from both an employer and an employee perspective.

23 November 2013

The future of the workplace: through an ethnographer’s eyes

 

What will the workplace of the future look like? Will it even exist as a physical space? Ever since networked computers first became widespread the idea of the virtual organisation has been touted, yet most of us still work in conventional workplaces. Recent technological advances have given a second wind to the idea with some even questioning whether organisations will exist in their current form or whether workers will be free agents coming together to complete specific tasks as and when needed.

Discover the answer (video) through the eyes of Jacki O’Neill, a Xerox ethnographer who spends her time studying people in workplaces.

This video was one of the 4 Emerging Trends presentations given at the XRCE 20th anniversary Oct 4th 2013.

21 November 2013

The intersection of UX, CX & corporate strategy: The holy grail for 21st century business?

cs_us

Chris Allen (CUA – HFI US Sales Director Eastern Region; Global Accounts Director) went to the UX STRAT Conference in Atlanta and came back with one big question: How do we as business leaders leverage the best techniques and outcomes of various research and design methodologies to create more rewarding, fun & useful interactions with our current and potential customers so they become loyal, repeat customers and advocates?

This question, he says, “really transcends whether or not we are advocates of Customer Experience (CX), User Experience (UX), Agile, Lean, or any SDLC methodology in play today. The point is, how can we bring these different perspectives/approaches together for a common purpose, instead of building more Chinese walls or reasons why someone cannot play in someone else’s sandbox?”

9 November 2013

How a deeper customer understanding can energize innovation

how-a-deeper-customer-understanding-can-energize-innovation

In today’s crowded and competitive energy markets, many product manufacturers fall short in their marketing, writes Andy Beck, Executive Vice President of Makovsky’s energy and sustainability practice.

“They’re forgetting a vital principle: that we motivate behavior by understanding and addressing the desires of the end-user customer. Vaunting product attributes–the default marketing formula among many companies–will only move the needle so far. What’s often lacking is the missing link: direct marketing to end-user customers, based on genuine insight into how the products benefit end-users and addresses their needs.” [...]

“One of the best ways that companies can begin to engage with end-users directly is through specialized “vertical” media. As opposed to marketing through a blanketed wide-ranging approach, the vertical strategy focuses on targeted sources where interested customers look to get specialized information. There is a web of trade journals, blogs, Internet forums, and social media outlets that target every relevant end-user, including those who influence them. This media is usually on the look-out for quality content–be it bylined articles or expert commentary. There are few better ways to build a company’s reputation with the individuals or groups that will ultimately purchase and use their product.”

9 November 2013

The rise of the mobile-born

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The mobile-born generation will drive a radical rethinking of office productivity, writes Paul Holland, a general partner at Foundation Capital,

“Fast-forward a few years and we’ll see a new workplace with workstations akin to air traffic control centers powered by multiple touch-, swipe- and voice-enabled devices, allowing workers to visualize and manipulate information tactically, driving the adoption of new user-interfaces and fundamental changes in software and hardware. Think the new FOX newsroom, just without the “fair and balanced” reporting.

The way we interact with colleagues or business partners will change as we move to a mobile enterprise environment. We’re beginning to see new companies focused on augmented memory. Refresh, for instance, has created a dossier to put an end to small talk for your next business meeting. A nice-to-have now, but as the mobile-born mature, these services will become a must-have.

But this is just the beginning. It’s hardly far-fetched to imagine companies that exist and are run entirely in the cloud by a de-territorialized mobile workforce. Already we carry much of our day job’s office communications, data, colleagues, customers and products around in our pockets. This trend will only accelerate as the mobile-born found their own companies around entirely new expectations for organizational structures and workforce optimization.”

3 November 2013

Ethnography: is your company missing the train?

 

Michael Ohler, Phil Samuel and Mark McMurray of BMGI argue in Industry Week that focusing on human behavior and personal experiences can help you discover unmet customer needs and gain a deeper understanding of your customer.

“Ethnography does not start with a hypothesis or a model that the researcher will then try to invalidate and accept as “useful” if he or she fails to do so. Rather, the output of ethnographic research is a frame, pattern or trend that allows putting the vast amount of gathered information into a meaningful context. Sound ethnographic research may require a trained and eventually certified professional. Practitioners also emphasize the need to “give yourself sufficient time” for such studies.

While ethnography is an inductive method, its output can be used for further quantitative deductive research, such as surveys and statistical analysis.”

21 October 2013

Conference Review: UX STRAT 2013, Part 1

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UX STRAT, the first every user experience strategy conference, took place in September in Atlanta, Georgia, at the Georgia Tech Global Learning Center. Pabini Gabriel-Petit was there and she published a first chapter – dealing mainly with logistics and conference experience – in a three-part review.

21 September 2013

Financial Times on EPIC conference

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This week, business anthropologists from all over the world descended on the Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference at London’s Royal Institution, the historic site where Michael Faraday first demonstrated the power of electricity, reports Emma Jacobs in the Financial Times.

Over three days, practitioners discussed applications of anthropology in the business world, covering such issues as big data and clinical trials. Addressed by such luminaries in the field as Genevieve Bell, who has worked at Intel for the past 15 years, the event is an opportunity to meet kindred spirits.

In the US, anthropologists have been hired for more than two decades by technology groups including Intel, Apple and Xerox. Microsoft is said to be the second-largest employer of anthropologists in the world, behind the US government. Technology groups descended on anthropology in order to understand the diverse markets they operated in.