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Putting People First

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Posts in category 'Business'

6 August 2013

Putting the customer at the centre of your retail business

Female shop assistant

Oracle recently conducted some research into the shopping needs and expectations of shoppers in Brazil, China, Germany, Japan, Russia, the UK and the US – in an effort to better understand the role and importance of service to the retail experience.

Here are some of the things they found shoppers value most.

23 July 2013

SAP reaching out through user experience and design thinking

samyen

Recent SAP application forays include everything from a My Runway fashion shopping application to wellness applications that involve wearable sensors to Big Data analytic applications for the National Basketball Association (NBA).

According to Sam Yen, global head of design and user experience at SAP, the end goal is to expose as many end users as possible to SAP software in the expectation that it will increase demand for more traditional SAP enterprise application software.

Yen says that SAP will leverage HTML5 and Design Thinking principles to transform every SAP application regardless of whether it runs on premise or in the cloud.

What’s driving all of these efforts is a concerted SAP effort to step out of the back office. As the line between business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) applications continues to blur, the quality of the user experience has become paramount. In addition, the mobile and cloud computing era more business executives are playing a bigger role in deciding which application vendors to go with. Given SAP’s historic challenges with user interfaces, the embracing of Design Thinking principles represents an effort to make SAP software more appealing at all levels.

See also this video interview with Sam Yen and an earlier post on SAP’s new UX strategy.

6 July 2013

Herman Miller’s Living Office

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“The most important thing in the room is not the furniture — it’s the people.”

Almost 50 years after the Action Office, Herman Miller embarks on the next big rethinking of the workplace: the Living Office. It is the ultimate twenty-first-century work-in-progress.

“Though in places the old model still prevails, today’s ideal office paradigm could not be more different: fluid rather than fixed, less hierarchical and more egalitarian, and encouraging (mostly) of individuality, creativity, and choice.

A new story requires a new stage, and into this brave new world comes Herman Miller’s Living Office, the initial components of which the Zeeland, Michigan, furniture company is introducing at this year’s edition of NeoCon. The first wave of an anticipated two-year rollout, the Living Office’s first three product portfolios—called PUBLIC Office Landscape, Metaform Portfolio, and Locale, and designed, respectively, by fuseproject, Studio 7.5, and Industrial Facility—represent the company’s carefully considered response, not only to the ways in which a changed business culture has transformed workplace design, but to where our personal aspirations may be headed, and how the office can support them.

It’s a resolutely forward-looking vision. Yet this emphasis on what the company calls “human-centered problem-solving” has been the hallmark of Herman Miller since 1930, when Gilbert Rohde, its first design director, famously declared, “The most important thing in the room is not the furniture—it’s the people.”

12 June 2013

A successful 21st century brand has to help create meaningful lives

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An enormous study of how consumers around the world interact with brands finds that only the companies that make life better for consumers create impactful connections.

For its second annual Meaningful Brands Index, Havas Media talked with more than 134,000 people in 23 countries about their impressions of more than 400 brands, from Apple to Goldman Sachs to Petrobras. They’ve found a rousing affirmation of last year’s findings: Brands that make life better are thriving. Brands that don’t are–slowly–being punished.

The Index features Google in first place, followed by Samsung, Microsoft, Nestle and Sony.

4 June 2013

Without opt in, Google Glass will generate hostility

googleglass

Google and friends should not be trying to make these things acceptable in polite society,” writes Roger Kay in Forbes. “If they persist, they can expect a wave of hostility the likes of which they have perhaps only begun to imagine.”

“People can’t opt in to public surveillance, and we live in a more dangerous world now, where surveillance mostly works in our favor. But even in public places, Google Glass wearers with the ability to do tactical research on others, using facial recognition technology, Google Search, social media, and other tools, will create a creepoid ethos and generate a tremendous amount of hostility.

Silicon Valley may not see things this way, but the Valley is a bubble all to itself. In the wider world, people want the right to opt in to something as invasive as surveillance by Glass.”

3 June 2013

Crafting UX – designing the user experience beyond the interface

ericssonreview

In large technologically-driven organizations with a broad and complex product range, establishing a user-centric approach to product design can be very challenging. The shift towards designing products and services for compelling experiences for users requires (among other things) changes in planning, resources and processes.

This article – by Didier Chincholle, Sylvie Lachize, Marcus Nyberg, Cecilia Eriksson, Claes Bäckström and Fredrik Magnusson and just published in the Ericsson Review – presents how the recognition of UX as an important part of Ericsson’s business and strategy has manifested itself in a (evolving) framework including roles, responsibilities and guidelines to better understand and meet users’ needs.

21 May 2013

Service Design + Lean UX + Disruptive Design = UX Strategy?

Web

It seems like the UX community has been struggling a bit to reach a common definition of UX strategy. Is it a framework or an approach? Is it a methodology or a philosophy? According to Mona Patel, there are three concepts and perspectives that are all the rage in our larger design and development space — service design, lean UX, and disruptive design. Cumulatively, she says, these three trends give us a solid working definition of UX strategy.

“Brand is everything, offline and online. Therefore, the overall experience is what gets people to engage, buy, use, and connect with a given product or brand. The UX strategy defines how this happens.

And UX strategy actually makes it happen. [...]

The UX Strategist’s role is to help an organization want to consider and understand the user’s experience first and foremost. The UX Strategist’s job is to create a connection between the people who work in an organization and the people who might purchase its products and services or otherwise engage with the organization. It is to teach an organization how to embrace design thinking.”

20 May 2013

Ericsson studies on people’s behaviors and values

ericsson

Ericsson’s ConsumerLab studies people’s behaviors and values, including the way they act and think about ICT products and services. Here are some of their recent publications:

How young professionals see the perfect company
April 2013
A new study from Ericsson ConsumerLab called “Young professionals at work” looks at the latest generation to enter the workforce: the Millennials.

Mixing schoolwork and leisure
March 2013
According to a ConsumerLab study, almost half of Estonian pupils use school computers for leisure activities. Many pupils also bring their own mobile phones and tablets to school to use for study purposes. This bring-your-own-device behavior blurs the boundary between leisure and school work.
> Video

Consumers’ TV and video behaviors (video)
March 2013
Niklas Heyman Rönnblom, Senior Advisor at Ericsson ConsumerLab, shares insights about consumer’s TV and video behaviors and priorities. The consumer insights highlighted in the video include the importance of HD quality, super simplicity and allowing consumers to personalize their own TV-packages.

Keys for success in the Personal information Economy
February 2013
A new report from Ericsson ConsumerLab shows that consumer awareness of how their information is being shared is still low and anonymous big data is rarely perceived as a big issue.

Network quality and smartphone usage experience
January 2013
New findings from Ericsson ConsumerLab have underlined the crucial role of good connectivity and network quality in smartphone user experience and operator loyalty.

On the same level as the ConsumerLab, sits Ericsson’s Networked Society Lab, which researches ICT-driven transformation in society, industry and service provider business.

They recently published a report on the future of learning:

As technology continues to transform our society, those responsible for our current systems of learning and education are facing overwhelming pressure to adapt.

Education technology, connected learning and the rise of the Networked Society are transforming the established concept of learning, teachers’ roles and even the nature of knowledge itself.

In an associated video (YouTube | Vimeo), Ericsson asked experts and educators to explain how learning and education are shifting away from a model based on memorization and repetition toward one that focuses on individual needs and self-expression. Obviously based on very friendly Silicon Valley-inspired technology that supports it all.

18 May 2013

Customers remember experiences, not content

Felix Baumgartner for Red Bull Stratos

To solve the issue with content marketing, we need to start looking at content as part of a broader ecosystem, argues Ben Barone-Nugent, a senior digital writer & content strategist at TBWA, in a Digital Marketing special in The Guardian.

“If we define experience as the beginning-to-end engagement with a brand, then content is simply part of the spectrum. [...]

Digital content needs to be supported by great user experience (UX), solid digital strategy, attentive channel management and smart technology. To reiterate – it must be part of a system.”

16 May 2013

SAP’s UX strategy

sap_ux_strategy

SAP customers are increasingly telling the company that user experience (UX) is the differentiator, not features and functions, starts the introduction to SAP’s new UX strategy.

“With [its] large product portfolio, any SAP UX strategy cannot be a “boil the ocean” approach; it has to target the areas that will have the biggest impact. So, instead of closing themselves off in a meeting room with like-minded colleagues, SAP user experience and product leads invited customers to tackle the challenge together as one team.

Driven by SAP’s Sam Yen, Andreas Hauser, Gerrit Kotze, Nis Boy Naeve, Jörg Rosbach, and Volker Zimmermann, these were not high-level-sit-around-a-long-table-sipping-mineral-water meetings. Instead, all participants rolled up their shirtsleeves, got out markers and post-its, brainstormed, exchanged, debated, and analyzed. The workshops and iterations started in the spring of 2012 and concluded several months ago in Walldorf.”

Based on [this] feedback from customers and trends in the IT industry, SAP defined a clear user experience strategy that incorporates [their] aspiration, vision, and mission for user experience.

“Reflecting IT trends and user expectations, we have distilled our strategy into the following design directions:
• Solve the right problem the right way
• Design for the mobile mind-set
• Give the user one entry point
• Provide coherence for common activities
• Know and show the user context
• Provide brand coherence
• Integrate data meaningfully
• Enable adaptation and personalization
• Deploy to users in one day

By 2015, SAP will make superior user experience and design an integral part of the SAP brand experience – just as the SAP HANA® platform has reconfirmed SAP’s reputation for innovation.

A key consideration in improving the user experience of SAP applications was how to include existing applications, which already
deliver consumer-grade experience, while embracing such new technologies as mobile and cloud. SAP decided to focus on three areas for applications:

  • Provide consumer-grade UX for new applications
  • Renew existing applications by improving the UX of software supporting the most commonly-used business scenarios
  • Enable customers to improve the UX of the SAP software they use to perform their own mission-critical business scenarios

Over time, the percentage of new and renewed applications representing SAP software will increase to significantly augment the overall usability of SAP business solutions.”

Also check out SAP Fiori, a collection of apps with a simple and easy to use experience for broadly and frequently used SAP software functions that work seamlessly across devices – desktop, tablet, or smartphone, and according to SAP “a major step forward in executing on the “renew” pillar of the strategy.”

10 May 2013

How GE uses data visualization to tell complex stories

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GE, perhaps more than any other major company, is dedicated to the use of data visualization as a key part of its marketing and communications efforts. Stemming from last month’s Insight Center on visualizing data, Gretchen Gavett of the Harvard Business Review spoke with Linda Boff, GE’s executive director of global brand marketing, about the benefits and challenges of this approach.

“The power of a good story well told in any sort of medium cannot be overstated. Data vis has allowed us to do storytelling at its best. Experimentation is also key, getting in there, understanding a medium and a technique, and not being afraid to experiment with it and be open and collaborative. We have had data marathons with many universities where we’ve brought in students, given them a problem, and said, hey, let’s work over the next couple of days to solve this.”

30 April 2013

Unpaid internships are harming the design industry

 

Mark Busse calls on the design industry to set a higher standard (and as a company which has always paid its interns, we endorse this call):

” Employers, especially visible leaders in our community, are obligated to demonstrate best practices and need to think hard about the real value of unpaid internships: Are they really in the best interest of the company and our industry?

Employers, I implore you to rethink your policies and do the right thing by joining me in protecting the next generation and most vulnerable among us. And for goodness’ sake, pay them at least minimum wage.”

16 April 2013

Book: Hidden in Plain Sight (by Jan Chipchase)

hiddeninplainsight

Hidden in Plain Sight: How to Create Extraordinary Products for Tomorrow’s Customers
by Jan Chipchase
Harper Collins Publishers
April 2013
256 pages
(Amazon link)

A global-innovation expert offers a new perspective on how consumers think and how to develop products and services that affect their everyday lives.

Who are your next customers—not just the ones you are serving today but the ones you’ll need three, five, or ten years from now? How do you figure out what goods and services will attract them in the future before your competitors do?

According to Jan Chipchase—whom Fast Company has called the “James Bond of design research” and Fortune has called the “Indiana Jones of technology for the developing world”—most of the clues are right in front of us. The key is learning to see the ordinary in a revolutionary new way. As the executive creative director of Global Insights at frog, an award-winning global design and innovation company, Chipchase draws on everyday objects and patterns to show us how to see the world differently, from making a phone call to filling up a gas tank to ascertaining whether it’s actually half-and-half you’re pouring into your coffee. Chipchase is always looking for opportunities—gaps, anomalies, and contradictions—that will give his clients, some of the world’s largest and most successful companies, a distinct competitive advantage, whether they’re delivering the most low-tech bar of soap or the most high-tech wireless network.

In Hidden in Plain Sight, Chipchase takes readers on his journeys around the globe and shares his methods for identifying the unmet needs of customers. No matter where he stops—whether Cleveland or Kabul—his goals are the same: to spot and decode the routines of daily life and to help readers use the very same tools that he and his team use to see, and capitalize upon, what is hidden in plain sight today to create businesses tomorrow.

Excerpt
Recent article by Jan Chipchase on Google Glass

15 April 2013

Does design thinking address quick fixes at the expense of root causes?

thestanforddaily

Does design thinking address quick fixes at the expense of root causes, asks John Thackara, referring to “Why the d.school has its limits,” a provocative article in The Stanford Daily by Danny Buerkli, a Swiss Fulbright student at Stanford University:

“Like any method, design thinking structures how you approach and conceptualize a problem. The way the method is currently taught, however, preordains the result.

The answer to any problem unfailingly is a product or a service. Some problems are indeed best solved with a product or a service. Yet other problems need systemic solutions (e.g. political action).”

15 April 2013

To Dwell Is To Garden: An empathic approach to employee experience design

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Liana Dragoman writes on UX magazine about the role of experience design in employee empowerment.

“It has become increasingly important for customer-focused organizations to turn their lens on employee engagement or how employees connect with, think about, and process their work in meaningful ways.

Design researchers and practitioners — in addition to CEOs — have learned that in order to enable positive service experiences that yield increased customer satisfaction, organizations have to empower employees in authentic ways. In addition, employees who have a strong sense of shared purpose, the time and space to perform work appropriately, a synergistic work culture that aligns with their motivations and goals, and access to employee-centered resources (digital and otherwise) tend to collaborate seamlessly, develop innovative products, and deliver satisfying customer experiences.

Mutually beneficial work environments built around nurtured, reciprocal human relationships have the potential to increase an organization’s creative output and eventual profit margins but can also enhance people’s lives in the process. This is what success can look like.

The methods of experience design uniquely situate experience designers to address employee disengagement in textured ways. By uncovering the root behavioral causes and co-producing solutions with employees, experience designers can create the right kind of resources, which empower organizations to own their desired change over time.

As employee experience design is not a tidy activity, this article will focus less on concrete deliverables or step-by-step how-to-recommendations. Instead, a working framework is presented to assist experience designers in thinking through their own process-centric approaches and solutions.”

5 March 2013

Are our household appliances getting too complicated?

Breville toaster

Who needs a kettle with four heat settings? A washing machine with a ‘freshen up’ function? A toaster with six browning modes? What happened to the good old days of the on/off switch, asks Tom Meltzer in The Guardian.

“Function inflation or “setting creep” – both of which are names I’ve just made up – is not, of course, confined to the kitchen. We can see it in our computers and cars, our phones and televisions, and, in its purest form, in the deranged one-upmanship of a top-of-the-range Swiss Army knife, complete with a “fish scaler”, a “chisel” and a “pressurised ballpoint pen”. But is the surreal image of a war fought using descaled fish in Switzerland really progress? Or are all these settings just getting in our way?”

4 January 2013

Steelcase’s anthropologist on remaking offices to create happier workers

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Anthropologist Donna Flynn directs Steelcase’s WorkSpace Futures, a 19-member independent research group within the global office design company, that is responsible for “thinking into the future”: understanding the trends shaping the ways we work and sharing that intelligence with Steelcase and its customers.

The initiatives that WorkSpace Futures tackles are so big they call them “quests,” as they are long, oft-meandering journeys of discovery.

Flynn talked with Fast Company about a few of the most pressing quests for leaders to wrap their minds around: the ongoing redefinition of collaboration, the role of privacy in getting work done, the progression of worker well-being, and how all of these trends relate to the places in which we work. Places that are changing.

14 December 2012

McKinsey’s iConsumer Global Research Initiative

mckinsey

Recent reports from McKinsey’s iConsumer Global Research Initiative:

Moving from “mobile first” to “touch first”
December 2012 (published on the EconomistGroup site)
Already, more than a third of the time people spend web browsing, using social networking sites, and using e-mail/messaging software is on mobile devices. In a couple of years, we expect it to be more than half. This is creating a ‘touch first’ computing paradigm, which means overhauling how information is delivered to and accessed by the consumer.

The rise of the African consumer
October 2012
The single-largest business opportunity in Africa will be its rising consumer market. A McKinsey report, one of the first of its kind, offers a detailed profile of African consumers, including their demographics, behavior, and needs.

The complex path to purchase taken by Europe’s iConsumers
June 2012
What are Europe’s iConsumers thinking? To find out, McKinsey & Company studied the digitally-based purchasing behavior of 40,000 Europeans in eight countries for the second year in a row. This study sheds light on future threats and opportunities by comparing European consumers and examining the resulting business implications.

The next stage: Six ways the digital consumer is changing
April 2012
The Internet, not yet 20 years on from its emergence into the consumer mainstream, is evolving as fast as ever.

13 December 2012

The man looking to turn Samsung into a Silicon Valley trendsetter

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Samsung is doubling down on technology investments in Apple’s backyard, including two new R&D buildings in Silicon Valley that will house 2,000 staff and a recently announced startup accelerator.

Leading this effort is Young Sohn, who started at Samsung in August as president and chief strategy officer. He has spent a long career leading several successful Silicon Valley semiconductor and storage companies after founding Intel’s PC chipset business and running its joint venture with Samsung in the 1980s.

MIT Technology Review business editor Jessica Leber sat down with Sohn in his office in Menlo Park, California, to talk about his new mandate, why he still uses Apple devices at home, and what his company needs to do to stay ahead.

“I think we have probably the largest platform in the world between the devices and displays and televisions we sell. We actually provide more devices that are interacting with consumers than anyone in the world. But if you think about our experiences, it’s device-centric. It’s experienced by itself. It’s not experienced in a connected way. So we think we can provide a lot more things than what we are doing today with an open ecosystem with our partners.”

12 December 2012

They know what you’re shopping for

wsjinteractive

Companies today are increasingly tying people’s real-life identities to their online browsing habits. Research conducted by the Wall Street Journal on the practices of more than a thousand websites shows that the border between our public and private lives is blurring still more.

“The use of real identities across the Web is going mainstream at a rapid clip. A Wall Street Journal examination of nearly 1,000 top websites found that 75% now include code from social networks, such as Facebook’s FB +0.50% “Like” or Twitter’s “Tweet” buttons. Such code can match people’s identities with their Web-browsing activities on an unprecedented scale and can even track a user’s arrival on a page if the button is never clicked.

In separate research, the Journal examined what happens when people logged in to roughly 70 popular websites that request a login and found that more than a quarter of the time, the sites passed along a user’s real name, email address or other personal details, such as username, to third-party companies. One major dating site passed along a person’s self-reported sexual orientation and drug-use habits to advertising companies.

As recently as late 2010, when the Journal wrote about Rapleaf Inc., a trailblazing company that had devised a way to track people online by email address, the practice was almost unheard-of. Today, companies like Dataium are taking the techniques to a new level.

Tracking a car-shopper online gives dealers an edge because not only can they tell if the person is serious—is he really shopping for red convertibles or just fantasizing?—but they can also gain a detailed understanding of the specific vehicles and options the person likes.”

(Make sure to explore the video and the interactive graphics.)