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Putting People First

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Posts in category 'Business'

12 May 2012

Do you really want your bank following you around all day?

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A conversation with senior Wells Fargo execs reveals a bank trying to use the Internet, social media and mobile technology to worm its way deeper and deeper into their customers’ lives.

“Brian Pearce, senior VP in charge of Wells Fargo’s retail mobile channel, said the bank sees mobile as “a way to be with our customers all day long.”

Wells Fargo’s aim to go wherever its customers go involves more than getting them to use mobile apps, mobile websites and text banking. Pearce wants to move beyond purely mobile interactions into so-called “simultaneous uses.” After all, Pearce pointed out, people always have their phones with them, so they can use them at the same time as they’re engaged with ATMs, tellers or wellsfargo.com.

Customers could use their phone instead of a card to log into the ATM or ID themselves to a teller, for example. Or the bank could use geofencing to identify and alert a customer’s personal banker every time they walk into a branch.”

Read article

5 May 2012

Customer experience: The natural ally for UX in business

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In a blog post (which is itself a paraphrased transcript of his talk at the Polish IA Summit 2012), Peter Bogaards talks about the relationship between user experience and customer experience, and how user experience designers can extend their influence in businesses.

“A customer-obsessed company focuses its strategy, its energy, and its budget on processes that enhance knowledge of an engagement with customers, and prioritizes these over maintaining traditional competitive barriers.”

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3 May 2012

How companies like Amazon use big data to make you love them

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Businesses now sit on data goldmines, but very few leverage the data to improve customer service. Ziba’s creative director Sean Madden suggests three ways forward.

“Big Data has gotten a lot of attention over the past 18 months as retail, manufacturing, and technology companies realize the gold mines they’re sitting on and rush to scour them for competitive advantage. Nearly all of this discussion, though, revolves around consumer trends, marketing guidance, new product planning, and other market-level insights. [...]

Perhaps the only business and marketing topic that’s been talked about more than Big Data recently is the evolution of brand relationships into two-way conversations. Now that consumers have seen what social media and mass customization are capable of, they increasingly expect this kind of personalization in their communication with favored brands, not just a passive role absorbing marketing messages. Combine this insight with the rise of Big Data, and you have a clear mandate: In order for interactions to feel individualized and human, they must be well informed. That makes data about the customer you’re talking to right now the most useful data of all.

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3 May 2012

How to win the UX war within your organization

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When companies don’t care about user experience, it is clearly reflected in the products they create. Although everyone can agree that software should be intuitive, user-friendly, and aesthetically pleasing, many managers aren’t willing to invest the time and resources it takes to build something compelling.

A large part of our job as UX advocates, argues Girish Gangadharan, is explaining design’s impact on the company as a whole. Determining which battles to win and which battles to lose – even intentionally – can help you win the UX war.

Read article

27 April 2012

Do people want touch on laptop screens?

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Do people want touch on laptop screens? Daria Loi, user experience manager at Intel, did some research on the matter and the answer is a clear yes: people want a single device with a keyboard that opens, closes and is touch enabled.

In user experience testing conducted by Intel, researchers observed people tilting back the laptop screen and using their thumbs to touch both sides of the screen, similar to how people hold a tablet or smartphone.

Daria Loi uses an Intel reference design Ultrabook with multi-touchscreen functionality. Loi conducted user tests and found that people spent 77 percent of the time touching the laptop screen while running through a variety of tasks such as surfing the Web, watching online video, viewing and editing photos and adjusting the laptop’s setting.

Read article

27 April 2012

Communicating the UX value proposition

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John Dilworth and Matt Miller of LDS Church provide an overall framework to communicate the value of UX within businesses, that directly associates the value proposition of UX with key business objectives.

“It is the job of the UX designer to demonstrate the value that UX work brings to a product or service. If the UX designer can’t articulate the value of their work, can you really blame business managers for lowering its priority or for being suspicious of the value it brings to their project?

The need to communicate the UX value proposition is often overlooked by UX practitioners. This probably happens for several reasons: it is hard to do, it is not part of the UX practitioner’s skill set, and sometimes it just hasn’t been needed.

Some companies have a corporate culture that unconditionally values and performs UX work. Unfortunately, most UX practitioners do not work in such an environment, and the simple argument of “you just don’t get it” won’t cut it.

It is neither uncommon nor unreasonable for a UX professional to be asked to justify the cost of their work in quantitative terms so that a determination can be made on whether or not to proceed. Communicating the business value effectively will help you focus on the most important work, and will help your team and other stakeholders understand the value that attention and focus on UX will bring to a project.”

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22 April 2012

How user research informed IKEA’s Uppleva TV-furniture unit

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IKEA’s new Uppleva Smart TV-furniture unit was extensively shown at the Milan Design Week (which ends today), and on Core77 I wrote more about the interface design, but here some more about the user research that went into the product.

The user research consisted of two parts: in-home visits and an online survey. The IKEA press kit unfortunately provides very little information on the in-home visits, which is unfortunate, particularly since the results of the online survey are rather straightforward. I therefore hope to update this post later on with more details.

In-home visits
IKEA visits people in their houses and apartments all over the world. The visits were combined with interviews, and carried out in homes of different sizes, income groups, neighbourhoods, and people in a wide range of living situations and living conditions. Marcel Godfroy, who is the Uppleva project lead, writes:

“Fifty percent of IKEA customers wish to renew their living room. We have been visiting people’s homes around the world, and we understood that many people think it is difficult to find functional and beautiful solutions, which hide the clutter and integrate all media devices with the rest of their living room furniture. There simply has been a wish for something else – a complete solution for a new living room experience.”

Online survey
To find out more about how people experience their TV and sound furnishing solutions, IKEA combined the home visits with an online survey conducted in Sweden, Poland, Italy, France and Germany. These are the findings:

  • In all countries, the living room is the most common room to watch TV in. 9 out of 10 German and French consumers watch TV in their living room and almost as many Swedish and Polish. However, a bit fewer Ital­ians, 7 out of 10. (On the other hand, Italian consumers watch TV in the kitchen or the bedroom to a larger extent than consumers in the other four countries).
  • 3 out of 5 Swedish customers have a specific piece of furniture for the TV. 2 out of 5 in Poland, Germany and France, and a third of the Italians have a specific piece of TV furniture.
  • 3 out of 4 people would like less visible cables in their living room. These visible cables and cords ­ or rather the lack of opportunity to hide them ­are also the main reason why people feel dissatisfied with the media furniture today.
  • To Swedish and Polish consumers the media furniture not being stylish is another main reason for dissatisfaction.
  • A majority of the consumers in all five countries would like fewer visible cables.
  • 50% would like to see less of their technical gadgets.
  • 60% OF ALL homes have three remote controls or more. 1­2 out of 10 have only one re­mote control.

Top five reasons for dissatisfaction with living room TV furniture today:

  • Lack of opportunity to hide cords and cables.
  • Media furniture is not stylish enough.
  • Inflexibility.
  • Visible technical gadgets.
  • TV and furniture mis-match.

The online survey by market research institute YouGov comprised 5271 online interviews among a representative sample of the populations in Sweden, Poland, Italy, France and Germany as regards sex, age and region (men and women aged 18-­69 years). The survey was carried out 29th February to 5th March 2012.

It is quite remarkable how fast IKEA went from the online survey to the presentation of a fully functioning product at the Milan Design Week.

18 April 2012

Nest Thermostat: User-centered design is the best marketing

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I enjoyed the final paragraph of the Fast.CoDesign article on the second generation Nest Thermostat:

“Here’s a sense in which the Nest seems almost over-designed–all of this care for a one-time experience of screwing it in might seem excessive. But the fact is that user-focused design is also a form of good will–and a better sort of marketing than any ad could ever be. What happens if Nest starts creating all kinds of other products, for keeping track of your home or, hell, even managing your entertainment and utility bills? Consumers won’t forget the experience they had. And it will sell them on the next new thing.”

17 April 2012

UX is the heart of any company. How do you make it top priority?

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Wolff Olins’s Mary Ellen Muckerman explores what a focus on user experience could mean for business.

“The principles and theories of UX have created a new normal in terms of brand delivery and interaction. They state that how people actually use your product is much more important than how it was intended to be used. So engaging your consumer in ongoing, iterative product development is more valuable than holding out for a “perfect” product launch. It is far better to get started in a live environment and be prepared to change fast around the needs of the user. As a result, consumers need to know what to expect from your product, as well as what you expect from them. This means they need openness and transparency from you. If they make choices online based on honesty and credibility of comments, forums, and communities, they’ll expect you to be a part of that same engaged and involved culture.”

Read article

13 April 2012

Design principles for complex, unpredictable, people oriented systems

 

InfoDesign alerts us to a well-thought through post by Irving Wladawsky-Berger of IBM on experience and systems:

“But, socio-technical systems are oriented toward people and services. While product excellence and competitive costs are also important to services, they are not enough. The service sector is oriented toward consumption, that is, toward people, who are the consumers of services. Therefore, an overriding design objective for good socio-technical, service oriented systems has to be a positive user experience. Ease of use, intuitive interfaces and good overall customer service must be key objectives for a well designed system.”

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11 April 2012

Videos from Technology Frontiers, an event by The Economist Group

TechFrontiers

Over 250 business leaders from across Europe descended on London’s Inmarsat Conference Centre for Technology Frontiers, two days of thought provoking sessions and networking. Led by The Economist’s Digital Editor, Tom Standage, the event explored how advances in technology will transform our work, our lives, our world.

Some highlights (all links are videos):

Using technology to turn consumer behaviour into a business model

  • Systempathy: Can technology systems be good for empathy? [18:53]
    Charlie Leadbeater, a leading authority on innovation, strategy and education
    Consumer behaviour is one of the most powerful forces in business. This session looks at how consumer behaviour is being transformed by technology, and asks what impact this should have on business strategies. We will also look at how technology is driven by consumer needs and how these needs can create new business models. Charlie Leadbeater talks about whether technology is for us or are we for it?
  • How people influence each other in a digital world [18:12]
    Aleks Krotoski, Academic and Journalist – Technology and Interactivity
    Aleks Krotoski writes about and studies technology and interactivity. Here she talks about the impact of technology on consumers lives and how it enables them to become influencers.
  • The business of interactivity and collaboration [18:22]
    Bonin Bough, Vice President of Global Digital and Consumer Engagement, Kraft Foods

Adapting to major technology-driven market forces

  • What happens when personal data becomes something to leverage rather than protect [11:24]
    Cory Doctorow, Science Fiction Author, Activist, Journalist and Blogger, Co-editor, Boing Boing
    Technology has the power to dramatically change politics, demographics, social norms and values. This session looks at how technology shapes society and how companies adapt to this.
  • Panel discussion: How technology changes social norms [28:06]
    Cory Doctorow
    David Greenberg, Executive Vice-president, LRN
    Mark Stevenson, Author of “An Optimist’s Tour of the Future”
    In this, the first panel of the summit, Cory Doctorow, David Greenberg, and Mark Stevenson came together to discuss how technology has the power to dramatically change social norms and values.

Open Minds

  • The Internet of Things [23:16]
    Andy Hobsbawn, Founder and Chief Marketing Officer, EVRYTHNG
    The Internet of Things is on everybody’s tech trends radar for 2012 – could this be the year it becomes mainstream? Imagine the interactive possibilities when everyday objects communicate with each other and the people that use them. Your camera can tell you where and when to get the perfect shots, your guitar can help you find other musicians near you. Companies can augment physical products with digital services that deliver personalised experiences and apps for their individual owners.
11 April 2012

Radical UX focus created a $1 billion company

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Kim-Mai Cutler writes in TechCrunch how a radical UX focus was Instagram’s secret ingredient to success:

“With their UX skills, Krieger and Systrom refined Instagram to require as few actions as possible. Unlike the original version of Path, Instagram didn’t force users to add tags about people or places to their photos. A photo could be posted in as few as three clicks. Mirroring Twitter, they made Instagram public by default.” [...]

“All the while, Systrom kept saying he never felt threatened by Facebook. Facebook’s mobile apps were just too complicated. The iOS app just had too many things in it. To please the company’s more than 850 million monthly active users, Facebook had to stuff every bell and whistle of the desktop site into its mobile app. That just wasn’t conducive to a great user experience on a phone.

In contrast, Instagram kept its app lean. They didn’t change much to the app’s essential experience even as its user base ballooned. It was more important to say ‘No’ to new features instead of ‘Yes.’”

Read article

5 April 2012

Imperialist Tendencies, Part 2: A Backgrounder for Corporate Design Research

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Jan Chipchase, Frog Design’s Executive Creative Director for Global Insights, continues his argumentation on the importance of corporate design research.

After a somewhat confusing introduction (it’s very much for insiders), Chipchase focuses on the core issue: a backgrounder on the role of design research / ethnography and some of the nuances of the approach “that make the process one that is rewarding for the individuals concerned, their communities, our teams that conduct the research and employer, and ultimately the client.”

Read article

> Read also this interview with Chipchase in The Hindu

27 March 2012

Who, Where, How We Work: The Intersection of Culture, Workplace, and Social Media

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What happens when designers & manufacturers discuss the workplace & social media?

Dexigner reports that IIDA has published a whitepaper summary of the IIDA Industry Roundtable 15, focused on the changes in the industry, and in the world, their experience of the evolution of the workplace, and more importantly the way we work.

The roundtable participants also explored change management enabled by positive collaboration and the shift in workplace culture that elevates work strategies.

Of particular interest were the topics of use and access to social media in the workplace, the ways that social media has changed the definition of “work” and its specific potential to elevate a brand, and client dynamics in the new world of online transparency and access.

26 March 2012

Samsung criticised for lack of privacy protection on HD-TV’s

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Samsung’s 2012 top-of-the-line plasmas and LED HDTVs offer new features never before available within a television including a built-in, internally wired HD camera, twin microphones, face tracking and speech recognition, writes HD Guru. While these features give you unprecedented control over an HDTV, the devices themselves, more similar than ever to a personal computer, may allow hackers or even Samsung to see and hear you and your family, and collect extremely personal data.

“While Web cameras and Internet connectivity are not new to HDTVs, their complete integration is, and it’s the always connected camera and microphones, combined with the option of third-party apps (not to mention Samsung’s own software) gives us cause for concern regarding the privacy of TV buyers and their friends and families.

Samsung has not released a privacy policy clarifying what data it is collecting and sharing with regard to the new TV sets. And while there is no current evidence of any particular security hole or untoward behavior by Samsung’s app partners, Samsung has only stated that it “assumes no responsibility, and shall not be liable” in the event that a product or service is not “appropriate.””

Read article

26 March 2012

Desire engines

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Nir Eyal’s third Techcrunch article on behavioural engineering, delves into the topic of “desire engines”.

“Desire engines go beyond reinforcing behavior; they create habits, spurring users to act on their own, without the need for expensive external stimuli like advertising. Desire engines are at the heart of many of today’s most habit-forming technologies. Social media, online games, and even good ol’ email utilize desire engines to compel us to use them.

At the heart of the desire engine is a powerful cognitive quirk described by B.F. Skinner in the 1950s, called a variable schedule of rewards. Skinner observed that lab mice responded most voraciously to random rewards. The mice would press a lever and sometimes they’d get a small treat, other times a large treat, and other times nothing at all. Unlike the mice that received the same treat every time, the mice that received variable rewards seemed to press the lever compulsively.

Humans, like the mice in Skinner’s box, crave predictability and struggle to find patterns, even when none exist. Variability is the brain’s cognitive nemesis and our minds make deduction of cause and effect a priority over other functions like self-control and moderation.”

Read article

19 March 2012

User experience vision for startups

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In a TechCrunch guest post by Uzi Shmilovici, CEO and founder of Future Simple, outlines how he came to the conclusion that there’s nothing more important for a startup than the ability to clearly understand what it builds and then relentlessly focus on it – which he defines as the concept of a User Experience Vision.

Here are what he considers te four critical elements that make a great User Experience Vision:

  • It addresses a real need – If you don’t know what is the need you are solving for, I suggest that you take time and think through it. Now. It will also give you a good starting point for defining the UXV and help you focus on what is meaningful for the user.
  • It is simple — keeping the UXV simple is critical so you can communicate it effectively to your customers, team, partners or any other stakeholder. If it is not simple, you probably didn’t figure out the right UXV yet.
  • It serves as a guiding light — a successful UXV provides guidance to your team as for what to build next. It can help you think through your roadmap and identify whether the next feature you are building will be useful or not.
  • It is unique — it does not apply to every other startup on earth. Don’t have as your UXV something like “Great User Experience”. The more unique it is, the more meaningful it will be.

Read article

17 March 2012

Meet the 2020 Chinese consumer

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By 2020, Chinese consumers will join the ranks of the world’s choosiest and most sophisticated consumers. In the March 2012 report “Meet the 2020 Chinese Consumer” Yuval Atsmon, Max Magni, Lihua Li and Wenkan Liao of McKinsey China contemplate the profile of the Chinese consumer in 2020.

“Most large, consumer-facing companies have long realized that they will need China’s growth to power their own in the next decade. But to keep pace, they will also need to understand the economic, societal, and demographic changes that are shaping consumers’ profiles and the way they spend. This is no easy task, not only because of the fast pace of growth and subsequent changes being wrought on the Chinese way of life, but also because there are vast economic and demographic differences across China. These are set to become more marked, with significant implications for companies that fail to grasp them. In the next decade, we believe yawning gaps could open up between companies that have similar sales turnover today but display different levels of focus on the best growth opportunities for the future.

Since 2005, McKinsey has conducted annual consumer surveys in China, interviewing in total more than 60,000 people in over 60 cities. The surveys have tracked the growth of incomes, shifting spending patterns, rising expectations sometimes in line with the respondents’ western counterparts and sometimes not—and the development of many different consumer segments. Those surveys now provide insights to help us focus on the future. We cannot, of course, predict it with certainty. And external shocks might confound any forecast. But our understanding of consumer trends to date, coupled with our analysis of the economic and demographic factors that will further shape these trends in the next decade, serve as a useful lens through which to contemplate 2020. We do not claim to paint a complete picture of the 2020 consumer. Rather, this report points to those traits likely to influence the way companies ride the next wave of growth in China’s consumer market.

- Article with key data (McKinsey Quarterly)
- Full report

15 March 2012

The consumerisation of IT

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In November last year, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) published the short (free) report “The consumerization of IT- The next-generation CIO“.

The “consumerization of IT”—defined as the use of technologies that can easily be provisioned by non-technologists—is a hot topic among CIOs these days. Today’s consumerization of IT trend is the culmination of a fundamental shift in the relationship between employers and employees—especially professionals—that began four decades ago. This shift has only now worked its way into the world of enterprise technology .

To be successful, CIOs need to be more proactive. Accepting the inevitability of the consumerization trend and preparing for it by rethinking how they run IT. CIOs should consider forging new, collaborative relationships with users, giving them freedom to make IT decisions, and teaching them how to assume responsibility for those decisions. And rather than enforcing hardware and application standards, they’ll need to rethink IT architecture and controls to focus on controlling — or loosening controls on — information.

Download report

(via Dan Hill)

29 February 2012

Two more posts by Sam Ladner on corporate ethnography

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After her much talked about piece “Does corporate ethnography suck?” – which presented a cultural analysis of academics critiques of industry ethnography as a second rate or illegitimate forms of ethnography – Sam Ladner followed up with two more posts on corporate ethnography:

Is rapid ethnography possible? A cultural analysis of academic critiques of private-sector ethnography
Sam extends the cultural analysis from her first piece and offers methods that are more fitting for the shorter cycles of industry ethnography. She points out that research output can be compromised regardless if the ethnography is working in corporate or academic settings. What methods do you use to avoids compromising research in private-sector ethnography or academic setting ethnography?

Practicing Reflexivity in Ethnography
In this, her final post, Sam discusses how to maintain reflexivity in ethnographic practice.