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Putting People First

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Search results for 'broadbent'
6 May 2007

LIFT conference video selection

LIFT 07
I found some time today to watch the videos of the 2007 LIFT conference presentations. Here are my preferred ones:

  • Panel discussion on technological overload with Stefana Broadbent of Swisscom Innovations (14:25);
  • Daniela Cerqui, anthropologist at University of Lausanne, about “Towards a society of cyborgs?”;
  • Jan Chipchase, principal scientist at Nokia Research Center, about “Literacy, Communication & Design” or how illiterate people are lead users for people who want simplicity;
  • Régine Debatty (we-make-money-not-art.com) and France Cadet (french artist) about “do biologists dream of robotic art?”;
  • Nathan Eagle, research scientist at MIT, about “Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control”;
  • Fabien Girardin, researcher at the Pompeu Fabra University, about “Embracing the real world’s messiness”;
  • Adam Greenfield, principal at Studies and Observations NYC, about “Everyware: Further down the rabbit hole”;
  • Sampo Karjalainen, chief creative officer at Sulake Corporation, about “Open-ended play in Habbo”; and
  • Jan-Christoph Zoels, director of user experience design at Experientia, about “Jumping jack flash – new forms of interactions”.
9 February 2007

LIFT07: the private is invading the workplace, not the other way around

LIFT 07
Bruno Giussani (interview) reports on a LIFT conference panel on "dealing with technological overload", that included Stefana Broadbent, head of the User Adoption Lab at Swisscom , Fred Mast, professor of cognitive psychology at the university of Lausanne, and Nada Kakabadse, professor at Northampton Business School; moderated by Matthias Luefkens (interview), media manager at the World Economic Forum.

Broadbent contributes some interesting reflections:

“I’m seeing much more the arrival of the private into the workplace than the workplace into the private sphere. What we are seeing through empirical research is that people are increasingly using IM, e-mail and SMS to keep in touch with their group/family/friends/community, and it’s becoming an expectation to be able to keep our social network alive, and be plugged into it, over work time.”

Giussani comments that, paradoxically, Broadbent is observing and measuring this the country – Switzerland – where the roots of protestant work ethic are.

“She asks who in the room checks private e-mail at work, and all hands go up (although it’s not clear where the border of private and public is). People are happy to be able to continue to bring their social life/network along wherever they go. There is something in the type of channels people are using.

The most fascinating discovery I [i.e. Bruno Giussani] have made this year: a reduction of voice and increase in written channels (SMS, IM, e-mail, tagging, blogging). Everybody expected that with Skype people would be speaking for hours a day, but that’s not happening. It’s more engaging, you have to commit more, you can’t multitask – while requires less commitment, and you can multitask.

I ask Stefana whether rather than to tech the addiction is maybe to social relations: to friends and family and colleagues and where they are and what they do and what they think. In the research we do, she answers, we ask people to keep a diary of whom they communicate with and how. People that are not heavily online, their average number of contact is about 20. People that are online, it goes to 70 upwards. The difference is obviously that the cost of maintaining contacts decreases. 20 is what you can handle with a one-to-one channel; as soon as you add asynchronous channels, we can handle more.

How do we unplug, asks the moderator? Stefana: that’s not a theme. If I unplug, I lose my social intelligence. We looked at small companies, and the availability and reachability of their employees. There was a radical difference between startups and more established companies. The people in the latter can switch the phone off, or answer tomorrow; the former felt they had to be reachable at all time.”

Read full story

7 February 2007

Jumping jack flash – new forms of interactions

LIFT 07
My Experientia business partner and friend, Jan-Christoph Zoels, is one of the main speakers at LIFT 07, a conference that starts today in Geneva, focused on the “challenges and opportunities of technology in our society”.

In his talk tomorrow entitled “Jumping jack flash – new forms of interactions“, Jan-Christoph will present “some key trends and design ideas for our interactions with devices, services or applications”.

“As more and more devices support location-aware, contextual or rich media, how will we interact with them, choose content, navigate or connect multiple sources of information? The presentation explores gestural, haptic and other sensorial interfaces for a variety of applications. The success of Nintendo’s Wii game controller exemplifies the migration of traditional task-based interfaces into the realm of explorative and entertaining interactions. What will the poetic interfaces of tomorrow be?”

Other speakers include Robert Scobble, vice president of media development at Podtech; Régine Debatty of we-make-money-not-art; Stefana Broadbent, head of User Adaption Lab at Swisscom; Jan Chipchase, principal scientist at Nokia Research Center; Bruno Giussani, writer; and Sister Judith Zoebelein, editorial director of the Internet Office of the Holy See; to name just a few.

UPDATE:
Tom Hume’s notes on Jan-Christoph’s talk
Jan-Christoph Zoels : quelles nouvelles formes d’interaction ? French summary by Daniel Kaplan
Audio interview of Jan-Christoph Zoels by Nicole Simon

18 January 2007

Interview with LIFT 07 conference organisers

LIFT 07
Convivio, the European network for human-centred design of interactive technologies, has published an interview with Laurent Haug and Nicolas Nova, two of the organisers of LIFT 07, a conference that will be held in Geneva on February 7-9 2007, focused on the “challenges and opportunities of technology in our society”.

My Experientia business partner and friend, Jan-Christoph Zoels, is one of the main speakers. Others include Robert Scobble, vice president of media development at Podtech; Régine Debatty of we-make-money-not-art; Stefana Broadbent, head of User Adaption Lab at Swisscom; Jan Chipchase, principal scientist at Nokia Research Center; Bruno Giussani, writer; and Sister Judith Zoebelein, editorial director of the Internet Office of the Holy See; to name just a few.

In the interview, they discuss how the design of the conference last year, almost accidentally, became deeply human-centred and how they have added even more opportunities (LIFT +, Open Stage) this year for attendees to act like active contributors rather than passive recipients of somebody else’s messages.

Read interview

13 November 2006

European Market Research Event – Day 1, afternoon

European Market Research Event
During the afternoon sessions of the European Market Research Event, I attended presentations by Clive Grinyer of France Telecom Orange, Sarah Pearson of ACB/University of Sussex and Francesco Cara of Nokia. There is also a short write-up of a talk by Valérie Bauwens of Swisscom.
 

Clive Grinyer, France Telecom Orange

In his highly entertaining presentation, thought-provokingly called “lipstick on a pig”, Clive Grinyer reflected on the relation between usability and design.

Grinyer once worked with Jonathan Ive in a company called “Tangerine”. After some time at Samsung and the Design Council, he joined the legendary Orange mobile brand where he is the head of design and usability and develops user interfaces on handsets, mobile portals and web services, thus helping to create the next generation of communication services.

During his talk, Grinyer spent a lot of time reflecting on the perceived and actual role of design.

Design is more than just the work of a magician designer, a decorator or an innovative engineer. It is more than fashion or product design (with all respect for Jonathan Ive).

Design is really about creating a complete service experience, an approach which has been pioneered by Steve Jobs.

But quite often companies still have the tendency to put lipstick on a pig, to render something attractive that is underneath unattractive.

Grinyer in other words is upset by the superficiality of design and advocates a people-centred approach. People, he says, are old and young, have different values and different levels of comfort with technology. They are not just between 16 and 25.

Because many people have different views of what simplicity is, also designers do, and Grinyer provides us with some funny examples of ‘simple solutions’ designers have come up with.

He says that we often end up with a situation where:

  • Technology rarely works
  • Usability is poor and uncovered too late in the process to correct
  • Customer uptake is slow or doesn’t happen
  • Revenue is reduced
  • Customer experience is random and brand delivery is inconsistent
  • In short, technology rarely just works

Did you ever try to set up email on a phone?

Orange tries to design the full experience across many touchpoints.

To do that well, you need to find out who your customer really is, what they really do, what they want to do, and somebody needs to show them what is possible, what is next, and make them want to do it!

Companies and designers also need to be aware that customers always tell the truth, but not always the way you think.

Experimentation is therefore important, designers have to come up with more than one idea, and you have to test things with real people.

In the end, Grinyer says, design has both a scientific and emotional side. Usability and ergonomics provide the physical and cognitive knowledge but design also delivers attraction, delight, comfort, safety, enjoyment, pride, clarity, wow and awe.

Designers in other words need to design the full experience.

Download presentation (zipped PowerPoint, 6.2 mb, 64 slides)
 

Valérie Bauwens, Swisscom

Another excellent talk took place while Clive was speaking, so I could not attend it. It was by my Belgian compatriot Valérie Bauwens, who is a senior user researcher at Swisscom’s Customer Observatory and who works closely with Stefana Broadbent.

Valérie was kind enough to guide me briefly through her talk afterwards.

Swisscom’s User Adoption Lab has been looking specifically at how people use technology in their daily lives, by doing in-context interviews and observing people in their homes.

A key result of the research is that each communication tool is specialised in its use, depending on its functionalities.

Download presentation (pdf, 875 kb, 29 slides)
 

Sarah Pearson, ACB/University of Sussex

Sarah Pearson, who is a managing partner of ACB at the Sussex Innovation Centre of the University of Sussex, presented the results of an elaborate ethnographic study on “the impact of personal video recorders on television audience behaviour during commercial breaks using video ethnography”.

In short, PVR’s (which are TiVo-like devices) allow you to fast forward advertisements and are perceived to be a massive threat to the advertising model.

Research done in focus groups and in labs confirmed the perception of this threat.

During initial research Pearson found however that there was an amazing difference between what people perceive of the technology, and what people actually do.

Pearson today presented a more elaborate piece of ethnographic research, which was funded by a (very worried) consortium of Ofcom, Channel 4, Channel Five, iTV and Initiative.

The research wanted to go beyond claimed behaviour and to get a deeper understanding of people’s actual behaviours.

It turned out that there was a somewhat surprising tendency among the majority of participants to initially watch live TV and only revert to the PVR as a kind of back-up. Not surprisingly, of the 3480 opportunities to see adverts, 70% were live and only 30% were time-shifted. And only two-thirds of the time-shifted ones were actually skipped. So 80% of adverts were still viewed entirely, which means that PVR’s are not going to have such an impact as once feared.

I was hoping for some more insight on the fast-forwarding behaviour. It seemed to me that ads were browsed and skimmed like pages in a magazine and some of them merited more in-depth investigation. However, Pearson didn’t provide much insight into this, in part because of NDA restrictions.”

Download presentation summary (pdf, 20 kb, 2 pages)
 

Francesco Cara, Nokia

Francesco Cara, who is the director of Nokia Design, Insight and Innovation, provided the last talk I attended during the day.

Cara, who has a cognitive science background, provided a talk on organic innovation, where innovation is created in dialogue with the end-user, in an open, interactive way.

Nokia, argues Cara, advocates a human approach to technology, with a strong emphasis on dialogue. Fast prototyping and ethnography are crucial, with the latter assuming a strategic role.

Cara provided the case study example of Skype, which is a typical example of convergence, bringing together voice telephony, instant messaging and broadband access.

The ethnographic and contextual interview study, which took place in Germany and Brazil, explored who the Skype users really were and how they used the service.

Some of the learnings showed that Skype should not be seen as a replacement but as an additional that has a number of quite distinct features: such as openness (the channel remains open), targeted and intimate, low virality and enriched communication.

8 August 2006

Swisscom study on how we use communication means [Business Week]

Stefana Broadbent
A recent Swiss study finds that as the communication options available to us expand, we tend to narrow the uses and audience for each, writes Bruno Giussani in a Business Week guest column.

Cell phone users spend lots of time talking into their devices, but they generally communicate with very few people. Just how few? Would you believe four?

It’s one of the surprising recent findings of a study carried out in Switzerland. In the last few years our communication environment has been expanding at a very fast pace. The lone fixed-line telephone has given way to multiple fixed and mobile phones, e-mail, instant messaging (IM), text messaging, voice-over-Internet-protocol (VoIP) free (or near-free) telephony and videoconferencing, and other interactive channels such as blogs and wikis.

This expanded communication environment raises some questions: Are people “specialising” their use of different communication channels? For example, do mobile-phone, fixed-line, and e-mail users differentiate their usage of those tools in terms of content, communication partners, and habits? Are new channels affecting how existing channels are used?

Stefana Broadbent, an ethnologist working for Swisscom Innovations, a division of Swisscom (SCM), Switzerland’s largest telecom operator, says the answer to each of these questions is yes. […] What [her study] has revealed is that people “are very good at choosing the best media for each situation.”

Read full story (also on the Giussani blog)

(note that an earlier version of this story, based on her LIFT presentation, was already published previously on this blog – Stefana Broadbent will be one of the speakers at the European Market Research Event)

3 February 2006

Swisscom ethnologist observes ecology of communication channels

Broadbentliftcommlog_1
Are people “specialising” their use of different communication channels? Are there different usages for mobile, fix, e-mail, etc in terms of content, partners in the communication or habits? And are new channels affecting how other channels are used?

Bruno Giussani has a nice report on the LIFT06 presentation by Stefana Broadbent, an ethnologist working for Swisscom Innovations who has been studying the economical and social aspects of telecommunication.

With her team, she has observed and studied 200 people in Switzerland in their interaction with technology, interviewed them, collected maps and other information about the position of tech in their homes, timelines and usage schedules, communication logs. And, she says, what comes out of this is that people “are very good at choosing the best media for each situation”.

What would that be? “SMS is to tell you I miss you, Email is to organise our dinner, Voice is to say I’m late, and IM is to continue our conversation”, says Broadbent.

Read full story
Read similar story in French by Daniel Kaplan