Why digital transformation? My current three key questions – what are yours?

i) What things CAN’T your customers or employees do on their own mobiles to use or serve your products and services?

ii) Do you have one application that gives your employees all the RIGHT information about the relationship you have with a specific customer or client?

iii) Is there is one area of your business (no matter how small or large) that if improved to WORK SMARTER could deliver big benefits quickly for customers and/or employees?

Answering one or more of these questions can help a client find the critical pain points that could be addressed using new ways of working supported by digital technology – the power of digital transformation!

Let me know your top three…

How can digital lead to strategic stagnation? And how to avoid it

Responding proactively in an instant to an individual user is arguably at the heart of the digital experience.

But as a result are companies being increasingly tactical in their outlook?

I use different digital banking services from two major high street banks yet their digital channels practically look and feel the same – the difference is the product not the channel.

The other day I was comparing prices for a product across different on-line retailers; if it wasn’t for their different logos the experience was pretty much uniform across all of them. Even the big data(?) driving my personalised experience felt repetitive – probably because they were all using the same personal and social information to engage me.

I expect government information to be available digitally and all in one place – an intuitive experience like on-line retail. As a user I don’t necessarily care about how that information is produced as long as it’s accurate and doesn’t require me to go anywhere else.

To succeed, companies and organisations need to respond quicker, faster and smarter to my needs – a tactical, not a strategic response. And that’s just for one user; is there a risk that chasing competitive advantage by meeting the tactical needs of thousands or millions of users could result in a company not having sufficient resources to adapt strategically when further market disruptions occur? Or alternatively end up being dependant on technology change to innovate, differentiating the user experience rather than the company’s own products and services?

What ways can companies and organisations enjoy the benefits of digital transformation while keeping the right tactical AND strategic focus for their business?

  1. The old rules still apply: competitive advantage still comes from increasing differentiation and managing cost – give your customers what they want short- and long-term using digital only where it adds value (not the other way round)
  2. Digital is immature; it needs your guidance: use the same measures and indicators for offline vs digital channels and regularly compare their relative performance to each other (and competitors). This should indicate if your digital strategy implementation is moving in the right long term direction rather than delivering only short term tactical benefits
  3. Live and breathe Agile – even strategically; it’s not easy to move from Waterfall but the benefits of being responsive, open about failing fast enables genuine learning that creates innovation that delivers sustainable tangible business benefits

Let me know what you think…

A smarter way to breakfast

This morning I attended a ‘Breakfast briefing’ along with Zoe Kosmadoudi, with our good pals ‘User Vision’.

Knowing the expertise this company have and having attended a ‘World Usability Day’ event previously, I was quite interested in what this kind of morning session would offer. A great format, generally lasting an hour from 8am, it fits nicely in before setting off for another day at work. It really gives an interesting topic of thought for the day and gets your mind engaged with passionate things before setting your to-do list for the day.

This mornings topic of convo was “Maturing UX in our organisations”, an event which had been re-held as the first one a few weeks back was booked out. The main concept here was to do with the challenges we face in driving UX or user centered design, right into the heart of our organisations and get the buy-in it well deserves.

Interesting quote “At this point in time, Awareness of UX is high while the patience level is very low”. People know it and want it now!

We looked at the factors with which certain organisations ‘believe’ they are operating user experience design properly and how this is seldom true.

A valuable take-away was the concept of ‘UX maturity’ and while utilising a progression chart, created by one of Stephen Dennings (User Vision UX) friends at Google, we were able to look at the main points of what really shows how mature an organisation is with UX. Starting from immature of course, where there are no formalised approaches defined and very little professional UX being practiced, to ‘Fully mature’ where set principles have been put in place which the whole organisation understands, colleagues are kept up to date and trained in the concepts of UX, and there are an efficient number of professional UX resources which can be deployed on-site and offer valuable, best-practice output.

Maturity scale

To support that chart there is another, one which progresses in 5 steps and is used to grade an organisation once an evaluation has been completed. As an activity we were given evaluations to complete on our own organisations, which consisted of a table of factors which relate to how well an organisation buys-in to UX. From my perspective our current efforts scored in the ‘Considered’ range, pivoting on the ‘Managed’, so effectively right in the middle. Unfortunately I didn’t get a copy of the slides which were full of points and reasons for each step or else I could better justify my choice.

Here is however my evaluation checklist, showing the factors we scored by. Feel free to conduct an evaluation yourself, I’m sure we will all have different perspectives and it would be interesting to share them.

Evaluation of Maturity

From this we were asked to choose the 3 main factors which we personally would like to see evolve the most in the near future and which we believe would get the organisation to the ‘UX Driven’ step quickest.

My choices included:

  1. Written UX strategy/Roadmap (Which of course we are working hard on right now)
  2. UX training and mentoring programs (Yet another area we are currently aiming to take further once things are signed off)
  3. Agile adaptation (This comes from my previous experience of projects which reflect the current widespread issues of mixing Agile with UX.)

This ‘Breakfast briefing’ was absolutely great and I even commended the team on having this available to the community as without it “we would be going around blind”, as in to say the resources and theoretics we share at events like this are what help us evolve UX. More shall be attended!!

Speed Networking

Pitching UX at Sopra Steria in 15 minutes, in the space of 2 hours, 8 times… equals 20 glasses of water!

Last Wednesday, Damian and I took a trip to Dundee University. We were invited to an event hosted by e-Placement Scotland that brought together employers in the IT industry and job seeking students. The aim of the day was to find students with a keen interest in UI/UX and could join our team here as an intern Edinburgh. We also used this opportunity to spread the word of all the the great things we do as a team amongst the students and other industry professionals.

We kicked off with a warm welcome from the hosts and a networking lunch with other employers. This was a great opportunity to meet people from companies all over Scotland, find out what they are doing and share experiences. Representatives from JP Morgan, Codeplay, BePositive, Blue2 and Agenor were some of the few we managed to speak to. Damian and I found ourselves to be the only User Experience focused members in the room, with a few employers seeking to cover this role that day.

The speed networking format with the students allowed time to talk to almost everyone in the room and in an ‘elevator pitch’ style. It was successful in finding those that stood out in the crowd and voiced interest in such a short time frame.

 Lynsey talking in a groupWorking to ringing bells every 15 minutes left Damian and I with loads of unfinished conversations. So much so, we had students surrounding us after. This resulted in being the last to leave the building, which can only be a good thing! (Hopefully not just because of our good spread of freebies!)
image showing team talk

This kind of event was great to represent Sopra Steria at. It not only reaps the benefits finding young talent, but we are now able to pitch the work we do in 15 minutes and have made connections with other industry professionals in Scotland.