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Move over features, Usability and Ux design are now officially acknowledged as the differentiators of successful digital products.  Even an umpteenth attempt in an existing product domain can become highly successful if one were to place their bets on this to get it right.  The test?  User acceptance and virality. To hell with customer acquisition costs and conversion strategies…..

Design will become the mainstay for product success. Here are some of the drivers that could provide some clues:

1. An incisive analysis and focus on user journeys across interactions and actions that get a “job” done.  Don’t turn SOP’s into a user journey when creating a digital interface. Rather, a set of interactive features that help a user comply with an SOP in the background. Know where the user is, their demographics and calls to actions are key inputs.

2. It’s now a known myth that only gen x or y needs a playful interface.  Almost every human being reacts to a tool that is fun to use.  This is the place where enterprise apps are failing to make a mark by a big margin.

3. Make sure that the innovation tech behind interactivity is well validated and stable.  The ooh’s and aah’s of what is possible in tech is not necessarily a great reason for adoption, if it weren’t stable.  Sometimes, innovation needs a lot of other variables for it to deliver the true promise and intent.  The eco system in which a product needs to exist may not be ready for that yet.  Don’t do it, or set the right expectations.

4. Relative performance measures and insights are great motivators for people and make great notifiers as against alerts and mail reminders.  Analytics is not just a behind the doors tool.

5. Finally, one needs a completely new set of providers to create this differentiation. A combination of skills involving gaming, ui design, animation, front end technologies like the latest in Javascript, user experience designers can virtually turn a product idea into a radically different solution. One that intends to “talk” to the users rather than “ask” a user to do something.

Andrew Wilkinson’s blog on how they made this differentiation for the $ 2.8 Billion USD valued Slack, is a great pointer to what is possible with this radically new approach.

Posted by Mahendra Penumathsa on Sep 30

“What do you do for your customers dad?”, my 12 year old asked as she looked at the latest presentation I was making about our offerings. “Digital transformation”, I told her, hoping that would make her less inclined to press on further, but that’s when I realised where the problem lied. The true beneficiaries of a digital transformation initiative are usually no less curious, or no more persisting than that. It had to be articulated in a way that is simple in form, but powerful in the promise it holds to gain their interest and a willing partnership in a digital transformation initiative.

Looking back, we noticed 3 evolving tenets of digital transformation across the work we have done:

1. Unified communications: A Digital transformation program must result in an evolution of the traditional channels of end mile communications that have been dominated by e mails or telecommunications for a long time. It is about bringing multi stream communication abilities of text, voice and video into a certain context of usage that promotes real time collaboration, and helps users avoid manual audits.

A clear outcome of such a strategy should be measurable in savings. Eg: a digital application for incident management could bring about a reduction in response times by about 70%, when it allows for users to alert a chain of command using a rule based engine and aggregated visual reports for analysis and corrective actions.

2. Omni path user experience design: Adoption and usage must be supported by single path user navigation design, taking users on a journey on a path of story telling that is intuitive in reaching an end goal or task. When you see 5 or even 3 year olds fiddling with familiar screens on your smartphones, it gives the first clues about what intuitive interfaces can do for gaining adoption. The measurable outcomes from a digital transformation strategy happen when a user is encouraged to travel the complete path of an experiential navigation journey and now when they have to labour through it.

In a digital world, an objective selection creates the required data and insights without having to ask the user to “fill” something up. Digital content management and social engineering are therefore two new major streams that can help design such digital workflows.

3. Device integrations : A true digital transformation crosses the barriers of the software hardware divide quiet seamlessly. Increasingly, devices are being seen as a more easier form of providing the users with a tool to input and interact, than screen / keyboard based interactions. Your infant browsing through a photo album on your smart phone is the first indication that users love press, swipe or wave, more than clickety clack.

It is essential to view smartphones as the first set of devices available to create seamless integrations with powerful logic based engines, extending all the way to a more complex set of sensors to discover use cases that democratise the reach of powerful digital computing. We realised that this view helps de mystify “mobility” in it’s digital transformation avatar.

“We give people newer tools, to do more work in less time using lesser resources. And they buy from us, because they are cheaper, and available faster”, I told my daughter. She nodded in half agreement, in a clear sign that I could still do a better job in simplifying it all for her. We hope so too.

Posted by Mahendra Penumathsa on Jan 09