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Technology Transformation Loves Service Design

25 Jun 2014 - by COLIN SMITH
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According to a recent report, 66% of all technology transformation projects fail. To put this another way, $6.2tn is ploughed into failed technology projects every year. This makes depressing reading for any organisation about to invest in a technology project, but it highlights a trend that has been emerging for some time.

For new technology to be successful, it has to be adopted by customers and employees. However the benchmark for usability has changed, where before we had SAP or Oracle super users, now Apple has made iPads so simple that toddlers are mastering them. Our expectations have changed in line with this, if users pick up a new product or launch a new system and cannot intuitively figure out how to operate it, they will be frustrated. Yet despite all this, simplicity of design and intuitive usability are often afterthoughts when defining a solution.

boy playing with iPad

In our experience, the root cause of technology transformation failures is often an outdated project framework, which includes:

  • Gathering requirements by documenting how users currently work. This means that all of the constraints, bad habits and workarounds people develop day to day become baked into the future state, and there is little room for innovation.
  • Obsessing about the solution, not the problem, at the vendor selection phase. By focusing on the (faulty) requirements when selecting a solution, the needs of the business are already being forgotten.
  • Starting the design after the technology solution has been selected. When customer-centric design recommendations fall out of the design phase, they are either constricted by the tool selected, or result in the current vendor being thrown out and work starting over again.

The most forward-looking companies are starting to realise this, and building in a customer insights and experience design phase at the outset of the project. This has a number of benefits over the traditional approach:

  • The technology transformation is built on a clear understanding of the needs of the end customer, defined in a customer value proposition and design principles. This defines the objective of the project and the nature of the solution.
  • The current state is observed and assessed, not to create requirements, but to understand what works well and what doesn’t.
  • Usability benefits are captured in the business case, with quantifiable improvements to training times, support costs and employee attrition.
  • The solution is co-designed with the frontline colleagues responsible for delivering the customer value proposition every day.
  • Testing is carried out at the concept stage, allowing the project team to fail early and often, and ensure the very best ideas are taken forward.
  • Finally, requirements for the technology solution are based on a clear vision of success and understanding of the elements needed to achieve this.

Given this, we always recommend that all technology transformation projects begin with a customer insights and experience design phase prior to vendor selection, to clearly articulate success from a customer and business perspective and understand the true requirements.

Colin Smith is a Manager at the Customer Experience Company in Sydney, Australia. He has 15 years experience working throughout Australia, Asia and Europe. Most recently Colin worked as a Principal Strategy Consultant for Huawei, China's biggest telecoms company based in their South China Head Office. You can get in touch with Colin This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Comments   

0 #1 Chris 2014-07-01 05:19
Interesting article thanks Colin. It brings to mind what Kalpana Gee (head of Westpac's business online) said at our conference - 'customer design is not just something you do at the start of the project, but must carry on throughout.'
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