Looking around us, we see a large number of companies making great strides and meeting user needs with a good digital experience. In the long run, this means that the competitive advantage that still offers them will disappear. As a company, you are only at a disadvantage if that investment has not been made. Where the first wave of digital transformations revolved around the internal basic processes and the second was about user-friendliness, the third wave requires a new look. Companies will no longer have to use digital resources in a process and output, but value-driven manner. To support the business as a whole.
, it means that during this new wave other questions are important. What will we find beyond the horizon? How does a product remain relevant in that context? And what does value mean in a world in which its meaning is constantly shifting?
Human centeredIn order to find the answers and to develop digital assets in a value-driven way, it is advisable to opt for a human-centered design approach. By trying to fathom the context of customers and users, a good picture of the (future) needs is created. This enables a company to take quick steps.
In essence it comes down to qualitative and quantitative research. By literally walking along with the target group and analyzing the current situation, you immediately gain valuable insights. How do you move through life? What needs do customers have? And where does the company, a product or service fall short? In addition to this, extensive market research shows which steps other companies are taking and which potential competitors and disruptors are presenting themselves. Although this provides incomplete fragments of an already uncertain future, in combination it is a powerful tool. A multidisciplinary team is able to identify the “gaps” and draw in the missing pieces of the puzzle using the methods from design thinking and service design. Looking at parts of the future, you as a company are made clear how you can still differentiate.
New skillsLeaving the purely process- and output-driven development behind us, this requires quite a lot from the people and their skills. In order to translate what lies beyond the horizon into the now and to divide it in such a way that each step immediately delivers business value, new skills are necessary. The majority of large companies now have a platoon of designers and developers at their disposal. They increasingly receive support from strategists and service designers, among others, who introduce new ways of working. Companies that are not directly able to master this or have a need for strategy and implementation turn to partners for this. As a result, knowledge of specific domains, countries or technologies is suddenly within reach.
Involvement is essential
Our work for KLM illustrates well what this third wave looks like in practice. Until some time ago, the thousands of maintenance engineers were given their work and accompanying manuals and instructions on paper on a daily basis. In a process- and output-driven approach, an app as a one-to-one replacement of the paperwork would have been an obvious choice. Instead, we involved crew members and managers in the investigation phase in order to identify the pain points in the maintenance work. It turned out that mechanics mainly wanted to administer as little as possible. During various workshops they were then involved in signing an app that now makes the work more efficient. The digital tool has not only increased their involvement, but also ensured that the airline can make more flight hours.
An approach such as this only succeeds if each person involved experiences being part of the road to the ultimate goal. People need to experience that they are heard and involved in decision making based on their expertise. Is that easy? Not always. Willingness is needed and people must want to see the potential of 'digital'. Questions such as 'Can't we just start building?' and 'What's the use of so much research?' pass by. By involving an independent third party who facilitates and interprets the views, it is easier to think in terms of solutions. And as a company you go step by step in the right direction.
Properly executed, this new outlook leads to products and services that meet needs. Whether something is successful in the long run is no longer determined by flat metrics, but also by its emotional value. For example, the time someone spends in an app is complemented by KPIs such as customer lifetime value, brand attitude or loyalty. To make these abstractions more concrete, we always advise to divide the highest goals into quantifiable goals for specific departments, and then continuously learn from qualitative and quantitative data what can be improved, prioritize and implement it.
In this way, everyone remains involved and, as a company, you formalize what it is all about: looking for new ways to use digital resources in a value-driven manner. Ultimately, a transformation will only get off the ground if it is designed with people.
Do you have questions or just want to know more about this, please contact Emar Vegt, our Head of Experience Strategy and Design.