This year, understanding of digital technologies like big data and analytics, machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) has really grown.
Businesses have begun adopting these technologies as part of digital transformation processes, but there is a danger their initial approach is too simplistic. For successful adoption, they need human centred digital transformation, known as experience design, to ensure they deliver value to consumers, partners and employees.
Human-centred digital transformation requires organisations to bring people – employees, suppliers, partners and customers – to centre stage of the digital transformation programme, delivering technology and support in a manner and at a pace that is flexible, contextual and fits the needs of individuals.
Historically, technology adoption has often been a slow and painful process where users have to be ‘trained’, they depend on incomprehensible manuals, rely on experts to troubleshoot, wait endlessly for fixes, and generally suffer the pain of not being in control. This has led to digital transformation investments turning into embarrassments with little to show in the way of business impact.
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Keeping it human
Human-centred digital transformation aims to fuse the needs of people with the potential of technology and the elements of business success. Importantly, this means that collaboration with users is the not-so-secret ingredient that leads to better outcomes. This is substantially different from what we have become used to hearing over the last 50 years – that “technology leads to better outcomes”. The reality is that transformation is as much about designing for humans as it is about adopting new technologies.
The idea is quite simple – think of it as a bottom-up approach with people and end users influencing process and application development at every step, bringing the end product closer to the end user. This may appear to be common sense, but for multiple reasons user friendliness has so far been consigned as an afterthought. Now there is pressure to completely reverse the thinking and engineer things backwards.
While it is common sense, it can be difficult to inject human centred digital transformation into an enterprise. One reason is that humans are fluid in their thinking, using intuition, which is what makes them so good at what they do. It therefore requires an astounding amount of expertise to achieve human centred digital transformation.
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So, what does it look like in practice? Specifically, there are three criteria that can keep digital transformation human:
• Understand the business: The focus is on the why and who. The audience is identified, goals are articulated and KPIs are agreed upon. Understanding the audience helps design the high-level information architecture and puts human experience at the core.
• Design the experience: This allows us to determine the technological path to achieving the target goals of performance and experience.
• The design method: This is a user-centric approach to problem-solving and leads to digital transformation that focuses on the human element, which in turn effectively delivers the target business process.
Human desirability makes the difference
Maintaining the human element in digital transformation reshapes the process, making sure innovation is functional, and elevates experience for all parties. Tomorrow’s enterprise will win or lose based on the experience they provide their end users and their own employees and partners.