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Let’s Talk Tech

When we talk about technology and the experience of it, what we are really doing as humans is measuring and comparing our experiences between our consumer grade experience (non-work tech) and our corporate tech experience (tech used at work).

Collaborative

There are six key areas to consider when talking about consumer grade technology. The first being Collaborative. Does this technology allow me to collaborate not only with my team, but also extensions of my team, and with the wider business? If there is no place to collaborate, your people will go outside of the technology already in place to fix that problem, which can lead to all kinds of issues for the IT team.

When we design technology and talk about it being an enabler, we first need to look at what technology has already been implemented, as well as where it is being used within the organisation. This needs to happen before we begin to look at alternative, new technologies.

Quite often, the solution is already in place for you to use. Either that or your team has already found a technology that enables them to overcome their problems. Usually, that type of technology isn’t on the IT whitelist, and would need further approval. This then drills down to whether you provide your teams with consumer grade technology vs corporate technology. Depending on which route you go down, you will subsequently be providing two entirely different experiences.

It’s crucial to note that we don’t need to recreate the wheel when it comes to technology. All we actually need to do is look at how we can fine-tune what is already being used as a collaborative space.  

If this was fight club, the first rule of fight club would be take a look around at what tech is already in place and what work arounds your people have come up with to get around that poor experience.

Stackability

The next area of focus is Stackability. Social media is the perfect example of something with stackable qualities. For example, I can schedule out a social post right now on my Facebook, LinkedIn, WhatsApp, and Twitter. Alternatively, I could utilise platforms such as Buffer or Sprout to do it all for me in one go. Essentially, the tech you use needs to be able to talk and play nice with other technology.

A great example is Android vs Apple. Android works pretty much with lots of other technologies, whereas Apple has specific limitations in regards to applications and functionalities. Apple works really well with other Apple technologies, such as syncing the Apple Watch to the iPhone. However, as soon as you bring in another technology, it becomes more difficult to use to the point that you start to look for work arounds and hacks. This can often be seen in the hacker space and the demand for someone to jailbreak the latest iOS.

When we talk about consumer grade technology, the last thing we want to do is make things more difficult for people. You don’t want to bring a technology in that only works well with certain other technologies. When we talk about stackable, what we’re talking about is how well does it play with other technologies – do I get more from the tech in the form of performance insight if it plays nice with others?

Frictionless user experience

All this is great, as long as we have a frictionless user experience. We are rarely taught how to use the likes of Instagram, WhatsApp, or Spotify. All of these platforms have great user experiences that often match our mental models (what a person believes based on what has happened in the past). We all typically understand what a like button does or what an online shopping experience looks like based on past experiences.

The User experiences need to be frictionless and match the mental models that we already have in place. If it does this efficiently, then the technology itself becomes effortless to use. If you find yourself having to create copious resources or some form of training in order to become familiar with the technology, then the chances are it’s a bad user experience.

Data and insight

Next up is data and insight. This is primarily about having the right tech and ecosystem in place that allows us to move from this reactive to proactive approach. When it comes to design, trends analysis, and predictions with one of our biggest clients, we are now at a point where we know what type of content Bob likes, and the specific time of day he usually consumes information. This isn’t about keeping a mindful eye on people, it’s about using that data insight to provide valuable insight to the business around ROI and performance, as well as creating a better personalised experience for our people.

Nudge

The next area is something that impacts us every day, be it through the tech we use or in our real life and it’s that little beauty we call Nudge. We experience nudges everyday, yet they are often overlooked. Nudges range from the petrol light in our car going off, to the little red dots on our phones telling we have a notification. We are constantly bombarded with notifications. For me, the nudges can get too overwhelming, and I opt to turn my notification off in the end.

Technology frequently uses nudges to influence customer experience, from Apple watch notifications to the reminder to wash your hands update (during COVID-19).

There are lots of ethics around how we should design these nudges. When used correctly, they can help slowly change direction, both physical or behavioural. If used incorrectly, we may end up turning these nudges off, which effectually would mean that your technology is dead and buried before it even got going.

Community

The last, but by no means least is Community. All great technology needs two different types of communities: a slow burn and a fast burn. A slow burning community is the typical approach that we find on most social media platforms. These incorporate comments in status updates, or content where the thread slowly burns out to be this wild fire. However, a fast burn community is the experience we get from Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger. This tends to be the “hello I need some attention” or “I need a question answering” – a way of communicating quickly and efficiently.  

Teams is a great example of a platform having both type of communities. It is ready at the point of need, allows users to be just a click away from a specific channel, focusing on a challenge or trend, but at the same time, they are able to reach out to SME’s to call on as and when. However too many teams, channels and notifications result in us losing out on the opportunities that well designed tech can bring.

They are two industries that call their people users, the software and the narcotics industry. We would be well placed to remember at the end of every technology experience is a human, and if we design for their need, match the experience they expect with technology outside of work, and it provides the data insight needed for the business, we would all be in a happier place.

About the Authors

Danny Seals

Danny Seals is the Director of Experience & Design at GP Strategies. His background lies in Learning and Organizational design and development, and has expertise in a variety of design disciplines such as design thinking, service design, system thinking and experience design. Using this blend has helped Danny create strategic change through transformational design. He is the creator of a number one rated podcast in learning & development, and a frequent speaker at conferences and on podcasts around human centered design.