Since the start of this decade, large-scale transformations in business strategy and technology have become standard features across industries and business models. Over the past two years, a significantly large (and rising) number of enterprises have begun adopting a Multi-Cloud strategy.IBM's 2021 global study on cloud transformation also confirms this rapid change. The study found that the use of single-cloud systems declined to a mere 2% in 2021, compared to 29% in 2019. Most companies are either already running Multi-Cloud architecture or will be moving there within the next few years. So it seems fairly obvious that in the years ahead, hybrid or Multi-Cloud will remain the most dominant type of IT infrastructure across industries and business models.In this blog, I aim to discuss what keeps driving organizations to the Multi-Cloud strategy and what challenges they face during this transformation. But before we dive into further details there, let's first examine what we mean by Multi-Cloud.What is a Multi-Cloud Strategy?At its most basic, I would say a Multi-Cloud strategy is simply utilizing two or more public or private clouds. For example, a company utilizing AWS or GCP, or Azure and AWS, can be said to be adopting a Multi-Cloud strategy.Is this strategy applicable to any type of enterprise? Not exactly.I would say a Multi-Cloud strategy is usually a better fit for larger enterprises. Particularly because of the significant costs and complexity involved in running and maintaining the architecture. For small to medium organizations, I would typically recommend Hybrid Cloud as a more appropriate solution option.What Does Hybrid Cloud Mean?Picture a business running a local data center. This business could also be extending some services or replicating its local data center services into a public cloud in parallel. This is precisely what you call a Hybrid cloud model. But there can be further segmentations in the terminology involved. For example, a hybrid strategy where there is a local data center as well as more than two or three public clouds. The combination of these is called Hybrid-Multi Cloud.Why Are More Businesses Turning to Multi-Cloud?Many businesses already have a dual cloud vendor strategy because they want to be more competitive while keeping the cost down. It may sound like a generic motivator, but that does not invalidate the fact that it keeps driving so many enterprises in that direction.FlexibilityThere are also several more specific drivers for organizations to adopt Multi-Cloud strategies. From my perspective, I really feel it's the flexibility to pick services that different vendors offer compared to others that adds to the eagerness to shift.SecurityAnother key aspect, I would say, is from the security standpoint. Cyberattacks continue to be a huge concern for businesses anywhere, causing companies to lose billions in terms of data breaches, confidential information, and reputational damage. It is significantly difficult to bring down a Multi-Cloud environment using a denial-of-service attack or DDOS attack, in my experience. Therefore, the added security would most definitely prove a key motivator for businesses to shift in that direction.Data RecoveryThe third aspect I'd say is data recovery or disaster recovery. Businesses need only to slip up once to become the victims of a significant data breach. So it makes a lot of sense to have contingencies that protect against that. A multi-cloud strategy lets you can create one of the most reliable architectures, which, in turn, can mitigate the fallout from a single-point failure in parallel.In a nutshell: the ability to do best of breed, improved security, disaster recovery, and data availability all contribute to the rapid rise of Multi-Cloud adoption across industries.The Top Challenges When Implementing a Multi-Cloud StrategyWith any new technology and its adoption, there are almost always some challenges. This is no different when it comes to Multi-Cloud. As a technology, it is safe to say that it's still evolving, and organizations are already invested in it. The biggest hurdles they currently face include:A Lack of Industry StandardsOne of the key challenges that many companies face is that there is no industry standard that regulates architecture guidelines, principles, or best practices that need to be implemented.A Lack of Holistic ToolsIn addition, there aren't many tools in the market that can help support or monitor a Multi-Cloud environment. Also, when it comes to provisioning, deploying, and testing the technology, you often don't see too many tools either.Problems with Identity BrokeringLet me use an example for this one. Say you are running an application in a local data center that has typically been authenticated by an active directory. This has to stay in contact with or receive some information from your AWS file system, for instance. AWS, on the other hand, uses an IM service or identity management that authenticates any request that is coming in before it is executed. Translating an AD token or AD authentication to authenticate automatically in AWS is called identity brokering.From an application standpoint, identity brokering is a big challenge in the Multi-cloud environment because each service provider might end up using their application to identify the request and response.Recommendations to Enterprises Implementing a Multi-Cloud StrategyIn my line of work, I can see in the industry there is a new adoption called "infrastructure as code" or IaC. This is one of the ways that you can address admin tasks, from provisioning to deploying, like:Configuring, Testing the virtual machines, Creating containers, Deploying containers, Creating serviceless functions, etc. All of that can be automated by IaC, and this code can then be run by virtually anybody. What this results in is an automated CI/CD pipeline spanned across a Multi-Cloud environment. So, to see more success when implementing Multi-Cloud, I would recommend every business leverages IaC.Specialized Tools for Multi-Cloud ManagementI've already talked about how there aren't a lot of tools that assist in managing and monitoring Multi-Cloud. But I have come across a select few that can help with Multicloud monitoring.The most useful ones are Flexera and Embotics. They are fairly closer than other comparable ones when it comes to managing Multi-Cloud environments. IBM Cloudpark is another fairly good choice, and it sees a lot of use for data insights.For certain use cases, you can also combine tools. Terraform combined with Ensemble, for example, can act as a powerful IT automation tool. This can automate many IT tasks in the context of public and private cloud environments.But, from experience, I would still say I have observed a significant demand from enterprises for a holistic platform that can be used to allocate workload strategy and manage business containers in a hybrid Multi-Cloud environment. Unfortunately, we have yet to see a comprehensive tool that can act as a unified management platform.TakeawayThere is no question about the benefits a Multi-Cloud or Hybrid Multi-Cloud environment brings to a business. The real hurdle is the need for a unified infrastructure management tool. That's what we really need to comprehensively and holistically manage these environments. While there isn't a tool that can claim that title yet, I would say it is only a matter of time before we witness a major cloud provider getting around to releasing it. After all, why not, right?I have come across many companies and vendors trying to get there. There are several third-party tools that are already in development. Azure and AWS have already implemented tools to aid with Hybrid Cloud management. In essence, nothing is really stopping them from making a Multi-Cloud management platform as well. Or to go a step further and create a unified infrastructure management platform. Once that happens, that tool could prove a significant game changer in overcoming challenges to implementing and managing Multi-Cloud architectures. Who knows, maybe that could be a watershed moment right around the corner!
What’s Driving Large Enterprises to Multi-Cloud?
Holding your customer’s attention when they have no time is a big challenge.Particularly in today’s digital age, with average attention spans that only last a few seconds, driving business outcomes now relies heavily on employing the right user engagement strategy.But before jumping into the various types of user engagement strategies used for improving customer experience and retention, let’s quickly understand exactly what a user engagement strategy entails.What is a User Engagement Strategy?A user engagement strategy is a plan to:Grab your customers’ attention, Improve their experience of using your product, and Make them engage with the product offering on a regular basis. Such engagement tools enable us to not only increase customer loyalty and lifetime values, but also optimize the customer experience and boost customer retention for the long term.User Engagement StrategiesThere are many ways to hold your customers’ attention and engage them long enough to make sure they have a great time using your product.The user engagement strategies highlighted in this article are ideal for growth marketing and product success, and are proven ways to garner customer loyalty and retention:Customer Journey Mapping Hyper-Personalisation Integrating Analytics Rewards and Customer Loyalty Program Chatbot 1. Map Your Customer JourneyTo effectively develop and implement a user engagement strategy, it is crucial to understand who your target audience is and how they use your product.A good way to do this is through customer journey mapping.In this user engagement strategy, you map out your product’s customer journey and understand all the different ways a customer can interact with your digital platform or app. This allows you to unravel any challenges the user may face and discover more about your users’ needs and behavior, which is instrumental in identifying opportunities for engagement.Illustration 1.1: Common touch points surrounding a customer journey map that a visitor takes to start the buyer journey process.Additionally, analyzing your customers’ behavior will allow you to segment your target base and create customer personas. Collecting this knowledge is the first step in creating a tailored user engagement strategy to interact with each persona according to their distinct preferences.2. Create Hyper-Personalized OfferingsIn today’s day and age, providing personalized experiences has become an essential user engagement strategy. And it makes sense why – customers have grown to want products that are tailored to their needs.Personalization can be something as simple as showing customers a location-based ad or using their first name in an email.It could also become something much more complex, by applying nascent technologies such as machine learning and AI to offer hyper-relevant services.A good example of personalisation in the Telecommunication industry is when a customer who regularly purchases data add-ons to meet his monthly needs is offered an exclusive package to upgrade their plan at a discount. Usage behavior, interests, location, device information, etc. could be used to create a unique offer for each customer that best meets their needs.Push notifications are also essential when it comes to a successful user engagement strategy and plan. Using these notifications effectively can help improve awareness and usage for your product features. Location-based notifications or offers can allow you to give the users of your product a contextual experience that would be hard to match.3. Track Business AnalyticsThere is no way of knowing whether your customer engagement strategies are working or not if you don’t have specific success metrics in place and aren’t tracking them on a regular basis.Therefore, it is essential to close the customer loop by listening to their feedback and incorporating it into improving your product offering.Data driven decision-making can allow you to identify behavioral trends and understand how the customers use your product in order to address their needs.Tracking your daily active users (DAU) as a % of your monthly active users (MAU) can give you an estimate on the number of days your customers use your product in each month.Segmentation and analytics play a pivotal role in driving the marketing strategy for an organization. Quantitative insights can help build your brand persona and also help identify the USPs of your product. This can be used to create acquisition and retention campaigns to increase usage.Understanding the onboarding process for your platform and the use of conversion funnels to identify the relevant drop-offs can also play a crucial role in helping uncover design or product level issues that might be hampering your overall user engagement.The use of analytics tools can significantly impact the growth of engagement on your platform. Using these tools can enable you to segment your user audience based on multiple attributes i.e. age, location, interests. These segments can then be targeted with the use of available communication channels or push notifications, thus generating not only interest but also customer retention and loyalty to your offering.4. Design a Customer Loyalty ProgramAnother effective user engagement strategy is to engage your customer through a customer loyalty program that rewards them with points, discounts and gifts in return for frequently engaging with your platform.These programs can prove to be very effective as they not only improve customer retention, but also increase customer switching costs by boosting customer loyalty. Having a loyal customer base can generate word of mouth and referrals for your product, which can attract the desired audience to your platform.Illustration 1.2: Customer loyalty programs improve customer engagement and boost retention rates.5. Implement a ChatbotChatbots are a proven tool to increase conversion rates, especially when it comes to digital platforms.An AI-powered chatbot has the ability to analyze data and appropriately reply to users based on preprogrammed recommendations. The program can also be engineered to trigger specific messages based on customer attributes such as location, time, or engagement levels.Bots can also help users choose products they like, answer FAQs, or even act as a trouble-shooter to decrease churn rates.Additionally, another key advantage of using chatbots as part of your user engagement strategy is their ability to offer minimum service levels even during after-hours when a call center representative is not available. This helps create an additional channel through which key customer information can be collected so that they can be contacted later.TakeawayThere’s no doubt that the digital age of today has transformed the way businesses operate and seek out customers.Therefore, in efforts to keep up with such transformation, it is now more crucial than ever to adopt smart approaches and strategies that put the customer at the center of your engagements with them.User engagement strategies like the ones discussed above all help you hold your ideal customers’ attention, improve their experience using your product, and keep them coming back for more.Remember, the right user engagement strategy will pave the way for transforming your target audience into loyal customers that stick with you for the long haul.FAQsHow to optimize user engagement?There are many user engagement strategies that help optimize user engagement for your product, digital platform, or app. Some great ways to do this include customer journey mapping, hyper-personalization, integrating analytics, customer loyalty programs, rewards, and chatbots.How do you increase product engagement?Product engagement can be increased by incentivising customers (e.g. through loyalty programs and rewards), using and studying user data to create personalized notifications and offers, and streamlining and optimizing the overall user experience through customer journey mapping.
Improving Customer Experience with the Right User Engagement Strategy
What do you do when you need people to come together and be on the same page for a new concept at your organization?Some back and forth via emails? Putting in requests for meetings where the conversations are driven by PowerPoint pitches? Having one discussion at a time, and that too only led by the extroverts or people with titles and power?What about the value that the rest of the individuals at your organization can bring into these discussions? How do you cultivate an environment for brainstorming and a healthy exchange of ideas where every individual is a part of the conversation and contributing towards a purpose?Contrary to the conventional ways of doing business that organizations have ingrained as common practice, there is a better solution. The latest research around creativity and innovation offers a much better way of aligning everyone on a shared goal: Design Thinking Workshops.Design Thinking WorkshopsDesign Thinking Workshops help organizations combine the power of individual thinking with the cross-pollination of ideas and critical thinking. These workshops can truly accelerate innovation by transforming the way teams collaborate during design ideation to design and redesign products and services for their customers.The design thinking workshop framework acts as a catalyst, bringing out the best ideas to light and speeding up innovation in the design thinking process.Design thinking workshops are much more advanced than simply encouraging participants to talk about what needs to happen. Instead, they steer participants on HOW to do it.Simply put, these workshops take design thinking ideation a step above and actually help you get things done - quickly and more effectively.Which brings us to our next question: What do different kinds of design thinking workshops achieve, and which is the right one for you? Let’s help you choose the best one for you in the next section.Types of Design Thinking WorkshopsThe type of design thinking workshop you need for your project is contingent on several factors:Why you need it to happen Who are the participants What is your end goal Depending on your situation, here’s a quick comparison of all the workshops before we jump into each one in detail:Now, let’s try to understand each workshop, its requirements, and outcomes in detail so you can pick the design thinking workshop you need:Discovery WorkshopBest suited for the early stages of a project, a Discovery Workshop is a customized design thinking workshop designed to frame the problem from the end user’s perspective.During this workshop, the focus is on the business goals, target user personas, their needs, journey maps of these users and opportunities for improvements in these journeys.Who should attendBusiness & Sales Team Leads Product/Marketing Team Lead Solution Architects All other stakeholders critical to defining the problem Why should we do itDiscoveryDiscovery workshops help uncover users’ problems, pain points, and needs through curated activities; developing user personas and mapping the current user journey helps identify and uncover any pain points along the way. ContextA deeper dive into the problem space provides context and a better understanding of the backend processes within the organization. Understanding the context more clearly also helps define the business success metrics. Solving the RIGHT ProblemsThis kind of design thinking workshop builds a shared vision and identifies the root causes of the problem. It also helps reframe the problems into opportunities to serve customers better. Through discovery workshops, you can prioritize the opportunities that are best aligned to the business and users’ goals. Defining ways to help validate ideas and concepts before committing time and budget to them saves resources. Quite often, these workshops help reframe the problem by shifting the focus from the solution to the problem. It is vital to spend sufficient time understanding the problem and gauge if that is the right problem to be solved. If we solve it, will it result in achieving the business goals? How is it doneDiscovery workshops are conducted through customized workshops and a set of activities that fit your needs and schedule.What do we get out of itA common definition of project goals, success criteria, target users, and their journey of interaction with your products or services A short document detailing the workshop findings and possible next steps for engagement Often these workshops result in a defined scope for the project and can be followed up with a proposal for engagement Designed forSmall-medium size organizations Small groups of key decision-makers Developing new products and services Kickstarting and setting the scope for a large engagement Aligning stakeholders Creating alignment around the problem trying to be solved Typical durationA few hours to a full day (depending on the complexity of the problem)Ideation WorkshopIf you have already understood the problem and defined the success criteria of the project, it never hurts to have a second opinion on the approach to solve it. Ideation jams with customers can be a fun way to creatively solve the problems at hand.An Ideation Workshop is a collaborative and rapid idea generation session intended to create as many ideas as possible to address the challenges at hand by empowering participants to think creatively.Who should attendStakeholders Business System Analysts Product Managers Designers Solution/Tech Architects Why should we do itCo-creationIdeation workshops help bring a diverse range of insights and minds to generate as many ideas as possible. Fresh IdeasInspiration is taken from solutions in the same problem space and adjacent areas to spark creativity. Subject matter experts and those from your organization are invited for TED-style keynotes, which bring everyone up to speed and provoke the thought process in that direction. To explore ideas and make informed decisionsIdeas are not only proposed by participants, but they are also evaluated by them in order to narrow down on the most impactful solutions. How is it doneIdeation workshops comprise a disciplined framework that uses the best practices of ideation and innovation by providing time for individual brainstorming, building on top of ideas, connecting dots — then intelligently voting to shortlist the best ideas to move forward with.What do we get out of itUnderstanding and exploration of the problem space Explore multiple solutions to address the challenge Established set of ideas that can be explored and refined to find solutions Set of experiments that can be conducted as next steps Designed forThose looking for an outside-in view or second opinion on solving technology product, people, or process challenges Solving problems that demand creative and critical thinking Problems that are easy to lose focus on Establishing common ground amongst stakeholders Typical durationA few hours to a full day (depending on the complexity of the problem)Future WorkshopsDesigned to explore the “art of the possible,” Future Workshops help align key stakeholders around the future vision of the company by taking a wide view of what’s already established in the market and what are the trends.Working our way back, this vision is then translated into a high-level roadmap, for the present, for what’s next, and for the future.Who should attendC-Level or Decision Makers Key Management Business and Sales leads (VPs) Why should we do itUncover & DiscoverAssessing the current issues of customers and the business, future workshops aim to uncover problems, pain points and needs from both sides and create a shared vision of the future for your organization. Alignment & Buy-InSuch design thinking workshops help align all stakeholders’ understanding of the vision and garner buy-in. Ideate, Evaluate & EnvisionThey help generate solution ideas according to the timeline, evaluating them based on feasibility and user and business values for establishing a product roadmap. How is it doneCollaboration is the vehicle that sparks the discussion on design ideation for user experience to the table through activities and diverse team effort.What do we get out of itA shared vision of the future and what’s possible A detailed description of the short, mid, and long-term goals to get to the future vision A document detailing all the workshop findings and the next possible steps for exploration Designed forOrganizations/functional units interested in a long term roadmap and strategy for transforming business Exploring what major trends are in the market, what has worked so far in the industry and what hasn’t Determining what the ideal future looks like and what is the first steps to get there Planning to add new features or functionalities on an existing product(s) Typical duration2 to 4 hoursDesign SprintThis engagement takes you through the complete design cycle from problem defining and framing, solution brainstorming, solution defining and visualizing, solution viewing and visualizing of concept-solution in a rapid sprint spread over a week or two.Who should attendDesigners Developers Product Owner VP of Product Actual users (if possible) Why should we do itDay 1: To UnderstandMap out the problem space and create a shared vision. Day 2: To Ideate/sketchGenerate a broad range of ideas and narrow down on possible solutions. Day 3: To DecideDetermine what to prototype to answer sprint questions. Day 4: To PrototypeBuild one to two prototypes required to validate the idea. Day 5: To Validate or deliver the finalized solution (e.g. artifacts) and relevant documentsTest with five target users or review with the client to get valuable feedback. Deliver the finalized solutions, including a concept brief, prototype, and a process document. Design Sprints are aimed at understanding the context, validating ideas and releasing an MVP quickly in the market. These workshops also cater to helping everyone on the team understand the value other team members can bring as well as the struggles they face.How is it doneWe take you through joint daily sessions (outlined above) to move from the problem to the solution stage; providing direction, review, feedback, and ideation along the wayWhat do we get out of itAbstract to Concrete: Turning abstract concepts and ideas into tangible prototypes (digital or physical experience) with user feedback Business goals and objectives Personas & Journeys: User personas and journeys documenting pain points, challenges, and opportunities for improvement Wireframes and mockups for digital experience Development/Implementation estimates with a +/- 50% confidence Designed forStartups Small business or a smaller team Client or business who a relatively simple problem Client or business who has a clear direction for the solution Client or business that needs to test and validate ideas for MVP quickly Typical duration1 to 3-week engagementShape It UpShape It Up is a complete end-to-end engagement that takes you through the entire design cycle, from discovery to user experience design, technical solution design and hand-over to development.This engagement allows us to work with product owners and business heads throughout the entire cycle leading you along the way and ensuring any outcome is aligned with your business goals and meets user needs.Who should attendEveryone who is related to the project, affected by issues or outcomes, and diverse teams are encouraged to participate:Designers Developers Business Analysts C-level executives Management, Product management Sales, customer services Even real users Why should we do itThis is the most comprehensive engagement and is highly effective in producing the best solutions based on defining the right problem, understanding the customer and business needs, as well as other realistic factors that need to be considered before making a huge investment. Understanding that stakeholders at your organization manage multiple projects at any given time and it may not be feasible to bring everyone together for a dedicated design sprint in a short time frame, this engagement adopts a mixed model approach. It consists of a few workshops and deep-dive sessions with relevant stakeholders. This vision is then translated into a solution that is reasonably “shaped up,” and development teams can be engaged for implementation and rapid rollout. How is it doneShape It Up workshops and regular joint working sessions to assess, gather, and frame the right problem and solution collaboratively as well as deliver the concept, MVP and a product roadmap along with a technology solution documentation.What do we get out of itProject documentation containing the process, findings, research, concept designs, and technical development Personas, experience and journey maps, mockups and interactive prototypes Solution system architecture, a product roadmap, other technical documents that are required for product development and management Designed forBusiness at any scale A complex solution that requires customer interfaces, middleware or backend systems integrations B2B, B2C, B2B2C solutions or products Typical duration1 to 2 months (depending on the complexity of the problem)Remote WorkshopsRemote workshops are meant for dispersed teams located in remote locations and time zones. For stakeholders and team members in such situations, there are several frameworks for remote collaboration that can be used. These help facilitate remote design workshops using virtual tools that provide a great deal of value, but at the same time are not bound by physical or geographical limitations.You’ll find a deeper understanding of remote workshops in this article, which will provide you with all you need to know to conduct them, what virtual tools and processes you’ll need, and how to make the most out of remote workshops while working from home.TakeawayWhile design thinking workshops can prove to be largely impactful for alignment, they’re not the end-all solution.The real value from design thinking workshops is in their implementation and facilitation. Without applying the frameworks of these design thinking workshops in their true sense, you would simply end up having just another “meeting” — wasting time, energy, and resources.To successfully experience a workshop, there needs to be a willingness to participate, the effort to prepare, and the dedication to follow through with the outcomes.The design thinking workshops we covered in this article are designed to take you from the abstract to the concrete. Within a few hours, instead of taking weeks to materialize ideas in traditional ways of working, these workshops will help facilitate your team to ideate design thinking and draw focus on the present, bringing to light important information, ideas, and actionable next steps. This is the “concrete” foundation that will serve as the stepping stone to move out of the problem and into the solution space.FAQsWhat is the design process in UX?The process of design ideation for user experience comprises multiple, distinct steps that include user research, testing, validation, implementation, etc.What is human centered design thinking?Human-centered design thinking accounts for the humanistic approach to design via a deep sense of empathy for the target users. It uses the everyday emotions, thoughts, and behaviours of the people using the design as the North Star to creatively approach situations and find the best solutions to the problem at hand.What are the steps of the design thinking process?The design thinking process is an end-to-end journey that covers every step from ideation to implementation. It covers problem identification, UX research, design ideation, solutioning, prototyping, testing, and improving iteratively.What does design thinking work for?Design thinking is used to identify and solve problems creatively and iteratively. The approach prioritizes the end users’ need, above everything else, by observing their interactions, everyday behaviours, thoughts, and emotions to truly empathize and innovate for the best solutions.Meta description:In a jump from traditional ways of working, design thinking workshops offer a creative way to build solutions. But which is the right one for you? Find out here.
Design Thinking Workshops: Choosing the Right One For Your Team
How much time do you dedicate to your UX research process?When it comes to approaching any project, there’s no doubt that UX and Product Designers are fully aware of how critical it is to conduct research in order to put the user experience at the forefront.But the issue arises when clients or other stakeholders in the project are not on the same page.One of the first things stakeholders will do when a project comes in is to propose an idea and a solution, and concisely put it as, “Our mandate is X”. When this happens, the rest of the team is expected to focus all their attention towards the proposed solution, rather than actually spending time to fully understand the problem at hand. At this stage, instead of assuming they know what the user wants because they themselves are the user, it’s more crucial to ask questions like:Why are we doing this?What is the root problem?The design process we follow may be unclear to the client, but as UX and Product Designers, there are certain things we can do to share our knowledge and perspective with others so they can better understand the value of UX research to be done at the beginning of a project.The Consequences of Insufficient UX ResearchInsufficient UX research is where the quality of a project is compromised.No matter how much time you spend on creating great visuals, if your users are going to struggle with using your designs, instead of solving your users’ problems, you’re going to end up creating new ones:Increasing the learning curve for usersIgnoring the user experience research means you're making no effort to truly understand your users or even the scope of work. Without proper UX research, it’s difficult to familiarize yourself with what your target audience struggles with. You're more likely to end up increasing the learning curve for your users and driving them away.Losing key insights from early adoptersA lack of UX design research can impair the ability to find early adopters. Early adopters are a vital part of the project as they can lend a lot of critical insights about the usability of a feature and provide you with an accurate picture of the pain points — and gain points — of your target customer.Difficulty in identifying opportunityAnother element most clients/stakeholders don’t take into consideration when allocating time and resources to UX research is that of opportunity. Identifying and evaluating your competitors helps UX teams understand what already exists in the market and where there is space for improvement and innovation. Without such competitor insights, you could risk losing out on opportunities to enhance your business strategy and have an edge in the market.The Value of Investing in the UX Research ProcessThe UX research process can include both quantitative and qualitative UX research methods that can take up several forms, like:Card sorting, Focus groups, Interviews, Competitive analysis, etc. These are all useful UX research tools that help shape the strategy and define the goal(s) of a project. Having the correct data accessible to the team will pave the way for making solid decisions and ensuring you are focused on the appropriate users for your design.Without this user experience research, your team is in danger of leaping to assumptions instead of solving actual problems for the target users. You could also be putting yourself at risk of scope creep when discoveries arise later down the road.Knowing all the benefits of investing in UX design research, stakeholders may still lack the design maturity needed to carve out the required time and resources for the UX research process. This is where you should start thinking about controlling the risks.Risk Control With Limited Resources For UX ResearchAll too often, UX research gets sacrificed due to time or budget.That being said, if you find yourself in such a situation, there are certain methods you can employ to mitigate the risks that come with not allocating enough resources for user experience research:Using available dataTake whatever data you do have available. Analyze what you have and make your best guesses.Post-launch plan to track metricsIf you can’t validate your hypotheses now, build a post-launch plan so you can test and track metrics.Creating proto-personasBuild proto-personas based on your best guesses to get a shared understanding of what you do know about your users. It will help identify critical tasks and create a focused project scope.Mini-interviews with small groupsConduct mini-interviews on the down low, if possible. This is an informal method to test ideas and could be done within 10 minutes among a small group of users (around 10 people).While these methods may have some drawbacks, they’re still quite helpful in terms of providing a fair amount of guidance for your project if you’re in a pinch.Educating Clients and Stakeholders on the Value of UX ResearchFor many organizations, there might be a lot of difficulty in trying to change or update their process. At the same time, there might be others who believe they're already operating well. Some might even prefer sticking to the practices they're accustomed to, relying on analytics tools to retrieve data.Whichever kind of situation you’re in, there’s no doubt that any kind of change will be faced with some degree of concern and resistance. But, whether as a UX or product designer, you can go the extra mile to demonstrate to your client or stakeholder how research is an integral part of the process – one which serves as a means to understand the users’ problems and goals.UX research also helps define the scope of work so that teams are able to plan their MVP and the proceeding phases. Cutting UX research tools and techniques out of the project can have a detrimental impact on the quality of the final product.Investing in user experience research equips you better to validate your hypotheses and ideas so you may better understand your users’ needs.TakeawayIt’s essential to convey to stakeholders how assumptions about the users are causing more harm than good to their overall UX design process. The current bias found in most organizations needs to be put aside: business goals are NOT the same as user goals, and managers, project owners, and designers are NOT the end users. The end users are the people outside of your organization who will use the product - your actual customers.So what you need to ask yourself is: Are you building the right product for your user?Without knowing who your user is, you will fail to answer this question. Without knowing what works and what doesn’t, you’ll fail to build the right product.Fortunately, user experience research is a solution that gives us not statistics but valuable and vital insights that will prevent you from compromising on the quality of your product.And while you won't see this shift to more investment into UX research happening overnight, leading the discussion on the benefits of UX research can surely be a starting point for any project.FAQsWhat is the role of a UX researcher?A UX researcher's role is to study and find key insights about target users, like user behaviours, wants and needs, challenges, and motivations. Using both quantitative and qualitative UX research methods, a UX researcher will thoroughly research what users expect from products, services, applications, and websites and convey these insights to UX designers so they can design experiences that are more user-friendly.Why is UX research important?UX research is an integral part of the UX design process as it helps give a direction to your strategy as well as better define the goal(s) of a project that is more aligned with the users' wants and expectations. UX design research is a way to ensure that your designs aren't just based on your assumptions about what the user wants but accurate insights about what the users' actual problems and goals are.What does the UX research process include?The UX research process includes both quantitative and qualitative UX methods and various UX research tools to study the users and be able to extract the required insights about their behaviours, wants, needs, challenges, and expectations.What is the value of UX research?The value of UX research to the overall UX design process is most significant when it comes to addressing vital questions about the project, like what the goals are, what is the true challenge for users that we are trying to solve, and what users expect from the solution, etc. User experience research helps UX teams design solutions that are well-aligned with the actual situation of the end user rather than simply relying on assumptions about the users.
Why Ignoring User Experience Research is a Mistake
Is the MVP approach becoming irrelevant? The Minimum Viable Product approach (or MVP approach) for launching and scaling products has long been used by companies. But these days, you’ll see more MVPs failing to deliver on their promise.And that happens because the core focus is still on the minimum viable PRODUCT and not the minimum viable EXPERIENCE of the customer or user.That’s not to discredit the benefits of building an MVP lean product. The approach still:Is the quickest way to get feedback on your product idea and iterate to scale Helps minimize the risk of effort when compared to a product with all the intended features Aims to maximize the feedback from the customers with the LEAST effort. So what’s wrong with it?Why is the Minimum Viable Product NOT Viable Anymore?The usual approach for most companies is to work backward from their grand product vision by delivering a major part of the desired product. However, this minimum viable product approach doesn’t work anymore and is becoming irrelevant due to several factors:Saturated Competition in Most MarketsWhether it is the food delivery space or the ride-hailing market, competition is tough. Customers are more willing — and quicker — to switch for a better feature or customer experience. A great example of this is how a new player in the ride-hailing market called ‘InDriver’ has been able to capture the majority share by offering users the ability to negotiate a fare with the driver. Competitors like this make it tough for companies to stand out from the crowd and acquire customers.Customers’ Patience is DiminishingFor digital products, it is much easier to build and get your product in the hands of customers as the distribution costs are extremely low and acquiring customers is easy. However, the problem with this approach is that you can also lose customers just as fast. Customers these days are switching to faster and better competition for a better user experience than they currently have.Preference for Experience Over FeaturesIt is getting trickier to succeed with the minimum viable product approach as customers are less willing to stick around for just the functionalities and features of a product alone — and that is all the MVP focuses on. The MVP approach revolves around building a great product with the least features, but to make MVPs succeed, a lot more is needed to be packaged with the product to make customers stay, like complete customer journey mapping for one of the features being used, or a full-blown product catalog. MVPs generally succeed when they have an engaged user base that is willing to live with a satisfactory user experience and missing features in order to have a clear roadmap of improvement and feature launches that they want from your MVP.Failure to Build Desirable Brand ExperiencesThe minimum viable product approach is also failing these days as most MVPs that are being pushed into the market generally have a degraded brand experience. Tech companies, for example, focus on putting out innovative features faster so they can keep their targeted user base of early adopters engaged. In doing so, they often fail in acquiring early and late majority users because they fall short in building a desirable brand experience around their products, since their core focus is always on shipping the features.Enter: The Minimum Viable Experience (MVE)Where the MVP fails to account for the user experience, building a Minimum Viable Experience comes in.The MVE approach focuses on the whole customer experience. At its core, MVE looks at the experience of your users/customers, either with a replacement or with an existing product. It asks the very important question of “what is the minimum experience we can deliver that will still satisfy our customers?”Creating a minimum viable experience revolves around an end-to-end experience that resonates with the customer. It is akin to a full-stack effort: all elements like brand position, marketing, and design experience are in place to give early customers a great reason to try the product and get excited about it.The following chart explains the key elements of creating a successful Minimum Viable Experience, capturing the augmented emotional value as the experience matures:Minimum Viable Product Vs Minimum Viable ExperienceIn the minimum viable product approach, the product is launched faster and iterations are super fast as well.But customers want products that specifically fulfill their personalized needs — and this is the driving factor when engaging with early adopters, who will essentially convert into influencers for your brand. That’s why the Minimum Viable Experience vs traditional MVP argument is gaining so much traction these days.It’s not like product managers following the MVP approach don’t try to address all possible customer touchpoints. The problem is that all these touchpoints typically reside within the product. Therefore, the experience that a user gains from the product is limited to only one channel: the product, which itself is already at its minimum viability. However, this may not prove enough to satisfy the unique needs of modern users, which will ultimately impact the experience they derive from the product.To acquire early adopters and offer an experience that transforms them into advocates, these touchpoints need to extend beyond the main channel (or product). For example, leveraging social media channels, apps, helpdesks, and so forth to address a user’s product queries is a more effective way to address their need than a silo of information within the product.This is where the MVE approach proves most effective. It can not only meet user needs, but also help to capture useful metrics, analytics, behavior, and use it to keep evaluating the product and improving MVE.MVE In ActionIf we take a look at recent successful start-ups, one thing a lot of them will have in common is a core focus on the customer experience. A significant instance of this can be seen in the fintech space, where new companies are focusing on building a great customer experience around handling money by introducing convenient features that customers have been looking for all this time.The international money transfer app, Wise, which has a target market for freelancers earning foreign currency or remote workers, is a good minimum viable experience vs minimum viable product example. Customers can avail special exchange rates and minimal transaction fees as well as the ability to have an official account number or routing number in any country they want. This kind of experience has helped Wise quickly rise to the top of the international money transfer app market because it focused on the core needs of its target market and on offering a good customer experience around that.Their winning strategy? A deep focus on building the experience around essential money transfer features; instead of shipping the most features required for a money transfer app, they focused on creating a USP by doing the essential features in the best way.TakeawayIn the age of digital startups, if you lose focus from your customers and fail to understand their preferences and expectations from digital experiences, this article should be enough to show you how you’re missing out by not giving them the seamless user experience they wish to see.Fortunately, the MVE approach serves as a tool that you can use to understand your customers better and focus on building features that matter most to the customers, and the successful companies of today are doing just that.Amongst the biggest companies that have adopted and succeeded with the MVE approach is Apple, which is well-known for introducing features quite later than the competition but always providing augmented value to their customers solely through user experience.Have you tried building products using the MVE approach yet? If not, now’s a better time than any to get started because your customers will continue to put the user experience above the actual functionality of the product.Get in touch today to learn more about building the perfect MVE.Frequently Asked QuestionsWhat is the purpose of a minimum viable product?A product built around the MVP approach is intended to validate the product idea and attract early adopters very early in the product life cycle.What is MVP in product management?MVPs are designed with enough features and functionality to attract users before launching the full-scale product, offering a better idea of product success early on.What is a good minimum viable product example?Jeff Bezos initially founded Amazon as an online bookstore, which helped to validate the e-commerce purpose before it began transforming into the e-commerce giant it is today.Why do MVPs fail?Sub-par UX, ineffective pricing, addressing the wrong problem, and the presence of competing products can lead to MVP failure.What is an MVE?The MVE approach prioritizes user experience over functionality, aiming to create advocates among early adopters.Is MVP, MVE, or MAP the best approach?MVP, MVE, and MAP (Minimum Awesome Product) are all lean development approaches. MVP places a greater emphasis on features, while MVE gives more weight to user experience. MAP borrows elements from both MVP and MVE to create products that customers will refer to as “awesome”.
Is the Minimum Viable Product Irrelevant?
Would you be surprised to find that product companies lose over HALF of their users (52% to be exact, according to one study) during the first 90 days of their digital onboarding?While that is an alarmingly large number, I wasn’t surprised.That’s because I (and many others who design products) know this is often purely the result of poor digital onboarding, customer engagement, and support experience.And that begs the question…Why Is User Onboarding the Most Important Part of the Customer Journey?Digital onboarding, or user onboarding, is when your customers interact with your product or service and become more proficient in using it. This digital customer onboarding process is where users begin to familiarize themselves with your product, gauge whether or not it's easy to use, and decide if they want to adopt or abandon it. Product documentation can, quite literally, make or break this part of the customer journey.Each year, product teams spend millions of hours building new features that are never adopted by the majority of users, hence leading to very poor user adoption rates.Each year, support and success teams also spend thousands of hours creating product documentation that no one reads.In this article, you will learn how to create user-centric product training and support documentation in five steps using our learnings from Design Thinking so that you can help onboard new and support existing users efficiently.Challenges When Creating Effective Documentation for Digital OnboardingIn most companies, oftentimes teams will wait for the finalization of the features, screens, user journey, and the product itself before they begin the documentation work.There are several challenges when using this waterfall approach, such as:Delays in the readiness of the product training and support documentation. Greater risk of lack of due diligence from the team before creating the product training and support documentation Overlooking last-minute changes in the product training documentation, with the usually large volume of work pending the final stages. Greater risk of duplicated or redundant information as teams may not be in-sync so late in the process. Increased difficulty in tracking/communicating information scattered and buried across various tools (confluence, JIRA stories, release notes, Slack/Teams, etc.). Long-form documentation is harder to retain and not very effective for onboarding and supporting busy end-users. Information retention decreases with larger volumes. With an average attention span of less than 8 seconds, users retain information better when delivered in bite-sized chunks and through more engaging formats. Creating documentation that is ineffective. As a result of skipping the pre-work step, the documentation may not meet or support the requirements of the end-users. In certain cases, the product and support teams may end up creating documentation that delivers poor customer adoption rates because of a reduced focus on the user’s requirements. This can impair product performance, uptake, and ultimately, the success of new rollouts. Our 5-Step Process of Creating Training and Support Documentation for Digital OnboardingMany teams consider the training documentation to be separate from the product, which, based on my experience, is the first mistake they make.Just as digital onboarding is not isolated from the user experience, product documentation cannot be treated in isolation from your product.Product Training Documentation, or Product Documentation (as it should be properly addressed) is, and should always be, considered a key part and feature of the product.Just like any other feature, product documentation has an important role to play in the overall Product Mission, Strategy, and Goals. Therefore, any product documentation should always:Be developed keeping the needs of the end users in mind Have its own KPIs and metrics to measure its success and adapt as needed using data-driven decisions Follow all the stages of product development (see Figure 1).Figure 1. 5-step process to creating successful product training and support documentation.In the next few sections, we will cover all these stages in the context of developing product (training and support) documentation to support better user onboarding outcomes.DiscoverIn his famous book, INSPIRED, Marty Cagan talks about the four big risks in product development:Value risk Usability risk Feasibility risk Business viability risk The first step to building successful products is all about minimizing these risks. And creating training and support documentation that delivers more efficient digital onboarding is no different.In order to do that, it is imperative to first understand the problem your product is solving (the what) and for whom. The how is what you intend to create as an end result. We take a top-down approach to achieve that end result (see Figure 2).Figure 2. Product Documentation, like any other feature, has a part to play in the overall Product Mission, Strategy, and Goals and should be prepared in alignment with the overall Product Strategy.By aligning your approach with the product strategy, the documentation you end up creating can play its part in helping you achieve your product goals.Take, for example, PackageX, which solves the last yard delivery problem with the goal of making the mailroom operations more efficient. One of the key KPIs, when I was managing the product, was to reduce the end-to-end time it took for a mailroom supervisor to process mail. With this in mind, we spent most of our efforts training the users on more efficient workflows rather than simpler/more intuitive workflows to achieve the same result.In essence, along with the specific documentation KPIs, the product goals should remain the north stars throughout the digital customer onboarding process.Identifying What to Include in Product TrainingUnderstanding your target users is the most important consideration you have to make during this step. Most of the steps you’d need to take here are the same as in a standard user research exercise for a product (and you can definitely reuse some of the existing information already available from the product discovery stage). But you might want to extend the scope of your target audience to both internal and external stakeholders.While the main users of your product are often limited to the ones who are interfacing with the product on a day-to-day basis, the product documentation caters to a more diverse audience.In the case of most B2B products, it has a key role to play during the purchase cycle to help the key stakeholders make the buying decision in comparison to other available options.On the other hand, it also caters to the needs of the internal team to consult as needed during the team onboarding and query resolution process.Understanding the training needs of all the different stakeholders at each step of the training journey allows you to get a holistic view of the requirements that should feed into your plan (see Figure 3).Figure 3. Training Journey Needs Matrix captures the training needs of all the product stakeholders (both internal and external) along their digital onboarding and usage journey.Design and SolutioningIn light of the needs of all the stakeholders captured above, at this step we move forward to find the solution to solve for success. Designing the training and support experience for a product is often constrained by a number of factors and will vary from product to product. There is no one-size-fits-all solution in this case.For example, if you feel that your product’s features can easily be copied by your competitors, you often don’t want to make your training guides public to everyone. In such cases, the entire digital onboarding and training experience is usually designed for in-person interactions with your user (e.g. on-call or in-person demos) or accessible only through a secure login (e.g. a private knowledgebase).Combining the needs with the constraints at each stage of the training journey will help you design an experience that is valuable for your users, as well as feasible.In this stage, you may also need to define the different formats and mediums of training and tools to be used at each step of the training user journey (see Figure 4) during their digital onboarding. For example, a user looking to purchase a product subscription will have very different needs versus a user who has already been using a product for a year. The training needs can be different at each step, so each step demands its own full attention.Figure 4. Training Formats Canvas builds from the Training Journey Needs Matrix and establishes how each product documentation format will play its part in covering the user needs at each training stage.While it’s very tempting to propose different formats/mediums for each step or need, it can very quickly become unsustainable for your teams to keep all the different formats updated and in sync with the latest product updates.Therefore, finding the right balance between reusability and specialized solutions for each need is absolutely crucial.In the case of multiple formats and mediums, duplication can become a valid concern. However, designing a master content reusability architecture that allows asset sharing between different formats will play a huge role in avoiding duplication of work by your teams. This can further improve the digital onboarding experience for customers.It is also important to choose the right documentation tools to develop and distribute the content to your users at each step of the training journey. The combination of the right tool, the right architectural decisions in content creation, and the right digital onboarding solution will enable you to manage future updates to your content efficiently.Develop and TestHow many times did you have to delay the launch of a feature because the support content was not ready or released a feature with the support content getting pushed separately?Most companies create training documentation for digital onboarding in a traditional waterfall manner, where a feature is developed first by the development teams, and the documentation work begins after that, or very late in the process.This approach is often preferred by teams who fear duplication of work because of changes along the way. But the downside is that it often causes communication slippages, resulting in delays in documentation readiness as too much work is left towards the end.This goes back to the root cause of the product teams not considering training and support documentation as another feature of the product but only as an after-thought.Product documentation should therefore be developed in a truly agile manner, in sync with the product development (see Figure 5). The team preparing the product training documentation (usually the support and success team) should be embedded into all the development teams’ scrum ceremonies to collect first-hand information, starting with the backlog grooming and sprint planning sessions to generate their own documentation and sprint backlog.The day-to-day changes in the sprint plan are captured through a presence in the daily standups and weekly demos to ensure that the final draft of the documentation sprint is in perfect sync with the development release.Figure 5. Agile documentation generation in sync with the development stream.Before initiating mass content development for digital onboarding, it is important to structure the document hierarchy and establish documentation guidelines to follow throughout the process to ensure consistency between different team members.On a broader level, the guidelines for an effective digital onboarding solution should at least cover the following areas:Content templates and structure to follow for each type of format (including sections and components to use, and for what specific purpose) Style guidelines (fonts, colors, etc.) Language and accessibility best practices Naming and versioning conventions Content reuse strategy (often starting from the more comprehensive format to the lesser one) Content archiving plan Role differentiation Glossary - system terms to use Content localization plan Review process Publishing checklists During the development process, in addition to the peer reviews and proofreading stages, I have found usability testing of the documentation to be really helpful. Getting early feedback from the actual users often helps identify blind spots early in the process.Sample Test Scenario 1As a user, you want to learn about X topic. Without using the search option, can you find the relevant section of the documentation?This often helps identify the issues in the documentation hierarchy. If the user ends up taking a lot of time navigating to the right section, then you probably need to reorganize your sections so that it is more intuitive to locate relevant information.Sample Test Scenario 2As a user, you are facing a problem Y and you land on article Z. How long does it take you to find the answer you are looking for?I often frame such questions to test the templates, identify any clutter and improve the signal-to-noise ratio.Other tests include verifying the verbiage and system terms used in the documentation. These tests can be carried out as early as the Design and Solutioning stage.ReleaseAs it always happens in startups launching MVPs, while working with one of my previous teams, we launched a product with very minimal training documentation. The idea was to handhold the initial users until there was enough bandwidth available for that work.However, as many friends with startup experience can relate, when you push an item down the backlog queue, it, more often than not, stays buried under the pile.In our case, it wasn’t until another six months before we were able to publish it for our users. When it was launched, it took us considerable effort to create awareness and promote adoption and ensure the digital onboarding went smoothly.Here are some of my learnings from that experience:Readiness: Ensure that your training documentation is ready from Day 1. After that, it will be very hard to inculcate the self-serve habit in your users if they have been spoonfed too much in the beginning. Visibility: If the training content is hosted on a separate URL, make sure that it has some visibility inside the application as well, e.g. Help icon redirect. Communication: Whenever possible, ensure recurring communications are sent out to new and existing users on all communication channels (push notifications, emails, text, social media, website, etc.) with self-serve links. Reinforcement: The sales and support teams should be trained to reinforce the adoption of the product documentation by pointing the user to relevant resources during their digital onboarding journey instead of sharing answer excerpts directly. Evaluate and IterateAs the famous saying goes, you can only improve what you measure.Like any other product feature, product documentation should have its own KPIs and be evaluated regularly to determine ways to improve its efficacy for digital onboarding.Below are some key metrics that often come built-in with most online tools and can help you evaluate and improve the performance of your product training documentation as well as the product:Adoption and Awareness: No matter how much visibility you ensure for your help content, there will always be users who would say they never knew about it. A bi-annual survey to evaluate the awareness of the product documentation can be useful to gauge where you stand. Engagement: This is primarily dependent on the choice of your formats and tools. Most online knowledgebase tools provide insights into article views, time spent on each article, clicks, videos played, etc. However, better engagement (views) doesn’t necessarily signify better content. It might often be the case that a poorly written article on a very common challenge in the application gets a lot of views but doesn’t help anyone with the resolution. Therefore, it is essential to interpret the engagement metrics in combination with the effectiveness metrics. Effectiveness: To actually understand the effectiveness of a particular content piece, the most reliable metric is often the reduction in support tickets related to that category. You can also collect immediate contextual feedback from the users on each content piece in the form of upvotes or ratings (also supported by most online tools).Moreover, oftentimes the terms used in the help content do not resonate with your users. While the search engine often helps to an extent by extending search results based on synonymous terms, it is entirely possible that the users don’t get the information they are looking for during their digital onboarding, even if it is already there. Even worse, it is also possible that you and your team had a blind spot and overlooked a particular help topic entirely. In such cases, it is helpful to observe the data of search terms coming from your users and evaluate them against the number of responses or the clickthrough rate on the responses.In addition to the quantitative metrics, digital onboarding can further be optimized by getting qualitative feedback from the users every now and then and adapting the content for the digital onboarding process with an aim to improve the above metrics.Moreover, training documentation can also be used as a tool to improve other product KPIs. For example, you can leverage application usage analytics to identify problem areas during digital onboarding, where the users are getting stuck, or where the users need more help and use the training documentation to overcome these issues by creating more awareness about them.In the same manner, the analytics from the training documentation and digital onboarding process can also feed back into the product. For example, if there is a particular article or section of the help documentation that is getting high engagement, maybe it’s time to relook at the UX or the journey in the application itself.The feedback and evaluation from this stage should feed into the documentation stream backlog and be used in retrospective and planning sessions to update the content strategy, the writing procedures, and, of course, the content itself for smoother digital onboarding.TakeawayFor any new product or feature you launch, digital onboarding will undoubtedly define how well your customers respond to what you’re offering. As we discussed above, product training plays a critical role in ensuring that this digital onboarding journey of the user is efficient and boosts the customer adoption rate rather than leading to abandonment.Let’s summarize the five steps we used to create user-centric product training documentation in an agile manner:Discover Design and solutioning Develop and Test Release Evaluate Our approach borrows from design thinking concepts to create this documentation, keeping all types of users in consideration and user understanding and adoption as the focal point during the whole process. The best kind of product training documentation for digital onboarding is that which addresses the users directly using your product as well as those who are looking for your product, so it’s vital to approach documentation with this lens, understanding the different needs of your users.The next time your team gets into product development, instead of overlooking the digital onboarding and training experience and following traditional methods of documentation that won’t help users understand your product, use our agile five-step approach instead to engage with customers.
User-centric Training Documentation For Effective Digital Onboarding
Whenever you’re tasked with a new project, what’s the first thing you do?Surely, whether you’re a UX designer, a manager, or a stakeholder in the project, your first step would almost always comprise the ideation phase.But while most companies will follow through with the ideation process, there’s one very important step they’ll often skip – and in my opinion, it’s definitely NOT something to miss out on if you want to get a clear direction for the project right at the beginning.I’m talking about storyboarding for user experience design, and in this article, you’ll learn exactly what a UX storyboard is, how to build one, and why it is essential to create a logical story that has:a strong plot a structured narrative a focus on the main goal you’re trying to achieve What is Storyboarding in UX Design?A storyboard is a powerful visual communications tool to improve user stories by making them more authentic, emotional, simple, and clear. The underlying philosophy being that visual representations offer a far easier way to see elements making up the “big picture” than a text-based document.First used in the early 1930s by filmmakers and animators at Walt Disney, a visual storyboard served as a means to graphically represent scenarios that contain a sequence of a few events. IN UX design, storyboards are therefore a natural fit when it comes to representations of user interfaces, user events, new features, etc.One of the first storyboards used by Walt Disney in the 1930sSource: Disneyparks.disney.go.comStorytelling and Storyboarding in UX DesignA UX storyboard helps strengthen your research phase by exploring and visually predicting the user experience and interaction with a product over time, giving designers a clear sense of the user’s priorities and goals even before the product or service is launched.Storyboarding is a quick way to demonstrate how someone might interact with a future service or product. Through visual storytelling, you can easily set the ground for the whole team to come together and quickly grasp the essential aspects of the project – like the target audience, the occasion, and the goal.A storyboard starts off with a simple rough sketch and ideally includes not more than four to six scenes to show the story – that’s what makes it so easy to work with and what makes it important to carry out right in the early stages of the ideation phase so that the entire team can get a direction for the project from the very beginning.Besides having a strong visual presence that boosts engagement within the team and helps store information in the brain long term through visual elements, storyboarding in UX design also breeds an emotional connect and appeal. This equips team members better to put themselves in their target audience’s shoes and visualize the user experience.It’s important to note here that storytelling and storyboarding in UX design is not the same as mapping out user journeys:What is the difference between user journey and storyboards?The most important distinction between a user journey and a UX storyboard lies in their content; while storyboarding in UX design comprises visual representations of the main events of a scenario, user journeys are far more detailed and contain complex, textual information about the process that your customer will be going through in order to achieve a goal.To understand this distinction more simply, look at a UX storyboard as a tool that captures a fragment of the entire user journey.A UX storyboard is, most of the time, a rough, informal illustration to set the context of the project by providing a scenario (story) visually so that the whole team can get the right direction of the project from the get-go before getting into action.A user journey, on the other hand, doesn’t just draw on high-level emotions or ideas of one particular situation but, in fact, extensively details the insights from various stages of the user’s journey of experiencing the product/ service till the time they achieve their goal with it.When and Why You Would Need To Use Storyboarding in UX DesignStoryboarding in design thinking is done early in the design process, typically during the ideation or discovery phase. The main reason for early storyboarding is to gather insights from the team and see if everyone is striving towards the same goal while ensuring that the user needs are being considered explicitly. Storyboarding in UX design, in turn, creates a way for teams to collaborate and find new solutions for users by staying aligned on a shared thinking and vision about the user experience.That answers WHEN storyboarding should take place, but what about WHY it’s even needed?Here are some of the biggest reasons why storyboarding in UX design can be the most vital step in your ideation process:Human-centered Design ApproachWhile storyboarding in UX design, the people are central to the design process. Stories put a human face to user data, analytics, and research findings.User FlowDesigners always think about their users and put themselves in their shoes to see how users interact with the product. This approach enables the designers to fully understand any existing interaction scenarios as well as test predictions about potential new ones.‘Pitch and Critique’ MethodSince storyboarding in UX design is a collaborative effort, it provides everyone a chance to contribute to the activity. This results in a clearer picture of what should be developed and promoted as new design concepts. Each scene of the UX storyboard should be analyzed to allow team players to leave their reviews and create insights.Iterative ApproachStoryboarding is heavily reliant on an iterative approach; sketching out a UX storyboard helps designers experiment with a variety of things with very little or no cost at all when it comes to testing multiple design ideas simultaneously. Since these sketches are so quick and rough, nobody gets too attached or connected to the ideas that are generated.How Do You Create A UX Storyboard?While it’s mostly an informal activity, you can still structure your storyboard in a way that helps you and your team fully reap its benefits.Structure of a StoryboardBefore you start directing your storyboard, you will need to ensure that you understand all the basics of the story.Understanding the story in its entirety and then breaking it up into pieces can help you approach it in the best and most convincing way possible. For a story to be considered well-structured, it should have a comprehensive beginning, middle, and ending, in addition to the main elements that every storyboard must comprise.A UX Design Storyboard illustrated in 4 scenes to showcase each stepMain elements of a UX storyboardThe CharacterYour character – or the persona – is the central figure or hero of your story. Everything associated with your persona is very crucial, for example, behavior, feelings, expectations, and decisions made by the focal person. It is also essential to reveal the mindset of your character completely in order to illustrate the situation best. Address questions like:What is the problem faced by the main person? How is the problem resolved? What are the needs/wants of the main character? What are the goals/clear outcomes to be achieved from the whole scenario? The SceneYou will need to have a realistic, recognizable, and relevant environment for your persona to live and thrive in this scenario. The scene is the space that the character finds himself or herself in.The Plot and NarrativeThe plot needs to be highly convincing, simplistic, and realistic in nature. The narration of the story must be focused on the goal of the character in the plot.Your plot should start with an event and end with a benefit or a solution to the problem that the persona will be facing in the scenario There must be a clear conclusion to the persona’s journey so that lessons are learned and assimilated by the project team.To structure your plot better, you can use Freytag’s Pyramid, which shows the following five acts:Exposition Rising Action Climax Falling Action (or final suspense and resolution) and Denouement (Conclusion) Freytag’s Pyramid TemplateFreytag’s Pyramid Template indicating all steps in beginning, middle, and end stagesTakeawayIn this entire article, we discussed what a UX storyboard is, when you would need a visual storyboard, how storytelling and storyboarding in UX design are carried out, and why storyboarding is needed.To sum up this entire lesson on storyboarding in UX design, here are some key takeaways to keep in mind before you get into your next project:A UX storyboard assists in getting a good understanding of the people you’re designing for. One cannot understand good design if they do not understand people. Storyboarding in UX design is an outstanding visual tool for designers to bring conceptual ideas to life before they start ideating with their team. Designers put themselves in the user’s shoes, visualize their product journey, and address the pain points through visual communications tools such as a UX storyboard.
Storyboarding in UX Design: Learning the What, When, Why, and How
The Quick Starter Guide to GraphQL
“Hi Kelly! Can we do an early beta launch of our product? Let’s move up the timelines by two weeks and launch it! This way we can call it more Agile too.”Peter, an eager and driven manager with a lot of experience in managing teams of product managers and scrum masters, expected to engage Kelly in a discussion on being more Agile.However, Kelly doesn’t fully agree, neither with the approach nor with terming it as being more “agile”.“Peter, I’m sure you wouldn't want to give your customers a product with incomplete user journeys. We prioritized just these three features for the launch and completing these will be the bare minimum we can achieve from our products. Shipping products with bad experiences will make the LEAST Agile sense.”, Kelly retaliated at Peter's suggestion for reducing timelines.Kelly is a seasoned product manager who, since joining the company four years ago, has expanded her portfolio to be the major contributor to company revenues. Working on this project for the last eight months, she has been trying desperately to upskill the cross-functional team to be more Agile.In theory, this is the same direction that Peter and his organization are moving towards in efforts to increase innovation and experimentation. Peter, with his diverse experience, has successfully delivered multiple programs in both conventional and digital products for the company over the years.But as far as this product launch is concerned, Kelly and Peter are on two very different pages about what Agile practice actually looks like:“Kelly, this is not the Agile thinking the management is trying to preach. You’re talking about the same old waterfall mindset. Agile means, quick, very quick, and in doing so if things get a bit dirty, it shouldn't matter. We already researched the product in depth and now I feel you are not confident about it anymore.”, replied Peter.Kelly argues that the research has established the product need, but if shipped with incomplete information and journeys, they risk running into the first mover disadvantage. Trying to explain this to Peter, she responds that two weeks is not going to make a major difference. “I am not encouraging perfect and flawless products but at the least we should offer complete user journeys to our customers.”By this point, Peter has already lost his patience. “Okay, here’s the deal. I have already promised the management that we will deliver the product earlier than planned. Either you commit to this or I can ask for someone else to deliver it.”, he threatens.This whole situation sums up what the ’Agile Paradox’ looks like, and it’s not just Peter and Kelly who have fallen victim to it – this is exactly the dilemma that many organizations undergoing Agile Transformation face. Organizations, while being deeply focused on Agile processes, roadmaps, strategies and efficiency, tend to ignore the behavioral, softer side of Agile: The People.And while companies think they’re practicing Agile, in reality, they’re far from understanding what Agile actually is, and what it is not.What Agile Is NotIn principle, Agile is NOT the organizational ability to practice, but rather, it is the dire need of organizations to reduce uncertainty pertaining to customer preferences, technological innovations, changing market dynamics, regulatory dissonance, and, most importantly, the organizational ability & skillset to deliver in a less risky environment.To enable organizations to deliver the most certain and viable product, the product is shipped in bits and pieces that are complete in themselves in serving one or more customers’ needs.What Must Businesses do for a Successful Agile Transformation Strategy?Agile shouldn’t just be undertaken as a strategic stint to overcome the ever-increasing costs of product development. It should be taken as an iterative approach where changes in processes are accommodated as you design the culture or the organizations, deriving behaviors that are consistent with agile practices, and defining structures that help with ‘Kaizen’s continuous improvement’ – or in other words, ‘Investing in People’. How do lean-thinking people and Agile teams enable organizational agility?Simply put, organizational agility can be achieved by taking these steps:Breaking down a large problem into smaller ones Then, through ‘Service Design’, identifying the most impactful ones to be solved for the customer Then using ‘System Design’ to identify the most impactful ones for the business Finally, delivering those smaller problems in an iterative manner, and continuously improving the ones already delivered in parallel to the newly identified ones.Agile People Over ProcessesWithout investing in your people, you might be able to somehow implement Agile through process enforcement, but you won’t be practicing it in essence, and hence your Agile transformation strategy would not be sustainable.Understanding that Agile is not just about Agile processes, but in fact it is about Agile people over processes, is the first step in the right direction if your organization is building an agile business strategy. But how do you truly implement and practice the Agile strategy framework within your culture and people?These interconnected soft elements are the very basis for building a truly Agile organization:Autonomy Unsolicited collaboration Strategic alignment Clarity in roles and communication TrustAutonomyThe core focus of an Agile strategy framework should be on giving autonomy to your people.Your Agile adoption strategy can only be successful when smaller connected groups of people at the execution level of the organization are able to take decisions with just the right amount of strategic guidance. This includes all decisions pertaining to product design, research and development. So, while the managers still play the lead role, this role is principally to provide directions and guidelines and to check the work of the people – the executioners – by shifting accountability on them.Hence, in a truly Agile set-up, the decision-making would be based on the expertise of the people, and regardless of the strategic ambition of your Agile work processes, this autonomy has to be given, in one way or another, to the people who are actually executing the job.Unsolicited CollaborationMany organizations that have successfully created guilds, tribes, and squads in efforts to enrich their culture with a more “collaborative” spirit are actually failing at sustaining these formal and informal groups.The reason behind this is the lack of an environment to facilitate purpose-driven collaboration with autonomy in the hands of the people doing the work. Most of these organizations will create forums where people are tasked with sharing the same functional expertise at least once a month, but most of the time this doesn’t work unless there is a major push from the leaders.If these collaboration forums, instead, become the center of cross-functional or functional value-addition, they’re much more likely to sustain and perform without a formal process dictating these interactions.In the Agile way of working, such unsolicited collaboration that is others-driven rather than process-driven, will serve as a constant source of learning, equipping your people with the ability to make adjustments to their work as they carry out their tasks. Strategic AlignmentIt is important to understand that Agile is not just the measure of the organizational capability to act fast, but also a primary driver for achieving strategic ambitions through innovation and experimentation. While keeping the main focus on strategic enablers, organizations can work swiftly towards validating and invalidating uncertainties to make sure the strategic objectives at the end of the day are crisp and clear.When devising an agile strategy, all elements that are necessary to the success of the organization should be considered a part of the strategy. If we consider the element of collaboration discussed above, in an Agile framework, these collaborative forums would actually be showcasing how people are achieving business success and strategic goals of the organization at large, not simply chasing the assigned KPIs by their managers.This is what makes your Agile transformation strategy sustainable, and such strategic alignment is what every organization must strive to implement within their teams.Clarity in Roles and CommunicationCommunication in Agile teams is vital, especially when providing clarity across the roles, defining the responsibilities of the people, and ensuring that the people who are actually doing the job are well aware of their KPIs, their practices, and get enough time to work on their tasks.Agile processes are focused towards removing impediments in processes – like duplication of efforts and siloism – while bringing clarity in the roles for each individual.Such clarity can only be achieved autonomously through establishing a culture that is visited and evaluated unbiasedly at regular intervals. This Agile practice improves the use of communication channels for various organizational needs, focusing on the training and development of people and redefining formal and informal communication mediums and organizational structures to strengthen the agile-based culture. TrustTrust is an outcome of all the four variables discussed above, and it is definitely not built by top-down directions.In fact, trust is built through collaboration that is unsolicited in nature, complimented by autonomy and clarity in the roles of the people towards the strategic ambitions of the organization. Once this trust is instilled and ingrained in the organization at different levels, agility is established.TakeawayWhile most organizations focus on Agile processes, tools, and education, there is another world of soft elements of Agile that focuses on people, their behaviors, communication formalities, trust, and servant leadership.The leaders of the organization cannot ignore their people, and without instilling the right culture and values across your people, you cannot establish or implement a sustainable Agile transformation strategy. Trust is built when your people are not accountable to serve the leadership, but rather the overarching strategy of the business – and It is only when you set up such a high-trust team that you can truly be self-sustaining.So, let’s be Agile, but not at the cost of people.
People: The Neglected Side of Agile
Unlock the Hidden Features of Bootstrap 5 (and How To Use Them)
Committed to service excellence and driven by a culture of innovation, the company maintained the Gold Standard recognition for overall business performance.Toronto, ON—May 10, 2022—For the sixth year in a row, mobileLIVE is once again recognized for overall business performance and sustained growth. This year, mobileLIVE not only earned the prestigious Canada’s Best Managed Companies designation but also maintained its status as a Best Managed Gold Standard company.“Now in its 29th year, the Best Managed program seeks to recognize companies who combine strategic expertise and a culture of innovation with a steadfast commitment to their communities,” said Derrick Dempster, Partner, Deloitte Private and Co-Leader, Canada’s Best Managed Companies program. “This year’s winners demonstrated an increased focus on environmental, social, and governance issues. They maintained an unwavering dedication to their core purpose, enhancing client relationships and cultivating a healthy corporate culture.”Winning the Best Managed award puts mobileLIVE amongst the best-in-class of Canadian-owned and managed companies – companies that have achieved sustainable growth through demonstrated leadership in areas of strategy, capabilities and innovation, culture and commitment, and financial management.“By prioritizing employee well-being and championing their professional development, we are on course for continuous improvement,” said Jahan Ali, CEO and Founder of mobileLIVE. “Today marks a very important milestone in recognizing these priorities. With innovation at our core and the right culture, we are driving sustainable growth.”Every year, hundreds of entrepreneurial companies compete for this designation in a rigorous and independent process that evaluates the calibre of their management abilities and practices. Applicants are evaluated by an independent judging panel comprised of representatives from program sponsors in addition to special guest judges. 2022 Best Managed companies share commonalities that include (but are not limited to) putting their people and culture at the forefront, focusing on their ESG strategies and doubling down on accelerated digitization.“The pandemic has changed the way businesses operate and these winners have responded by transforming and pivoting their companies so that they are leading the way forward for the future,” said Dino Medves, Senior Vice President and Head, CIBC Commercial Banking (a sponsor of Deloitte). 2022 winners of Canada’s Best Managed Companies award will be honoured at galas across the country. The Best Managed program is sponsored by Deloitte Private, CIBC, The Globe and Mail, Salesforce, and TMX Group. About Canada’s Best Managed CompaniesCanada’s Best Managed Companies continues to be the mark of excellence for Canadian-owned and managed companies with revenues over $50 million. Every year since the launch of the program in 1993, hundreds of entrepreneurial companies have competed for this designation in a rigorous and independent process that evaluates their management skills and practices. The awards are granted on four levels: 1) Canada’s Best Managed Companies new winner (one of the new winners selected each year); 2) Canada’s Best Managed Companies winner (award recipients that have re-applied and successfully retained their Best Managed designation for two additional years, subject to annual operational and financial review); 3) Gold Standard winner (after three consecutive years of maintaining their Best Managed status, these winners have demonstrated their commitment to the program and successfully retained their award for 4 -6 consecutive years); 4) Platinum Club member (winners that have maintained their Best Managed status for seven years or more). Program sponsors are Deloitte Private, CIBC, The Globe and Mail, Salesforce and TMX Group. For more information, visit www.bestmanagedcompanies.ca
mobileLIVE maintains Best Managed Gold Standard, awarded Canada’s Best Managed for Sixth Consecutive Year
What are UX Metrics? Types of Metrics Three UX Metrics For Usability Testing UX Metrics Test Plan Template TakeawayWhen we talk about UX & design, we often discuss research, research-led design, usability studies, and user experience trends. However, while we often finish these discussions with several exciting learnings, we find all of them battling for our attention.How do you prioritize your work and understand the value a design change could bring to you?The simple answer? UX Metrics.What are UX Metrics?Metrics help support design changes while also allowing UX teams to choose the most critical problems in their product usability. Usually, this framework is used to measure the enterprise user experience so that we can talk with the users and gather vital information from them.A metric is a measure that we can track, and in this context, a 'measure' is the detection of change. Similar to the multitude of metrics that businesses use, such as sales and retention rates, there are several types of UX metrics.(Diagram by Mark G Brown)Types of MetricsConsider UX metrics as your key performance indicators (KPIs). The KPIs for UX/UI design are of different types, each of which focuses on a distinct area:Usability MetricsThese are descriptive metrics that look at how easily users complete a task or event. Commonly tracked indicators like ease-of-use rating, time on task, task success rate, etc., are used to measure the ease of task completion. Advanced usability metrics may also track interaction patterns.Engagement MetricsThese measure user perception: how users interact with your software, app, or website. They include page views, scrolls, event streams, the time it takes per interaction and the attitude of the occurred interaction.Conversion MetricsThese measure the outcome of the experience by focusing on smaller groups of users that you can engage for prolonged and retained use of your product to get insights like conversion rates or Net Promoter Score (NPS).Three UX Metrics For Usability TestingYou might be familiar with some common usability testing metrics and the frameworks that use them.However, in this article, we’re only talking about the ones that:Are both time and cost-efficient and were found to be the most effective at providing accurate results – without needing a large sample size of participants!These methods listed below were handpicked after we tried them out and used them to conduct our own usability testing on a very complex Enterprise Product that we were working on.1- Single Ease Question or SEQ (Post Task Questionnaire)The Single Ease Question (SEQ) is a UX performance metric that uses a seven-point scale to rate how difficult users are finding a task. Here’s an example of what this scale may look like:ExampleOverall, how difficult or easy was it to complete the task? Rate your experience using the seven-point scale below.During usability testing, users are given a post-task questionnaire with this rating scale right after attempting a task to best capture the user’s impression and experience of the task. Since most usability-study sessions will involve many individual tasks, each task followed by such a questionnaire will allow you to extract and record several subjective answers from each user.Collecting Responses of SEQ through Google FormPost-task questionnaires should be short – ideally one to three questions – in order to allow minimum interference with the user flow during a testing session.The SEQ Google Form Survey looks like this.Interpreting SEQ ScoresOnce user responses are collected, you can track the answers using this UX Metrics Scorecard.You can then interpret these scores on an SEQ Percentile Rank Scale:On average, SEQ scores fall between approximately 5.3 and 5.6, which is above the midpoint of 4 on the seven-point scale.One issue of the SEQ as a diagnostic tool is that the questionnaire can lead to users finding it hard to recognize and differentiate the complexity of finishing a task from the actual problems experienced while completing it. So, it is recommended to ask a follow-up question: “What is the primary reason for your score?”Benefits of Using SEQThe SEQ method is very useful for two reasons:Since it is conducted right after task completion, the SEQ method gathers users' immediate thoughts and impressions, as the experience is still fresh in their minds. Hence, the participants can clearly assess how they felt during the experience without any other tasks or thoughts hindering their memory. With the data being collected right after every task, the SEQ method allows easy comparison of the most problematic issues in your workflows for every task.Post-task questionnaires should be short – ideally not more than 1 to 3 questions – in order to allow minimum interference with the user flow during a testing session.Note: There are many user testing platforms like User Testing, Usabilla, or Maze that can help you measure task time and success. The UX metrics methods quoted above are what we used for an Enterprise Product.2- System Usability Scale or SUS (Post Test Questionnaire)A post-test questionnaire, the System Usability Scale contains ten different questions. Each of these questions has five responses – from strongly agree to strongly disagree – to gauge the usability and learnability of the system.ExampleAs the name suggests, this post-test questionnaire is given out at the end of a session after participants have completed all tasks in the usability test.According to an article on perceived usability published by the Nielsen Norman Group, post-test questionnaires "reflect how your users perceive the usability of your website or app as a whole". They are meant to capture this assessment from the perspective of the user, including "their lasting overall impressions". The impressions on your users of the experience as a whole are subject to something known as the peak-end effect, which is that "the most intense and last parts of the experience, either positive or negative, impact the participants' recollections and evaluations the most".Conducting Usability Session by SUS through Google FormTo conduct the usability session by SUS, here’s the Google Form Survey you can use.The formula used to score SUS is as follows:For odd items: subtract 1 from the user response. For even items: subtract user responses from 5. This will scale all values from 0 to 4 (with 4 indicating the most positive response). Add up all of the converted responses from each user and multiply the total by 2.5. This will convert the range of all possible values from 0 to 100 instead of from 0 to 40. Formula:Interpreting SUS ScoresJust as we did in SEQ, a UX Metrics Scorecard is used here as well, which looks like this.Based on research, a SUS score above 68 would be considered above average, and anything below 68 is below average.In order to have the usability of your site be in the top 10% of all sites, you'd require a score of 80 or higher, while a score of 73 would put you only in the top 30%.The best method of interpreting your score is through the process of normalization, in which the scores are converted to a percentile rank. The grading scale below shows how the percentile ranks can be associated with SUS scores and letter grades to interpret the results.Benefits of Using SUSWith references in more than 1300 publications and articles, the SUS method has made its mark as an industry standard.Some of the noted benefits of using SUS, according to usability.gov, are:It is relatively a very easy scale to apply to participants It provides reliable results even when administered on small sample sizes It is very valid in that it effectively differentiates between usable and unusable systems. 3- Usability Metric for User Experience (UMUX)A result of research at the Intel Corporation in 2010, the UMUX method came about as a replacement for the SUS to create a tool that was not just shorter than the SUS but also conformed to the ISO 9241–11 definition of usability (i.e., effectiveness, efficiency, satisfaction).Interpreting Score of UMUXA result of research at the Intel Corporation in 2010, the UMUX method came about as a replacement for the SUS to create a tool that was not just shorter than the SUS but also conformed to the ISO 9241–11 definition of usability (i.e., effectiveness, efficiency, satisfaction).The UMUX method is used for testing perceived usability via a four-item questionnaire. Scores are measured on a seven-point option scale, which goes from Strongly Disagree (1) to Strongly Agree (7), and the scores range from 0 to 100.Interpreting UMUX ScoresThe UMUX is best used after a usability test in the following way:Determine what method you will use to distribute the questionnaire. A pen and paper will suffice for in-person testing, but you can use an online survey tool for remote testing. While scoring UMUX, odd items are scored as [score — 1], while even items as [7 — score]. The scores are summed up, and the total is then divided by 24 and multiplied by 100.To conduct a usability audit, we always let users know as much as possible about all the scenarios, tasks, participants, and facilitators, as well as provide them with brief information within the given time.UX Metrics Test Plan TemplateHere is a sample usability test plan template to use before conducting Usability Testing.TakeawayThere are many factors that come into play when deciding what metrics will work best for you; the ones discussed in this article were shortlisted because they were found to be the most time-effective and easily compatible with smaller sample sizes of participants.As is the case with many other UX researchers and designers, budget-friendliness was also a very important reason we ranked these methods at the top. If cost-efficiency is something you’re concerned with, you’ll appreciate this article about Usability Testing on a Budget.All in all, UX performance metrics are vital in UX research, particularly as a KPI for UX UI design. But it is also equally important to understand why UX metrics are used and which ones to use at what stage of your usability testing process will ultimately pave the way for you to achieve your main goal: consistently providing an unforgettable user experience.
Top 3 UX Metrics For Testing Product Usability
Part 1: The Challenge and Our North Star The Challenge Every now and then, we see designers wasting their time creating UI flow diagrams inside slide decks and whiteboard tools to show UX/UI design to executives or senior management. Designers are also at times found giving walkthroughs of their design files to every member on their team, then to all product managers, then to all developers, then to all the people who missed those calls, and it goes on and on until the end of time. When we have designers working repeatedly on these things, it impacts not just the designers but the whole organization. We want the designers to work on more important things: solving user and product problems. When this starts to happen, the designer’s valuable time and energy are reduced to doing these repetitive tasks. Design Ops to the Rescue One of the key areas of Design Ops is to alleviate problems exactly like this. Our North Star here is to completely eliminate the handover process of design with stakeholders. In an effort to achieve this, we need to bring everyone to the same table and have the same language that everyone speaks and understands, which is what DesignOps achieves. This will have two immediate benefits: Eliminate (reduce) time wasted by designers doing side tasks. Build confidence with stakeholders. Stakeholders feel more comfortable trusting their designers when they can understand their work and process as well. The design department will no longer be seen as a black magic box that no one really knows how it operates. The shared language will help the stakeholders understand how design files are organized and documented, so they can go and find anything whenever they need it without bugging designers. The documentation on design decisions in best cases eliminates the requirement for tedious walkthroughs, one of the biggest benefits of DesignOps. Laying the Foundations As a first step, we set up two keys or legends to identify the state of the design and document the design files. State of Design Very similar to project management statuses, we introduce the states of UX/UI design. The key allows anyone coming into the design file to understand their status. This can be used not only to identify design files as a whole but also the pages, user flows, and individual screens. Our first set of statuses look like this (these can be modified and adapted to any team’s needs, but we have found this to be most productive in our case): ✍️ Working on it Anything that designers are currently working on can be denoted by this status. 🚧 In-progress Things that are not yet finished but also not being actively worked on can be denoted by in-progress status. ✅ Pretty much done This status is important to indicate your progress on work. Statuses like these will build confidence with your stakeholders. 🔸 Please review for approval With this time you are inviting the product manager or other stakeholders to review your UX/UI designs and decisions. 👍 Ready for presentation UX Designs that have been approved by product managers and the internal team will be ready for executive presentation. 🔹 Approved Designs approved by all the stakeholders can be marked with this status. 🔒 No further changes Use this state when a design has been officially locked and you want to hand it off to developers. This will mean that no more changes will be catered to on the design and it is locked until delivery of the project. 🔻 On hold Designs that get deprioritized due to any reason can be marked as on hold. 📦 Archived or legacy Any old or deprecated design can go under the archived or legacy label. 🎆 Magic Lab All the amazing ideas and designs can find their place in the magic lab. These are proposed pieces of design that designers want to showcase or show off but are not part of the main user flow. Documenting Design Taking this a step further, we also set up comment keys. These can be used to document design decisions, clarifications, ideas, concerns, and more as raised by designers and stakeholders during the design process. The comment key we generally suggest to use looks something like this: The status and comment key is part of the Figma File System, a subset of the Figma Design System by mobileLIVE. This can be downloaded free from the Figma community. This is available as ready-to-use components that you can plug in any of your design files and start using them.
DesignOps Series: Improved Designer and Stakeholder Collaboration
TORONTO, ON – Nov 16, 07:45 ET mobileLIVE, a digital transformation consultancy specializing in experiences and the technology used to perfect them, is proud to be named a Great Place to Work®-Certified Company. “Investing in our people, prioritizing a culture of learning, and empowering and enabling the professional and personal goals of employees is ingrained in our culture,” says Aftab Ali, Director Human Resources. “We understand that in our line of work, fostering innovation and supporting the people who spark it is critical to driving change and solving the challenges our clients turn to us to solve. We give our employees less to worry about while enabling them to do more, professionally and personally. It’s simple in concept but far-reaching in impact.” This certification is determined after a comprehensive independent evaluation by the Great Place to Work® Institute Canada and an extensive employee survey conducted anonymously. Additionally, recognized organizations must be headquartered in Canada, with a majority agreement that people are treated fairly, regardless of personal characteristics (such as gender, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation). “Becoming an employer of choice is not only a foundational aspiration of ours but strategic and critical to achieving our vision for the future,” said Jahan Ali, CEO and Founder. “This certification serves as an indicator, directly from the people who matter most, that we are on the right track. It’s the experience our people provide which is a big driver for our growth and never losing clients, and why it’s so critical to provide an equal experience to employees.”
mobileLIVE Becomes Great Place to Work® Certified™
Client demands are always changing, and if the last decade is any metric to go by, we know they will continue to evolve for the foreseeable future. To stay competitive now requires companies to have multiple permutations of their offering and an agile approach to continuous improvement. The traditional REST API model doesn’t cut it anymore; what companies need is fast pace in development, and with GraphQL that’s exactly what they get. Join Luca Maraschi, CTO mobileLIVE, as he very elaborately walks us through the journey of what GraphQL does, why it is important, and how it differs from REST.
GraphQL and the API Economy: Beyond the Traditional REST API Model
Customer expectations are always changing; however, digital has not only accelerated the rate of that change but elevated those expectations. Needless to say, this has caused challenges for business, with BFSIs being particularly hard hit. The Googles, Facebooks, and Amazons of the world have spoiled customers, providing them with seamless experiences, on-demand, wherever and however they want. And now, it’s time Financial Institutions and other BFSIs do the same, and I’ll show you how below. But before you can solve the problem, you need to understand it. The Problem For Banking Customers For banks, credit unions, and insurance brands, and BFSIs in general, the shift of consumer preferences towards digital solutions poses one of the biggest threats to their core modus operandi: in-person customer appointments. And while physical bank visits were not an issue felt by banking customers previously, their perspectives have changed on two significant fronts: Experience over products More customers now prefer that their experience should be better, more efficient, and faster, prioritizing it over the products that they receive, which are pretty vanilla in their construct. Convenience over privacy Customers are also willing to let go of a little bit of privacy in exchange for more convenience, better integration of financial or banking softwares, and faster action for the services they’re choosing. Changes in Customer Behaviour With customers getting so used to getting all of their tasks done instantly and in a few clicks, BFSIs are lagging in adopting such efficiencies in their customer engagement models. As a result of such fundamental changes in customer expectations from the industry, we’re now witnessing alarming statistics in customer acquisition rates as experienced by banks, financial institutions, insurance companies, and BFSIs that are trying to shift their processes to a digital framework: 51% of customers drop off from their onboarding journey with a bank due to the length of the process. 46% of customers leave their applications midway because the user interface is not friendly enough to proceed. 41% of those who start the process digitally never return if they log out or if the sign-up process is too long and requires too much information. In addition to changing customers’ tolerance levels towards their banks, such variables contribute largely in showing BFSIs that they have a lot of catching up to deliver the differentiated experiences that their customers have already become so used to receiving from interacting with other non-financial services. The Industry Perspective on Digital Experiences When we look at financial institutions and BFSIs as a whole, it’s no news that it’s a heavily regulated industry. While that in itself is not a challenge, their use of decades-old practices, processes, and financial softwares is still being followed. Such institutions have never viewed it as a customer journey but rather a journey that happens internally within the bank and involves the customer’s file to move physically from one department to another. In simply trying to make such a process seamless and convert it into a frictionless onboarding journey for the customer, many issues come to the fore. Organizational Challenges Before looking at how financial institutions could begin to address these bottlenecks, we need to consider some of the grave organizational challenges that exist as well: Disconnect at the first touchpoint Whether the customer’s first touchpoint is a website or app, in the case of a digital channel, or to visit the bank and talk to a teller for non-digital channels, this is where most of the disconnect happens. Systems failing to cope up with expectations On a system level, the challenge remains to cope with increasing customer expectations, be it an internal system or a legacy system with the customer. Old and outdated processes The fact also remains that the processes and financial softwares adopted by these institutions are simply too old to convert and involve too many layers in pushing the customer’s application from one place to another. The true picture that this paints for financial institutions is that of struggle: breaking the numerous silos, being unable to implement automation, and using non-modular technology, rather than using modern technologies like banking softwares that offer convenience in accordance with the current needs in the digital world. That being said, one sliver of hope we’ve seen in the last three to four years is that the right technologies have become available to remove nearly all such hurdles. With such technologies at hand, processes like identity verification and document scanning and organization can all be reduced to a matter of a few seconds and done purely digitally rather than taking days and manual interaction with people. This is where successful institutions are now setting themselves apart, and the reason why achieving the optimal customer onboarding experience has become more critical than ever before. How Banks Can Address the Challenges Most banks resorted to addressing the digital shift by taking the same system and flow of process and creating an online facsimile of it. With research showing us that 85% of customers drop off between clicking on an ad to starting their application online, it’s evident that these ways aren’t working. We see such high drop-off rates because the customer onboarding process isn’t being adapted to digital, rather just shifted to it. Even if financial institutions didn’t – or didn’t need to – think about these earlier, certain factors are unique to a digital journey and need to be taken into consideration: Capturing the customer as soon as they come in How can the institution position the journey and capture customer information so that even if the customer drops off, they can be contacted again to help move their application forward? A lot of organizations are rewarding customers to return and complete their journey, an incentive that is doing wonders in the way of new customer acquisitions. Upgrading to new systems Most core banking softwares are quite archaic and need upgrading, and to run a digital workflow, institutions will need new systems rather than relying on the same old financial softwares. Speeding up the process With digital experiences, the pace of action is one of the most critical factors, and the question becomes of how fast banks can get the customer in and through the system and convert them into revenue-generating customers. The 5 Stages of the Customer Journey Digital Onboarding - The 5 Stages of the Customer Journey Understanding that the customer journey cannot remain in the background anymore needs to be prioritized above all else. From an organizational point of view, it can be broken down into five stages: Acquisition of Data Whether customers fill-up the form themselves or their information comes from third-party portals, capturing their documents and organizing them in as little time and clicks as possible is the first stage. Verification Is the customer who they say they are? Depending on the product offered, there are different Know Your Customer (KYC) regulatory requirements. Risk Assessment Once customer information is verified, an automated risk adjudication process is conducted. Payments Are customers paying directly, or are payments integrated with third-party payment providers? Provision of the Service The customers are issued a digital card to add to their Apple or Google wallets to get started with using the service as soon as they sign up. Interestingly, from the first to the last stage, this entire journey can be 100% automated, without human intervention, and in most cases done almost instantaneously. The experience needs to be easy, fast, and frictionless. In 5-minutes, a customer can and should be able to activate their account, with a digital card added to their device, all without ever having to set foot into a branch. Takeaway Every organization hoping to enter the digital era needs to break from or evolve their traditional processes, and this, although harder, is especially important for financial institutions. The question is, how to create a solution that balances customer expectations and business objections; and it will be those who can most effectively achieve that, who will be the most successful in the future.
How Financial Institutions Can Exceed Customers’ Expectations
Experiences that make you feel the same way regardless of where they happen – that’s what sets apart a business from a brand. Omnichannel experiences will continue to guide digital interactions that are: Faster More personalized Customer-driven And our experts show just how that can all be implemented. Bringing together their brand, design, and technology, this one-hour session about unravels implementing omnichannel experiences, the challenges that come with it, and the potential it will unlock for the future of digital businesses.
Omnichannel Experiences: Solving the Implementation Challenges
While the preference for digital channels isn’t diminishing, customers’ tolerance for long, complex sign up processes is, and that means financial institutions are now facing challenges like: Dropping customer sign ups Increasing cost of acquisition Rising cost of abandoning signup Fortunately, this can be fixed with faster, frictionless, and completely E2E digital onboarding, and you can discover how here. In this extremely insightful, one-hour session, BFSI experts Ghazanfar Ahmed (Director of Digital Innovation) and Danysh Hashmi (VP BFSI) let us in on exactly how banks, credit unions, and insurance brands can achieve a better Digital Onboarding experience for their customers. Join them as they discuss key industry drivers and market challenges, designing customer-driven experience, and the technology needed to support it all.
BFSI: How to Create Frictionless Digital Onboarding Experiences
Any experienced product developer will tell you that a bold vision and strategic planning are not enough to bring your envisioned product to life . That approach focuses too heavily on the destination; overlooking the critical journey of how to get there. And for that, we turn to a roadmap. A product roadmap is the bridge between your long-term goals and short-term struggles; and today, we’ll dive further into the concept of roadmapping and why it can take you on a journey to your next product. What is a Roadmap? Agile roadmap The concept of a roadmap is commonplace, especially if you’ve even been involved in a long road trip like the one from Toronto to Montreal depicted below. Note, it does not say a specific time of arrival; rather a window. That is because there are several stops along the way; and given any number of variables at those stops, it’s difficult to say with certainty how long each of those stops will take. After all, what if there’s a huge line for the bathroom? However, the roadmap does help answer some critical questions: Which is the fastest route? Will you stop along the way; and if so, where? How do you know you’re moving in the right direction? The prerequisite for gaining any benefit of a roadmap is a destination; and when talking about product development, that destination is the product. And the roadmap is how you ensure that journey ends up where it needs to be while addressing strategic objectives along the way. The Importance of Roadmaps for Product Development The same that applies to road trips apply to product development The value of a good roadmap applies equally to road trips as it does to product development. And while there are numerous frameworks for creating one, as long as it keeps you on course and gives you a better understanding of where you’re going and why. An incredible tool for implementing product strategy and aligning stakeholders on a shared vision; a product roadmap provides not only the journey the product will take but how that strategy will be executed, communicating the product’s evolution by mapping its major releases onto a timeline. Roadmapping in Action That’s exactly what was done for our engagement with one of our clients. The client was in the process of executing an important digital transformation initiative when they began to voice some concerns: How would the journey look like, and how can we communicate to executives that the teams are moving in the right direction? How would the product evolve in the future? How would the three teams work together to deliver integrated business goals; what were their dependencies? Executives were unclear what the individual teams were trying to achieve, how much was done, and what was next What would be in the releases and when would they take place? Which release to focus on now and why? Which features to prioritize and what associated user stories to use for the first release What they were missing was a connection between the vision and execution, and the solution for that is nothing but a good roadmap to plan out its major releases. An exercise was done to identify the milestones along the way, and eventually, they were able to create their first roadmap in the following format. The items or business goals in these three columns were strategically placed to inform the team of the goals to focus on NOW and which ones to focus on later. This format helped them emphasize the order of things with business goals rather than their due dates. It also allowed product owners to prioritize features and associated user stories, which helped them to achieve the goals mentioned in the NOW column. Roadmap in Action Multiple sessions were conducted with all stakeholders, and we helped them understand the purpose of a roadmap that would help them overcome the challenges they had identified. After that, the following structure was produced. This structure identified the releases for the NOW column business objectives: releases for the NOW column The results of the roadmapping exercise above were as follows: Aligned the vision with business goals and objectives. Even though everyone already had this information, it was not presented in such a way that could be understood by all of them. Identified and agreed on the KPIs on the business objectives. Identified the features from all the teams involved (presented with different colors) to achieve those objectives. Identified what the journey will look like by mapping out releases. Identified which features need to be delivered for each release goal. Understood what the user stories are associated with the identified features for each release. Not all user stories needed to be considered for the release goal. Introduced goal-oriented thinking instead of just delivering outputs through user stories. By following the format of NOW, NEXT, LATER for the roadmap, the program could communicate better with the key stakeholders and was able to establish transparency. The roadmap was able to solve the challenges the client was facing and also help them identify what to focus on. Roadmapping During COVID-19 As mentioned before, the concept of road mapping is not only applied for product development or a road trip. It’s frequently used by governments as well. Here’s an example of what Ontario followed as part of the province reopening during the pandemic: The Roadmap to Reopen is a three-step plan to safely and cautiously reopen the province and gradually lift public health measures. The plan is based on: The province-wide vaccination rate Improvements in key public health and healthcare indicators Creating A Roadmap For Your Perfect Product There is no specific date involved in the plan, but it does highlight goals to achieve. As the Ontario Premier, Doug Ford, clearly mentioned in one of his interviews: “Roadmap is a plan about how we are going to reopen the province, not when.” Build Your Own Roadmap It should be clear at this point how crucial a roadmap is for any serious product development effort. Which is why I want to leave you with exactly how to create your own:Identify and articulate product vision Identify business objectives/outcomes to achieve along with metrics Focus on goals and benefits, not on timelines Collaborate with all stakeholders for alignment Consider rough estimates to check the feasibility of the goal Review it regularly and adjust as required By creating a roadmap, you have better communication and easily identifiable goals that help you achieve the product you have envisioned.
Product Roadmapping: For Agile Planning & Product Development
Now that the social experiment of working from home is over, how many of us can say we want to go back to work? For most organizations, replicating physical workspaces to the virtual landscape was not an easy task; in fact, it was one that came with a range of unforeseen challenges. But with virtual tools, collaboration strategies, and the latest inventions of modern technology, most of all Virtual Reality, organizations, both big and small, are able to not only manage their teams efficiently, but engage them in ways that can make remote collaboration all the more enjoyable. And just like everyone else, my colleagues and I have also had to find different ways and virtual tools to keep our team members engaged and inspired during the pandemic as we tackled remote collaborations with people we had never met before. We recently held a virtual talk in which we discussed the strategies that have enabled our teams to have successful remote collaborations in the new virtual reality. Remote Collaboration versus Regular Meetings Before we get into the virtual tools, collaboration strategies, and practices that can make your project successful, it is important to understand what the term ‘remote collaboration’ encompasses. This is the process of different teams working together, regardless of their geographic location. While the purpose and content are the same in both remote and regular meetings, the element of body language is missing in the former. In face-to-face meetings, you have the facility of being able to judge the body language of your peers. Not being able to fully gauge the response of your team members across the screen can affect work performance and company morale. While pre-pandemic collaborations would include face-to-face meetings, conferences, and workshops, remote collaborations consist of group chats for work projects, virtual interactive meetings and workshops, and virtual tools as well. In order to have a successful online collaboration, you need certain virtual tools that can help team members connect and also boost their innovative thinking, even in a virtual reality. So instead of having boring Zoom meetings in which at least one team member is likely dozing off, engaging the team in a much more interactive virtual activity, like an online workshop, can prove to be far more beneficial. Virtual Tools for Collaboration Workshops Collaborative workshops are the best way to brainstorm new ideas since they are more focused toward one specific topic or project. With every team member tending to one problem or project, you will have better outcomes. The word ‘workshop’ may sound daunting – but don’t be intimidated by it. You do not require big teams in order to have a fun and constructive workshop; it can be with as little as three people – even as you work in your new virtual reality of working from home. Workshops foster innovative thinking as they allow you and your team members to be more hands-on. It also allows for more visuals which can definitely make the entire process less snooze-inducing. Remote collaborative processes like workshops prompt your employees to be more vocal. Every single one of your workshop attendees will be required to participate in some way, so it is an effective way of improving communication between team members. This is especially so because a workshop offers the opportunity for everyone to be heard, as opposed to conventional meetings where only someone higher up in the company hierarchy, like the CEO, would be the loudest person in the room. With everyone participating, you can identify what each team member excels at so that you are playing with each other’s strengths. Virtual Tools Now that you know about the advantages of having a workshop, let’s talk about some virtual tools that will facilitate you in the process. These are some of the soft wares I have found useful for creating workshop boards on: Miro is a whiteboarding platform that allows various teams to work together for an online collaborative process. This virtual tool has a suite of features, from digital sticky notes and a Template library to a canvas that never runs out of space. The ability to integrate this with other platforms like Google and Jira to quickly export documents serves as an added benefit, making this one of the most efficient virtual tools for such remote collaboration. Mural is another virtual tool that allows you to have a seamless collaborative workshop online. You have visual communicative features like flowcharts, drawing, sticky notes, and some interactive tools like timer, voting, and celebrations. Google Jamboard is a user-friendly virtual tool, and the best part is that if you are using other Google Suite products like Google Sheets and Google Meet then you can just integrate the Jamboard with them. You can have up to 50 collaborators on Jamboard at one time, making it another valuable addition to the list of virtual tools we have at our disposal. Collaboration Strategies in Action Your Role as a Facilitator It’s important for you to think about the role you will play as the facilitator. It is a crucial job, one that can greatly determine the success of your virtual workshop. But don’t worry – I have some collaboration strategies for you that will help you shine in your role in this virtual reality we’ve found ourselves in. As a facilitator you must allow creativity to flow while maintaining the structure of the workshop. There are two aspects that you must keep in mind as you prepare for your workshop: Firstly, since you have to guide the workshop you must fully understand and convey to your audience that the purpose of the workshop is to dive deeper into the problem or topic that the workshop will be addressing, and it’s okay for participants to not have a high-level understanding of the topic. As the facilitator, it’s more important to answer questions and help everyone come out of the workshop with a better understanding of the topic and unveil the root of the problem being addressed. Secondly, you have to empathize with the people working with you. When I prepare my workshops I try to keep in mind that my team members are also nervous about taking on a remote collaborative process and will need me to keep them motivated and engaged through the process, as well as guide them on working with the virtual tools being used. Rules Give Your Collaboration Structure Even before the workshop starts you can connect with your virtual collaborative team by sending them an intro board that has the names of team members and the other details such as the mission and aim of the workshop. You can also include tips and shortcuts in this intro board, especially for those who are not familiar with the tools of a virtual workshop. This ensures you don’t waste time in the actual workshop trying to guide team members. A quick tip to achieve this is to send out a short 5-minute tutorial video that explains, with a practice board, how the tools are to be used. This helps participants get used to the tool that will be used in the workshop beforehand. It would also be helpful for you and your team members if you added the rules of the workshop. Here, I must emphasize on two rules: Stick to the topic, and Respect the time Stricter time management is required in virtual collaboration meetings; focus on these two rules so you don’t lose time or track of the meeting. Another rule that you should have for yourself is to encourage out of the box thinking and let your participants be expressive. Also keep in mind that sometimes there are stretches of silence as team members are thinking or working on something on their own. This can feel awkward for many but it is the facilitator’s responsibility to assure the team members that this silence is normal and not uncomfortable. What can help at this time is a playlist that can uplift the mood of collaborators – it might even help the creativity flow! The most important rule of all is that everyone in the workshop, including you, feels comfortable enough to share their ideas. Socializing is a Key Part of Remote Collaborations Once the rules have been laid out, don’t just jump straight to work. Remember, if your team members are awkward with each other, you won’t be able to foster any innovative thinking. Have some ice-breaking activities that will allow your team members, especially cross-functional ones, to get comfortable with each other. Not only do such sessions help with getting the participants familiarized with each other, but can also be done as a quick warm up exercise on the topic of the workshop before they begin. If your ice-breaker is based on the theme of the workshop, it’ll help get the conversation going. Team members can upload pictures of themselves, and play a game in which each of them writes a truth and a lie on a sticky note and lets the other team members guess which is which. If you really want to kick things off, you can also ask them questions, like giving them four different meal options and letting them choose what they would order by writing it on a sticky note, or ask them their favorite part about the topic to be discussed and asking them why they think so. Socializing done, let’s start the real work! First, set the goals and expected outcomes of your collaboration. This means establishing two points: Why are we here? What are we trying to achieve? Your collaborators should have all the information about the purpose of the workshop and with that, you need to ensure that the outsiders have complete context of the problem they are taking on with you. Once everyone has all the information, let the discussion flow. Remember, you have many virtual tools and features at your disposal so don’t hesitate to use them. Best Practices and Tips For Virtual Collaboration How Can You Improve? An important part of having workshops is receiving constructive feedback. My peers and I find that having a post-workshop survey allows us to identify our strengths and weaknesses. So use a survey to find out how your participants felt about your workshop. In the survey you can ask questions such as: Have you achieved the goals you had before coming to the workshop? What did you think of the time management/activity design? How was the facilitation? You can share the survey at the end of the workshop, when memories are fresh, and give them a few minutes’ time to fill them out. If you want honest feedback, ensure your participants that the surveys are anonymous. Playback Session Now the workshop may be over, but there is still some work left! We suggest you have a playback session. This allows the team to get back together for a second session and review the workshop results. The teams know exactly what work they have produced and if it matched the expectations or hypothesis they had set. You can also decide what the next steps are going to be. A playback session is another interactive way of ensuring that your team members are all on the same page with each other, so it will include a recap session in which you may include short clips or screenshots of the main discussion points of the workshop. A section on synthesis and key findings would allow everyone to discuss the details of the ideas produced in the workshop. Finally, you can organize the ideas into actionable items and then work towards what the next steps can be. The Future of Remote Collaboration The pandemic has forever changed how we work. Whether it is in offices or at schools, work from home will become more frequent, at least in a hybrid capacity if not completely. But the shift to virtual workspaces will continuously demand innovation of better ways to recreate human interactions and make them as comfortable and convenient as possible. With the introduction of 5G, virtual meetings, conferences, seminars, and workshops will run a lot smoother, with less lagging, call dropping, and other connectivity issues. One thing that I’m personally excited about is that many companies are looking into VR processes that will allow you to attend meetings virtually, either as an avatar or hologram. We may feel isolated right now, but technology is growing by leaps and bounds. With holograms and avatars, you could freely interact with new team members from any corner of the globe, and this is just one of the many advancements that prove to us that despite not being physically present at work, we do not have to do without the social elements of collaborating with each other.
Remote Collaboration For Successful Innovation
While my career choices might make me appear biased, I truly believe that few practices will carry as much importance in the future as Service Design. In truth, service design isn’t new. However, as our world moves towards all things digital and finds that transition accelerated by historic and uncontrollable forces – like the pandemic – there has been a keener interest in what exactly service design has to offer. Much like the world had to evolve and transition to digital quite rapidly, so too did the practice of service design adapt and evolve to help architect and orchestrate that transition, or at least, many of the success stories. And seeing how at the heart of service design is incorporating a variety of perspectives, I’ve included a few of my peers’, taken from a virtual talk we shared, to show how service design can improve ever-evolving digital experiences by evolving alongside them. Changes in Service Design An Internal Perspective Service design is all about going out into the world and observing how people interact with services, gathering data and plotting the best course forward. And to address “the elephant in the room,” as Patrick Bach, Director of Service Design at CIBC, put it, research and the way it is conducted has been forced to change significantly. Ethnographic interviews are a great example, notes Patrick, something he and his team would historically conduct in-person, and in some cases even fly across the country for, have all had to shift to virtual. He admits that while many elements do translate well to a Zoom call, getting to the heart of research questions isn’t without its challenges. Virtual poses many obstacles, especially to participatory and activity-based research, while the lack of a traditional conference room setting has forced teams to reimagine how they collaborate and co-create. “One of the ways we’ve adapted is around how we communicate. So it used to be these very physical walkthroughs; we would print things over large sheets of paper and get everyone to walk around, annotate, and reflect. In the virtual world, we’ve been embracing the format of video, so instead of creating a journey map or service blueprint, we’ve been converting those things into something more portable, repeatable, and reusable.” I couldn’t agree more with Patrick, and will come back to this point later. An External Perspective Video does allow for many opportunities for collaboration and connection; however, not everyone is so quick to embrace it. “Let’s take observational research, for example,” says Judy Mellet, Director of Service Design & Strategy at Telus Digital. “We are on a project where we try to observe what happens in an installation process in the home where a customer might be comfortable in some ways letting you into the house and observe them and they see you as perhaps somebody that may be able to support them through that process. They are less wanting to be observed over video, and it’s just a dynamic; they feel like they’re being watched.” Service design beckons professionals to dig deeper for ways to improve, revamp, and evolve how specific processes or activities are carried out. It proposes new and reimagined ways of achieving the same, if not better, results – and it appears organizations and enterprises are ready to embrace. Judy goes on to remark that evidence of this can be seen in how the nature of requests from businesses of service design are evolving. Rather than asking to fix one specific problem, the demands are more transformational, reimagining entire concepts or approaches. And to me, this is the real proof of its value – when applied to transformational initiatives. Growing Appeal of Human-Centred Design An interesting observation is that the pandemic pushed customers and stakeholders into becoming the end-users of a complex and broken system. Suddenly, everyone knew what it was like to be on the wrong end of a bad digital experience. So how do we fix it? The answer is human-centred design, and by putting it at the centre of all transformation projects, we’ll best be able to craft an experience that justifies the systemic journeys and buy-in processes that are becoming the norm of digital life. This has seen the demand for service design increase and, to echo Judy, so too have the project sizes, as organizations realize, in some cases the hard way, that their digital experiences simply weren’t good enough. Communication & Collaboration Adding to Patrick’s point earlier, professionals are now more driven to develop new digital tools to overcome their biggest problems, which couldn’t be more evident than in collaboration and communication. Virtual tools now complement physical walkthroughs otherwise conducted in more tangible ways. For instance, where experience mapping was previously being done on physical walls with location and size limitations, virtual walls are now being used that are more conducive to collaborative research and come with fewer physical restrictions. This is not to say that such virtual activities weren’t in play before the pandemic hit; rather, it’s their prevalence and adoption that have increased. Not only does everyone have to have access to them now, but being a part of such an environment has led to better and more efficient ways for everyone to play their part within an organization. Industry Impact & Opportunities Healthcare & Pharmaceuticals The role that service design can play in healthcare is just now being paid its due attention because workers are faced with challenges and questions unlike ever before. A new scale of awareness is now observed, with individuals partaking in conversations like which vaccines they can get, where they can get them from, and where they currently stand in the process. Such a level of individual engagement has opened up a large window of appreciation for service design principles and how they can be applied to solve all such concerns. Telecommunications & Banking Where driving sales and engagement with customers has always been a priority, sectors like banking and telecommunications were severely impacted as a result of the pandemic. Powerful, yes, but these industries driven by sales and customer engagement saw a massive disruption in their processes. Now, as offices and retail are reopening, we are seeing these industries finding some resistance in going back to the old ways and much value in staying on the course forced upon them. It appears much of the “quick patchwork” intended to tie us over is being revisited, refined, and will likely make an appearance (or at least some facsimile) in whatever the “new normal” turns out to be. Real Estate Another industry is real estate, where historically, physically visiting a property site was vital. Beyond virtual tools and walkthrough technologies, service design thinkers created completely new ways to translate physical interactions into immersive virtual journeys that took the customers from point A to point B via a seamless digital process. Why Service Design? It’s Adaptable & Malleable What makes service design so relevant and effective in today’s global landscape is its multifaceted nature. There are numerous service design methods, principles, and applications that can adapt to any given situation to the degree with which it is required. Rather than offering a single solution to a specific problem, service design takes up a problem-fit approach to really tackle challenges as they come along. It Breeds Innovation & Human-Connection Being applicable to a range of different projects makes service design a huge facilitator for innovation. It drives out-of-the-box thinking because it urges users to think along bigger lines for better solutions. And the value of service design is not going to fade away when and if we “go back to normal.” The new norm will be a different one, and service design has the potential to assist organizations with rethinking the best ways to design this new reality, keeping the people who will be living it at the forefront. Practically speaking, our own service design team comes in at the start of engagements, rethinking how the business is currently serving customers and the quality of the experiences being offered. It’s imperative to translate the context of the customer in such situations, but transferring the same level of empathy across all user testing channels is challenging. In my opinion, the onus is on service designers to augment themselves throughout the end-to-end process so that they can reimagine these experiences and prioritize human-centrism every step of the way. Take Away While I know I am not alone in this opinion, I’m doubtful we’ll ever go back to the way things used to be. Already, hybrid work models are being implemented, businesses are shifting and transforming to digital at an accelerated speed, and the demand for better digital experiences is increasing at an exponential rate. And it’s those reasons why service design is so largely at play now across the globe. It’s also why service design will continue to support the efforts of future-focused businesses in not only improving their digital experiences, but crafting them (and their organizations) in such a way that the interest and journey of all parties involved are best served.
Service Design: Improve and Evolve Experiences
Develop, test, and deploy pieces of the frontend independently Add, remove, or replace elements of the frontend without rebuilds Build the components of the frontend using different technologies Craft the truly omnichannel experiences customers demand You know why Micro Frontends are so appealing and what challenges they solve; and now, you can learn how to scale them. In this one-hour session, join Luca Maraschi, CTO of mobileLIVE as he shares how to create the elevated customer experiences that are driving revenue for Ikea, Starbucks, HelloFresh and more.
Scaling Micro Frontends: The Why and the How
Toronto, ON – June 7, 2021 – mobileLIVE’s singular purpose to accelerate digital transformation has just gained momentum with the appointment of Luca Maraschi as their new Chief Technology Officer. As CTO, he will be responsible for architecting the technology roadmap for our clients, lending his deep expertise on cloud computing, distributed systems, designing platforms at scale, and for scale to provide a holistic framework for transformation. “Technology is far from being utilized as a real tool to leverage acceleration. In the short term, layering on more and more technology can solve the problems in front of you, but it also weighs you down, causing bigger ones all around you. Suppose your goal is agility, speed, and efficiency? It would be impossible to accomplish this through that approach. First, you need to reassess and reimagine your processes, remove points of friction, and realign your people and perspective for organizational, not just project efficiency.“ LUCA MARASCHI, CTO of mobileLIVE From his time as a Technology Leader advising Fortune 500 companies through their transformation journeys, inspiring hundreds of developers to create the next generation of platforms and products, and his reputation of removing complexity and replacing it with value that is felt by both user and organization as a whole proceeds him. As an active contributor to numerous developer communities and author of several open-source tools, the proof of what he can do is all around him. “I met Luca several years ago and was instantly impressed not only with his technical knowledge but how he utilized his unique experiences to approach challenges with simplicity and efficiency in the forefront,” says Hussain Qureshi, President of mobileLIVE. “When I discovered such alignment between his approach and our own, I knew he was the person to lead our technology teams and drive the transformational efforts of our clients.”
Luca Maraschi Named New CTO at mobileLIVE
If you are looking to launch a device in Canada, whether it’s IoT, a tracker, wearable, 5G, mobile – whatever, you’re going to want to have it tested and certified first. And in this 30-minute video, you can learn how having the most common questions answered, including: Where do I start, and should I do it alone? What tools do I need, and what’s the end-to-end process? How long does it take, and what does it cost? What type of certification do I need, and what comes next? And more! The mobileLIVE Device Certification & Testing Lab professionals have been helping Fortune 500 brands and SMBs launch their products in Canada with certification, testing, and team augmentation for more than 10-years. And in this video, they will show you precisely what you need to get your device certified and launched in Canada.
How to Certify IOT, Wearables & Mobile Devices for the Canadian Market
Despite a challenging year felt across the globe, the company maintained its drive, culture, and future vision. Toronto, ON – May 5, 2021 – mobileLIVE is being recognized for its commitment to strategy, culture, innovation, and sustained growth, earning Deloitte’s Canada Best Managed Companies for a fifth, and perhaps, most memorable, year in a row. “The entire world felt the impact of the pandemic, and we were not immune. It was challenging, but being an agile organization by nature with digital in our DNA, we were able to pivot quickly,” said Jahan Ali, CEO and Founder of mobileLIVE. “Good planning, clear and communicated strategy, and a resilient culture helped us respond, not react to events as they unfolded. That is why maintaining this designation is something not only myself, but our entire organization is proud of and will continue to strive for.” Going into its 28th year, Canada’s Best Managed Companies is the country’s leading business awards program, recognizing excellence in Canadian-owned and managed companies with revenues exceeding $25 million. These companies are judge across 4 pillars, including: Strategy & Execution Culture & Commitment Capabilities & Innovation Governance & Financials “This past year has posed numerous challenges for Canadian business and has touched each and everyone in some form or another – including this year’s Best Manage Winners,” said Kari Lockhart, Partner, Deloitte Private and Co-Leader, Canada’s Best Managed Companies program. “They should be extremely proud of this designation and use it as a catalyst to continue the work they do each and every day. Their unwavering commitment to their people, and their adaptability amid a year of turmoil, have led them to this achievement and it mustn’t go unnoticed.“ Each year, several sponsors join Deloitte in celebrating Canadian Business, among which is CIBC. “CIBC is especially proud to celebrate and recognize the winners of Canada’s Best Managed Companies in what has been a very challenging year,” said Dino Medves, Senior Vice President and Head, CIBC Commercial Banking. “The companies had to make tough decisions, adapt quickly to a new environment and most importantly, continue to innovate and invest for the future.” About Canada’s Best Managed Companies Canada’s Best Managed Companies continues to be the mark of excellence for privately held Canadian-owned and managed companies with revenues over $25 million. Every year since the launch of the program in 1993, hundreds of entrepreneurial companies have competed for this designation in a rigorous and independent process that evaluates their management skills and practices. For further information, visit http://www.bestmanagedcompanies.ca
mobileLIVE Named Canada’s Best Managed Companies for the Fifth Consecutive Year
Replace manual & scripted testing with automation Drastically reduce the cost of running multiple tests Test across multiple machines and interfaces Quickly detect system or product defects Reduce time while improving customer experience This is what the democratized future of QA and Software Testing looks with Model-Based Test Automation, and in this 30-minute video, you’ll discover not only how to accomplish the above, but why you’ll need to if you are still relying on traditional testing methods.
Model-Based Test Automation: Bigger, Better, & Faster QA
Service design has changed, and so have the men and women who practice it. That’s because they’ve had to adapt; they’ve had to evolve in order to overcome Bad Digital Experiences. Fortunately, we’ve assembled some heroes to discuss where this discipline is having the greatest impact on business and the changing needs of the people it serves. Judy Mellet - Director, Service Design & Strategy @ Telus Digital Uzair Sukhera - Sr. Director, Product & Design @ mobileLIVE Andrea Guertin - Vice President, Design Strategy @ Bridgeable Patrick Bach - Director, Service Design @ CIBC
Can Service Design Save the Day?!
The company is lending its digital expertise to help usher in the future of health care. Mississauga, On (March 11, 2021) – mobileLIVE is gifting Trillium Health Partners (THP) more than $100,000 to help create a new kind of health care for a healthier community. The gift includes $35,000 for the future redevelopment and expansion of Mississauga Hospital and $75,000 worth of professional IT services over the next five years. Increasingly, it has become the responsibility of enterprises to contribute to the reimagining and creation of a better world, and mobileLIVE believes that supporting our health care system and workers is integral to a thriving, resilient community. “There is a growing need in our community, especially among our most vulnerable,” says Jahan Ali, Founder & CEO of mobileLIVE. “Social responsibility is one of our cornerstones since inception, and the last year has only reignited our commitment to meet that need. With THP, in addition to making a financial contribution, we wanted to make a tangible impact by engaging our talented team to support THP with IT services.” THP already has an embedded culture of innovation. This partnership will accelerate and enable the advancing transformation through technology and expertise. “Now is the time to rethink health care and hospitals to create a more complete, equitable, inclusive and efficient system for our community of patients and their families. The opportunity to leverage the expertise of mobileLIVE is a way to accelerate success and we are so grateful for their partnership and support,” says Caroline Riseboro, President & CEO of Trillium Health Partners Foundation.
mobileLIVE donates $100,000 To Trillium Health Partners
Workshops and team collaboration have always been beneficial: View problems from different perspectives Get to the root of the problem Encourages creative problem solving and innovative thinking Keep teams focused on outcomes Increased accountability and investment Immediate, more tangible and actionable output There fun So how do we replicate all of that living in a predominantly virtual world? You’re about to find out. Learn how to reignite innovation, reconnect with your teams, and get from problem to solution faster, even when working remotely. Created to help enterprises overcome some of the challenges their teams are presently facing, this session will cover. The fundamentals of Remote Collaboration Why it’s critical for teams working remotely The best tools to connect and collaborate Strategies & Best Practices that drive participation The Future of Remote Collaboration And more
Virtual Tools & Strategies For Successful Remote Collaboration
Whether talking about native, mobile web, or hybrid applications and regardless if your project is iOS or Android, Appium is the most popular open-source framework for mobile application testing – and it’s easy to see why. And because of that, we’re going to talk about something else. Everyone knows that Appium is great, but what I’ve noticed is this common knowledge has resulted in more and more people turning to it in blind faith, without fully understanding how to get the results that made it so appealing in the first place. I want to fix that with these: Test using a Cloud Platform Device Selection & Fragmentation Using one script for both OSs Android and iOS If you are looking for efficient and cost-effective mobile automation, these not always followed best practices are critical. Those three best practices are what you have to do. Now, I’ll take you through how and why you should. Test Using a Cloud Platform – A Change in Mindset Most mobile application automation is done using a local setup where you have a mobile device connected to a laptop executing the tests, typically in an office where single or, multiple stations are set up as illustrated below. However, as everyone knows, typical is not what you would use to describe our current reality. And for many if not most predominantly working remotely, a new set of challenges arise: Setting up Appium can be tedious and time-consuming, especially for iOS. Devices cannot be maintained in a lab-style environment from home as devices need to be periodically reset. Loss of network connectivity or downtime within the office cause additional delay and hassle. Reliance on remote viewing of the devices can be slow and inefficient. The limited breadth of testing and coverage due to not being able to test on many different devices using the local machine. Testing bottlenecks – because you can’t execute everything on your laptop. Setting up parallel execution requires effort. And this was just off the top of my head! These challenges aren’t feasible given our current remote work environment. So what do you do? You write your scripts on your laptop and execute them without worrying about setup, bottlenecks, or limited breadth of testing. And to do that, you need cloud-hosted environments like Saucelabs, Experitest, Perfecto and others. Personally, I prefer Saucelabs and Exepritest. Here are a few reasons why: They offer a large cloud for continuous testing with the industry’s most comprehensive coverage for mobile devices. Highly scalable platform for increased parallel execution, decreased execution time, and elimination of bottlenecks. Provides complete transparency on your testing efficiency using videos, screenshots, logs and full analytics to determine where gaps may exist. Using an integrated development platform makes Appium automation even easier by directly executing Appium tests from Eclipse & IntelliJ, using embedded simple editors and detailed views. Offers hybrid support that connects to a local or remote device and uses the device’s reflection for instant visual feedback on device behaviour. Use Object Spy, object repository and XPath identifiers to automate complex scenarios. Modify tests and create a complete, robust automated mobile testing project (Experitest). Advanced automation capabilities to increase coverage. Test advanced use case scenarios such as barcode and check scanning, audio features, GPS simulation, 3rd party applications (Facebook, maps, e-commerce, etc.) TouchID, or customized elements such as sliders, pickers, tables, gestures, and more. While I am not a salesperson, this is usually the part of the conversion where the cost comes up for this setup. Local Setup vs Cloud Platforms Testing for 6 months on 12 real devices Local Setup costs are Device Cost (one time) – $800/device x 12 devices and 2-4 Laptops (2 Mac, 2 Windows) is equal to $12,600 and Cloud-Hosted Devices costs are License cost – $999 for (4 concurrent tests per month) for 6 months and One laptop is equal to $6,700 You can see that the cost for doing six months of testing on 12 real devices using a local setup is double the cloud’s cost. Why would you pay more to make your life more difficult? It’s clear that Appium automation on cloud platforms is the way as we advance. Choosing your devices for testing effectively While the abundance of device options is great for consumers, this fragmentation is a major headache for developers and testers. Currently, we have two main OSs for mobile phones, Android and iOS, which seems simple enough until you account for the different models, makes, and versions – especially for Android. It’s not feasible from a time and resource perspective to test all the combinations. This is why device selection is so critical, and here are some steps to help you narrow down your choices: 1. Visit the following https://gs.statcounter.com/ to get the latest mobile phone stats. 2. Get the mobile device market share, e.g for Canada: It means that in Canada 50% of people use Apple and the rest use Android devices. It also tells you which devices are mostly used. From the list, select the top 4 devices. 3. Android OS share. Android(10.0 10) 49.9% Android(9.0 Pie) 21.32% Android(8.0 Oreo) 9.05% Android(7.0 Nougat) 4.96% Android(7.1 Nougat) 3.81% Android(8.1 Oreo) 3.54% 4. IOS share iOS 13.6 34.24% iOS 13.1 26.17% iOS 12.4 9.52% iOS 14.0 8.78% iOS 13.5 5.32% iOS 13.3 3.03% 5. Resolution Share (1920x1080) 11.79% (1366x768) 8.17% (768x624) 6.73% (375x667) 5.91% (414x896) 5.72% (1440x900) 4.45%. Screen Resolution Stats in Canada - September 2020 Based on the information that is available, you can narrow down your list and create the best feasible combination of make, OS, and version. One Script / 2 OSs There are many ways to write efficient test scripts. Most engineers follow page models by default which is a good thing. But how do you create one automation script that will work on both Android and IOS? A properly developed application’s behaviour and logic are usually the same on both Android and IOS. There is no point in doubling the work by duplicating the business logic and developing two scripts, one for Android and one for iOS. Here is how you can tackle the problem at hand. The following screenshot shows an example of a unified Appium test to calculate restaurant bill. For a unified test to work on both Android and iOS, the following must be done. 1. The Appium tests need to instantiate the appropriate driver based on the configuration. 2. Use page factory methods to define elements for both OSs and for each page of the application. The annotations AndroidFindBy and iOSFIndBy will help pick the right element based on what OS the test is running automatically. 3. Create methods to implement the test steps. The following method will click on the button to calculate the tip. 4. Call the page methods from the test class to complete the test case. Take Away The world we live in has changed and the way we work and the way we test has to adapt. The key is to develop and perform testing with efficiency in the forefront, trying to avoid duplicate efforts and unnecessary costs – that is exactly what the above was intended to do. Hopefully, after this, you be more efficient, more effective, and better equipped to perform automated testing of mobile applications in whatever your new setting is and with the highest ROI possible.
3 Things Every Appium Developer Should Do For Mobile App Testing
In response to physical distancing, capacity restrictions, and unpleasant customer experiences, Stand-in is an app designed to regulate the flow of people going inside of a business, so there isn’t a line outside. Toronto: December 3, 2020 – Today, mobileLIVE has officially released Stand-in, an application designed to help businesses and customers navigate the new normal of physical distancing and capacity restrictions. Conceived after an unpleasant experience lined up outside of a big retailer and in anticipation for the cold winter ahead, Stand-in is a line-management system that ensures businesses can safely reach and maintain capacity restrictions inside without causing overcrowding or unsafe lines outside. “Not in my wildest dreams would I imagine having to wait in line to buy fruit at the grocery store, let alone 45 minutes,” says Hussain Qureshi, President of mobileLIVE. “But after that experience, seeing how inefficient and unenjoyable it was despite the increased staff, I knew we had to do something that would help these businesses operate safely. Nobody should be left out in the cold.” Stand-in offers a more comfortable and safer retail experience, focusing on helping businesses that have already suffered many recent hardships. After registering the business and its locations, customers can join a “virtual queue” from anywhere, providing them with their position in the queue and estimated wait time. When it’s their turn, they will be notified in advance and given the fastest route to get to the business. They will be automatically checked-in and out, all while providing real-time foot traffic data of customers to the business. Stand-in is entirely self-serve and requires no expensive hardware other than a smartphone. It can even work if people don’t have the application. Stand-in is free for both businesses and customers and is available now for iOS and Android devices.
Do you feel that your technology teams are not living up to the expectations for your Digital Transformation? Do you find technology to be a significant bottleneck in the rollout of your next-generation experiences? Does it take months to roll out new features and capabilities from concept to market? Do you believe that your API platforms fuel your business growth or create a hindrance in your vision for future growth? Can your cloud support the immediate demands of the market efficiently and effectively? Have you seen tangible results from your cloud transformation yet? If any of this sounds familiar and you’d rather it be a past problem and not a present one, then you’re in luck. Watch Uzair Sukhera (Director of Design & Innovation) and special guest Luca Marashi (VP of Engineering @ CTO.ai) as they discuss how to tackle these challenges and accelerate your digital transformation by simplifying your technology.
How to Simplify Technology & Accelerate Digital Transformation
Discover a framework that takes your ideas from Abstract to Concrete and into the hands of your users. One that gives you better design through collaboration and less risk by testing your business hypothesis with your users. Why would you want to create a product any other way?
Design Thinking: Taking you from Abstract to Concrete
There is undeniable value in a Design System; just look at what we titled this webinar. However, looking again at that title, you may notice something – the word Development. Despite how beloved Design Systems are by Designers, they are not the only recipient of its value. Implementing and benefiting from Design Systems hinges on the heavy lifting from Development teams. And in this webinar, you’ll learn not only how to mitigate challenges but: How Design Systems improve user experience, especially for multi-branded experiences The benefits of developing reusable UI blocks (hint: it’s time, effort and cost) How Design & Dev collaboration improves output & delivery Utilizing a common design language between Design & Dev Effective collaboration between Design, Dev, QA, and more! Quantifying the benefits over conventional development methods Setting & scaling your design system across the organization And more!
Design Systems: Better Development, Faster, and for Less
Theme Switcher is a Figma Plugin that allows designers to shift between multi-brand themes effortlessly. Intrigued? You should be. By designers, for designers, this plugin improves workflow and reduces the time spent on projects by 25%. Once downloaded, easily: Switch between multiple style sets Sync from Local Styles Apply Colour Themes With no external platform required, and all in less than three clicks. In this short demo video, you’ll discover what Theme Switcher offers; including, how to create naming conventions for brand themes, how to turn those into Local Styles, and more.
Theme Switcher Demo: How designers can use this workflow plugin
As an organization, as a team, and even just as a designer, how do you: Create productive & efficient workflows? Find the right talent with the rights skills? Grow & strengthen your design teams? Improve the value and quality of your work? The answer to all of the above is DesignOps. And if you have questions then this webinar and its expert panel will likely answer them all and more.
Demystifying DesignOps: From Theory to Practice
Today’s reality is one of accelerated product lifecycles, competitive pressure on a global scale, rapidly changing technology, and an ever-growing number of market segments all demanding their own unique experiences. That is, until tomorrow, when the demand shifts yet again. So how do you succeed in a world of constant change? In this session, you’ll discover how to: Organize a culture that drives meaningful outcomes Empower your people with autonomy Shift towards Human-Centred Delivery Manage the end-to-end value creation process Centralize services and self-serve platforms And more!
Delivering Value in the Age of Constant Change
Most major brands and product companies have already adopted Design Systems and for a good reason. Good design results from good design practices and few bring as much efficiency, consistency, and organizational value as a well-implemented and utilized Design System. This session was created to give a candid view of Design Systems in action, with a particular focus on small to mid-sized and legacy organizations. Addressing everything from design and developer collaboration to garnering stakeholder buy-in, and spanning the theoretical to the practical, you’ll discover not only the “Who, What, Why, and How” of Design Systems, but also our own unique and straightforward framework for successfully creating one. In this webinar, we answer: What is a Design System, and why you’d want one? How do you successfully build them, and who should be involved? What are their key components? How do you use and maintain one? Open Source vs Design System? And more!
Design Systems: Creation, Application, and Value
To better understand Microservices, you need the perspective of the developers who create them and the business side that drives them. You need men and women who haven’t just read about them, or work with them in isolation but have had their boots on the ground at a variety of client locations, on dozens and dozens of projects, that span multiple industries and verticals, and have driven successful outcomes. So we gathered those people up and recorded them!
An Open Discussion: “Who should own Microservices?”
The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) means that all public and private sector organizations with 50+ employees must make web content accessible to WCAG 2.0 AA standards. Failure to comply can result in fines of up to $100,000/day. But what does it mean or take to be AODA compliant? See for yourself in this webinar as we take you through: An overview of AODA regulations and requirements Give advice on accessibility testing techniques to ensure your website meets WCAG standards and is AODA compliant Tell you how you can make the business case for accessibility at your organization
AODA Regulations in 2021: Digital Accessibility and Compliance
Discover a solution adopted from large enterprises’ playbook and specially adapted for small to medium-sized businesses. Learn how to leverage the cloud to keep your teams communicating and collaborating anywhere, guaranteeing uninterrupted operations and service during a crisis while: Generating revenue Future-proofing your business Lowering operational expenditures Empowering remote work Scaling and growing with your business No segment has been harder hit by recent events like SMBs. That is why we would like to make ourselves available to answer any of your questions about the cloud, future-proofing your operations, or moving forward in our new post-pandemic reality. Request your FREE 1:1 consultation with one of our experts today to learn more.
How Small & Medium Sized Companies can Future-proof their Businesses
Watch as we discuss the possibilities and potential around the new business models and exciting experiences that 5G has the ability to create for consumers, for business, and society at large. Retail, entertainment, manufacturing, healthcare, telecommunications, and more; it’s no longer a matter of how 5G will revolutionize these industries, but when. And that is up to us. Stop imaging. Start doing.
5G Technology, Business Models, and Experiences of the Future
Recent events have shown all of us just how quickly the world can slip into chaos and confusion. But that “chaos” isn’t limited to a worldwide pandemic. It happens in varying degrees in our day to day lives. However, despite the chaos, whether global or professional, a business must keep moving forward. Customers still have problems that need to be solved, and your ideas still have the potential to solve them – that is if you can take them from concept to fruition. Watch and discover our framework for cutting through the chaos, and going from the problem space to rollout; getting your MVP where it belongs – in the hands of your customers.
Design Thinking: How To Shift Seamlessly From Chaos to Clarity
Discover HyperAutomation – the intersection of RPA, Test Automation, and AI – as we showcase how to successfully automate your E2E environment and drive ROI. This is a live recording featuring Jahan Ali, Founder and CEO of mobileLIVE, Noel Kirthiraj, CEO of UXPLORE, and Ragavan Balasubramaniam, Test Automaton Manager of mobileLIVE. It was hosted and moderated by Crina Bildea, Director of Sales.
HyperAutomation: Overcoming E2E Complexity
For your convenience, here is the full transcript of the Q&A between Naresh Babu – Director, Engagement Practice and Uzi Murad – Account Executive. Uzi Murad: Hello and welcome, I’m Uzi Murad and here with me today is Naresh Babu, head of strategy and architecture at mobileLIVE. Hey Naresh. Naresh Babu: Hi Uzi. Uzi: These days we see more and more enterprises adopting Multi-Cloud strategy. In fact, a recent survey by IBM showed that about 85% of executives are saying that they’re already running Multi-Cloud, or will be moving there within the next three years. So what we want to understand today is what’s driving organizations to the Multi-cloud strategy, and what are some of the challenges they are facing. But before we dive into the details there, Naresh, can you explain what we mean by Multi-Cloud? Naresh: Yeah. A Multi-Cloud strategy is just utilizing, I would say, two or more public or private clouds, for example, let’s say, you are utilizing AWS or GCP, or Azure and AWS, we can call it as a Multi-Cloud. Uzi: I see. And is that strategy a good fit for any type of enterprise? Naresh: So I would say Multi-Cloud strategy is a right fit for larger enterprises, because of the cost and complexity of running and maintaining it. For small to medium organizations, I would recommend Hybrid Cloud as the option. Uzi: And what does Hybrid Cloud mean? Naresh: Yeah. So, when you are running a local data center, and then you’re extending some services or a replication of that into a public cloud, you can call that as a Hybrid cloud. But there is terminology, something like Hybrid-Multi Cloud where there is a local data centre as well as more than two or three public clouds. So the combination of that is called Hybrid-Multi Cloud. Uzi: I see. So, definitely doesn’t sound trivial, I wonder what’s driving so many enterprises in that direction. I know many of them have the dual vendor strategy, they want increased competition, keep the cost down, but is that really what it’s all about? Naresh: Yeah. I would say yes. There are multiple drivers for the organizations and from my perspective, I would say it’s really the flexibility for picking the services, one versus the other. Let’s say for example, if you are in AWS and Azure, is AWS Lambda better versus Azure Functions? Or the second aspect I would say, is from the security aspect, where it’s very hard to bring down a Multi-Cloud environment using a denial-of-service-attack or DDOS attack, I would say. And the third aspect, I would say is data recovery or disaster recovery where you can create the most reliable architecture which can reduce a single point failure as well. Uzi: So I’m hearing: ability to do best of breed, improve the security, and finally disaster recovery and availability. Naresh: I would say, yes, yep. Uzi: So what are some of the top challenges that we are facing when implementing Multi-Cloud strategy? Naresh: Yes, so, when it comes to any new technologies, there are a lot of challenges. So when you talk about Multi-Cloud, i would say it’s still evolving, and organizations are already into it, but one of the key challenges is that there is no industry standard in terms of giving architecture guidelines or principles or best practices to be implemented. There are not many tools in the market that can help support or monitor the Multi-Cloud environment. And when it comes to provisioning, deploying and testing of it, you don’t see much tools as well. So from an application standpoint, I would say, one of the problems is identity brokering in the Multi-cloud environment, where each service provider might use their application to identify the request and response. Uzi: I see. So you mentioned identity brokering, what do you mean by that? Naresh: Yes. So let me give you an example. So when you are running an application for example in a local data centre, which has typically been authenticated by an active directory, and this has to contact or receive some information from your AWS file system, let’s say for example. AWS, on the other hand, uses IM service, which is identity management service to authenticate any request that is coming in. So how do you translate an AD token or AD authentication to automatically authenticate in AWS is called identity brokering. Uzi: I see. So what would be your recommendation to enterprises that are implementing the Multi-Cloud strategy? Naresh: Yeah. So I would say I can see in the industry there is a new adoption, it’s called infrastructure as code, which is one of the ways that you can convert doing admin tasks in terms of, from provisioning, to deploying, configuring, testing the virtual machines, creating containers, deploying containers, creating serviceless functions, deploying them: all of that can be considered as a code and this code can be run by anybody. Which typically what I’m trying to explain is an automated CI/CD pipeline spanned across a Multi-Cloud environment. Uzi: You mentioned tools, you said there are not too many tools out there. So are there any tools, and can they do the Multi-Cloud management? Naresh: Yeah, so, I’ve come across very few tools in terms of Multi-Cloud management, one would be Flexera, the other one would be Embotics, so I would say they are somewhere closer in terms of managing Multi-Cloud environments. And then there is another tool which again is being more famous is IBM Cloudpark, and people are mostly using it for data insights. And I’m thinking that if we can use, there is a tool called Terraform, if you can combine Terraform with Ensemble, which can act as a great IT automation tool, that can automate most of the IT tasks in terms of public as well as private cloud. I would say there is still a huge demand from enterprises to come up with a holistic platform that can allocate the workload strategy, at the same time managing the business containers in this hybrid Multi-Cloud environment. Still we have yet to see a unified tool that would act as a unified management platform. Uzi: So that unified infrastructure management tool, that’s what we really need? Naresh: I would say yes. Uzi: And do you see any of the major cloud providers coming out with this tool any time soon? Naresh: Yeah, why not right? I can see everyone is trying to get there, there’s a lot of third-party tools that are coming up. And definitely Azure and AWS have already implemented tools to have Hybrid Cloud management, and nothing is stopping from making a Multi-Cloud management platform, or unified infrastructure management platform. Uzi: Thank you Naresh and thanks everyone for joining us. Naresh: Thanks Uz
What’s Driving Large Enterprises to Multi-Cloud
Learn how to put your customers at the centre of everything you do. We can help you shift business-centric to human-centric through experience transformation.
Design Thinking: the Experience Transformation Journey Done Right
It’s an honour to announce we have earned the distinguished designation of “The Gold Standard” from Deloitte Canada. It is awarded to Canada’s Best Managed Companies who excel in Strategy, Capability, Commitment, and Growth for four years in a row.
The Gold Standard of IT Managed Companies: Canada’s Best Managed
What does the future hold? Few know with much certainty. The only certainty of the future is it guarantees change. What won’t change, however, is our commitment to helping you succeed in that future – no matter what it brings.
Past, Present, and Future: Using Cloud, Data, Innovation, & More
No matter the industry, and whatever the vertical, Test Automation is no longer optional for excellent customer experience – it’s mandatory. Discover how with our intuitive test automation services, great experiences and reduced OPEX don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
Intuitive Test Automation for Brilliant Customer Experiences
Richmond Hill, ON: The Ontario Minister of Research, Innovation and Science, Reza Moridi, paid a visit to mobileLIVE headquarters in Richmond Hill, to learn and discuss the company’s innovation and research practices. Jahan Ali, CEO of mobileLIVE, along with other members of the leadership team welcomed him to the office. During the tour of the office facilities, Minister Moridi was made familiar with the innovation practices and disruptive products in the areas of digital transformation and artificial intelligence such as UXPLORE that are being designed, built, modified, and marketed from mobileLIVE’s ready repository. To commemorate the Minister’s presence and etch a memory, the leadership team along with CEO, presented a plaque to thank him for his bold vision, leadership, and contribution in the field of research and innovation in Richmond Hill and Ontario.
Minister of Research, Innovation and Science visits mobileLIVE HQ
Richmond Hill, ON: Despite the stagnant economy of the country, mobileLIVE, a Richmond Hill based technology company, has earned several recognitions from the industry stalwarts for its fast growth, innovative solutions, high client retentive power and timely delivery of services. Deloitte recently recognised the fastest growing companies in Canada as well as North America in their Technology Fast 50™ and Technology Fast 500™ programs. These companies were identified for their disruptive innovations and potential for continuous growth. mobileLIVE ranked 13th as the Fastest Growing Technology Company in Canada on Deloitte Technology Fast 50™awards with a steady growth of 999 percent. The company also secured 119th position among the other Fastest Growing Companies in North America on Deloitte’s 2016 Technology Fast 500™. Also, interestingly, it is the 8th technology company from Ontario which had a steady growth despite the stagnant economy. Jahan Ali, the CEO of the company believes, “Our business is to ‘simplify everything’ for end-users through innovative solutions. This basically gives us the zeal to perform and deliver.” “Fast 50 companies are the cutting-edge innovators leading the technology industry in Canada,” said Anders McKenzie, Technology, Media and Telecommunications Managing Partner for Deloitte in Canada. “Their bold vision, unrivaled growth and true commitment to innovation allow them to not only improve today’s world, but also shape tomorrow’s.” mobileLIVE’s unmatched quality services, innovative technology solutions, helped the company to win the CAMSC “Supplier of the year” award. Ali dedicates the win to his people. “My people are my IP (Intellectual Property). It’s the team’s dedicated efforts that made us successful.” 83 percent of the CEOs in a Deloitte annual survey of Technology Fast 50 mentioned that an inclusive workplace is one of the top three strategic drivers of their company’s success.
Technology solutions firm wins accolades for remarkable growth
Richmond Hill, ON: mobileLIVE won the 13th position in the 19th annual Deloitte Technology Fast 50™awards for demonstrating bold innovation, dedicated leadership and strong growth. The Deloitte Technology Fast 50 program celebrates leaders in the Canadian technology industry and tracks the successful growth of Canadian-grown leaders. The program augments the broader Deloitte North American Technology Fast 500™ initiative with winners automatically eligible for this elite ranking. “Fast 50 companies are the cutting-edge innovators leading the technology industry in Canada,” said Anders McKenzie, Technology, Media and Telecommunications Managing Partner for Deloitte in Canada. “Their bold vision, unrivalled growth and true commitment to innovation allow them to not only improve today’s world, but also shape tomorrow’s.” To qualify for the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 ranking, companies must have been in business for at least four years, have revenues of at least $5 million, be headquartered in Canada, own proprietary technology, conduct research and development activities in Canada and invest a minimum of five percent of gross revenues in R&D.
mobileLIVE ranks 13th Fastest Growing Technology Company in Canada
Richmond Hill, ON: mobileLIVE ranked 119th on Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500™, a ranking of the 500 fastest growing technology, media, telecommunications, life sciences and energy tech companies in North America. “Today, when every organization can be a tech company, the most effective businesses not only foster the courage to explore change, but also encourage creativity in using and applying existing assets in new ways, as resourcefully as possible,” said Anders McKenzie, Technology, Media and Telecommunications Managing Partner for Deloitte in Canada “This ingenious approach to innovation calls for the encouragement of curiosity and collaboration both within and outside the office walls.” Overall, 2016 Technology Fast 500 companies achieved revenue growth ranging from 121 percent to 66,661 percent from 2012 to 2015, with an average growth rate of 290 percent.
mobileLIVE ranked number 119th Fastest Growing Company in North America
Richmond Hill, ON: The Mayor of Richmond Hill, His Worship Dave Barrow paid a visit to the mobileLIVE headquarters in Richmond Hill. The company CEO, Jahan Ali, along with the senior leadership team welcomed him and to the office. He was made familiar with the mobileLIVE office facilities as he toured along the office premises. The senior leadership team along with Jahan Ali, the CEO, handed him a plaque to commemorate the visit and thanking him for his vision, leadership, and commitment to making Richmond Hill a part of the largest technology cluster in Canada.
Mayor Dave Barrow visits mobileLIVE
Richmond Hill, ON: The Toronto Board of Trade has declared mobileLIVE as a finalist for their Business Excellence Award – “Emerging Entrepreneur”. This award recognizes a business that has seen rapid innovation-driven growth achieved by disrupting the status quo to spark and influence the industry transformation.
mobileLIVE gets nominated finalist for “Emerging Entrepreneur”
Richmond Hill, ON: mobileLIVE secured 16th position in PROFITGuide’s Startup 50 for its entrepreneurial achievements. PROFITGuide, over the last 29 years has been commonly known for acknowledging Canada’s top Fastest Growing Companies on their revenue growth. “These companies promise to transform Canada’s economy through innovation and determination,” says James Cowan, Editor-in-chief of PROFITguide and Canadian Business. “Their stories of early success are truly inspiring.” This feat of excellence synced mobileLIVE with the elite community of Canada’s most successful, vibrant, and important businesses.
mobileLIVE ranks 16th among “Canada’s Top New Growth Companies”
Richmond Hill, ON: mobileLIVE bagged the TechConnex Technology Leadership Award as the “Momentum Company of the Year” for continuous excellence in innovation and a commitment to the knowledge-based sector in the Greater Toronto Region. The award also recognized the zeal of the company in consistently reaching out to new customers or delivering new services within an existing customer framework, increasing revenues, adding employees, encouraging community involvement and embracing sound business fundamentals. TechConnex’s Technology Leadership Awards Gala & Showcase acknowledges the excellence amongst technology businesses and their achievement in one of five important categories of peers within the GTA Tech Ecosystem.
mobileLIVE wins the “Momentum Company of the Year” Award
Richmond Hill, ON: mobileLIVE won the prestigious 2015 Ontario Business Achievement Award (OBAA) in the “SME Excellence category.” This year, over 100 businesses submitted their applications for an OBAA award and out of them, mobileLIVE‘s achievements were recognized. Hosted by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC), the OBAA is a unique event that showcses some of the province’s most successful businesses and the positive impact they have made on Ontario’s economy. For 33 years, the OBAAs have acknowledged and celebrated Ontario’s best in business – awarding organizations that personify integrity, hard work, innovation, entrepreneurship, and export excellence. Jahan Ali, CEO of mobileLIVE accepted the award from the sponsors RBC. Commenting on the success, Ali says “I certainly owe a big thank you to the Ontario Chamber of Commerce for creating this wonderful opportunity and to my team who have made this possible. We are extremely proud of this recognition which will further fuel our quest for excellence.”
mobileLIVE won the prestigious “2015 Ontario Business Achievement Award”
Richmond Hill, ON : The Ontario Business Achievement Awards (OBAA) organized by Ontario Chamber of Commerce, recognized mobileLIVE for delivering Innovation, enhanced End User Experience and Service Excellence. The Ontario Business Achievement Awards (OBAA) organized by Ontario Chamber of Commerce, is the most prestigious awards gala in the province with a single focus on celebrating business success. For over 30 years, businesses have been awarded OBAAs for their achievements in areas including sustainability, innovation, market expansion, and exporting. Only two finalists were selected in each category from this year’s pool. mobileLIVE is honoured to be one of these finalists and is exceptionally proud of this significant achievement. It is a testament to the quality of work provided by the highly talented and experienced team working at mobileLIVE. The awards are scheduled for Wednesday November 25, 2015 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
mobileLIVE is being recognized for delivering Innovation & Business Delivery Excellence
In the recently held, Ontario Business Achievement Awards (OBAA) organized by Ontario Chamber of Commerce, mobileLIVE received some excellent words of appreciation from the various business leaders of the region for its excellent business service delivery and innovation led practices. “It’s a well-known fact that SMEs are the backbone of Ontario’s economy and mobileLIVE is no exception. By centralizing operations here in the province, this organization is actively creating jobs and stimulating our economy from their hometown of Richmond Hill.” – Allan O’Dette, President and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce “By harnessing the unlimited potential of modern technology, mobileLIVE is making their customers’ products more relevant, effective and user-friendly with their innovative services in a highly competitive marketplace.” – Karl Baldauf, Vice President of Policy and Government Relations at the Ontario Chamber of Commerce “Finalists like mobileLIVE are setting the standard for innovation and creativity on the internet. Congratulations to mobileLIVE, proud member of the Richmond Hill Chamber of Commerce, on being a finalist for the Ontario Business Achievement Award’s SME Excellence Award.” – Hon. Bryon Wilfert, Chair of the Board at the Richmond Hill Chamber of Commerce mobileLIVE thanks Ontario Chamber of Commerce and the Ontario Business Achievement Awards Team for showering such inspiring words to the team. Jahan Ali, CEO, mobileLIVE concludes, “Create an experience beyond a product or a service and success will follow.”
What Ontario business leaders are saying about mobileLIVE
Richmond Hill, ON: Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Suppliers Council (CAMSC) presented mobileLIVE the 2016 Business Achievement Award, “Supplier of the year” for demonstrating growth in sales and employment; consistently providing high quality products and services at competitive pricing; offering innovative solutions; and significantly delivering greater benefits through growth and development to their community. On winning this award, mobileLIVE was offered a scholarship to participate in a Tuck MBE program sponsored by the General Motors. The company is proud to share the prestigious frame with other CASMC Business Achievement Award winners like E&Y (Ernst & Young), Triplewell Products, Sodexo, Stratus Plastics International, RBC (Royal Bank of Canada), and BMO (Bank of Montreal).
mobileLIVE wins “Supplier of the Year” Award
Richmond Hill, ON – mobileLIVE is sponsoring charity JDRF via TELUS’ third annual Telecom Networking Event, to be held on June 12, 2014 at the Metro Convention Center, South Building. Event Detail: Join TELUS for our third annual Telecom Networking Event: Talking Tech in Healthcare TELUS will be hosting its third Telecom Networking Event which is all about connecting with the telecommunications community and connecting with reputable charities. Various executives of the telecommunications sector including senior executives from TELUS (Sales, Consumer and Business Marketing, Procurement, Technology, and Channel Operations) have supported this cause and have regularly attended in past years. It’s a great opportunity to network and connect with a variety of senior executives, all while contributing to a great cause. Some of the attendees we’re expecting from TELUS this year are: Peter Green, President and SVP, TELUS Business Solutions Lloyd Switzer, SVP, Tech Strategy Joe Goodbaum, President, TELUS Channels Michael Guerriere, Chief Medical Officer, TELUS Health Tony Krueck, VP, Business Products & Services Jim Senko, VP, SBS and Mobility Phil Moore, VP, Large Complex Deals Eric Fergin, VP, Supply Chain and Procurement Drazen Lalovic, VP, Market Planning Alfred Baghouzian, VP, Devices and Applications Tickets are on sale now for $20, which include snacks and complimentary beverages. A cash bar will also be available. All proceeds will go to JDRF and United Way. With your help, we can make the event an even bigger and better success than previous years. Time & Place Date: June 12, 2014 Time: 5:30 – 8:30 PM Venue: Metro Toronto Convention Centre ; 222 Bremner Boulevard; South Building Price: $20
mobileLIVE sponsors charity JDRF via TELUS’ third annual Telecom Networking Event
Markham, ON : mobileLIVE has signed an agreement with TELUS to perform its HSPA Device Certification Testing for the next 3 years. mobileLIVE has one of the best 3rd party state-of-the-art lab in Canada for smartphones and IoT that can test in any service provider environment. “Our lab can simulate satellite and any cellular networks worldwide eliminating the need to travel to test roaming and location-based services. We can also simulate 100+ different types of male and female voices and accents, various interference, and noisy conditions delimiting the time to travel to different places to test voice quality and performance, all inside our lab,” explains Jahan Ali, CEO, mobilelIVE. Ali adds, “It’s a big business development for us. And we appreciate the trust and confidence that the market has on us.”
TELUS has selected mobileLIVE to perform its end-to-end HSPA device testing for next 3 years
Toronto: A recent report published by the Brookfield Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship says women in Canada are under-represented in the Canadian technological workforce. In light of recent International Women’s Day and its theme “Balance for Better,” Canadian tech service provider mobileLIVE decided to showcase how they’ve been working towards a more balanced workforce. “We are a team of 300+ technical and non-technical roles, working together to accelerate digital transformation for our clients. It is undoubtedly a proud moment for us to say that 31% of our total team is women, and it is a well planned strategic move to enhance the representation of the female force in our teams” explains Aftab Ali, Head of Human Resources at mobileLIVE. The Brookfield Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship explains women account for 20% of the tech workforce in comparison to their 80% male counterparts. Furthermore, the report also claims, “women participate at lower rates in tech, across all age groups.” In 2018, MaRS, Feminuity, and Fortay conducted a survey to examine diversity, inclusion and belonging in Toronto’s tech sector. Women in Toronto’s tech sector reported “lower levels of diversity, inclusion and belonging compared to men.” The report also highlighted that “women in Toronto’s tech sector also feel less engaged in decision-making processes at work.” “The average age of women at mobileLIVE is around 33, but we have a wide range,” affirms Aftab. “From GenZ to Millennials to Baby Boomers, with each excelling in their career trajectory. It is also worth noting that our leadership team comprises of 25% women, which sets a great balance within the organization.” At present, 28% of technical roles at mobileLIVE, including Software Developers, Business System Analysts, Data Scientists, Project Managers, Quality Assurance Engineers, Network Engineers, are held by women. On the other hand, 58% of the non-technical roles involving departments like Human Resources, Marketing, Finance, and Administration are held by women. From flexible work schedules, time off for childcare, exclusive shopping perks, health benefits, and a family-like culture, mobileLIVE continues to reaffirm their commitment in promoting equality and balance for women in the workplace and the world.
mobileLIVE surpasses the national average for women in tech
Toronto: For the third year in a row, mobileLIVE is being recognized for its overall business performance and sustained growth with the prestigious Canada’s Best Managed Companies designation. The 2019 Best Managed program award winners are amongst the best-in-class of Canadian-owned and managed companies demonstrating excellence in strategy, capability, and commitment to achieve sustainable growth. Entering its 26th year, Canada’s Best Managed Companies is one of the country’s leading business awards program recognizing Canadian-owned and managed companies for innovative, world-class business practices. Every year, hundreds of entrepreneurial companies compete for this designation in a rigorous and independent process that evaluates the calibre of their management abilities and practices. The “CIBC is pleased to congratulate mobileLIVE on being named one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies, recognizing its excellence in leadership, business performance and innovation,” said Dino Medves, Senior Vice President and Head, CIBC Commercial Banking. “As a sponsor of the Canada’s Best Managed Companies program for over 20 years, CIBC is proud to celebrate private companies like mobileLIVE as leaders in their industry.” “It is humbling every year to see the calibre of businesses that earned this designation,” says Jahan Ali, CEO and Founder of mobileLIVE. “Far from intimidating, we find it inspiring and use it as motivation to continue our streak into the fourth year.” Applicants are assessed on their sustained growth by a panel of independent judges against a predetermined set of attributes that include a clear strategy and vision, investment in capability and commitment to talent. “2018 was yet another big year for us,” exclaims Hussain Qureshi, President of mobileLIVE. “We grew our clientele, added industry verticals, and geographies, all while reaffirming our innovative spirit and solidifying our performance-driven culture. One of the biggest reasons we’ve been able to sustain this growth – and this designation – is the alignment between our business strategy and culture that acts as a framework for all our efforts.” “This year’s Best Managed winners are a testament to the success found when businesses invest in talent, innovate intentionally, and think long-term,” said Peter Brown, Partner, Deloitte Private and Co-Leader, Canada’s Best Managed Companies program. “These companies should be proud of this achievement, and their responsibility in acting as role models for other Canadian businesses.” 2019 winners of Canada’s Best Managed Companies award will be honoured at the annual Canada’s Best Managed Companies gala in Toronto on April 17, 2019. The Best Managed program is sponsored by Deloitte, CIBC, Canadian Business, Smith School of Business, TMX Group and MacKay CEO Forums.
mobileLIVE named one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies – for the third time
Richmond Hill, ON: mobileLIVE is honoured to be recognized as Growth 500 Employer of the Year among the list of Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies. The Growth 500 Employer of the Year designation is reserved for a single Growth 500 company that has dramatically increased the size of its workforce in the past five years, creating net new jobs; that offers a diverse range of programs, benefits and services to attract, engage and retain employees; and demonstrates commitment from its leadership in creating a great workplace. Out of all the applications submitted by all 500 winners, the editorial team believed that mobileLIVE was the most deserving of this award because of its unique and innovative initiatives. “In 2017, we made a commitment to our employees, present and future, that by 2020 we would be one of the greatest places to work in Canada. And while we normally pride ourselves on our punctuality, we couldn’t be more thrilled to have arrived here a couple of years early. This award serves only to validate our efforts going forward as we remain committed to creating a launch pad for brilliant ideas, fulfilling careers, and a balanced life that has earned us this recognition.” This award acts as a benchmark moving forward, helping to guide cultural and administrative practices to ensure mobileLIVE remains one of the best places to work in Canada.
mobileLIVE recognized as Growth 500 Employer of the Year
Richmond Hill, ON: Canadian tech firm, mobileLIVE has earned a spot on the Growth 500 ranking for the second consecutive year. Canadian Business and Maclean’s announced today that mobileLIVE ranked 99th on the 30th annual Growth 500 – the definitive ranking of Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies. mobileLIVE also ranked as the 39th Fastest-Growing Company in Toronto and 20th Fastest-Growing Software Companies in Canada. “The companies on the 2018 Growth 500 are truly remarkable. Demonstrating foresight, innovation and smart management, their stories serve as a primer for how to build a successful entrepreneurial business today,” says Deborah Aarts, Growth 500 Program Manager. “As we celebrate 30 years of the Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies program, it’s encouraging to see that entrepreneurship is healthier than ever in this country. “ “Winning this award once is an achievement, however, being honoured for a second consecutive year is truly humbling,” says Jahan Ali, CEO and founder of mobileLIVE. “I can’t claim this award for myself; rather, it is the team we’ve built, their unyielding agility, adherence to scalability, and dedication to quality that has allowed us to maintain our growth trajectory.” Momentum has been building as this announcement comes on the heels of a number of growth initiatives from mobileLIVE, mainly, the addition of office locations across the country as well as adding some more depth and experience to their leadership team.
mobileLIVE ranks 99th among Canada’s Fastest-Growing 500 Companies
Richmond Hill, ON: mobileLIVE, the multi-award winning tech company just announced a new central office location, situated at 145 King St. W, in the heart of Toronto’s bustling Financial District. The new location is part of an overarching strategy intended to not only enhance accessibility to clients but to establish a central hub for all key initiatives and activities moving forward. This announcement comes on the heels of other recent news from mobileLIVE: the addition of two new members to their leadership team; Daniel Yinanc as VP of Innovation and Technology and Chris Chambers as VP of Sales (BFSI). The company confirmed that their new location in Toronto, coupled with an established presence in Richmond Hill and Montreal, is part of their growth strategy, both here and abroad, and includes the recent acquisition of ZSystems (Pvt.) Ltd. in Pakistan. The Lahore based tech company will help mobileLIVE provide a greater focus on international operations and expansion. “The market response and subsequent growth of mobileLIVE have been tremendous,” says Jahan Ali, CEO, mobileLIVE. “With Daniel and Chris joining the team and our stronger, more strategic presence in Canada and abroad, we are better poised to further accelerate the growth of not only ourselves but the clients we serve.”
mobileLIVE adds new offices as part of their strategic expansion
Richmond Hill, ON: mobileLIVE has won the prestigious title as one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies of 2017, leaving behind hundreds of other companies who apply to win this coveted title year after year. Companies which are fully Canadian-owned and managed were selected in the grounds of steadfast revenues along with demonstrating strategy, capability and commitment to achieve sustainable growth in the Canadian market and adding to the global economy. “This recognition affirms the company’s strong commitment in transforming client’s vision into reality, building a collaborative culture, and ensuring financial growth year over year,” said Jahan Ali, CEO of mobileLIVE in a statement. Ali, explains, “Our strengths in operational adaptability and scalability, enterprise grade solutions, end-user experience driven developments, modular and scalable approach, culture of robotic process and test automation, agile and lean structures along with collaborative working models to co-create, sets us apart.” Established in 1993, ‘Canada’s Best Managed Companies’ is one of the country’s leading business awards programs recognizing companies for their innovative, world-class business practices, distinctive culture and sustained growth. “It’s much more than just financial performance,” said Lorrie King, Partner, Deloitte and Co-Leader, Canada’s Best Managed Companies program. “Well-run companies are important to the economic health of our country. These companies serve as role models to help make all Canadian businesses better.” In 2016, mobileLIVE was conferred the Deloitte Technology Fast 50™ and Fast 500™ awards along with many other notable industry awards for fast growth, innovative approaches and entrepreneurial qualities. “Winning the Best Managed Companies title is a proud moment for us,” says the excited President, Hussain Qureshi. However, he believes winning is not the end in fact consistently living up to the title is equally important. “We will always go above and beyond in providing disruptive & innovative services to our clients, ensure unique and personalized experiences for end-users along with consistently investing in our team’s growth.” The best managed winners are an important engine of economic growth for being adaptable and sustainable in a global market. Applicants are evaluated by an independent judging panel made up of judges from Deloitte, CIBC, Canadian Business, Smith School of Business and MacKay CEO Forums. The Best Managed program is sponsored by Deloitte, CIBC, Canadian Business, Smith School of Business and MacKay CEO Forums. “CIBC is thrilled to congratulate mobileLIVE on being named one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies, recognizing its excellence in leadership, business performance and innovation,” said Jon Hountalas, Executive Vice President, Business and Corporate Banking, CIBC. “As a sponsor of Canada’s Best Managed Companies program for over 20 years, CIBC is proud to celebrate private companies like mobileLIVE as leaders in their industry.” 2017 winners of the Canada’s Best Managed Companies award will be honoured at the annual Canada’s Best Managed Companies gala in Toronto on April 19, 2017. On the same date, the Best Managed symposium will address leading-edge business issues that are key to the success of today’s business leaders.
mobileLIVE wins Best Managed Companies Title in Canada
Richmond Hill, ON: mobileLIVE is once again, recognized for its overall business performance and sustained growth with the prestigious Canada’s Best Managed Companies designation. The 2018 Best Managed program award winners are amongst the best-in-class of Canadian-owned and managed companies demonstrating excellence in strategy, capability, and commitment to achieve sustainable growth. Now in its 25th year, Canada’s Best Managed Companies is one of the country’s leading business awards programs recognizing Canadian-owned and managed companies for innovative, world-class business practices. Every year, hundreds of entrepreneurial companies compete for this designation in a rigorous and independent process that evaluates the calibre of their management abilities and practices. Jahan Ali, Founder and CEO mobileLIVE explains, “Winning Canada’s Best Managed for the second year is no easy task, nor is it one that a single person can take credit for. In fact, it takes everyone on the team staying true to our vision – to be the number one company in every every customer we serve. We are happy with the world taking notice.” Applicants are evaluated by an independent judging panel comprised of representatives from program sponsors in addition to special guest judges. 2018 Best Managed companies share commonalities that include a clear strategy and vision, investment in capability and commitment to talent. “We don’t believe in one-offs, random occurrences, or isolated incidents,” says Hussain Qureshi, President, mobileLIVE. “So, when we won Canada’s Best Managed in 2017, we knew exactly what we had to do in order to keep our coveted status. We differentiated ourselves, assembled teams and capabilities to drive innovation and productivity, stayed committed to our goals, created a distinct culture, engaged, invested, and rewarded teams with a long-term vision to achieve success for our clients.” “This year’s winners reinforce the significant impact that privately owned Canadian companies are making by pursuing innovation and maintaining a sharp focus on their clients,” says Dino Medves, Senior Vice President and Head, CIBC Commercial Banking, co sponsors of the program. He further adds, “CIBC proudly congratulates the 2018 winners of Canada’s Best Managed Companies, who exemplify business excellence and success.” 2018 winners of the Canada’s Best Managed Companies award will be honoured at the annual Canada’s Best Managed Companies gala in Toronto on April 11, 2018. On the same date, the Best Managed symposium will address leading-edge business issues that are key to the success of today’s business leaders. The Best Managed program is sponsored by Deloitte, CIBC, Canadian Business, Smith School of Business, TMX Group and MacKay CEO Forums.
mobileLIVE recognized as one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies again
Richmond Hill, ON: The Max Gala Foundation, declared Jahan Ali as the ‘Business Leader of the Year’, in their 2017 Annual Awards Gala. The Max foundation, progressively works to recognize, reward, motivate, and celebrate positive contributions as well as high achievement of Canadian Muslims towards the society. Jahan immigrated to Canada as a student and founded mobileLIVE, a company specialized in accelerating digital transformation for its clients along with robotic automation. Within six years of his entrepreneurial journey, Jahan has advanced the company to great heights, winning praiseworthy business titles year after year. Apart from his acumen as a businessman, Jahan is also known for his philanthropic activities in various roles. Be it a mentor or a coach supporting in the settlement of newcomers and immigrants to actively supporting various charities in building a better world.
Jahan Ali wins 2017 Max Gala Business Leader of the Year Award
Richmond Hill, ON: mobileLIVE ranked 219th in Deloitte’s Technology 500™, a ranking of the 500 fastest-growing technology, media, telecommunications, life sciences and energy tech companies in North America. On further breakdown of 500 companies, mobileLIVE is one of 70 companies with Headquarters in Canada. Out of these 70 companies, mobileLIVE ranked 16th among technology companies from Ontario, 22nd among software companies in Canada, and 30th among technology companies from Canada. “The Deloitte 2017 North America Technology Fast 500 winners underscore the impact of technological innovation and world class customer service in driving growth, in a fiercely competitive environment,” said Sandra Shirai, vice chairman, Deloitte Consulting LLP and U.S. technology, media and telecommunications leader. “These companies are on the cutting edge and are transforming the way we do business. We extend our sincere congratulations to all the winners for achieving remarkable growth while delivering new services and experiences for their customers.”
mobileLIVE ranked 219th among Fastest-Growing Companies in North America
Richmond Hill, ON: mobileLIVE today announced their ranking as 37th on Deloitte’s Technology Fast 50 program award due to its rapid growth, bold innovation and its entrepreneurial spirit. On further breakdown of the Fast 50™ companies, mobileLIVE ranked 11th among technology companies from GTA, 18th among technology companies from Ontario, and 23rd among software companies. Additionally, mobileLIVE has also been ranked 219th on Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500TM across North America and is one of 70 companies with Headquarters in Canada. On further breakdown of these 70 companies, mobileLIVE ranked 16th among technology companies from Ontario, 22nd among software companies in Canada, and 30th among technology companies from Canada. The Deloitte Technology Fast 50 program winners are made up of public and private companies in the technology sector that share common traits and strengths and have transformed the industry. Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the program augments the broader Deloitte North American Technology Fast 500™ initiative with winners automatically eligible for this elite ranking. mobileLIVE CEO, Jahan Ali says, “We are really proud of achieving this prestigious title 2nd year in a row.” he adds, ”Success is never by chance. You create it by obsessing over customer success, building a reliable team of innovators, and ensuring simplification for the end users.” “New technologies have disrupted various industries in ways that were unimaginable a few years ago,” said Erica Pretorius, Partner and National Leader for the Technology Fast 50™ program at Deloitte Canada. “Fast 50 winners have led the way and I can’t wait to see where they take us next.” Hussain Qureshi, President mobileLIVE says, “Winning the title again is very reassuring. We are very pleased with our technological advancement, path breaking innovative solutions, and world class customer service in accelerating digital transformation.” Sandra Shirai, vice chairman, Deloitte Consulting LLP and U.S. technology, media and telecommunications leader explains, “These companies are on the cutting edge and are transforming the way we do business. We extend our sincere congratulations to all the winners for achieving remarkable growth while delivering new services and experiences for their customers.” To qualify for the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 ranking, companies must have been in business for at least four years, have revenues of at least $5 million, be headquartered in Canada, own proprietary technology, conduct research and development activities in Canada and invest a minimum of five percent of gross revenues in R&D.
mobileLIVE Ranked 37th Fastest-Growing Company in Canada
Richmond Hill, ON: Canadian Business and PROFIT today ranked mobileLIVE 33rd on the 29th annual PROFIT 500, the definitive ranking of Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies. The program ranks businesses based on their five-year revenue growth. On further categorization of the top Fastest-Growing Software Companies in Canada, mobileLIVE was ranked 13th among the 71 listed companies, and 10th Fastest-Growing Software Companies, based in Ontario, vis-a- vis the PROFIT 500 program. “It is never easy to earn a spot on the PROFIT 500, but this year’s applicant pool was the most competitive yet,” says Deborah Aarts, PROFIT 500 program manager. “This year’s winners demonstrate the resilience, innovation and sheer management smarts it takes to build a thriving business today. Canada—and the world—needs more entrepreneurial success stories like these.” For the past 29 years PROFIT 500 has been Canada’s most respectable and influential ranking of entrepreneurial achievement. mobileLIVE CEO Jahan Ali, says his company’s explosive growth recipe is in “Being end-user obsessed.” He continues, “We go to great lengths in understanding user requirements and use those insights in ideating, building, testing and delivering exceptional experiences.” “On securing 33rd position in the PROFIT 500 ranking we are delighted and feel honoured that our efforts are recognized by the industry and the markets we serve,” says the excited company President, Hussain Qureshi. “This achievement reflects on the performance reliability of our team and a promise to our clients of success and nothing less.”
mobileLIVE Ranks 33rd on the 2017 PROFIT 500
Richmond Hill, ON: Jahan Ali, Founder and CEO mobileLIVE, has been recently recognized by Ernst & Young (EY) as a finalist in their Entrepreneur Of The YearTM program, which distinguishes entrepreneurs who are bold and daring to take risks, challenges status-quos, dive into uncertainty, and overcome impediments with innovative solutions. The firm named 40 finalists across 10 categories in its acclaimed EY Entrepreneur Of The YearTM 2017 Ontario Awards program. “EY’s Entrepreneur Of The Year program celebrates the men and women who dare to dream big and build boldly,” says François Tellier, Region Program Director. “From coast to coast, our regional finalists are entrepreneurs who make the most of uncertainty, disrupt traditional business models and develop solutions to unforeseen problems. Just like this year’s EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year winner, Murad Al-Katib of AGT Food and Ingredients, they make us proud to be Canadian.” Jahan’s prowess in customer-driven approach and leading the company to achieve exceptional growth over the years, has been key in securing a place in the program.
mobileLIVE CEO named finalists of the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ program
Richmond Hill, ON: The Minister of International Trade, Ontario, Michael Chan, paid a visit to explore mobileLIVE’s Robotic Process and Test Automation factory. mobileLIVE team welcomed the Minister and offered him a tour of the office facilities. He was guided and explained about the various innovation led practices and products that the company offers. After meeting the diversified workforce of mobileLIVE, Minister Chan was also assured that the company values the principal of building more jobs and propelling the Canadian economy forward. As a vote of thanks for his bold vision and services around the Markham-Unionville region, the leadership team of mobileLIVE presented him a plaque.
Minister Michael Chan visits mobileLIVE Robotic factory
Richmond Hill, ON: Member of Parliament, Richmond Hill, Majid Jowhari visited mobileLIVE headquarters to learn how the company is progressing in the areas of Digital Transformation, IoT, Artificial Intelligence, Robotic Test and Process Automation. MP Jowhari, a Tech graduate from Toronto’s Ryerson University, along with a MBA from York University has an acumen for Technology Businesses, and has lead his own consulting firm for over seven years in a row. To commemorate the presence and etch a memory, the leadership team presented a plaque to thank MP Majid Jowhari for his bold vision, leadership, and contribution in Richmond Hill and Ontario.
MP Majid Jowhari visits mobileLIVE HQ
Richmond Hill, ON : mobileLIVE enhanced new features to its recently launched new automated testing tool, UXPLORE, designed for Smart communicating devices (mobile phones, PC’s) and Applications (mobile, web, and other IT apps). The first one permits testers to effectively schedule script runs on specific times/days as well as adding a recurrence to the runs. With this function, testers can now dedicate their working hours in developing/enhancing and validating new scripts, and run them during off-hours period to maximize their productivity. The second feature permits testers to update a library-based test case and effectively push the changes automatically to all the test suite utilizing that specific test case. This not only adds a high level of convenience but also permits a huge productivity gain in updating related test suites.
UXPLORE R1.1 offers additional features
Richmond Hill, ON: mobileLIVE is proud to announce the first release of the new UXPLORE automated testing tool designed for Smart communicating devices (mobile phones, PC’s) and Applications (mobile, web, and other IT apps). UXPLORE is the latest automation tool created by mobileLIVE that allows one tester to create a script and run it across Multiple Screens and Multiple Platforms with Real-time Reporting Capabilities from anywhere and at any time. UXPLORE’s web based GUI permits users to access the management portal with any browser supporting device. UXPLORE automation tool goes further than traditional testing tools with its unique capability of testing targeted screen equipped devices located at specific geographical area. UXPLORE is the only tool available today that will test a specific device sitting at a specific geographic location. With the simple drag and drop functionality, users can easily create test cases and suites without the need to have any previous coding knowledge. UXPLORE can automatically discover and report on issues and discrepancies that traditional automated testing software’s will miss such as: User Flows, Application Latency, Session Timeout, Health Checks, UI Discrepancies, Branding Issues, Spelling Mistakes, and Data Validation. UXPLORE can also read use information from an external source to be used to test live applications, such as login names, password, payment information and more.
Release 1 of UXPLORE
Richmond Hill, ON : mobileLIVE is proud to be certified as a supplier with Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council (CAMSC). Being a Canadian owned and operated company, we look forward to working closely with prestigious CAMSC members. CAMSC operates as a private sector-led, non-profit membership organization governed by a board of Directors; comprised of major multinational corporations operating in Canada. The organization aims to boost economic development efforts and employment.
mobileLIVE wins Supplier Certification with CAMSC
Richmond Hill, ON : mobileLIVE is pleased to announce the launch of its latest app “MyThingsTracker”. With MyThingsTracker, users are able to capture and organize information of their expensive purchases or important documents in one central place and get reminded on when to take action or refer to them when needed.
mobileLIVE launches new app- MyThingsTracker
Richmond Hill, ON: mobileLIVE, under the ICT (Information Communications and Technology) industry, claimed 116th position among the Top 250 ICT companies awarded by the Branham Group, in its industry acclaimed Branham300 listing. “mobileLIVE is continuously gaining recognition as a leader in building custom mobility and IoT applications along with providing digital workforce for robotic process and test automation. We are focused on transforming our clients visions into reality, increasing their operational agility, and creating exceptional experiences for their customers.” said Jahan Ali, CEO mobileLIVE. Hussain Qureshi, President, mobileLIVE says, “Getting recognized by the Branham Group in their Branham300 list of top 250 ICT companies, is an accomplishment in itself. I am thankful to the organizers, as the Branham300 collectively builds the “Made in Canada” brand and accolades globally.” Wayne Gudbranson, CEO Branham Group adds, “The companies that comprise the Branham300 have a lot of reasons to be proud of. I am again impressed by the performance of Canada’s technology community. The sector has set another revenue record, as measured by our Top 250 ranking of Canadian companies, which are helping to build our innovation economy.” 2017 marks the 24th annual Branham300 ranking of public and private technology companies in Canada. The companies that made up the list of 2017 Branham300 has collaboratively set a new record of $105.3 billion, with a YOY increase of 9.6 percent; which is almost double the previous year.
mobileLIVE ranked among the Top 250 ICT companies
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Pursuit of optimal customer experience is driving digital transformation initiatives; with technology allowing customers to be in direct control of their interactions with businesses. From the ease of multi-channel digital connectivity to immediacy in service, the customers are demanding seamless and hyper-personalized experiences that embody simplicity, Do-it-Yourself, and social. Hyperconnectivity is growing at an unprecedented pace and there is a global urgency in embracing “digital-first” strategies. Benefits already being witnessed from digital transformation efforts include: increased market share by 41%, increased customer engagement in digital channels by 37%, more positive employee morale by 37%, greater web and mobile engagement by 32%, and increased customer revenue by 30%. However, growth in this highly competitive digital economy must be lead with a clear vision, in a collaborative culture of highly motivated departments, fueled with disruptive innovations in both business models and offerings. Ultimately, all efforts narrowing down into two strategic streams: Customer Value and Operational Agility In this paper, my colleagues and I share how customer experience is driving digital transformation initiatives. What are the key challenges and how they can be addressed to attract, win, and retain customers in this ever-increasing digital economy.
Customer Experience in the Digital Economy
You know it’s vital, I know it’s vital, so let’s move on and dive right into our recipe for success. True quality comes from quality minded people, and as such, we’ve subscribed to a different angle towards QA, one that differs from the traditional practices. Approach Traditional Quality Assurance often involves extensive work and coding before any testing is actually done. This results in finding more bugs in the software closer to the delivery date. At mobileLIVE, our QA involves Test Automation coupled with Continuous Integration from the start. This approach uncovers the majority of bugs at the beginning of the software development cycle and fixes them as the cycle progresses. The result is fewer bugs to reconcile at the end of the project, which in turn, allows for seamless and easy delivery. traditional QA has manual testing lots of bugs. mobileLIVE QA has test automation, continuous integration, not many bugs Whether you are working in an agile environment or taking a waterfall approach, the overall strategy for high-quality QA remains the same: QA best practices methodologies cycle: test strategy, test dev, test execution, defect management, delivery Best Practices Our approach to QA is what truly sets us apart in an already dense development landscape and we would like to share with you a comprehensive list of best practices that have proven effective time and time again: Focus on the User Experience: Testing at all levels of the project is crucial, but the most important thing to consider is the user experience. If the UX is bad, it inevitably means the quality is not at par. Although this will likely result in changes during earlier levels of development, the user experience must always be at the forefront. Automation and Continuous Integration: Automation is vital because it provides fast feedback, enabling continuous integration – a crucial component of the agile methodology. Automation is also key to reducing costs and improving the efficiency of your team; which is one of the main reasons why QA managers must educate themselves and be willing to implement automation practices. Test Coverage and Code Coverage: Many QA engineers talk a lot about “test coverage,” which gives a good general picture of the quality of the application. However, to achieve true quality, both test cases and code coverage analysis must be considered. For example, even if you achieve 100% test coverage, you need to still aim for at least 90% function code coverage to ensure the best results. The Shift-Left Approach: Typically, testing starts once the coding phase is complete. However, for optimal quality in an agile methodology, you need to shift the focus and begin monitoring and testing right from the inception of the project. This ensures that bugs are detected sooner, which not only saves time and money but also helps ensure a good relationship with developers on the team, accelerates the delivery of the product, and allows for greater test coverage. Smart Testing: Complete and comprehensive testing can sometimes present a challenge since many teams may not have the time or resources to go through every possible combination of cases. However, you should be smart in how and what you test. This means, communicating with the developer to find small test cases that will uncover the greatest number of bugs. Bug Prevention: QA engineers are trained to catch bugs; however, a resourceful QA engineer will also think about how to prevent them in the first place. Traditional QA starts testing at the UI level, but an agile method starts with unit and functional testing and then moves to the UI level. This approach prevents bugs from entering higher levels of development which can cause bigger problems later on and likely delay delivery. Quality Over Quantity: Focus on major critical bugs and glitches initially rather than several smaller ones. Agile Testing Process and Approach Agile is undoubtedly the preferred software development methodology for today’s developers. Agile testing uses the same principles to encompass all elements of software testing from unit to system testing. We recommend using The Four Quadrants of Agile Testing in order to not only meet but exceed quality standards in all aspects of a project. The Importance of Test Automation At mobileLIVE, we practice a culture of automation and thus believe that every development team should be automating all tests when possible. There is no excuse for not automating these tests, as in most cases, doing them manually will cause considerable trouble, lead to additional costs, and create untimely delays. Regardless of how thorough your manual testing is, human error will always be a factor, which is why automating all possible tests is the best way to ensure your results meet and exceed the quality standards you were hoping to achieve. The Value of Continuous Integration In addition to automating all possible tests, Quality Assurance managers must also ensure that all feedback is subject to continuous integration. One of the major benefits of automated QA is the fact that feedback is available immediately, which is why implementing that feedback and fixing bugs at all stages of the development cycle is imperative. Build Verification Tests (BVT), and Smoke Tests should be built into every stage of the project as they are the most comprehensive way to detect problems early on and prevent issues in future builds. The following diagram illustrates Continuous Integration flow from Code Check into Operational Readiness: Continuous Integration flow: sprint teams, git repo, jenkins, build, unit testing, int build, smoke API int testing, app e2e testing, release Key Takeaways Most would admit that agile development is the future; however, in order to exceed client expectations and improve the user experience, regardless of what method you choose, extensive QA isn’t a “nice to have,” it’s imperative. As the development landscape grows denser, our approach with its focus on automation, continuous integration, and the other best practices mentioned earlier will help you to maintain and surpass quality, ensure the highest satisfaction upon delivery, and provide the greatest experience for the user, as well as your development team, as possible. How do you approach QA? We would love to hear it!
Quality Assurance Approach and Best Practices
Let’s play a game. How many brands do you think I experience in a typical day? Shall we find out? It’s 6:55 AM and I’m awoken by the sounds of Lovely Day, by Bill Withers. A smile inevitably crosses my face as the tempo rises, that is, until I hear my girlfriend yell, “OK Google, STOP!” She obviously is not a morning person. Still half asleep, I wander into the kitchen to put on a pot of coffee and pour myself a bowl of cereal. As the aroma of the coffee diffuses throughout the house, it peaks the interest of my other half, who joins me for a cup. She mentions that the hardware store is having a sale on the bathroom tiles we liked and maybe “we” should pick some up after work. I tell her I’d be happy to as long as she promises to be ready by 7 PM for the show tonight. She agrees; I’m skeptical. After a long day of reviewing and editing content, making travel arrangements for a conference, and too much time with the accountant, I eventually make my way home. That is, only after a series of text messages caused my trip to the hardware store to also include the pharmacy, grocers, and courier. No matter, for when I pull in I get a little excited to see my girlfriends car in the drive and think she may, in fact, be ready. So you can imagine my disappointment when I saw her on the couch looking particularly comfy in a pair of sweats, a glass of wine in hand. I ask her about the tickets, putting a box of new bathroom tiles in front of her. She responds by handing me a beer and a book on bathroom renovations. Confused, and likely looking it, she then said, “The show is next week, but I picked up some grout, and we can get started on the bathroom tiles tonight ” Oh, a day in the life… So, how many did you count? There’s at least 15, but it probably wasn’t easy. However, if I were to put the words ”Kellogg’s,” “Samsung,” “Toyota,” “Home Depot,” and “Visa” in that story, it may become a bit more evident how often we experience brands, at least, the successful ones. That is because the successful ones lend themselves to our lives, adding value while not drawing attention to itself. This, in essence, is what the customer experience (CX) is all about, and is something that the most reputable brands in the country have perfected. And why shouldn’t they? After all, according to Gartner, CX is the new marketing battlefront, and in two years’ time, 81% of companies expect to be competing mostly or completely on the basis of the digital experience their customers get. This made me curious, so I decided to dive deep and compiled a list of 22 inspiring customer experience quotes and statements from 28 of the top brands in Canada by “sector” as reported by Leger. Enjoy! “It’s a world of multiple screens, smart displays, with tons of low-cost computing, with big sensors built into devices. At Google, we ask how to bring together something seamless and beautiful and intuitive across all these screens.” —Sundar Pichai, CEO, Google “The customer changes every day, so we need to remain keenly interested in the customer and evolve to remain relevant.” —Mike Motz, President, Shoppers Drug Mart “Our customers are at the heart of our company and our growth strategy. Understanding our customer better means we can create a more consistent experience and offer products, services and promotions that meet the specific and every day needs of our customers and create an incredible competitive advantage.” —Stephen Wetmore, President and CEO, Canadian Tire Corporation “If you see the name Sony on any product, content, or service, it symbolizes our promise to move you emotionally. Our products are designed to have a personal and individualized place in all of your lives.” —Kaz Hirai, President and CEO, Sony “This project (Bear Naked) was born out of a consumer need like most good innovation should be. The consumer need that we identified was what we call a ‘desire for taste exploration.” —Chris Tutor, VP of Strategy, Kellogg “Most people try to solve for what their internal problems are, or a pre-determined view of what they think the experience should be. We want to listen to our customers first, they tell us how they’d like to shop with us, and how they’d like to see us presented to them, and make those changes appropriately.” —Matt Carey, EVP CIO, The Home Depot “The way our customers operate their businesses and live their lives in today’s interactive digital world requires a shift to a hyper-personalized experience. Customers expect us to know them as individuals and provide them with access to more information and visibility. In turn, we have to empower them to take control. This focus has translated into a shift for FedEx in terms of how we approach our business and communicate to our customers. ” —Laurie Tucker, SVP of Corporate Marketing, FedEx “Our Vision at Visa, to be the best way to pay and be paid for everyone, everywhere, prioritizes consumer behaviour and drives every product innovation.” —Derek Colfer, Head of Technology & Digital Innovation, Visa Canada “We knew it was time to reimagine the core bookstore experience. As people and consumers, we are evolving. There are some people who will long for the old-fashioned dusty bookstore, but most people don’t. In the 21st century, people are “phygital”—that is, they do some things digital and some things physical.” —Heather Reisman, CEO & Chief Book Lover, Indigo Books “It is our strategic plan to improve every consumer touchpoint, beginning with the look and feel of the restaurant. Our new Fresh Forward design brings to life what we have always had—healthy, fresh vegetables. We are integrating new technology to make us more accessible to the consumer and leveraging all of this into a new image.” —Suzanne Greco, CEO, Subway “Through these channels, we can provide more details about the characters, unveil behind-the-scenes footage, create interactive discussions with our fans and, ultimately, engage with them to drive our collective imagination further down the road on its never-ending journey. Customer loyalty can only be achieved through sustained, entertaining, and engaging interactions with our fans.” —Patrick Corneau, VP of Sales and Marketing, Cirque du Soleil “I have learned, based on my experience, that everything is dominated by the market. So whenever we are struck by any obstacles or difficulties, I always say to myself: ‘Listen to the market, listen to the voice of the customer.’ That’s the fundamental essence of marketing. Always, we have to come back to the market, back to the customer. That is the Toyota way. So, whenever we’re stuck, we always go back to the basics. Because branding, image, or Lovemarks are determined by the customers, not us. We really cannot determine anything. The customer does that. That is the essence.” —Yoshio Ishizaka, Former President and Current Advisor, Toyota Motor Corporation “I often remind my team to keep our consumer purpose at the center of everything that we do. To me, our purpose centers on caring for people around the world by anticipating their needs, creating solutions and experiences that help them and those they care for live healthy, vibrant lives.” —Josh Ghaim, Ph.D, CTO, Johnson & Johnson “It is through digital transformation, coupled with our WestJetters’ caring touch, that we will be able to provide the ultimate guest-centric service.” —Gregg Saretsky, President and CEO, WestJet “…while the world is focusing on new and shiny disruptive technologies, we sometimes forget about the customer experience. If we start with the healthcare consumer in mind, the gaps in their experience, how it can be improved, and what the key problem statements are, only then will we be able to see how and which technologies are here to enable a transformation.” —Eugene Borukhovich, Global Head of Digital Health Incubation and Innovation, Bayer “Engaging and marketing to our customers in new ways is key to building shopper loyalty and encouraging repeat visits, and it is the foundation of our retail brand strategy.” —Pat Lizotte, Director of Marketing Strategies, Petro-Canada “In a culture where usage is the primary goal, the primary focus is on ensuring customers are unblocked and the product is constantly being simplified to make it easier and easier to use. This focus is so central to the work we do that it takes priority over adding new features.” —Brad Anderson, Corporate VP Enterprise Mobility & Security, Microsoft “There’s no one-size-fits-all audience.” —Magen Hanrahan, VP of Media and Marketing Services, Kraft Heinz Company “This new model will be powered by data, analytics and audience insights, providing creative solutions as we continue to connect with new generations of consumers.” —Yin Rani, VP of Integrated Marketing, Campbell Soup Company “I must say that if you’ve got good customer insight it’s an excellent starting point. However, I think it is a mixture of getting customer insight, understanding where you currently stand with certain metrics, and what you need to do to build on these metrics. All these put together contribute to building a customer culture within any business.” —Carol Sheppard, Customer Experience Research Manager, Molson Coors “The client experience is everything, end-to-end, from the point that you first establish interest and awareness and are sharing initial thoughts, to the long-term, sustained relationship where you are coming back and back because you want more and more services from the person offering it.” —Diana O’Brien, Global CMO, Deloitte “All that insight (data and analytics) allows us to understand the final clients of our clients a little better,” —Jérémiah Bousquet, Digital Transformation Leader, Airbus It is our hope that these quotes/statements from some of the brightest minds, behind some of the most prolific brands, will inspire you in your journey to create the most memorable customer experiences. Do you have any inspiring customer experience quotes? We’d love to hear it.
22 Quotes on Customer Experience from the Top Brands in Canada
Daniel Park is Head of Digital Experience for a large enterprise. Among his many ongoing projects, he has recently been tasked to launch a “mission-critical” venture that has the promise to change the way the organization interacts with their customers. However, before Daniel can begin, he needs to choose which vendor to partner with. While evaluating the vendor options, he notices that Vendor A has a history of performance inconsistency, delayed launches resulting in blown budgets, and have on more than one occasion produced products riddled with bugs and glitches – even after launch. However, the same could not be said for Vendor B. Time and time again they had proven their reliability, speed, and accuracy in project completion. They also had a track record of creating some of the most well received and engaging user experiences around – all delivered on time and on budget. Intrigued by the dramatic differences, he noticed a simple yet extremely valuable difference between the two. Vendor A employed manual testing in their development, while Vendor B opted for the automated approach. This made his decision much simpler in selecting Vendor B; after all, who would want to work with a team that invariably costs them time, money, and compromised customer experience. Today, I’m hoping to make the choice of adopting test automation that much easier for you. Test Automation – The What and the When Test automation is a method of software testing that utilizes tools and/or frameworks to control and monitor the execution of tests and compare real-life results with predicted or expected outcomes. Fortunately, the far-reaching implications and benefits of test automation supersede this definition. However, before I delve into why you need to adopt test automation in your organization, allow me to share what you should automate, when you should do it, and what is best left alone. Test Automation What and the When WHAT TO AUTOMATE. Test cases that are: Mission-Critical, Executed repeatedly, Tedious or difficult, Time consuming WHEN TO AUTOMATE. It’s best to automate test when. Customer experience matters, Time-to-market is critical, OPEX reduction is desirable, Repeatable accuracy is preferred WHAT NOT TO AUTOMATE. It is best NOT to automate: Subjective tests, Frequently changing requirements, Ad-hoc tests At mobileLIVE, test automation is a part of our DNA. Whether we are working across the complete mobility ecosystem, full product lifecycle, functional or non-functional 360° coverage, or even if just an evaluation across specialty domains, we test early and frequently knowing that defect prevention is preferred to defect detection. This mindset of test automation and continuous integration has served us very well. Although it is impossible to automate all tests (we know, we tried), the following framework helps us ensure the most optimal level of automation: Technology Facing Automated Unit Testing Automated unit/functional testing per check-in,Get quick feedback on your dev check-in (merge) Technology Facing Automated Non Functional Testing Performance testing, Load testing, Memory management, Security and maintainability, Interoperability and compatibility, Scalability and reliability Customer Facing Automated and manual Functional Testing Create test cases for stories, Verify stories and bug fixes, Write automation scripts for passed stories, Add automation scripts to test framework Customer Facing Automated and manual exploratory Testing Exploratory scenario testing, Usability testing, User acceptance testing, Customer experience testing Remember, when automating tests it’s important to determine exactly which test cases should be automated first. I recommend basing this on those that yield maximum ROI. Test Automation – The Why Talk of test automation is nothing new; however, it seems to be a growing trend among development teams large and small to opt for automated testing over manual testing. Which begs the question – why should you invest in a culture of test automation and continuous integration? Well, I can actually give you several reasons, none of which are “because it’s a trend.” ROI: Manual testing takes too long and becomes cost prohibitive when it comes to multiple agile releases/sprints, multiple platforms, OSs, screen sizes etc. Reliability: Automated testing is faster and more reliable when running repetitive standardized tests which cannot be skipped, but could result in an error when manually tested. Accuracy: Even the most careful tester will make mistakes during monotonous manual testing. Automated tests perform the same precise steps every time they are executed; all while recording detailed results. Coverage: Automated software testing can increase the depth and scope of tests to help improve software quality. Lengthy tests that are often avoided during manual testing can be run unattended. They can even run on multiple machines with different configurations. Continuous Integration: Tests can run automatically whenever code changes are checked in and notify the team or the developer if they fail. Features like these save developers time and increase their confidence. Morale Boost: Manual testing can be mundane and executing repetitive tasks with automated software testing gives your team time to spend on challenging and rewarding projects. Team members improve their skill set and confidence and, in turn, pass those gains on to their organization. The aforementioned are just a few of the benefits that test automation can provide a development team. However, it should be noted that not all test automation tools are created equal. The second most important decision after choosing to automate your testing is which platform to use; and if you are anything like us, that platform needs to be simple and intuitive, be able to test solutions across the digital ecosystem, and provide timely insights and real-time reports. For us, our preferred technology partner is UXPLORE. UXPLORE – Test Automation Done Right UXPLORE is an innovative Robotic Automation Platform that automates testing using bots (a digital workforce) to improve user experience and reduce operating expenses. The platform enables all users, both technical and non-technical, to easily create and deploy bots instantly, without a need for coding. All possible human actions to various digital interfaces (web, mobile, cloud, IoT) are pre-coded, and bots are trained by creating a sequence of these actions. UXPLORE bots work around the clock to automate testing; much faster, cheaper, and with higher accuracy than humans. If you are looking to deliver exceptional customer experiences , reduce time-to-market and operational expenses, improve accuracy and team productivity, then test automation is no longer a “nice to have,” rather, an imperative.
The What, When, and Why of Test Automation
Brandy, a Generation-Z consumer, comes across an Instagram “like” by her friend for a featured dress. She likes the garment and is interested in purchasing it in a different colour. She decides to go online and compare prices, and while browsing, she is prompted to download the retailers’ app, which would result in a 10% discount off her first purchase. However, after comparing prices, downloading the app, and moving the dress into her “shopping cart,” she abandons her purchase thinking the dress isn’t the one for her.Retailer App ExperienceA few days later, Brandy finds herself visiting the local mall in search of a new outfit for the Easter weekend. As she passes by the store location of the same retailer chain, she receives a notification on her smartphone offering her a “no obligation” discount subject to her visiting in-store to play an Easter Egg Hunt.using augmented reality she finds the Easter egg in store to earn the discountExcited to get in the Easter spirit and play the egg hunt in store, the retailers’ app on her smartphone intuitively prompts her to activate the “AR Buddy” mode so that she can begin the game, just as she would if she were playing Pokémon Go.As she browses the store through the lens of her smartphone, she excitingly finds and “cracks open” a virtual Easter egg that entitles her to an instant rebate of $20 towards a purchase within the next three days. At the same time, she also notices the blinking icon of the retailer’s online cart, which still has the dress she selected a few days earlier. While on the fence before, with the added discount she thinks that buying the dress now makes for a great deal that is difficult to pass up.virtual Easter eggHaving placed the order, she is then given the opportunity to like the same dress on Instagram, entitling her to an additional $10 off her next purchase. Thrilled with the bonus promotion, she earmarks another dress she has come across while searching the store for the Easter egg, thinking to herself, “I’ll get this dress next time with the extra discount.”PRO-Gamification And that is how Personalized-Retail-Omnichannel Gamification (PRO-Gamification) works. From the moment Brandy logged into the app, the retailer’s back-end services platform started tracking her shopping experience. The social network API, merchandising catalogue, analytics engine, and Business Intelligence services all worked in tandem to track her clickstream, cart abandonment, and in turn, were able to predict Next Best Actions (NBAs). The fact that she compared prices hinted at her sensitivity to product pricing, and as something the analytics engine could hone in on, it predicted a higher statistical likelihood that if offered a discount or promotion, she would convert.When Brandy passed by the retailer’s brick-and-mortar store, it gave the retailer an ideal opportunity to get her attention. Beacons placed at the store entrance helped the mobile app sense her proximity and signalled the retailer’s back-end services to deliver a targeted promotion as a push notification. Given the season, however, this was no ordinary promotion, which immediately caught Brandy’s attention. The egg hunt provided the perfect reward mechanism to convert her into a paying customer. The cart history with the dress she had selected earlier helped “firm up” the purchase by avoiding manual searches online or the need to ask a sales associate for help.Furthermore, beacons located strategically throughout the store helped her “find” her Easter egg in proximity to items she would likely prefer to buy – something determined by the analytics engine based on her prior search. Beacons also enabled the mobile app in helping her locate and earmark the new dress in the online catalogue. In fact, now she is almost tempted to purchase the other dress directly from the store’s Point-of-Sale (POS) as she can take advantage of the extra $10 promotion because it is her next purchase anyway.Brandy’s entire journey, from searching online, purchasing, and sharing her positive experience on social media not only triggered “impulse buys” in real-time, but it also turned her from a prospect into a repeat customer and brand advocate. And now that the retailer has established predictable behaviour markers, they can personalize her future shopping experiences.Quick links to key sections Gamification, Past and Present Gamification as a Unified Marketing Strategy Towards an “Everything Digital” Approach Identifying Customers Individually to Personalize Content Understanding Customer Sentiment in Omnichannel Melding Art and Technology to Create Memorable Experiences Bringing Experiences to Life via Storytelling The Value of PRO-Gamification in Retail Gamification, Past and Present Gamification in retail is not a novel concept; however, with consumers being more connected than ever before, the notion is quickly becoming an imperative. With the rapid increase in digital connections leading to increased speed and convenience across all aspects of life, the question now raised is how and where to deploy resources for digital initiatives effectively and efficiently and how to apply them towards gamification. Digital transformation itself has evolved into a priority stack comprising the Internet of Things (IoT), Design Thinking, and Artificial Intelligence, and retailers need to act accordingly.Simply put, gamification is the use of elements of play and reward to affect and influence user behaviour; and with this evolved stack, it is quickly becoming the new retail battleground to win and grow customer base.So why does it work? Well, at its most basic level, it can trigger positive emotions, mainly those associated with play and reward. And if you have followed our past article on customer experience, you know these emotions are fundamental in capturing user’s attention and commitment to a purchase transaction.Take me back to quick links Gamification as a Unified Marketing Strategy Although the gamification of shopping experiences is not yet mainstream in the retail paradigm, it can be applied towards any product or service, regardless of the stage in the customer journey. Not only that, but the process can be easily adjusted, regardless of requirements, and can be scaled to almost any budget as part of a strategy to lead potential customers towards the desired goal along their journey.At its core, the appeal of gamification is to provide the users with a sense of control. Similar to a game where participants get a reward – a new character or power-up for example – for completing a level, gamification taps into our brains inherent reward mechanism, thus helping to reinforce a specific habit or behaviour.For putting together a bundle of products or services, this technique has proven hugely successful.The modern consumer is short on time, especially when it comes to processing the volume of content required to select and purchase the right collection of products or services. By turning that identification into a gamified experience, the natural attention of the user is enhanced. This method also drives higher customer engagement and increased brand loyalty through the implementation of such customer-curated collections. This also has a positive impact when you are rewarding your customers with loyalty points for activities – such as store visits, product videos watched, products reviewed, or purchases made – and provides far more information on consumer habits and the shopping cycle across multiple channels, which can, in turn, drive future sales.According to a set of recent surveys on mobile POS and retail gamification, retailers plan to use enhanced gamification features, incentives, and loyalty program tactics in their mobile strategies. Furthermore, some studies suggest that a substantial number of retailers plan to identify customers when they walk in the store, and that customer experience and engagement are one of their top customer relationship management priorities. However, such undertaking cannot be effective or profitable without carefully implementing a gamification framework with the following key points in mind:Moving towards an “Everything Digital” Approach Identifying Customers Individually to Personalize Content Understanding Customer Sentiment in Omnichannel Melding Art and Technology to Create Memorable Experiences Bringing Experiences to Life via Storytelling Take me back to quick links Towards an “Everything Digital” Approach New ways to interact over digital channels give you new opportunities to engage with customers at an unprecedented level. For example, there was once only the need for call centres to handle remote purchases and support, but with the advent of smartphones, apps can now serve customers directly. This has also allowed for a significant shift in customer experience and expectations due to new devices like wearables, voice-based assistants, and even augmented and virtual realities. It is essential to appreciate that in a digital transformation (and, for that matter digital business) all contexts arising from functions, processes and interactions are in fact interconnected and should be treated thusly.Customers now expect interactive experiences on these new devices rather than relying on conventional methods of accessing content. With the help of big data analytical capabilities, retailers can turn enormous structured and unstructured data into actionable customer insights. “Big data” with the right analytics can enable retailers to develop enriched 360°customer profiles, establish customer-centric KPIs, and develop more targeted offers.Retail Presence in the Digital Domain Specificity of interactgital domainion is extremely important within digital experiences. For example, studies have found that the app conversion funnel is wider at every point of contact than conventional and mobile web. In particular, app users were found to browse four times as many products than those on mobile web; indicating that app users make for more loyal and dedicated customers. From that larger base, customers are almost twice as likely to add items to their basket in an app than in a mobile browser.Applications and targeted interactions not only convert a higher percentage of your customers, but they also bring in more revenue per transaction. Controlling this environment can allow you to engage customers through verbal responses, videos, images, reviews tailored to personalized elements such as buying history and browsing behaviour within mobile apps, on social media, as well as in direct interaction with you. In fact, each channel can yield multiple touch-points to track individual customer engagement and sentiment as shown below:browsing behaviour within mobile appsIn-APP Operation in Mobile/Web APP are Functionalities Used, In-Cart Abandons, Flows Completed, Daily/Monthly Activity and in Conversational Interfaces are Views/Verbal Queries, Emotions Exhibited, Topics Queried, Effort and Interest. Social Media Sentiment in Numerical Metrics are Followers and Fans, Number of Mentions, Inbound Links, Blog Subscribers, Retweets, Social Shares and in Engagement Metrics are Positive Sentiment, Negative Sentiment. Direct Communication in Brick-and-Mortar are In-Store Visits, In-Store Purchases, Web-Cart Conversions, Tie-ln with Campaigns, Location Data and in Call Centres/Support are Tickets Responded, Completed Survey. On top of that, IoT has made it possible for all connected devices and touchpoints to affect the customers daily life. It integrates data gathering sources, assembling data strategy and analytics for better-informed decisions; designing products, experiences, and businesses with a focused human-centred approach, all while identifying patterns and providing personalized experiences. Web and mobile are no longer the most significant source of data generation; rather, it is being generated by the apps we use and by the way we interact with smart devices including wearables, cars, cameras, and routers to name a few. According to recent studies digital businesses will be leveraging IoT for in-store experience in addition to mobile and web channels with less than 20 billion connected devices today to 30 billion in 2020 to 80 billion in 2025.Leveraging Mobile App-Centric Touchpoints According to a recent survey, mobile touchpoints remain relevant as the gap between, consuming analytics content on a desktop computer versus a mobile device, has all but vanished. This diminishing gap is even more apparent between smartphones and tablets. Traditional means of data delivery and presentation cannot be taken for granted. Instead, innovation is necessary for finding new ways to harness strategic data assets with cutting-edge tools for faster and better-informed decisions.Digital transformation does not change the value proposition for mobile innovation, in what I call the “Triple-A” of mobile analytics: Anywhere, Anyplace, Anytime. Via app Software Development Kits and Application Programming Interface (APIs), any data, whether structured or unstructured, big data or small data, on-premise or in the cloud, can be captured.Mobile App-Centric TouchpointsThe digital economy demands a mobile-first approach to maintain the strategic value in order to turn insights into action.Take me back to quick links Identifying Customers Individually to Personalize Content Personalization is a growing trend that enhances the customer experience, and its core is the ability to identify and remember the customer uniquely. This allows retailers to make interactions more accessible and more intuitive, as well as target the customer based on their specific behaviours. You must analyze and realize what the customer wants most – convenience.Limitations of Third-Party Analytics Tools Popular analytics tools (such as Google Analytics) help identify user behaviour through cookie-based tracking. However, one should note that cookies are site-specific, and therefore subdomain or cross-domain tracking needs additional effort. Since cookies are not shared cross-domains, every interaction of a single user across different devices is recorded as activities by unique users in the absence of user identification. For instance, a visitor researching a product on your website decides to subscribe to your newsletter a week later and purchases a product a month after that. All of these interactions count as the activities of three different users. Therefore, third-party analytic frameworks end up being completely ineffective in identifying unique customers who choose to use multiple devices or browsers across visits to a site.Generating Individually Identifiable Analytics Integrations between identity management solutions and Data Management Platforms (DMPs) or automation tools make it possible to link existing, anonymous consumer data to known user records once a user accesses a site via a registered session on-site. Using probabilistic models, the user’s identity data will be passed directly from the identity management platform to the DMP and attributed to the correct user based on the site ID match – even across devices and domains. A User-ID in Google Analytics is a unique set of alphanumeric characters that is assigned to a user to identify him/her across multiple devices uniquely.Considering the previous scenario after implementing User-ID verification, and the same visitor performing the same actions can now be recognized as a single unique user:User-ID makes it possible to implement cross-device tracking because it associates sessions across multiple devices to a single user instead of multiple unique users By setting up User-ID, you can gain access to cross-device reports in Google Analytics User-ID will help you understand the relationship between multiple devices and engagement between sessions, which is essential when developing new marketing campaigns and their gamification To track users across multiple devices, you need to assign custom User-IDs to site visitors by changing in the analytics tracking source code. However, you would also need to add code that would pull any session-specific (login) IDs from the authentication system and send to Google Analytics as the User-ID. Finally, to view and analyze data from sessions in which a User-ID is detected, new views can be created showing cross-device reports.track users across multiple devicesThese reports can provide much-needed insight into user engagement on multiple devices with multiple sessions. They can also be considered as a breakdown of the activities users participate in during each of their sessions, which can further enhance game and level design for retail experiences.Take me back to quick links Understanding Customer Sentiment in Omnichannel The interdependencies of all the channels available must be understood thoroughly because customers want consistency across channels. For instance, customers want to continue their shopping experience where they had left off whenever they switch between channels. In the retail scenario, brick-and-mortar stores are associated more with customer service. This face to face advantage obviously shifts when specialized cross-channel journeys are considered, such as searching online but purchasing in-store, and vice-versa. For instance, you may find that limited sales are occurring via social channels and wrongly conclude them as ineffective. But, when viewing the entire journey across channels, you may discover that social channels are in fact a critical influencer of sales.The result of appreciating such consumer behaviours have a profound impact on marketing strategies, especially when the customer is no longer viewed within a single channel. Rather, each channel must be considered a driver for conversion in a different channel, and loyalty or fulfillment in yet another – all as a part of an omnichannel (interdependent) journey.Multi Channel Vs Single ChannelThis creates a clear, single view of the consumer, which will enable you to interact across all available channels. Taking advantage of better customer information, delivering consistent quality of service, and personalizing the customer experience, you can evolve your customer-centric business plan-of-action and enable all your channels.Analytics for Decision Support The most prevalent method of data storage for business is in silos across a variety of new and legacy systems. This lack of consolidation makes gleaning meaningful and timely insights difficult, if not impossible. Moreover, the analytical approach used by most companies is channel-specific, hindering them from getting a complete picture of the end-to-end customer journey. Remember, consumers are constantly producing data about their likes and dislikes, channel preferences, product choices and more; and to capture it, you must be prepared to glean data from website visits, email opens, social interactions, forms completed, purchases and so much more.Choosing to view this data in channel-specific silos can be misleading. To reach customers with a level of relevance that grows conversions and loyalty, you must first understand your customers. Advanced analytics, though at the heart of this approach, is more than just a new name for business intelligence. With advanced data architectures, you can now store new types of data, retain that data longer, and join diverse datasets together to gain new insights, not only to describe and summarize results but also to create possible futures based on-time-sensitive decisions and to predict likely outcomes.Advanced analyticsDescriptive Analytics are used when Summarizing Results and tool used Data Aggregation and Data Mining. Predictive Analytics are used when Making Educated Guesses and tool used Statistical Modelling and Simulation Techniques. Prescriptive Analytics are used when Making Time-Sensitive Decisions and tool used Heuristic Models and Optimization Models Insights gained from big data analytics, improve the customer experience at every touchpoint through high-performance services, fast feedback and customized offerings. Today’s advanced big data analytics can allow you to unlock new insights in real-time, enabling you to proactively offer products and services to your customers at the exact time they are most likely to subscribe, buy, or respond. This will lead to a proactive retention approach through analyzing mobile/web interaction, social media sentiment as well as direct communication based on combining customer churn prediction and marketing action optimization.You can go beyond “actionable customer analytics” to automatically determine what marketing action should be taken for each at-risk customer to achieve the maximum degree of retention possible – and create a customer experience that is unparalleled in the industry.The Role of Machine Learning in Analyzing Customer Behaviour Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligenceare extremely useful in deciphering the data captured from each customer interaction and can be used to predict the likely outcome of each event several steps down the line. For example, outcomes may be customer satisfaction or dissatisfaction concerning a product sale or call centre incident. Based on the sum of these calculations for the customer, or the customer segment, the system will determine and recommend the highest probability actions to take for marketing, sales, or support scenarios.Machine Learning in Analyzing Customer BehaviourOne of the main applications of machine learning – to drive customer engagement – is in market segmentation. In the absence of labelled real-time data, a subset of these techniques (called unsupervised learning) is very useful in advertising, implementing strategies for customer engagement and so on. By intimately understanding the intricacies of measuring and analyzing the customer experience throughout the journey, you can apply advanced diagnostic, predictive, and prescriptive analytics that – when combined – provide additional insights into business-level problems. While unsupervised learning allows for a wide degree of applications in making sense of data without labels, it is only advised if some level of association can be made across customer data. The low-hanging fruit for a machine learning use-case is likely to spawn from historical and labelled data available to you.However, not all Machine Learning models are optimal for a given set of problems and associated data. For instance, supervised learning techniques constitute a different mechanism of deriving insight from existing and known (training) datasets. This can be thought of as a teacher supervising the learning process.When it comes to decision making, Machine Learning can not only provide insight into what actions to take but also into what actions that should be avoided. The value of Machine Learning, therefore, lies in spotting connections between channels that would otherwise go completely unnoticed and then surfacing those connections for you to take action. This can come in the form of automated recommendations and gamified experiences that increase the chances of consumers purchasing additional products, or as follow up marketing activities like an email offer for one of the associated items.Machine LearningAll of this data is ingested by several algorithms powered by statistical and Machine Learning techniques for suggestion and decision support. Approaches use both supervised learning (e.g. classification, regression) and unsupervised (e.g. dimensionality reduction through clustering or compression) machine learning techniques. For example, Netflix and Amazon Prime use similarity/proximity-based algorithms to generate recommendations based on (video-to-video views) in a “Because You Watched” section. A personalized video ranker algorithm, or PVR, selects the order of videos in genre rows, using an arbitrary subset of the Netflix catalogue. These short-term trends are powerful predictors of videos that Netflix customers watch for example, especially when combined with personalization.Occasion-Based Campaigns The use of occasion-based campaigns, be it for your catalogue or targeted and personalized advertising, can be a powerful tool for decision support as well as customer engagement and retention. At the individual customer level, NBA can be identified based on the offer acceptance rates of similar customer types and their willingness to convert during specific events or holiday seasons.Occasion-Based CampaignsWith each customers acceptance or rejection of an offer, the system can then update and adjust the NBA algorithm and predictive model. In essence, the ability to learn, adapt, and predict customer responses to your actions during specific events or occasions can significantly increase the likelihood of new customer acquisitions as well as retention of the existing customer base.Predictive NBAs and Branched Futures The customer journey in an omnichannel experience is considerably different than that of traditional multichannel. Studies have shown that almost 60 percent of online customers now expect retailers to approach them with value propositions ‘relevant’ to them – which would undoubtedly also be true if the same personalization experience were available to customers at bricks-and-mortar stores. Customers no longer want to review a generalized list of products and service offerings. Rather, they prefer insights into how features of those products and services will add more value to their day-to-day lives and why they should choose yours over a competitor. Knowledge transfer is best achieved through a gamified experience that is sensitive to choices made by the customer and the nuances that can be derived from the social setting in which those choices were made. Using this paradigm, “multiple-future” scenarios and storylines can be designed such that a set of choices, though not evident in their relationship between retail channels, can, in fact, be cross-linked.In the case of Brandy, her journey began online with social media, followed by a click-through to the mobile app. And though the order placement was still done online, her physical presence at the retail store acted as a catalyst. Similarly, a different scenario can also be mapped to a journey where the transaction occurs at the brick-and-mortar POS, but the catalyst is online searches and social media interactions. The ability to map and transition between journey points from channel to channel is at the heart of predictive NBAs, and the main driver behind interactive retail gamification.Take me back to quick links Melding Art and Technology to Create Memorable Experiences Omnichannel interactions can provide the customer with constant communications across their journey, one where the conversation history and context travels with them from channel to channel. But the context for omnichannel experience is non-trivial to maintain across many disconnected communication channels, from chat apps like Facebook Messenger, WeChat, and WhatsApp, to email, SMS, mobile and web chat. In the case of a Telecom Operator as an example, true omnichannel would mean giving the operator the ability to interact with the right customers, in the right places at the right times, all without having to sacrifice context. Omnichannel APIs can easily transfer the conversation from a chat app to in-app or web chat, from an email to SMS – or any other combination whether the customer is looking to upgrade a wireless device, change a plan, or request support. The operator can provide customers with a set of choices for where they would like to continue the conversation or get notified of a reply later on.AR/MR-based Interaction Perhaps the most significant opportunity for omnichannel marketing is the ability to create virtual versions of real products so consumers can enjoy an ultra-realistic shopping experience. While conversational interfaces are proving to be invaluable in engaging the user to intuitively access content and assist in decision making, such interfaces are limited to text- or voice-based chatbots. However, conversational interaction for Augmented and Mixed Reality (AR/MR) will be fundamentally different due to the enriched content rendered within an arbitrary 3D space. Free from the confines of a 2D “flatland,” the UX of the future will demand digital content to be more than what is currently accessed over the web. UX designers and developers will need to prepare content generation and digital assistants for verbal, as well as gestures, to interact with the users; not just by displaying audible or visual content, but by introducing key micro-interactions through evolutionary storyboarding that trigger the user’s active thought process.AR Vs MRIn AR, Real world remains central to digital experiences, enhanced by virtual details. In MR, Interaction with and manipulation of both the physical and virtual environment. It is estimated that approximately 67 percent of people who enter a fitting room in a store will likely make a purchase. Using technology to overcome this physical hurdle, Dressing Room apps use such technology that can allow people to virtually “try on” clothes, all without setting foot in store. After selecting a product on the virtual shelf, customers can select their size and the size of the garment to get a better idea of how the clothes will fit – which adds another dimension to gamification.Furthermore, the recent success of AR apps such as Pokémon Go has presented new possibilities in how such technology can be beneficial, especially if Brandy’s journey of the egg hunt is taken into consideration. Retailers can use similar tools to boost local customer engagement through AR mobile apps that encourage loyalty rewards.The Role of Proximity-Based Beacons and IoT Devices Beacons are battery-operated wireless devices that transmit Bluetooth signals to nearby smartphones. In the context of retail, beacons reach out to customers that have Bluetooth enabled and the right retail apps downloaded onto their phones. Beacon technology is a new way to engage with consumers and provide incentives for shoppers to enter a particular store, stay for a while, and make purchases. Their continued rise in popularity is expected to help reinvigorate brick-and-mortar retailers, offering customizable shopping experiences to customers that cannot be replicated online.Proximity-Based Beacons and IoT DevicesRetailers strategically place beacons around their store. The beacons connect to a customer’s Bluetooth enabled smartphone app. It sends a signal to the phone and the app is opened. The retailer can provide the customer with a wealth of information. Take me back to quick links Bringing Experiences to Life via Storytelling We are creatures of emotion. As such, naturally, the best gamification experience would create a sense of fun, happiness, and excitement for us. However, this is only possible with a quantitative measure of such sentiment, corresponding motivators and expectations, and the game mechanics that influence them. Analytics can be combined with customer data to predict behaviour and personalize gamified experiences in real-time. This can be achieved with a combination of:Your merchandise catalogue Potential customer’s presence proximity to your store Available inventory in that store The user’s past behaviour and current patterns These elements can provide insight into a customer’s needs and suggest possible products and services to address those needs in real-time. A text message, email or in-app notification could be pushed to the customer’s device (if known) with promotional offers to help them with their purchase.Establishing a Story Stories are fundamentally engaging and have grown into a safe harbour for us to experience loss, or more accurately, perceived loss. Based on the Freudian hypothesis of recovery and loss, such dramatizations enable the engaging power of stories and their application in gaming.Web and game developers have drawn on story-based strategies to enhance engagement with their audience. This strategy can draw on elements of game-play to optimize interaction with marketing and branding campaigns. Fundamentally, game-playing structures revolve around the theme of winning and losing, and create a perceptual “tension” of loss if a particular action is not taken. And this deep-rooted similarity to the very structure of emotional experiences is interpreted by the human brain as a potential risk that must be addressed by putting in the necessary effort. The outcome is automatically interpreted by the brain as an accomplishment.Building a Rewards Program We love being rewarded, whether in the form of discounts, points, or bragging rights. Rewards are naturally a part of retail because completing a purchase can already feel like we have walked out triumphant with a prize in hand. Building on customer engagement and brand loyalty by developing a tiered rewards program can further enhance this sense of reward, where customers can perform certain actions to inch their way towards a highly desired milestone.One style of a rewards program is to gain loyalty points. You can make use of such loyalty programs to encourage shoppers to make purchases. When a certain number of points are earned through purchases, they can be redeemed for discounts or virtual cash to spend at the store. At other times, such discounts could even be offered immediately to prospects just to get them “in the door.” However, the timing of the offer, the relevance of the reward, and the perceived value must be immediately obvious to the buyer, yet subtle enough, so it does not appear as forced.Making Games Relevant to Customers’ Locale and Timing Today’s customers rely heavily on social media to discover new products and brands and use mobile messaging apps to get feedback from friends about potential purchases. You can get customers to download your app by integrating social features and seamless sharing. For example, clickthrough and downloads can be achieved rather easily by deep-linking social sub-apps (e.g. messaging platforms) to the main app or its download location on the smartphone’s store. Once downloaded, the gamification of retail experiences can take shape rather organically. However, it should be noted that gamified promotions are only as good as the person they are offered to, the timing they are offered in, and the location they are offered at.Take me back to quick links The Value of PRO-Gamification in Retail While undoubtedly influential on Brandy’s behaviour, the “Easter egg hunt” should not be mistaken for gamification; instead, it was just a brief component within an elaborate and interactive implementation of PRO-Gamification. This gamification will lead you to a sustained stream of recurring sales, increased customer loyalty, and new and personalized customer engagement – precisely what consumers are demanding from their brands. The trick is in how you gain insights into customer behaviour, use location and timing cues to trigger customer engagement, and test new promotional strategies, while keeping the overall experience as relevant and meaningful to customers as possible.PRO-Gamification will empower you to generate more customer engagement across all channels, gain valuable insights into your behaviour, and bring more bodies into brick-and-mortar locations – but it does require careful planning and execution. That is unless you are the consumer, in which case, it is all just fun, happiness, and excitement.To win, you have to play. To implement the new retail imperative
PRO-Gamification: Defining the Future of Retail Experiences
I love technology; so much so, that I have made a career out of it. I see its potential, and I see it as the answer to many questions and problems that we as a society face. Technology is not meant to complicate our life; rather simplify it, streamline it, and enable us to do more. And it is these experiences with technology that are at the forefront of the consumer’s mind, not the complicated mechanisms behind it. It was Steve Matyas, CEO, Staples Canada, who once said “the customer doesn’t care what happens in the background,” and he couldn’t have been more right. Experiences define a brand; not products, services, or the technology that powers them. Essentials in designing experience Putting technology aside for a moment, at the forefront of any new idea or development should be the user experience. In order to do that accurately, you must go through the journey of these three essential aspects of design thinking: Empathy (with users to design human-centred experience) Ideation (generating ideas to best deliver on the user’s purpose) Experimentation (prototyping and refining with user feedback) These three essential aspects have far-reaching implications when it comes to developing new products and services because they help realign your development and design efforts with the true goal of technology – enabling the user. Instead, there seems to be a common thread in trying to integrate every last bit of technology into products and services; almost as if creating the tech equivalent to a Swiss Army knife. Except, much like the offerings of a Swiss Army knife, users don’t often find themselves in need of a mini saw, a corkscrew, and a Phillips head screwdriver all at the same time. The trick is in integrating technology so that it takes a backstage role; one that supports the requirements of the user, while propelling them forward, intuitively and seamlessly to their next step – not yours. Disruptive Technologies are artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain, augmented reality, virtual reality, internet of things When looking at some of the most elegant and memorable experiences provided by the Googles and Apples of the world, and you’ll begin to notice a commonality – simplicity. This simplicity isn’t found in the technology behind it, on the contrary, it is among the most complex and sophisticated to date. Instead, it is the experience for the user that is simple, which is why it’s so effective. Investing in the fundamental truth of humanity The customer experience needs to be viewed as an investment, one that will help ensure that your business can compete in not just future markets, but current ones. Here, however, we see many falling behind; and choosing to view the customer experience as a cost centre, rather than an investment in their success. And yet, time and time again we see the most successful brands prioritize experiences over technology. Why? Well, when was the last time your app wrote its own 5 star review or recommended itself to friends? Assuming that by now you have begun to realize the value and far-reaching implications of experience design, it is important to note that we are talking about a dynamic factor, one that invariably changes along with the people who experience it. To assume that your users are the same people that they were yesterday, would be a gross oversight. People evolve, and it should be this evolution that is at par with your technological development. What needs do your users have today, and what do you anticipate them to be tomorrow? By taking measures to understand their behaviour, preferences, and needs, it is paramount that you embrace a fundamental truth of humanity – we are always evolving. To stay relevant and consistently provide your customers with expected experiences, you need to be constantly defining and redefining what is important to users of every generation. Continuous Monitoring of the Evolving Behaviours, Preferences, and Needs You would be making a potentially devastating mistake by leaving something as powerful as user experience up to chance. After all, good or bad, your users will have an experience with your brand, so why not take the effort to ensure that you are providing your customers with the best one possible? As I mentioned, experiences are feelings, which then get stored as memories, and much like a hard drive, we have the ability to recall these memories, ultimately dictating the emotions we feel when we think about them. So let me ask you, are you confident that your customers are having a memorable experience or are they simply being asked to accept the one you are dictating?
Technologies Come and Go but Experiences Last a Lifetime
Voice command technology has mostly been used in smartphones and computers in recent years, but today it’s becoming increasingly common for voice assistants to be incorporated into virtual and home assistant devices, consumer products, appliances, customer service offerings, e-commerce, and more. In fact, as the technologies required to operate voice assistants continue to improve, so too will it become increasingly common for consumers to expect this level of interaction from the brands they support. Most of us are already using voice commands on their smartphones, and it’s expected that this technology will be installed on over 7.5 billion devices by the year 2021. At the 2018 CES event in Las Vegas, there were numerous new prototypes and products that integrated voice assistant technology, proving that this trend is sticking around for good, especially in the world of e-commerce.Just look at recent news surrounding Amazon’s Alexa, whether she’s “losing her voice” for a Superbowl ad or the now infamous “laughing incident”, consumers are becoming more familiar and reliant on voice assistants. But as different brands and e-commerce companies find creative ways to implement voice assistants and more consumers become familiar with the technology, more companies are going to have to seriously consider how to integrate voice commands into their own customer products and experience, which is being revolutionized by this fun and interactive technology.The Current State of Voice Assistants: Web Searches, Questions, and Voice Command Calling We’re all familiar with the concept of voice assistants thanks to the voice command technology that modern smartphones are equipped with, such as Siri for Apple devices, Google Assistant, and Samsung’s S Voice. In fact, in 2017 the Pew Research Center polled internet users and found that 42 percent used virtual assistant technology via their smartphones, whether it’s to ask questions, set reminders, locate goods and services, or initiate calls.One of the major reasons why we use voice commands is the convenience that the technology provides, allowing us to multitask more effectively by allowing us to use our devices without having to type or look at the screen. The same Pew Research data showed that 80 percent of voice assistant users liked the idea of not having to touch their device. Talking is also more natural than writing, and significantly faster: whereas most people can only type 40 words per minute, they can say upwards of 175 words in the same amount of time. Nonetheless, the use of voice command devices is still largely limited to smartphones, computers, and home assistants. Moreover, there are only a few basic reasons why most of us use the technology, with common voice command examples including:Research dataTasks Canadians like to do with Digital Assistants are finding directions 58%, ordering food delivery 40%, making restaurant reservations 40%, making/managing shopping lists 36%. Technology Evolution and the Rise of Home Assistants In the last couple of years, tech companies like Amazon have been finding innovative ways to use voice technology, ultimately giving birth to the voice command home assistant. These virtual assistants include devices like Alexa by Amazon, Samsung’s Bixby, and Google Home, and we use them to find answers to questions, get weather or traffic updates, control various features around the house, order takeout, and much more. These devices have convenience as their number one goal, requiring only addressing the device to activate it, and then pose a question or initiate a command. For instance, a popular voice command for Alexa is “Alexa, show me my photos,” at which time the voice assistant will access the photos on your smartphone and display them.Popular Virtual Assistant Devices are Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant, and BixbyTechnological Developments are Expanding the Potential of Voice Assistants Voice command recognition algorithm technology is still in its nascent stages, and new developments are happening all the time that are making voice assistants more appealing and easier to use. Plus, these developments are also increasing the applications for the technology, which is why the use of voice assistants will only continue to grow in the coming years. For example, natural language processing has taken some major steps forward in recent years, and since 2012, Google alone has reduced its speech recognition error rate by over 30 percent. Another major development that’s making voice assistants more viable is the cloud because devices can use remote servers to process information and requests rather than a device’s own processor, and this makes the technology far more powerful. Finally, artificial intelligence and machine learning mean that voice assistants can improve themselves over time by learning from previous interactions, and this also means that devices will get better at remembering user preferences and histories.Voice command recognition algorithm technologyFactors that are improving voice assistants are development of cloud, artificial intelligence and machine learning, emergence of new developments and applications, reduced speech recognition error rate. Unlocking the Possibilities: How is Voice Command the Future of Customer Experience? Voice assistant technology isn’t limited to virtual assistants and mobile devices, and there are a number of applications where this technology is currently being implemented to enhance customer products and experiences. For example, voice command technology is a natural fit with home appliances, and companies like GE, Whirlpool, Samsung, LG, have already partnered with Amazon (Alexa), Bixby, as well as Google Home to manufacture microwaves, washing machines, cooking ranges, refrigerators, and other smart appliances that are voice activated and can provide consumers with interactive customer experiences. In fact, you can use your digital assistants to get your stocks up in the refrigerator, clean your dishes, do the laundry, and more using the smart connected appliances. However, this technology isn’t limited to in the home as we’ve seen from the insurance company Lemonade who is using voice assistants to provide incomparable customer service, and they’ve created an AI bot named Jim who can process claims and approve payments in record time. As more developments happen in this field in the coming months and years, voice-enabled devices, items, and customer service offerings will only continue to become more ubiquitous as well. Recent studies by MasterCard and Mercator found that 21 percent of voice assistant users in the US use the technology for more complex e-commerce and banking functions. The same study also found that users are becoming more trustworthy of the security and privacy settings of these devices, which will open more options for banking, telecom, and retail. Here at home, Google reported that 73 percent of Canadians would like to complete tasks by speaking to a digital assistant, and according to Tractica, by 2020 there will be over 1.6 billion digital assistant users. Although most voice assistant use still resides in the realm of smartphones and home, there will be newer ways to incorporate this technology into products and services. To stay relevant, we need to start incorporating the fastest growing consumer technology for 2018 or risk getting left behind. Looking to add some voice to your experience? Let’s Connect
Voice Assistants: Empowering e-Commerce Customers To Do More
Depending on which study you read, you’ll find failure rates for large IT projects range anywhere from 30 to 90 percent. Whatever the number, it is an astonishing figure considering the strategic importance of many IT initiatives in today’s world. Which begs the question – how can you improve project management and create a scalable framework by utilizing the best attributes of the Agile and Waterfall methodologies?Let’s take a look together.Agile and Waterfall—Preeminent Management Methodologies Project management is difficult, even under the best conditions, with software development projects potentially offering the greatest challenge. Neither business needs nor technology stop evolving, which means projects need to be managed in a highly fluid environment. That’s why it’s vital for your development teams to have a well-defined project methodology in place. By following a structured and scalable framework, project managers can effectively manage the complexity and variability of IT systems as well as the software application(s) being developed. This serves to drive benchmark success and reduce the risk of costly rework.Two of the most popular project management methodologies are Agile and Waterfall. Both of these are solid, mature methodologies and are popular for diverse reasons. When it comes to choosing between the two, neither is inherently better than the other; rather, it is the project itself and the team that is executing it, that should dictate which methodology is selected.In choosing between Agile and Waterfall, consider the situation, tactical goals, the composition of your team, and your culture. Even if your organization supports a particular model, there are usually opportunities to enhance your chosen method. You should tweak or blend the two methodologies to align with your unique needs, handle new challenges, and keep pace with the larger mandate.To clarify the opportunities and obstacles of both Agile and Waterfall, let’s begin with a deeper dive into each.The Agile Model Agile development uses an iterative, incremental approach that emphasizes the rapid delivery of an application in complete and functional components. If all planned work for the project cannot be completed in the current cycle, work is reprioritized, and the information is used for future iterations or “sprint” planning.Agile practices are best suited to projects that require constant improvements and need the flexibility to adapt to the varying requirements. As tasks are groomed, they can be evaluated by both your development team and the client in order to amend and meet the changing requirements. The multiple development cycles can be executed, with deliverables prioritized by business value.The objective of each cycle is to deliver a shippable product that can be demoed to provide feedback and shown as evidence of progress. Any recommendations are directed to future iterations. Agile offers the prospect of ongoing improvement and is highly flexible. In today’s fluid market, where software development needs to be fast and efficient, Agile offers an attractive option.Advantages Speed: Working software can be delivered quickly and at a consistent pace. Flexibility: The process adapts to changes as they occur, which allows for immediate client and end-user feedback that can be used in the next iteration. Predictability: Since every cycle is of a fixed-time period, project timelines are easier to predict. Value-focused: Development is often more value-focused, which helps fulfill specific end-user needs. Challenges Continuous testing: Testing is needed throughout the project, which can stretch resources and increase costs if not complemented by continuous integration and automation testing. Frequent collaboration: Active customer involvement can add to implementation time and expense if processes are not adapted across your organization. Scope definition complexity: The iterative nature of Agile development can create complications in defining the project scope if iteration goals are not defined properly. Self-organized team: Team members need to possess and exercise multiple skill sets to help each other and remove internal impediments as much as possible. The following visual demonstrates key recommendations to overcome the aforementioned challengeshow we mentor and remove impediments because we have1. Manageable Team size. 2. Single funnel and decision making. 3. automation and seamless integration. 4. collaboration. 5. self organising team. 6. time bound cycle. 7. tool. 8. quick daily update.The Waterfall Method Known as the traditional method of software development, the Waterfall approach is a fixed, linear methodology that comprises sequential Systems Development Life Cycle (SDLC) phases. Since each phase is sequential, after a step is completed, rework is typically required to enable your developers to revisit an earlier step to alter the project or its direction.The methods linear approach makes it simpler to manage and understand. Projects with established requirements to deliver new product(s) with multiple dependencies are good candidates for the Waterfall method.However, because of the Waterfall methods rigid structure and strict controls, there is little room for modification or error on the part of your team. Therefore, a project acceptance criterion and a detailed plan must be established from the start and followed carefully.Advantages Well-documented: Each phase calls for comprehensive documentation, which makes it easier to leverage code of previous projects and develop a solid base for upcoming projects. Firm deadlines: A defined starting point and a fixed evaluation process for each phase make it easier to estimate costs and meet timelines. Well-organized: Clearly defined projects with sequential workflows help simplify status updates to all your project stakeholders. Challenges Difficult to modify: Since testing and feedback don’t occur until late in the project, modifications and improvements can be complex and costly to implement. Lack of foresight: Since requirements are often unknown when a project is initiated, designers can’t always foresee problems that may arise out of the implementation process. Thus, Waterfall requires that key team members—and especially the project manager—have worked in similar circumstances. Delivery speed: Due to the sequential approach, your team can’t produce a shippable product until all project phases (SDLC) are completed. Evaluating Best-Fit Project Types With its linear model and clear specifications, it might seem that Waterfall may require less time with better control compared to Agile. This is accurate to some degree. However, with Agile and Automation Testing, products can be launched anytime, helping to accelerate time-to-market and revenue generation.In terms of evaluating between Agile and Waterfall, neither is intrinsically superior. Depending on the scope, structure and scale of your software project, you’ll usually find one methodology more relevant and useful than the other in specific scenarios. The characteristics of a project help determine which methodology will work best.Choose Agile when: Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is more pressing than product completeness. Clients have the opportunity to revise the project scope of future deliverables based on market condition and response. You have flexible and expert developers who can think independently. The product is planned for a market with rapidly evolving requirements or standards. Choose Waterfall when: The end product design and features are clearly defined and determined. Clients have a clear vision and are not expecting to modify the project scope drastically once it has commenced. Product completeness, rather than speed to market, is vital to success. Optimizing Your Return on Investment While the idea of following a designated methodology for completing a project makes sense, what happens when your unique project requires elements from both Agile and Waterfall? Simple, you take the best of both worlds and use a hybrid model. For example, we have used agile sprint-based development in Waterfall methodology and it has provided our team with the opportunity to review the outcome after every short cycle of development.Ultimately, understanding the opportunities and obstacles of these methods will make you and your team better equipped to implement a scalable framework to deliver complex IT systems that meet sustainable growth. Here at mobileLIVE, we’ve successfully delivered hundreds of projects using a combination of Iterative Waterfall, Scrum, and Kanban methodologies, all tailored to the clients’ unique needs.The above image clearly demonstrates the scalable approach by leveraging the three methodologies namely Iterative Waterfall, Scrum, and Kanban. At the time of backlog grooming, the stories are assessed, and right methodologies are chosen to develop the enablersRemember, while the method in which a project is executed is critical, ultimately what really matters is winning business and consistently delivering high-value software that meets end-user performance demands. Reach out to us today and learn how we’ve helped our clients streamline development without sacrificing on value for the end-user, all the while exceeding quality, one time, on budget – every time!Interested in learning which approach is right for you? Let’s Connect
Agile or Waterfall: Which Approach Is Right For You?
Unless you have been hiding under a rock, the odds are that you have heard about the fascinating world of Artificial Intelligence and the transformational impact it is going to have on our lives. Certain parts of the euphoria remind us of the dot-com bubble from the ‘90s – when the technology hype hit its peak. There seems to be intense excitement at all levels, from CEOs and analysts to grassroots developers; all are expecting Artificial Intelligence, or AI technology, to not only dramatically change our lives but the world. Well, we really can’t blame them, given all the excitement created by the billions of dollars being invested in the Artificial Intelligence domain. With all the stars perfectly aligned, perhaps it is best to “peel the onion” a little bit in hopes of gaining a better understanding of what AI really is, why now and why all the hype, and how AI technology and AI companies can dramatically change the Telecom Industry landscape, in particular.What is Artificial Intelligence and why the hype now? AI is essentially humans teaching machines how to learn and mimic their intellect.Quite like a toddler- who learns by experience, constantly absorbing information, decoding it and understanding patterns – we feed machines huge amounts of data that create their own algorithms and constantly tweak them to meet their objectives. Over time the program gets smarter and very human-like, i.e., less artificial and more intelligent.ICT & big dataDuring the past few years, some factors have led to AI technology coming closer to unleashing its true potential – mainly, a ton of data becoming available along with faster GPUs for processing it.With billions of things getting connected to the web, there is a tsunami of information being generated. Since the dawn of time until 2004, around 5 exabytes of information have been created and captured. To put that visually, try and imagine a stack of books that spans from earth all the way to Pluto and back 80 times over. Impressive, certainly, but over the last decade, the amount of data being captured has exploded with 90 percent of the world’s collective data reportedly being generated in the past two years alone. And now thanks to advances in processing speeds, computers can make sense of all this information faster and more efficiently.Because of this, tech giants and VCs are pumping the market with cash and new applications and investing into AI companies. China alone has already invested $109BN in this space, and the race between countries is heating up. The reason being that 15-20 percent of the global GDP is forecasted to be linked to AI-related industries by 2025! Mind numbing, isn’t it?IoT solutions1100+ New startups raised 1st equity since 2016, $15.2B Equity funding in 2017 alone, a 141% jump from the previous year, 300+ Companies entered incubations in 2017, 3x more than 2016. Source: CBInsights How is Artificial Intelligence different from Predictive Analytics and Big Data? Are there financial benefits of investing in all three? Often, people inquire what is the difference between Big Data, Predictive Analytics, and Machine Learning. They want to have the ability to differentiate between the three to ensure adequate allocation of resources and to set right expectations with all the stakeholders..Big Data: Collection of “data sets” which are large, complex, and difficult to process using on-hand database management tools.Predictive Analytics: Practice of extracting information from existing data sets in order to determine patterns and accurately predict future outcomes, trends, and behaviour.Machine Learning: Machines performing tasks that normally require human intelligence (visual perception, decision-making, learning, etc.). This takes into account the entire context of the situation.big data analysisIn a nutshell, creating Big Data lakes for gleaning insights and learning is the foundation in which all corporations must invest. Using Machine Learning, the self-learning engine to unlock value from the data, organizations can then extract insights, predict outcomes, and perform human-like tasks. Investment in all three, i.e., Big Data, Predictive Analytics, and Machine Learning is quickly being elevated to table stakes. Business and IT teams need to work “hand in glove” to prioritize the required output. On the inverse, we have found that working in isolation leads to converting the proverbial haystack into a bunch of needles rather than finding the one insight which is critical to business.Should we bet on AI and Robotic Process Automation (RPA)? Everyone seems to be deploying them, should we invest in them now? These, my dear Watson, are the wrong questions to be asking! The metaphorical cart is coming before the horse, if you would. The correct question should be, “How do I use technology to solve my business problem quickly and efficiently?”First, however, let’s dive into both RPA and AI to distinguish the two. The goal is to bridge the journey from Human to Digital labour in the most efficient way. Given the pressures on the bottom line, “Digital Labour” is no longer a consideration, rather, a mandate for most companies across the world. RPA and AI are the two unique sets of tools used to traverse the journey from one end of the spectrum to the other, i.e., Digital Labour = Cognitive Computing (AI) + RPA (Digital work).Robotic Process AutomationBasic RPA consists of automating entry-level transactional, rule-based and repeatable processes. It involves working with structured data and within well-defined parameters in order for the bots to complete the tasks autonomously. However, digital labour is automation driven by self-learning and adaptive technologies. It involves self-learning, digestion of super data sets, hypothesis generation, and evidence-based learning. All fun stuff!Most companies and businesses we speak to love the concept of AI and want to jump right into it. However, it is a journey of realization, meaning you need to ask yourself some questions first. What really are the use cases? Can you articulate the pain points? Can you clearly quantify benefits to help determine whether AI and/or automation is necessary? It is then that collectively decided on which is the best course of action and implementation.What are the telecom specific use cases of AI technology? What are the financial benefits? The telecom industry is at a crossroads. No other industry is driven as much by bits and bytes while at the same time faces disintermediating challenges for the same reasons. Business models are changing, customer expectations and behaviour are constantly evolving, legacy economics and paradigms are becoming untenable. This is why 2014 was the first year when the total global revenue of telcos had marginally negative growth. From then on, every investor relations call is bombarded with questions on increasing revenue, reducing OPEX and CAPEX, and here is where AI technology opens up an opportunity for AI companies.Capital Reduction ($10-12 BN savings over a decade)Between the three telcos in Canada, the collective annual capital spend is ~$10BN to grow and sustain their respective networks. Using this run rate would peg the capital spending over the next decade to be at ~$100BN, even when not taking into consideration a spike of an estimated 40 percent due to an increased spend on 5G and fibre deployments.Given that the lifecycle of technologies has reduced considerably – CDMA lasted 25 years, HSPA possibly 10, and LTE even less. It’s time to recuperate that investment cycle is reducing. In the meanwhile, cost of electronics has gone down, and most of the capital effort is spent on the optimization of networks and installation.At last count, 70 percent of capital cost to upgrade from one technology to another was spent on labour and infrastructure, and only 30 percent on the actual OEM related electronics. That would technically peg the telcos as infrastructure players, vis-à-vis, a pure play telco. However, AI and other combinatorial techs can be leveraged to reduce that labour cost for optimization significantly. A lot of the OEMs have started providing their own software for SON (Self Optimizing Networks), but that would really be akin to asking the wolves guard the sheep. Telcos need to have their POV and build on it over time, to ensure basic hygiene and best practices are kept in-house. Also, predicting usage of subscribers by geography and ensuring the network is dimensioned correctly will not be done on the side of the desk of engineers, rather, through deep scenario analysis and planning, considering all parameters. Lastly, optimization of spectrum auction pricing can be done using game theory and decision trees. Given the appetite of operators to spend billions on it, we expect a healthy dose of AI to be used to save thousands of consultant hours and save millions (if not billions) of dollars in the process.We estimate at least 10-15 percent ($10BN) of the capital envelope can be reduced using cognitive technologies holistically across the process.OPEX Reduction ($3-5BN savings over a decade)Predictive Maintenance: The ability to fix problems with telecom hardware (such as cell towers, power lines, etc) before they happen and by detecting signals that usually lead to failure. This significantly reduces downtime and dramatically improves Customer Experience and churn metrics.Video Analysis: Instead of sending field workers to check on-site hardware periodically, AT&T has invested heavily in drones and in AI to analyze video data captured, which proactively raises flags for the field team to go in and fix issues.Self-Driving Networks: In the future it’s likely that governments might ban humans from driving cars as it is a reckless or unnecessarily risky activity. Similarly, there is no reason why we shouldn’t be done away with the Network Engineers! A perfect world really would be where networks would run themselves; away from our grubby, inefficient hands. This provides an opportunity for cost-cutting and efficiency gains. Ideally, we should not need so much staff to manage operator networks. A lightly staffed network powered by an economical but sophisticated AI will look more desirable than ever. That is truly aspirational today, but something to work towards.Customer Service ChatBots: Every telco customer calls in four times a year at an average cost of $15/call for password resets, billing inquiries, or changing plan details. This OPEX of ~$2BN/year across the three operators can be dramatically slashed by using chatbots which are equipped to do the same. Automating 10-15 percent of the customer service inquiries, routing customers to the proper agent, and routing prospects with buying intent directly to salespeople will make a material impact on the bottom line! Further, leveraging NLP, sentiment analysis and text to speech virtual customer service agents could be used to replace humans, with the customer not being able to distinguish one from the other. That could be a tangible reality in 5-10 years’ time; taking the cost down from $15 to 15 cents per call.Speech and Voice Services for Customers: Allowing customers to browse, explore, and buy content by spoken word rather than remote control (e.g., DISH network and Amazon’s Alexa partnership).Security and Fraud: Detect fraudulent activity in credit-card transactions or identifying web traffic to the website and customers, looking to exploit network and infrastructure vulnerabilities.Revenue Enhancement I algorithms can help combine historic patterns, psychographic analysis and behaviour (plus “look-alike” patterns) with ongoing real-time engagement to provide relevant, targeted, contextual experiences for consumers. The outcome will be upselling recommendations and offers, helping improve the conversion rate of offers, and enabling incremental wallet share. The same algorithms could be potentially leveraged to predict subscribers willingness to pay a particular price for a product, estimate product price elasticities, and quantify sales leads likelihood to close.How do we tackle AI as an organization? How much investment is required? It is best to use a good framework to get the ball rolling organization-wide. Some frameworks that we have used in the past include:Cognitive strategyCognitive StrategyHost an innovative workshop that showcases the potential of cognitive discovery, With perceived value in the forefront, identify, and rank use cases, Who? How? What? Dive into the current state of the use cases while being sure to include areas for improvement (scale, errors, non-blue etc.), Present a finalized cognitive strategy to key stakeholders for approval based on prioritised use cases.Detailed AssesmentDetermine detailed use cases and a variety of scenarios, Establish concrete user personas of user on the cognitive automation platform, Define content source(s), type of content, system interactions and integrations required, and system of record, Determine what operational requirements are needed to support the solution (Operational Management, Operational Reporting etc.), For training and configuration purposes, identify all required attributes and level of content annotationsSizing and Investment CaseEstablish criteria to estimate the beneficial impact on the organization, Determine the size of this potential business benefit – both quantifiable and non-quantifiable, Establish a high-level solution concept overview, Estimate the required investment required, Detailed solution blueprint, Build and train, Deploy and maintain, Confirm and validate benefit of investment case with key stakeholders, Conclude investment case for approval and fundingWe understand that AI can be intimidating and complicated, which is why we encourage you to engage us for a better understanding of the foundational capabilities, needed to get an AI program up and running. From building use cases, decision-making paradigms, economic impact analysis, choosing governance model and platforms to be deployed, we have gone through the process a few times. Every business is unique; we look forward to learning more about your specific needs to determine how we can accelerate your digital transformation.
From Self-Driving Cars to Self-Driving Networks: Rise of AI in Telecom
What makes an idea powerful? Simple. Ideas are powerful because they are living things, which have an ability to not only evolve and change but change the lives of those around it. mobileLIVE started as an idea, one that continues to evolve each and every day, but remains true to its vision of being a “Canadian Centre-of-Excellence” at the forefront of development, testing, and experience design services.mobileLIVE has achieved 100% customer retention and is recognized as one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies, Top Mobile Technology Company, and Fastest-Growing Company in North America. Consisting of nearly 300 diverse team members, we have successfully designed, developed, integrated, and tested 1000+ innovative digital transformation solutions for some of Canada’s most iconic brands. This is who we are and what we are known as today; however, the story of mobileLIVE has much more humble origins, and it began with just one man.The year was 1998; Microsoft just became the biggest company in the world, mobile phones resembled bricks, and a young electrical engineer, by the name of Jahan Ali, immigrated to Canada to pursue his Masters from the University of Toronto. Like many new immigrants, Jahan had his fair share of hardships, but he did not let new surroundings stand in the way of his dreams. In 2001, he not only graduated but landed himself a prestigious job working for Motorola. It seemed as though everything was coming together.A leader by nature, Jahan found himself growing restless in his role, despite having made significant contributions to not one, but two, major patents integral to Motorola’s success. It wasn’t a lack of money or recognition that was causing Jahan’s discontent, rather his unwavering vision; a dream of creating a Canadian Centre-of-Excellence and become the number one company for every customer it serves.In true form to dozens of entrepreneurs before him, Jahan left his successful career at Motorola and began mobileLIVE in the basement of his home. However, like most great ideas, its realization was easier said than done. From initial capital required to launch his company to competing against offshore trends for retaining market share in Canada, Jahan faced many challenges, but his innovative strategies and sheer determination kept mobileLIVE on an explosive growth trajectory.The Incredible Journey Stages in digital transformationStartup Phase Jahan had to find a way to distinguish mobileLIVE in an already dense digital realm. Noticing an industry pattern, primarily focused on OPEX and CAPEX reduction, Jahan saw an opportunity in certifying devices for telecom operators before launch and in response created Canada’s FIRST-EVER third party lab for smartphones and IoT (Internet of Things) certification. The lab was a huge success as it negated the need for telecoms to build their own sophisticated and expensive testing facilities. True to his nature and his vision for mobileLIVE, Jahan did not stop there.Service Expansion Jahan noticed an increasing trend in offshoring of software development to reduce costs. Disturbed by jobs being shipped out of a country that had given him so much, Jahan decided to further expand mobileLIVE services in the custom development of mobile and web apps while challenging the offshore model. mobileLIVE started offering reduced total-cost-of-ownership by building modular and reusable software frameworks, practicing user experience driven solutions, and developing iteratively with higher velocity. This was very well received and became the turning point in mobileLIVEs’ success and in moving jobs back to Canada.Product Development With a taste for success, Jahan wanted to further diversify the mobileLIVE portfolio in response to the growing importance of a digital workforce, artificial intelligence, customer experience, and process automation. At the same time, he realized that all the major automation products were being produced in the US and Europe, but none were being developed here at home, in Canada. This inspired him to align with Government of Canada’s innovation agenda and launch mobileLIVEs’ Robotic Software Factory, a product of 100% Canadian research and development. The robotic automation software is designed to emulate interactions of humans with a system interface to handle standardized, repetitious, and rule-based tasks. This not only proved valuable for testing user experience across ecosystem but also opened the door to process automation that could provide business with consistency across channels, lower operational costs, and improve team productivity. Within a year of launch, three major brands began to utilize this tool as an essential part of their automation strategy. This helped to solidify mobileLIVE culture as one of automation, with the end goals always being lower cost and enhanced customer experience.Accelerating Digital Transformation In the current phase, mobileLIVE has established itself as a tremendous force in accelerating digital transformation with specialization in experience design, web/mobile/cloud/IoT applications, analytics, artificial intelligence, and automation. The offerings of mobileLIVE have evolved alongside the digital landscape by providing solutions for customers and end-users designed to simplify, not complicate the experience. Each and every day our team renews their promise to our clients; of ensuring that their initiatives will go to market with an unprecedented focus on the end-user, exceeding quality, on time, on budget – every time!mobileLIVE Values From creating the FIRST-EVER third party testing lab for smartphones and IoT in Canada to helping pave the way for national pride in the area of robotics and system automation, mobileLIVE continues to evolve while remaining true to our vision. And despite how much we have changed over the years, we have always taken a customer-obsessed approach in everything we do, and that carries from our clients to their end-users. We do this by creating not only simple, intuitive, and enjoyable experiences for the end-users, but by developing modular, scalable, and adaptable frameworks, bolstered by a collaborative and unique delivery model, designed around building customer intimacy.As one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies, for the second consecutive year, we remain focused on our clients’ success by transforming their digital landscape, increasing their operational agility, and creating exceptional experiences for their customers.We are mobileLIVE, and our story has just begun.
A Digital Transformation Brand Developed & Integrated in Canada
It has been more than four weeks since the “FOR SALE” sign has been up on a house I drive by on my way to work. The house is in a well-known suburb within the western region of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) where properties have been sold rather quickly in the past. It is priced on par with current market rates and does not suffer from any defects or design flaws. So why has it not been sold yet?Certainly, there are indications of a cooling trend in the Canadian real-estate market, but they are nowhere near alarming. This got me thinking whether there is something more at play than just a “downturn”. Real-estate is uniquely positioned because although it is consumer-driven, it constitutes a vital, highly expensive, and life-changing transaction. However, a paradigm shift in consumer trends to abandon bricks-and-mortar retail in favour of online shopping, as well as the onset of digital transformation, may also shed some light on a growing expectation not only for convenient and instantaneous access to rich and personalized information but also to land a “better deal” than in the past.Ultimately, can digital transformation of real-estate help current professionals and organizations differentiate themselves from the competition in these times of change?Why real-estate needs digital transformation? According to analysts, the salability of a property heavily depends on its Days on Market (DOM) index. Factors – such as seasonal variability, condition of the property, whether it was staged to sell, buyer’s availability to see a property, as well as seller’s lead time to allow in-person showing – can have a significant impact on DOM.digital transformationImmersive technologies such as Augmented and Virtual Realities (AR/VR) can drastically improve this index by providing convenience and enhanced experiences to buyers, agents and sellers alike, and making way for digital transformation. AR/VR can save considerable time and expenditure not only for potential renters or buyers, but also for sellers and realtors during times of potential downturn where buyer-to-seller and buyer-to-agent ratios drop significantly. Thanks to immersive tech like AR, MR, and VR, potential buyers can soon be able to move freely in their future residence or office virtually, just by putting on a VR headset or by watching an AR representation of it on their smartphones or tablets. And perhaps this technology that combines VR and AR might just be the key to harnessing immediate success in the real-estate market in today’s highly volatile environment.What are immersive technologies? Since its inception by Laurence Manning in his late 1930’s science fiction stories, VR (and its close cousin AR) has only recently gained massive popularity. Technological progress and digital transformation has allowed the improvement of immersive User Experiences (UX) and reduction in costs, thus favouring their democratization – but the UX for AR and VR can be considerably different.VR is a three-dimensional, computer- generated environment which can be explored and interacted with by a user. A range of devices (e.g. headsets) can be used to stimulate vision, hearing, and touch in order to create the illusion of a virtual reality that is created using a computer. AR, on the other hand, is an enhanced version of reality to add digital information on top of a captured image or video. AR is typically available in mobile apps that use a smartphone camera to capture videos of the real world, and then superimpose a layer of information on it, including text, images, and virtual 3D objects. But recent advancements have been able to combine the characteristics of VR and AR to give rise to immersive Mixed Reality (MR) experiences such as those possible with the Microsoft Hololens.How does VR or AR concretely fit into the digital transformation of the process of sale or leasing of residential or commercial real-estate? The experience for potential clients wanting to visit a property could be of two types: Either remotely (by visiting the real-estate broker’s website,) or in-person with or without a real-estate professional to guide these virtual tours. To simplify the visit process, visitation developers can leverage AR and VR experiences by capturing 360 Videos of a property being offered, as well as creating its virtual model at a small fraction of the cost of physical staging and refinishing. Such modeled spaces can then be imported onto 2D media for AR experiences or presented as VR content using virtual headsets.Enhanced customer experience through virtual visits and staging 90% of households today begin their real estate search on the Internet, with more than 50% of searches made on mobile devices. To enhance the user experience on the realtor’s website, a virtual presence of the property through VR and AR can highlight Points of Interest (POIs) that allow potential buyers a better understanding of the property. However, unproductive physical visits despite appealing POIs can result in the added cost of sale if buyers are unable to correlate their “imagined” property compared to how it really looks in real life.While these technologies cannot offer the guarantees of a sale, they can undoubtedly allow customers to refine their search. This reduces the number of unproductive visits to the benefit of generating and following more serious leads by realtors. Customers can also make more educated selections from a realtor website using technologies that create immersive experiences, as they provide a spatially richer experience than mere photos or videos. Potential buyers can then decide much more easily whether specific properties are “worth the visit” for them.Analysis has shown that around 50% of potential buyers can request on-demand (or same day) access to a property for viewing in a “buyer’s market”. While some mobile apps today have enabled on-demand availability of real-estate professionals, the actual viewing availability of the property can drastically impact the potential sale. By leveraging immersive technologies, realtors could at least generate interest for a deferred visit by offering an instant VR experience without the need for immediate physical access to the property. This also benefits real estate professionals, who will no longer be required to organize visits just to generate interest in a property. Instead, they can offer potential buyers with an immersive virtual experience of the property visit.Furthermore, market trends in some areas in the last five years suggest that 1% to 3% of investment in home staging can bring an 8% to 10% increase in sale price for a residential property. This means that for staging a typical property (e.g. a residence in a suburb of Toronto, Canada) valued at $800,000 CAD, an upfront staging cost of up to $24,000 CAD may be incurred in some cases. And there is an inherent risk of the staging not being on par with the buyer’s expectation or tastes. Such upfront costs could be eliminated (or reduced to a fraction) by the use of virtual remodelling and staging of a given property until the buyer interest can be assessed. Potential savings could also be passed onto buyers where little to no physical staging being required, and this may incentivize them just enough to close the deal.In fact, builders and realtors will need to start leveraging storytelling techniques to communicate “the art of possible” during virtual and in-person showings with these technologies. Storytelling can allow seasoned stagers or graphic artists to work remotely with realtors to virtually “stage” a property based on potential client feedback in real-time, which may further help in making the sale.Why Real-Estate needs digital transformation?For instance, potential buyers looking for a “fixer-upper” may wish to visualize the property with the appropriate refinishing. Those looking to purchase a new home based on a design by the builder may want to visualize the finished home through a 3D immersive experience. And those adamant on specific looks of the property – for instance, wanting a wooden floor with oak finish instead of porcelain tiles currently offered with the “base model” – could gain enough confidence to make the purchase with the upgrade. Similar experiences can be offered using virtual staging objects, such as curtains, furniture, and lighting to facilitate purchases from partnering hardware and upholstery providers.Better analytics to drive decision support Analytics is also an important aspect of using immersive technologies since they allow realtors to gauge the client’s interest in a property, as well as that of the personalized experience. Popular analytics providers are able to offer some web-page related KPIs, such as pageviews, sessions, and exits. However, these technologies and experiences can provide realtors with deeper insight into specific aspects or features that are requested by potential buyers. For instance, a customer requests to see what a living room might look like with maple hardwood floor along with crown molding on ceilings can be captured digitally and provide useful data for prediction and next best actions.Analytics from within VR and AR environments could also shed direct insight into nuanced buyer behaviors. For instance, the mere fact that buyers spend more time viewing a particular property within the virtual tour could indicate their interest in this and similar properties. The time spent within specific virtual sections could indicate potential problems with the property that need to be resolved in order to make a sale. This data, however, can be segmented not only at the demographic level, but also from geographic, seasonal, and behavioural points of view to better drive decision-making.Putting it together VR and AR technologies can help realtors make a stellar first impression on both homebuyers and sellers. These technologies can solve common communication and timing challenges with the prospects and lead to a digital transformation in the field of real estate. As we observed, VR and AR can help realtors and support professionals spend their time effectively and efficiently allowing targeted and personalized experiences. They can also substantially reduce unneeded staging and scheduling expenditures, and opportunity costs due to unproductive showings which can be directly passed to the consumer, thereby incentivising them to close. By helping customers visualize what is possible through VR or AR, eliminating non-productive viewings, and reducing overall costs of preparing a property for sale, the real-estate industry has a real opportunity to revitalise itself using immersive technologies and digital transformation.While some software companies have started exploring this market, adoption of their solutions and products are not mainstream yet. However, we believe in the next 3-7 years, AR and VR experiences will change our lives in the same way that the web has done in the last 3 decades. And the time is now for real-estate stakeholders to give serious thought to these technologies. In order to stand out from the competition and better meet the expectations of buyers, current market players will have to adapt quickly. Investment in the adoption of 3D modelling, VR demonstration, and AR staging tools is therefore of tremendous value for builders, real estate agencies, and sellers alike. However, the end prize just might go to those who take the first step and differentiate themselves by transforming their digital engagement and experience.
Is AR and VR bringing about Digital Transformation in Real Estate
Digitization is sweeping across many industries, creating an unparalleled demand for companies to innovate, experiment and deliver capabilities faster. Increasing speed and agility isn’t just a desire—it’s imperative for survival. You need to adopt a more flexible and efficient approach to software delivery—one that eliminates the barriers and exploits the dependencies between development and operations. And for that, you can adopt a DevOps culture.In a DevOps environment, your entire team is responsible for delivering both new features and stability. Instead of simply creating code and turning it over to an operations team to put into production, responsibilities are balanced more equally, with procedures in place to make sure both teams have insight and visibility into application performance.Not surprisingly, DevOps practices continue to gain in popularity. According to data from DevOps.com, the adoption rate increased substantially from 2015 to 2016, from 66 percent to 74 percent.What’s driving the shift? Long lead times to get software into production make it difficult for companies to provide cutting-edge services and enhance the customer experience. To keep pace with the market demands, IT teams must build, deploy, test, and release software in ever-faster cycles.DevOps cycle. build, deploy, test, releaseHere are six reasons why you should consider adopting a DevOps culture:1. Accelerate innovation With an integrated operations and development team, applications can be developed and deployed much more rapidly. This is vital, since business success today hinges largely on an organization’s ability to innovate faster than the competition. Since change sets are smaller, problems tend to be less complex. DevOps engineers can take advantage of real-time performance data to quickly grasp the impact of application changes. And software fixes are faster because team members only need to check the latest code changes for errors.2. Improve collaboration Rather than attempting to eliminate the difference between the two disciplines, a successful DevOps environment promises to build a bridge to make them work better together. The software development culture then, continuously focusses on combined achievement rather than individual goals. When your software and operations teams trust each other, they can experiment, research, and innovate more effectively. It’s no longer a matter of tossing application code over the wall and hoping for the best. Your development environment becomes progressively more seamless as all team members work toward shared goals.3. Increase efficiency Automated tools and standardized production platforms are key elements of DevOps best practices which help make deployments more predictable and free your IT staff from tedious repetitive tasks. With automated testing and integration, developers need not fritter away their time relying on code integration processes to complete.Acceleration and development platforms offer additional opportunities for improving efficiency:Scalable infrastructure, such as cloud-based solutions, help speed testing and deployment processes by increasing access to hardware resources. Compilation and development tools help shorten development cycles and speed product delivery. Continuous delivery workflows can help produce faster and more frequent software release. 4. Reduce failures The shorter development cycles associated with a strong DevOps approach promotes more frequent code releases. With these more modular implementations, your teams can expose problems in configuration, application code, and infrastructure earlier. DevOps also keeps team members engaged throughout the life cycle of a feature or application, resulting in higher quality code. Fewer fixes are required because developers look for and eliminate potential problems as they write code. According to a recent State of DevOps report, organizations that adopt a DevOps culture have 60 times fewer failures than those not implementing a DevOps approach.5. Accelerate recovery time Because DevOps deployments are more targeted and isolated, bugs are easier to spot and in turn, fixes are often faster and easier to implement. Your team will mostly need to check the latest code changes to be able to resolve an issue. Resolution times are inherently faster because the responsibility for troubleshooting and fixes remains contained within a single team. In fact, research shows that high-performing DevOps teams recover from failures 168 times faster than lower performing peers.6. Enhance job satisfaction Rather than rule-based or power-based culture, DevOps promotes a more performance-based company environment. This reduces the bureaucratic obstacles and fosters sharing of risks. The result is a more contented and productive workforce, which helps boost your business performance. Developers and operations engineers generally prefer a DevOps environment because they can work more efficiently and wear more than one hat. They gain a better understanding of where their role fits into the larger scope of IT and within the business as a whole. This makes them more marketable and more valuable.Fast software delivery is crucial in today’s digital age and a DevOps culture is the driver of this process. It enables your business to accelerate go-to-market services and roll out new features quickly and efficiently. While adopting DevOps is not a simple process, when done correctly the investment will pay dividends far beyond the initial effort. With greater speed, security, and stability, a DevOps culture could be just the transformative shift you need to gain an important performance advantage.Let’s Connect to help you gain the DevOps advantage!
6 Reasons Why You Should Adopt a DevOps Culture in Your Business
Pursuit of optimal customer experience is driving digital transformation initiatives across all industries because technology is allowing customers to be in direct control of their interactions with us. From the ease of multi-channel digital connectivity to immediacy in service, customers expect frictionless and hyper-personalized customer experiences that embody simplicity, Do-it-Yourself, and social. Likes of Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook are also not making it any easier by setting standards that customers expect every business to match.Without a doubt, the importance of Customer Experience has grown to become equal, if not more than products and services offered. Brands who focus on improving customer experience by mapping the evolving customer behaviors and preferences, applying human-centered approach, innovating collaboratively, and executing with agility – easily differentiate themselves and excel onto a path of greater success.But let’s be clear, customer experience does not belong to any one department. In fact, it requires intense collaboration from the entire organization. Everyone working “together” towards a common purpose for the sake of the customer, who only recognizes us as – one. From a customer’s perspective, it primarily involves customer-facing functions and touchpoints, however, there is a myriad of business challenges that we need to manage in an effort to achieve the desired customer experience.To bring it all together, below is an infographic capturing shared – customer expectations and business challenges – in a digital economy.Customer Expectations & Business Challenges in a Digital Economy is a graphical representation that depicts the unique Customer Expectations and the associated Business Challenges faced in trying to meet them.From the structure of the organization (People, Culture, Processes) to the disruptive technologies (AI, Machine Learning, AR/VR, IoT, Conversational Commerce) involved, we need to sync up with evolving customer behaviours and deliver beyond their expectations. It’s not going to be simple, but we must, in order to attract, win, and retain customers in this ever-increasing digital economy.
Creating the Optimal Customer Experience via Digital Transformation
His name is David…not Tom, not John, and definitely not Donald! He is in his early forties, a technophile, practical in nature, and employed as a Senior Manager. He enjoys buying new gadgets, but being a homebody doesn’t eat out, nor travel for vacations. Yet, his shopping app kept sending him options on where to dine out today and where to take his next vacation.After patiently ignoring it for a month, he finally uninstalled the app and now goes around sharing his negative sentiments on how poor his experience was. The irony – app creators convinced David enough to get him to download the app, but either missed gathering enough information about him during registration, or never bothered analyzing his behavioural data. Result – a lost opportunity for loyalty and advocacy because they failed to recognize him as an individual and personalize his experience and customer journey to suit his needs and preferences.Let’s be honest, David is not the only one out there who seems to be getting frustrated. Even you and I expect to be recognized as individuals. Even more so, when there is enough proof advocating benefits of personalized marketing – it’s critical for current and future success; it improves brand loyalty and customer experience; it influences what customers purchase and drives revenue; it raises conversions; it has a higher click-through rate than traditional ads and so on…yet, many brands are failing to prioritize it.Thanks to AI-driven automation platforms, many of us are progressing well into achieving personalization through UX and UI. I carefully used the words “progressing well into achieving personalization” because personalization is clearly – a continuous process – and not just a one-time effort.Trying not to sell you a platform here, in a nutshell, automation platforms take signals from multiple data sources including location, demographic, psychographic, behaviour, lifestyle, interests, device, and browser information etc. Analyze customer patterns, do the segmentation, evaluate intent, and trigger next best recommendation based on an individual’s needs, preferences, and expectation from the customer journey.How does automation help in personalization?But collecting information from these data sources and analyzing them is the heavy lifting intelligent algorithms will do for us. What should we be doing to ensure success in the personalization process to create an unforgettable customer journey?Here’s my list of quick reminders Data Sources It all starts with understanding the evolving needs, lifestyle, social, and behavioural patterns of our customers throughout their journey. So, let’s ensure all data sources are integrated, to achieve a unified view. This sets the foundation for segmentation exercises and mapping of customer journeys, and without it, we won’t get far.Micro Segmentation This is a crucial exercise, where we define users in segments such as demographics, geography, behaviour, lifestyle and then feed our personalization platform. Here on, with the help of the platform, we will drill down these segments into micro-segments for e.g., behaviour (usage patterns, price sensitivity, etc.). We’ll have greater success if our one-to-one marketing and UX or UI efforts are based on the value and relevance of these micro-segments.Customer Journey Mapping customer journeys is only the beginning. We have to keep working our way towards optimizing and improving customer experience in real-time, throughout the journey. Remember, we need to win all stages and ultimately reward our efforts by achieving loyalty and advocacy.Key Moments Like they say, “we live in the moment” …be ready to catch that key moment in real-time. As soon as our customer sends out a signal of their intent, our library of content should be ready to match the context and trigger right away for best results.Mobile Experience Prioritize mobile-first experience. Customers expect always-on, frictionless digital experience across touchpoints and if we’re still struggling to create an intuitive, contextual & DIY mobile experience, then we are surely missing out…big time!Addressable Name Depending on the channel of engagement, start personalizing by name, it’s the very basic step. Generic greetings just don’t do it, especially when we are attempting to create personalized experiences. Let’s build an emotional connection right off the bat.Messaging Whatever the medium, a hint of customer knowledge in the message does improve engagement. We surely want customers to know, that we have recognized them as individuals. Be personable, but don’t scare them by displaying too much personal information. That’s still creepy.Timing Timing is key. Simple steps in understanding customers time zone, the best time of responsiveness, or behavioural pattern, will make a huge difference in response and message effectiveness. Our objective here is in reaching out when customers will respond most favourably.Team Assemble a strong dedicated team to manage personalization. It’s integral to the process. Create a team of creatives, digital marketers, and IT. Empower them with tools and decision-making authority, so that they can maintain the required agility in this process.And last, but not the least…Continuity As pointed out earlier, personalization is a continuous process of learning, improving, and achieving. Don’t be shy in evaluating response, refining, and attempting again to achieve the desired results. Start small, measure, improve, and keep growing!What’s on your list for achieving personalization?Let’s Connect if you want to set up/improve your personalized experiences.
How Can We Ensure Success in Personalized Experiences
The more enriched an experience, the more dopamine is released into our brain and more profound is the interactivity associated with it. The feel-good factor or the user experience (UX) of any product, platform or service is the quintessential key to deliver a prolonged and definitive image of the brand in the mind of the customer. But how we create that indelible mark in the user’s mind or what technological advancements will lead to enhance the effect, undoubtedly needs our attention as we progress towards the UX of tomorrow. Can artificial intelligence lead Chatbots distinctly be the buddies in changing the future of UX?Let me first take you through what is at the heart of past and present UX paradigms, what has made the UX of yesterday and today successful, and what technologies have been employed in realizing it.Cave drawings, tapestries and even written manuscripts provided a UX, wherein storytellers, oracles and poets would “hard-code” their messages. These technologies were to take a life of their own through the ages, with abstract content engaging its audience’s imagination through reflection and thought. Whether sculpted, drawn or written, its purpose was to convey an intended natural meaning, even when done so artificially in hindsight.Progressive Advancement in UX With the advent of modern computing in the 20th century, engineers attempted to “hard-code” computers to interact with users. It was limited and primitive by today’s standards, but it was something new! Even when projecting into a fictional future, HAL 9000 from Space Odyssey, the original Robocop, and Star Trek’s LCARS voice interface were deliberately designed to sound and feel mechanized. They meant to convey a sense of artificiality to the viewers of the 60’s through 90’s, and for a good reason. Human-machine interface grabbed attention of that era’s audience simply by the virtue of novelty; it needed to be dichotomized from human-human interaction.However, with the changing times, it is not the same today where the term “AI” is taken for granted. We have moved along in our expectations of what AI should be capable of. Today’s chatbots and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems – therefore – are not meant to sound or feel mechanized and boring. They actively engage users by sounding more “human.” And it will be far more interesting in the immediate future. That will be the time of ontology in its truest form, where intelligent systems will actively drive the user, and not the other way around!We are soon entering the age of evolved chatbot customer experience that will concurrently span a multitude of modalities – not (just) text. It will rely on voice interaction, mixed-reality graphics, gestures, and cybernetic interfaces, all topped by AI concurrently performing linguistic and behavioural analyses. Undoubtedly it would be a truly enriched and immersive user experience that will know how to grab the user’s attention at will.A Time of Multimode User Interaction Now that we are steadily stepping onto the time of ontology, with intelligent systems driving the user to take his/her decisions, it’s time to audit and learn how certain existing content presentation techniques, UI designs, and UX methods might stand the test of time. And the role advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Augmented/Mixed Reality (AR/MR) will play in harnessing their true potential.Human language, when textualized, is just one mode of communication. Advances in Natural Language Processing (NLP) have made great strides within this modality. Supervised machine learning techniques, such as Support Vector Machines (SVMs) can now extract relevant information from text if trained to do so for a given set of contexts (domains.)By introducing Neural Networks and Deep Learning techniques, NLP systems can even be made to classify the intent more holistically – and in a limited fashion can readily uncover the underlying sentiment behind the textualized content as well.Deep Learning and natural language processingBody language, tone of voice and selective vocal emphasis are still additional modes of communication that needs consideration. These added modalities can provide far greater cues into the intent and meaning behind linguistic expression. Recently, two teams from Nanyang Technological University of Singapore, Carnegie Mellon University in the USA, and Instituto Politecnico Nacional de Mexico have independently published research papers validating the methods and practical efficacy of Multimodal Sentiment Analysis (MSA) by adding information from video and audio content along with established NLP techniques. And it is the author’s opinion that MSA will gain considerable traction in terms of the practical application of NLP in chatbots.NLP in chatbotsFurthermore, incorporating physiological biometrics to this analysis (e.g. either non-intrusively or using wearables) can make machine learning systems even more effective and efficient. For instance, adding heart rate, voice fluctuations, and posture can provide substantial information about the user’s intent. Adding these subtle modalities can propel an interactive AI much closer to realizing true ontology; to not just do what the user seemingly asked for, but what the user may actually have wanted or needed.An Era of On-Demand Mixed Reality Even in current times, people tend to own more than one device and can switch between them part-way through their task. Studies have shown that up to quarter of users can switch to a tablet from their smartphone and more than half switch to a laptop midway through any given activity. With the advent of new and more creative tools, it is only reasonable to expect that omnichannel UX will require absolute consistency in the age of multi-device use-cases.UX therefore will not be limited to a simple “flat 2D screen” interaction but rather involve AR/MR as is the case with devices such as Microsoft’s Hololens. AR/MR computing platforms will need to include any given device they identify, and interoperate with it at run time. Therefore, such platforms will have the capability to recognize and connect to environmental sensors when entering a room, or identify and interact at run time with smart outdoor cameras for enhancing the user’s perceptual UX. Individual applications will not need to re-implement any lower-level interfaces and would bring in a fine seamless interaction for the user.game scenario of Microsoft HololensPhoto by Microsoft / CC BY 2.0 However, simply immersing a user into graphically rich, and detailed contextual content may not be enough to keep them engaged in the long haul. Can you quickly recall the mechanized voices of fictional AI’s of the 60’s-90’s? Agreed, they sound boring by today’s standards – but were novel and “hip” during their respective eras. The same may be the eventual aftermath of AR or MR once the “novelty honeymoon” is over. To ensure that the users truly benefit and remain engaged, humanizing the digital experience will be as necessary tomorrow as it is today for UX and UI, and more.Humankind’s initial experimentation with the art of myth and storytelling, though synthetic, is in fact the oldest known technique to share experiences through analogy. It is this technique, that remains at the heart of humanizing the digital UX. With the abundance of content existing on the web, being different will continue to be critical. Creating a story around a given product and inviting users to become a part of it might be the easiest way to engage them. Perhaps, in the era of MR/AR, such storytelling will be of vital importance to let the user immerse into the experience – thereby staying engaged throughout the UX.Conversational interfaces may also prove invaluable in engaging the user to intuitively access content and assist in decision making. Currently, such interfaces, or UI – though effective – are limited to text- or voice-based chatbots. However, conversational interaction for AR or MR will be fundamentally different due to the enriched content rendered within an arbitrary 3D space. Free from the confines of a 2D “flatland,” UX of the future will demand digital content to be more than what is currently accessed over the web. UX designers and engineers alike will need to prepare AI for verbal, as well as cues to interact with the users via augmented reality or mixed reality; not just by displaying audible or visual content, but by introducing key micro-interactions through evolutionary storyboarding that trigger the user’s active thought process.game scenario of Microsoft HololensCombining conversational paradigms and on-demand storytelling to create engaging UX will require an abundance of information processing power and storage capacity, whether onboard an AR/MR device, or distributed across a network of devices and appliances. And certainly, it will require substantial content generated at run-time in addition to existing pre-processed and raw data. The key demand for businesses and social networks of the future will be in how to restructure and optimize their content and UI experiences so that it is served readily through AR/MR interfaces. It will not just be flat UI, image and text on a website; but disparate content and metadata that can be rendered on-demand in the form of virtual objects within an augmented voxel space as part of a storytelling experience through AR or MR.Artificial Intelligence Personified Let’s take a closer look at how content and data served through various AI led technologies will change the perspective of UX designers, budding technology entrepreneurs as well as mature technology professionals’ understanding of the UX and its future. We have already witnessed the explosion of chatbots and smart machines within the market due to their versatile applicability in implementing conversational AI. App fatigue may further fuel the growth of chatbot assistants – so as to delegate sifting through apps and content based on their utility for a user’s specific personality, needs, and habits. Additional drivers in favour of chatbots are top brands who are directly integrating them into their customer experience channels starting from direct marketing through customer service and support, to direct sales – thereby increasing efficiency.Business and social websites too publish their Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) collectively. Yet they also include chatbots to fetch the underlying content from a single source on demand structured data repository within a Content Management System (CMS). However, such hard-coded content may not necessarily connect with users in a way that a natural dialogue would. In an age, where we are rapidly advancing towards conversational commerce, businesses and individuals alike will need to ensure that they are ahead of the game in capturing their audience. This can only be achieved if they can repurpose abstract information to generate responses from raw data – not such that AI chatbots create their own language – but that they are capable of dialogue with their audience to connect at a personal level.game scenario of Microsoft HololensHowever, such chatbots – might always be tainted with the perception of bias towards the business they are designed to generate. Instead of succumbing to the business of bots, users of tomorrow will demand independent aggregator assistant bots not linked to a single platform, but capable of automatically analyzing the user’s needs, all available products and services, their price and value, and act as an advisory assistant without vendor bias. Development and productizing of such “untethered” buddy chatbots are the next big opportunity for the start-ups and businesses of today.Enhancement of the resulting UX can be exponential if additional modalities are included within the user interaction. Consider that upcoming trends for UX point to the proliferation of AR/MR in the immediate future.Putting it all Together In the pursuit of advancement, we forget sometimes what really drives the technological continuum. As social beings, we do not really embrace technology for technology’s sake. We do so to enrich our interactivity and enhance our experiences. It is no secret therefore, that the more targeted and emotionally uplifting the UX and UI, the more rewarding is its perception by the human brain. Only then is it able to capture a user’s attention and imagination – irrespective of technology used to create that UX or UI design.In the coming years, it will become even more important for product and UX or UI designers to include the “human” element. In the next few years, conversations are the next layer of UX and user interaction. Chatbots in their current state might not be able to handle the required complexities arising from the expectations of today’s users. Advances in machine learning have certainly improved the adaptability of current chatbots in the UX. But the art of storytelling dependent heavily on contextual nuances and creativity are still very much beyond the scope of current technology. In the age of conversational commerce, it will become crucial to consider the dynamics of natural conversational dialogue, and impartiality of presented information to truly capture the attention of the user.how artificial intelligence helps human robot interactionThe future of UX will indeed be extremely interesting for those of us who witness it in full swing. With a rich plethora of immersive content, interactive UI designs, and customized experiences available on-demand and with additional advances in human-machine interfaces to directly link the human brain to information access peripherals, such interactions can eventually become part of the user’s active thought process. But until a time, humans practically become cyborgs, “un-tethered” buddy chatbots rendered as human-like guides within AR/MR environments may act as the user’s “inner voice” so as to assist in decision-making – via conversational discourse as well as through micro interactions in the UX journey. Perhaps taking the form of the user’s own “mirror image” to look and sound familiar, or that of the user’s idol so as to be more convincing, such personifications of AI, with help from augmented reality or mixed reality, may be key to the UX of tomorrow.Want to learn more? Let’s talk
Buddy Chatbots, AR/MR, and UX: the User Experience of Tomorrow
“Machines will take over nearly half of all the work done by humans”, claims an Oxford university research. Another prediction says, “90 percent of the world’s population will soon be jobless owing to the fast development in the field of Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, deep learning, analytics, and robotics.” The panic that robots taking over our jobs is going viral!Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, in a recent interview anticipated that, robots will replace a lot of workers and therefore they should be taxed to bring in funds to socially support displaced workers. Some governments across the globe are also working to facilitate the Universal Basic Income (UBI) scheme to support people who are distraught by automation. While it’s true that robots are all around us these days, considering them as a threat, is fairly incorrect.Way back in 1964, Westminster in Colorado got its first automated gas delivering robot. John Roscoe, short stop convenience store owner, bought an electric box that would let a clerk inside the shop activate any of the pumps outside. It was not before the 1970s when self-serve pumps started gaining momentum. Pump makers eventually added automation systems to let customers pay at the pump. By 2000’s, task specific robots took over the gas attendants role in pumps all across.Automation changed outlook With self-serve pumps in actions, the cost of overall fuel dropped down because you’re not paying for the gas attendant’s salary. People, in turn, started investing their savings in learning and inculcating various other soft skills and value addition roles.Also, if statistics are to be believed, in the 1970s, 14 percent of men held four-year college degrees and 8 percent of women in Colorado. However, by 2015, it was up by 32 percent of men and women. So automation, in a way helped to transform a pool of people whose mindset was fast cheap labour jobs to professionally skilled jobs.While pump attendant jobs went away, new jobs like software coders, engineers, sales staff, and project managers propped up. The pump owners too utilised their savings in building small convenience stores and marts in the pump vicinity. This in turn, employed some others to work as clerks, sales staff, and cashiers in these small shops.Even today, despite the number of jobs that technology is fast eating over, it is creating better avenues of income as well.New doors open up with automation A new study from Redwood Software and the Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR) explored the trends in robotic automation in 23 countries over the past 20 years to quantify their impact on GDP per capita and labour productivity. The analysis revealed that, robotics now adds more value to the economy in comparison to the traditional industries, therefore, fuelling job growth.Interestingly, history has also shown us that factories that have used automation in their manufacturing or production phases have cut down prices of the overall product, making it more affordable in the market, and increasing demand for more production. While some others generated more profit to pay higher wages, bringing in more employment and quality in production.Amazon is a brilliant case in point of this phenomena. Over the past few years, the company has invested heavily in automation, from 1400 robots to the present over 45,000 robots working in its warehouses. The new hire rates have also not changed, during the same period of time. But the company has been able to provide unique customer experience all across its business touch points.Have you heard about brand influencers? US based company Influential One, which partnered with IBM Watson, analyses and understands the integrity that people have with various brands via their social media interactions. The company then connects people and brands to earn money by being “brand influencer”, a new category of job aided by AI understanding.With automated apps and IoT led devices, taking over our lives, new avenues will surely open up to bring in new dimensions to the workforce. Jobs in various categories like VR/AR personalised entertainment, Nanotechnology, E-marketing, Space Economy, Senior Care, Sharing Economy like AirBnB, Uber, etc., Renewable energies, Coaching, Organic Data Analysis, Chamberlains and Stewards, jobs that demand human contacts like Nurses, Counsellors, Psychologists, etc., Genetic Engineering and more such positions will eventually prop up.Just being modern Luddites, afraid of losing work and place in a society led by robots is not a good sign. Automation will always bear a symbiotic relationship between Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Human Intelligence (HI). Therefore, let’s keep the evolution of human history in mind and keep working towards a brighter future!
Are Our Jobs at Risk with Automation?
While we were still working on mastering Social, Mobile, Analytics, and Cloud (SMAC), Digital Transformation aka (DX) itself has evolved into DX 2.0 representing the priority stack – Internet of Things, Data, Design Thinking, and Artificial Intelligence (IDDA).It’s all happening – thinking Internet of Things with all possible connected devices and touchpoints in our daily lives; integrating data gathering sources, assembling data strategy and analytics for better informed decisions; designing products, experiences, and businesses with a focused human-centered approach; and making artificial intelligence predict patterns, automate and personalize experiences.Let’s take a deeper dive…The new chief of data generation Mobile itself, or for that matter mobile and web, are no longer the chief of data generation – its Internet of Things (IoT). Data is not only being generated by the apps we use but our interaction with almost every smart device including; wearables, cars, cameras, routers, places, social, etc. representing the enormous universe of opportunities and tons of yummy data all around us. With less than 20 billion connected devices today to 30 billion in 2020 to 80 billion in 2025, digital businesses will be leveraging IoT and not limiting themselves to mobile and web only.Data is king, big or small Data, big or small, remains to be the king in DX economy. Data is the most valuable currency; our gateway to growth. Data is being generated at a phenomenal pace and by 2025, Digital Universe is estimated to create 180 Zettabytes of data in the world annually. Unfortunately, many businesses are still managing data poorly – leaving it scattered, unclean and unfit to use. Imagine the opportunities being lost here. We need to declare an urgency in hiring employees or partners who master data, can help implement data strategy and analytics to fuel growth.The human centricity The Design Thinking approach of empathizing, defining, ideating, prototyping, and testing is centred around humans. Thanks to 918,202 UX Designers all over the world, not only the quality of products has just not improved dramatically but the incredible design thinking approach is being applied to almost everything – even business operations. Realizing that businesses are run by humans (employees – or at least till robots take over) design thinking approach is being used to enhance team collaborations, processes, innovations, performance, and satisfaction. This in return is benefiting customer satisfaction and business growth.Magic of artificial intelligence Artificial Intelligence is the magic wand in achieving automation and personalization. Implementing robotic process and test automations along with bots socializing and assisting, AI is not only saving time and cost but increasing agility and accuracy as well. At the same time, AI is working through basic segmentation, to prediction and personalization based on customer preferences and behavior patterns, all the way to unbelievable autonomous vehicles. By 2029 Artificial Intelligence will actually read at human levels, understand language and be able to communicate at human levels, at a vast scale.Digital transformation is a journey; not a destination and we at mobileLIVE believe, DX stack has evolved into IDDA from SMAC. However, it’s not one or the other rather both stacks – SMAC & IDDA – need to be conquered to continue growth in this ever-increasing digital economy.What do you think?Join the conversation @mobileLIVEInc #DX2.0
Core Digital Transformation Stack has Evolved
It’s 1975, a customer walks into a Nordstrom store in Anchorage, Alaska to return a set of tires. The clerk, saw the price on the side of the tires, reached into the cash register, and handed the man $145.It did not matter that Nordstrom had never sold tires.Nordstrom was and continues to be an upscale clothing store. The customer had bought the tires at the store that occupied the same retail space prior to Nordstrom moving in. But in those 2 seconds while making a decision, Nordstorm’s philosophy kicked in and the staff did what they were trained to do – “Ensure that the customer experience was optimal”.Times change, mediums of communication change, but legendary stories such as this one have become the cornerstone of CX philosophy of many a companies, including ours. Apple, Nordstorm, Lululemon have all continuously shown us that the magic unleashed when the entire organization is collectively able to optimize every touchpoint with the customer – telling the same story, creating personalized, focussed, and iconic experiences.Challenges make way for opportunities The challenges and opportunities are now amplified with the boundary between digital and physical getting blurred. Managing and improving this phy-gital (physical-digital) customer experience delivers real benefits to companies that successfully execute customer-centric strategies. McKinsey predicts that companies with great digital experience will have 30-50% increase in measures such as likelihood to renew or to buy another product, making the case for investment even more compelling.Revolutionary, multi-sensory initiatives To adapt and change, companies have to embrace a design thinking approach anchored not on technology but on ease, effectiveness, and emotion. CX is becoming not only omnichannel but more multi-sensory, complex to design and immersive (AR/VR). It’s heralding us into a new era.Take this example from the retail industry; a 100 year back when someone walked into a store more often than not the shopkeeper knew the customer, their choices, socio-economic status and based on it made recommendations.Fast forward to 2017 and it would be hard to find a service agent in a big box retailer to save someone’s life; let alone talk about a product. Here Big data and IoT is being used to recreate the experience from a century back. Providing customers relevant, targeted, and focussed recommendations based on their buying pattern of the last few trips and using IoT as the last mile. Its essentially providing the customer the required information to help influence their decision-making paradigm in the 2 seconds when they are making it.Beacons help track customers in the aisle and while they stand pondering on the type of noodles they need to buy – in real time based on inventory and promotions a recommendation is pushed to the end customer’s phone. Revolutionary!But it’s only the beginning. Imagine two friends go shopping for a tent. Spotting one they like, they both crawl inside to check the capacity. But there’s something unusual about this scenario: One is in Toronto, the other in London. And neither is anywhere near a sporting goods store. Virtual reality, along with its first-cousin augmented reality, offers retailers the opportunity to transform how people shop! Mobile Apps and Websites, will soon become “so third quarter 2016”.Transformatory DX will empower CX Customers, stoked by these transformatory digital experiences are going to ask for more and organizations will have to deliver. Incumbents across all sectors from retail, mining, telecom, finance, healthcare, and others will continuously need to redesign and transform significantly. This transformation does not need to be radical each time if their current operating model puts the customer’s needs and wants at the center of a digital transformation strategy; enabled by redesigned customer journeys and agile delivery of insights and services.
Future Proofing Your Customer’s Digital Experiences for Growth
Believe it or not, Gen-Y (also known as Millennials) is already the largest generation in the Canadian workforce and I’m sure so is the case in most countries. They were being ignored for their lack of income and spending power. However, it has become glaringly obvious that Gen-Y is a gigantic population, holding significantly powerful positions in the industry, and growing their spending power.But wait, it doesn’t end there. The first wave of Gen-Z has graduated and already entered the workforce. Dubbed as the first digital-native generation, extremely tech-savvy, masters of multitasking, risk-takers, and truly global, are already contributing significantly in the digital economy.By 2020, both these generations will collectively account for the largest prime target customers. While past decades have been built on the axiom of “better, faster, cheaper”, Gen-Y and Gen-Z take stock in other values.So let’s take a look at what these generations want.They want immediacy Immediacy is key with them. The era of “better, faster, cheaper” has evolved into an expectation of “NOW!”. They have short attention spans and it should come as no surprise, if you lose these generations due to lack of convenient access to your offerings, slow content loading, slow response time, or poor user experience on any touch point. They know they can demand immediacy because of the multitude of options out there, while multi-tasking comfortably through several screens at one time.They want mobile-first experience With immediacy comes mobility. Growing up with digital devices, these generations are natural with technology. While Gen-Y adopt new technology a lot more quickly compared to previous generations, Gen-Z is born among digital devices and have no intentions of denying their device addiction. It is therefore critical for businesses to design platform relevant, intuitive, and contextual mobile-first experiences. Trust me, their mobile device is always at an arm’s length if not already in the palm of their hand.They want hyper-personalized experiences The biggest differentiator of Gen-Y and Gen-Z compared to previous generations is their craving for hyper-personalized experiences. Individuality is big with them and they want personalization from all brands. They want to be recognized, valued, and provided custom solutions to suit their individual needs. Start empathizing with them and build their trust. With integration of social listening, advanced analytics, design thinking, and machine learning – every business should be able to offer hyper-personalized content and experiences.As compared to their predecessors, Gen-Y and Gen-Z’ers are reshaping customer experience management at a much faster pace. Already a gigantic population, true digital-natives, holding significantly powerful positions, and growing spending power – these generations should be at the heart of every business transformation to compete in this ever-increasing digital economy
Who is Reshaping Customer Experience?
I still remember how each generation of mobile network provided something different, something new, and caused us (myself included) to wonder what was around the corner.1G first generation of wireless cellular technology for voice calls1G or the first generation of mobile networks were analog technology; characterized by vast energy consumption. Sure, we could make voice calls, but the quality was terrible, security was non-existent, and given its speed, there really wasn’t much else we could hope to do with it.2G network was slower, but shift from analog to digital2G was undoubtedly a massive upgrade from 1G as it was the shift from analog to digital – an effort that was spearheaded to ensure a more reliable and secure communication channel. Not only that but 2G gave way to features like text messaging, conference calls, and roaming.3G network technology enabled calls, texts and access the internet3G is responsible for most of the features we all come to expect from our mobile networks and are common today across the globe. Web browsing, email, data sharing, instant messaging and more all became a global phenomenon. This generation also saw a rise in streaming services.4G fastest connection to mobile Internet experience4G brought with it fundamentally new technology, not unlike the leap from 1G to 2G. Suddenly we had high speed, high capacity, and enhanced security that was able to deliver diverse applications like cloud computing, 3D entertainment, telephony, mobile payments, and a plethora of others, all without compromise.However, we are on the cusp of a new era of mobile networks. Heralded as one of the most exciting breakthroughs of the century, we are at the dawn of something magical that will change the way we travel, the way we communicate, what we do for entertainment and the way we do business.5G promising next generation technology, future of connected word5G technology promises to be more than just the next generation but a new point in history; one that will enable a future of a connected world, unlike anything we could have imagined.Curious as to what that will look like, I’ve gathered some incredible use cases and capability displays. The video below proves how 5G speed is superior to 4G in terms of latency. Here’s a hint, 19 milliseconds can change everything! But what about business? Let’s take a look at how this superior network promises to enable enterprises large and small to create new services, deliver new and innovative products, and allow for efficiencies and possibilities in such areas as Connected Automotive, Smart Manufacturing, Connected Energy, Wireless eHealth, Smart Cities and more. The possibilities seem limitless, ushering us into a world that was once thought only possible in the movies. But this isn’t fiction; this is our fast-approaching reality. Cloud virtual reality and augmented reality are poised to disrupt the world of entertainment, but to what extent is still hard to imagine.You would be wrong to think that only the world of entertainment will benefit from this leap forward. Let’s look at how one of the key players in this technology envisions making the 5G network a commercial reality. We have travelled down the rabbit hole and are looking into what is seemingly an alternate universe, one where the impossible is becoming harder and harder to find. We are only skimming the surface of what this amazing technology can do, and as it stands right now. The only limitation moving forward will be our collective imagination. I think 5G is the magic wand we all have been waiting for.
5G Future: A New Generation of Possibilities With 5G Technology
What do Uber, Airbnb, Instagram, and even the iPhone have in common? Aside from being groundbreaking, disruptive, and wildly successful services and products, they all share a respective point of origin – they all began as an MVP.MVP or Minimum Viable Product is a concept publicized in Eric Ries’ Lean Startup that emphasizes learning in new product development. It can be defined as a version of a new product that carries “just enough” features to engage and satisfy early adopters, from which feedback can be gathered and learned from for future development.airbnb, instagram and uber MVPsTypically, any new product development is a costly endeavour – that is, until enterprises started to borrow from the startup playbook. Now, and through the utilization of MVP, organizations can develop quickly, reduce their new product development costs, de-risk their investment, test the concept in the field, learn from their users, and iteratively add new features.Today, you are not only going to learn how to develop and plan an MVP but how to do so with the help of the Design Thinking process to put an unprecedented focus on what matters most – the user.Why Design Thinking? When it came to new product development, typically, resources were allocated towards projects that “sound like a great idea” and because of that, were given time, people, and budget to explore. Sadly, and as I am sure many can relate to, this has time and time again proven to be an inefficient waste of valuable resources.Fortunately, there is a new school of thought, one that doesn’t say “that sounds like a good idea,” or at least, doesn’t until the question “where’s the proof that this is a good opportunity to spend resources on” is answered. This is where Design Thinking comes in to play on the innovation lifecycle.design thinking in innovation lifecycle. explore problem, test problem solution and execute product/market fitDesign Thinking plays a crucial role in the initial part of the innovation lifecycle by helping find the “customer/problem” fit: what’s the right problem to be solved for the target customer segment? In this phase, the goal is to “invent the future” by discovering the unmet needs of the users and the unsolved problems he/she wants to be solved.But how exactly does Design Thinking help with defining and planning an MVP? It first helps by exploring the customer/problem fit in order to find the right problem and “do the right thing.” And that is done by empathizing, defining, ideating, prototyping, and testing.Design Thinking for MVP Validation1. Identifying & Understanding Business Needs Everything begins as a small idea for something new or innovative. But how do you know the idea is valid or worth investment? In other words, how do you know your business value proposition is, in fact, valuable?One of the hallmark characteristics of Design Thinking is its emphasis on collaboration, specifically, involving everyone related to the business, from designers to developers and from business owners to the market at large. By inviting them to work together, it provides diverse perspectives on the concept being proposed and can help identify the market and business needs behind the idea to determine long-term goals of the product, solidify a shared vision, affirm the reasoning behind the project, and define success criteria.Through this collaboration, organizations can leverage the unique knowledge of different stakeholders and customers to discover the most valuable opportunities and to create a sense of support and ownership for the project that will not only accelerate its implementation but minimize the risk of failure while improving the potential for innovation.2. Identify Users & Discover Opportunities Aligned with your business value proposition, identifying users and their unique needs is mission critical. After all, it is bad business to build something that nobody wants. So how do you make sure there will be users for your potential solution? How do you identify them? What are their needs?User and Business GoalsDesign Thinking is also known as human-centred design and as such, requires working with clients, stakeholders, and customers to bring real user outcomes. With this user-centred approach, it emphasizes on not only understanding the user but identifying their current experience, goals, and needs in order to help determine what the real problem(s) is/are. This is achieved through a combination of quantitative and qualitative user-research methods specifically designed to answer the key questions about user behaviours, preferences, habits, and value proposition. The value of this approach is that it prevents the False-Consensus Effect, which is a bias in which people tend to overestimate the extent to which their opinions, beliefs, preferences, values, and habits are normal and typical of those of others. While hard to admit, it is prudent to remember that “you are not the user,” and it is worth investing time and effort in understanding the context of ‘real-users.’3. Decide what Features to Build By now, you should have identified your users, their unique needs, and your business value proposition. However, you may have also noticed something else happening in tandem – your idea has started to turn into something a lot more tangible. When that happens, you know it is time to visualize and begin designing the core features.Collaboration during the brainstorming process is vital to finalizing the list of core features to be developed. This list should be based on collected opportunity statements, a detailed product roadmap based on a breakdown of the proposed features, and finally a matrix that prioritizes them. Keeping the end-goals in mind of both the user and the business, reviewing the product from different points of view, and utilize the diverse expertise available to you will all aid in you not only making the right decision but “doing the right things.”Design Thinking Workshops specifically employ tools, methods and techniques to bring out the best ideas through a collaborative way. They are quite different from typical meetings and discussion sessions where power-distance relationships, personality types, and organizational culture often gets in the way of collaboration.4. Build a Prototype, Test, Learn & Iterate Building a quick prototype is the best way to allow users to test the concept and provides valuable information to designers, developers, and product managers on how the users will interact with it. Once done, you then iterate on that prototype accordingly to user feedback before building your actual MVP. This has proven to be the fastest, most cost-effective way to build and validate the product concept before spending a lot of time, money, and effort to build and launch it.It is stated by IDEO, “If a picture is worth a thousand words, a prototype is worth a thousand meetings!”Explore customer problems and design thinkingexplore a customer problem with design thinking methodEmpathize. Identify and understand users and business needs. Define. Identify user’s goals, pain/gains and discover opportunities. Ideate. Decide what feature to build. Prototype. Build a prototype, test, learn and iterate.While the MVP consists of core features, it is essential to remain nimble. Products must evolve based on the market and user’s needs down the road. It is through tests and feedback that you will learn if assumptions about your product idea are indeed valid. However, sometimes (and in some cases, often) it will turn out your assumptions are not validated based on the feedback, or they may just be in fact, wrong. But don’t worry – this isn’t a bad thing. You want to fail early and fail cheap on your way to building a better product.Design Thinking for MVP & Beyond Digital products and the ecosystems they call home are dynamic, constantly evolving – much like the users, their needs, and expectations. And it is in this environment that we see the unparalleled value of the design thinking methodology and its user-centred approaches, early user engagement, and collaborative nature flourish. By utilizing design thinking to address the real needs of the users and in turn, “do the right things,” this practice will make all the difference in not only delivering innovation and value to the market but has the power to transform an organization and its people.By now, you know how to create an MVP utilizing Design Thinking, but that is only half of the equation. After you establish what you want to test with your MVP, you then must choose which MVP validation method will provide you with the most reliable and actionable data from real-life users; techniques, that we will cover in an upcoming article.
Design Thinking: Turning Minimum Viable to Most Valuable Product
Chances are, you’ve already heard of the Future Workforce or the Intelligent Digital Workforce, which essentially is a newer way of referring to Robotic Process Automation (RPA). For the sake of clarity, let’s quickly define it and move on to why you need to adopt this disruptive approach.RPA is a practice of automating existing repetitive, high-volume, and complex tasks with the help of software “bots.” The bots emulate human-like interaction with multiple systems without changing the current IT landscape.Another way to look at it is, while humans focus on creating the intellectual value for you; the bots carry out the mundane work much more efficiently and cost-effectively. The best part, you’re always in control of scaling this digital workforce up and down as and when required.When first introduced, process automation was met with resistance, however, since then it has proven itself to be industry agnostic, and the initial cost of setup is typically dwarfed by internal cost reductions and the significant ROI.As one of the first steps in digitizing your business, automation will bring control, efficiency, and profitability across operations while you focus on implementing other growth strategies. Keeping the above in mind, let’s get into some RPA success stories that were implemented by UXPLORE; one of our preferred partners in automation.Case Study 1: Trade Spend Analysis & Sales Insights A leading CPG distributor serving all major retailers in Canada used to gather weekly sales data at a store level manually. The data was then cleansed and mapped to product SKUs. Trade spend analysis were performed and shared with stakeholders.On average, it took 2-3 days to perform this process manually.manual process vs robotic processManual Process.Log into retailer portal to download raw sales data. Repeat for all retailers. Check for data validity and escalate to retailer if any issues. If raw data is valid, clean and transform data. Map data to item code / SKU. Aggregate sales data by SKU. Perform Analysis by SKU. Generate Reports company / brand partner. Share Trade Spend Analysis with each company. “This manual process takes me 2 – 3 days to finish the whole process”.And now the software bot does it in a few hours or on the same day!automated robotic process for automationAfter implementing Process Automation.Bot gathers sales data per schedule. Bot automatically repeats for all retailers. Apply data validation rules to accept/reject files and auto-escalate. Automatically clean and transform RAW data. Map retailer code to standard item code for each row. Aggregate data at item level. Perform Analysis by SKU. Auto-generate PDF reports for each company. Distribute weekly Trade Spend Analysis and Sales Insights to each company. “Well, with Automated Process give me same day or overnight for that”.Distributor’s success:A fully automated workflow except for escalation management 100% accuracy and a 50% reduction in the time cycle Increased bandwidth of Financial Analysts Case Study 2: Purchase Order Management A telecom operator with more than 200+ suppliers and 1000s of active POs to manage daily needed to ensure that all orders were coordinated, acknowledged, and accurately tracked.On average, it took 8 hours to perform this process manually.manual process time spanManual Process.Log into Email. Check if any new emails from any suppliers. Save attached PDF. Process the PDF. Lookup PO In SAP. Update PO status with details from supplier. Check for any anomalies. Escalate to Procurement Manager for follow-up. “This manual process takes me 8 hours to finish the whole process”.And now the bot does it in less than an hour!robotic process time spanAfter implementing Process Automation.Bot monitors incoming emails. All received emails are handled. PDF attachments are stored automatically. PDF attachments are processed. Relevant POs are automatically retrieved in SAP. PO details and status updated per information received. PO is audited per predefined rules post update. Trigger escalation if applicable. “Well with Automated Process, I can do it in less than an hour”.Company’s success:Near real-time processing of POs, improving handling time by 90%+ Same day escalation when required 100% accurate and up-to-date PO status in SAP Case Study 3: Hiring – Offer Generation, Onboarding, and New Hire Integration A fast-growing talent recruitment firm that regularly hires a large number of employees and contractors needed a way to streamline the process once the hiring decision was made.On average, it took 2.5 hours to perform this process manually.Manual Process.Hiring Decision. Generate Offer. Email Offer to New Hire. Receive Offer Acceptance. Notify New Hires Manager. Background Check. Setup New Hire in HRIS. Email Account Setup. Setup Payroll. Request Access Cards. Send Welcome Email to New Hire. New Hire Day 1. “This manual process takes me 2.5 hours to finish the whole process”.And now the bot does it in 8 minutes!After Implementation Process AutomationAfter implementing Process Automation.Generate Timesheet Report – First Audit. Apply Rules and Filters. Identify Employees with Timesheets Pending. Individually Email Employee a Reminder. Repeat Same Steps for Second Audit. Generate Timesheet Report – Escalation. Identify Employees with Timesheets Pending. Escalate to Manager of Each Employee. Check Timesheet Approval Status. Followup with Managers who are yet to Approve. “Well with Automated Process, takes less than an hour”.Recruitment firm’s success:Increased team capacity by replacing 80% of the manual process 100% accuracy of employee master data Significantly improved new hire experience through response time Case Study 4: Time & Attendance Record Tracking & Validation A leading technology-services provider (this is us actually; mobileLIVE) delivering hundreds of enterprise-grade projects needed to find a way to manage their resources efficiently; more specifically, they needed to accurately track the time spent on projects to ensure revenue and margin assurance.On average, it took 6 hours to perform this process manually.Manual Process.Generate Timesheet Report – First Audit. Apply Rules and Filters. Identify Employees with Timesheets Pending. Individually Email Employee a Reminder. Repeat Same Steps for Second Audit. Generate Timesheet Report – Escalation. Identify Employees with Timesheets Pending. Escalate to Manager of Each Employee. Check Timesheet Approval Status. Followup with Managers who are yet to Approve. “This manual process takes me 6 hours to finish the whole process”.And now the bot does it in less than an hour for us!After implementing Process Automation.Generate Timesheet Report – First Audit. Apply Rules and Filters. Identify Employees with Timesheets Pending. Individually Email Employee a Reminder. Repeat Same Steps for Second Audit. Generate Timesheet Report – Escalation. Identify Employees with Timesheets Pending. Escalate to Manager of Each Employee. Check Timesheet Approval Status. Followup with Managers who are yet to Approve. “Well with Automated Process, I can do it in less than an hour”.Our success:Fully automated workflow with no manual effort or intervention 100% follow-up rate with all notifications sent within minutes and multiple times when required Significantly increased HR capacity to focus on more value-added initiatives Small Step – Higher ROI While you may view process automation as a means to increased profitability and efficiency, in reality, it does much more than that. By teaming humans and bots together, you are relieved of time-consuming, repetitive, but essential tasks. Instead, you will find more energy to focus on implementing growth strategies and business-critical decisions.
Robotic Process Automation: Bots Team Up With Humans
Software development is saturated with frameworks, methodologies, and processes; most of which come with the promise of better development. Just ask any developer, and they will likely only be too happy to share their favourites or suggest which method you should use. Are you looking to implement a large project successfully? They could suggest a method. Are you trying to avoid discrepancy between design documents and what is actually implemented? They know a framework that’s perfect for that. And if you wanted to ensure your project has minimal regression and is maintainable over time, then they certainly know what process you should follow. But what happens when the complexity of your projects grow and faithfulness to just one method doesn’t provide the benefits and value your project (and the user) deserve? As we learned from the hybrid cloud , very often the best solution to a complex problem is a combination of several.Today, I am going to share with you how to tackle difficult and complex development in the agile space using not one method, but a hybrid combination of three specific ones.The 3 Methodologies The promise of better development through a hybrid solution of multiple methods works – but you can’t utilize just any three. They need to be complimentary, they need to pick up where another falls short, and they all need to provide their unique value that assures predictable and productive outcomes. In short – the perfect combination is TDD, DDD, and BDD.Test Driven DevelopmentTest Driven Development, or TDD, is a process of developing software where a test is written prior to writing code. Once that is done, developers will work towards writing just enough code to pass the test, and then begin refactoring.Domain Driven DesignDomain Driven Design, or DDD, is an approach to development that connects the implementation to an evolving model; placing the focus of the project on the core domain (sphere of knowledge), the logic behind it, and forces collaboration between technical and nontechnical parties to improve the model.Behavioural Driven DevelopmentBehavioural Driven Development, or BDD, is a refinement of TDD and DDD that aims to streamline development through narrowing communication gaps, creating a better understanding of the customer, and allowing for continuous communication. Simply put, BDD is a way of combining business requirements with code and allows you to understand the behaviour of the system from a business/end-user perspective.While those above are all standalone and beneficial frameworks in their own right, as I mentioned earlier, the demand for more complex development is and has proven itself too much for any single one – but not all three.A Hybrid Practice the intersection of TDD,DDD and BDD provide a hybrid approach to development which assures predictable and productive outcomesCombining methodologies in order to reach the desired outcome seems like a great idea – especially in theory. However, it isn’t enough to just combine these methods and hope for the best. Aside from having organizational buy-in and a shared understanding of these concepts singularly amongst your teams and its members, the most crucial step is to understand when and where to utilize these frameworks to ensure maximum output.So where do we begin?Well, knowing that the first step to solving any problem is to truly understand the problem you are trying to solve, the only logical place to begin from is the outside in.Thinking Outside In (BDD) Before a single line of code is written (or even thought of, for that matter), you need to begin by understanding the problem you are trying to solve, how the problem was created in the first place, and perhaps most importantly, what value you project the solution to have. In this discovery phase, it is best to make use of open-ended questions to determine what specific pain point you are trying to alleviate, who and how will they benefit from it, and what impact will it have on the organization.At this point and if done correctly, you should have a good understanding of why this development is beneficial and a clear vision of what to build. So far it has been BDD taking us to this point, now it is time for DDD to take over.Thinking Big Picture (DDD) What is the best way to tackle a large development project? You break it down into smaller, more manageable segments, or in the case of DDD – domains. When you split the project into smaller domains, you can have segregated teams handle the functionality of that domain end-to-end. And to best understand those domains, you enlist the help of domain experts; someone that understands the problem and that realm of knowledge more than anyone else.Typically, the domain expert is not the one who is responsible for developing the solution, rather, DDD collectively is used to help bridge the knowledge gap that usually exists between these experts and the solution that is trying to be realized. Through models, context, and ubiquitous language, all parties involved should have a clear understanding of what the particular problems are and how the ensuing build will be structured.Thinking Inside Out (TDD) I know what you are thinking, “at what point do we start writing code?” Well, the answer is now, but before you do – you need to write a test.As previously discussed, TDD is a practice where you write the initially failing test first that defines a function, and then you go back and try and write the minimum amount of code for the test to pass; followed by refactoring to ensure acceptable standards.But why did we wait so long to write code? We are still talking about development, aren’t we? Yes, of course, we are still talking about development, but we are talking about quality development, and that means bug-free development. In broad terms, there are two types of bugs:The ones that cause your system to crash The ones that show the wrong results By taking the above-mentioned hybrid approach to development, you will find that TDD helps you mitigate and avoid the first type of bugs; with BDD and DDD helping you avoid the latter – which also happen to be the most expensive to fix.Moving Forward As the complexity of your projects grow, the only way to maintain the viability of your build and ensure success is to have your development practices grow with it. While the individual practices of TDD, DDD, and BDD are all valuable in their own right, it is the point in which they intersect that will provide the real value moving into the future.Now, if you are faced with a large project that demands zero discrepancies between design document and implementation, requires minimal regression, and is maintainable over time, you can suggest an approach to that; more specifically, a hybrid approach that utilizes these three methods.
The Value at the Intersection of TDD, DDD, and BDD
If I was to be writing about the benefits of test automation, rest assured you would be reading all about the enhanced reliability it provides, its laser-like accuracy, and far-reaching coverage. And of course, I would certainly make sure to stress how it can drastically improve product quality, reduce time-to-market, and perhaps most valuable of all, bring with it a high return on investment.However, I am not writing about the benefits of test automation, although they are indeed impressive when all laid out like that. Instead, I have chosen to write about something that is arguably much more valuable than the benefits of test automation to your business – and that is how to achieve them. And just like most things done well, it requires the right procedures, the right strategies, and of course, the “right” best practices.Today, we are going to dive into what those best practices are so you can not only get the most out of your testing efforts but deliver the highest ROI.which test cases to automateDetermine which test cases to automate First off, you need to accept that it is impossible to automate all testing. We know, we tried. But in knowing this, it makes selecting which test cases to automate all that more important.In essence, the real value of test automation comes from how many times any given test can be repeated. If a test is only to be performed a couple of times, it is better left to test manually. As a rule of thumb, test cases that run frequently and require large data sets to perform the same action are ideal candidates for automation.Here are some perfect examples of the types of tests that can benefit drastically from automation:Tests prone to human error Repetitive tests that run across multiple builds Tests that require numerous or diverse data sets Tests that are effort or time intensive when done manually Tests that run across different hardware, software platforms, and configurations Tests that are simply impossible or not feasible to run manually Test Automation ProcessDivide your efforts based on skill level While it is nice to think that everybody is at the same skill level on your QA team, the reality is that it is seldom the case. Considering this and the fact that test creation is at the crux of test automation, it is vital to divide your efforts accordingly based on the skill level of your team and the tool selected. Allow me to elaborate.If you have chosen to use an open source tool, then your automation engineer must have adequate coding skills to utilize it fully, or even at all. However, that isn’t to say that junior engineers can’t use test automation. Depending on which tool you select, such as certain proprietary ones, then QA engineers of all skill levels have the ability to create test scripts with minimal training or guidance.Another route for filling any skills gap or lacking infrastructure that may exist is outsourcing certain aspects of the process to a skilled and experienced partner. This can include everything from strategy, proof of concept, script development, infrastructure setup, and even workshops and hands-on training.choosing the right test automation toolChoosing the right test automation tool Some would say that selecting an automated testing tool is essential for test automation. We’d argue that it is selecting the right tool that makes the real difference. However, a quick Google search will show you that the market abounds with hundreds of different test automation tools to choose from.So where do you begin?Here are some basic guidelines to consider when selecting which tool is right for you:Flexibility: It is unlikely that your team is all at the same skill level which is why you need to select a tool that can be utilized by everyone. For example, if you lack the expertise to write automated test scripts, you will want to make sure that the tool provides an alternative, like the ability to perform keyword testing.Supportability: Tools available are usually platform and technology dogmatic, meaning that you will not often come across a tool that will support multiple platforms and technologies. Determine what you are testing and across what operating systems and then determine which tool best supports your efforts.Reusability: One of the most significant benefits of test automation is its ability to reuse tests which is why you need to choose a tool that can do just that. Does it allow you to create tests that are not only reusable, but maintainable, and even more important, resistant to UI changes in the application?your data quality mattersIf you want good tests, you need good data Perhaps one of the most boring and time-consuming aspects of test automation is the creation of test data. Sadly, the fact that it is boring does nothing to diminish the importance of it.Creating test data, more specifically, well-structured test data is an undertaking that is undoubtedly worth your time and effort. When you set a baseline of good quality test data, it becomes much easier to write automated tests through the entire development lifecycle.When it comes to your test data, one of the best practices you can implement is to use external data sources. The reason behind this is that by using external data, it makes your tests not only easier to maintain but more importantly, reusable. When this is done, you can easily add various testing scenarios with the data file being extended through new data, all without any edits to the original automated test.Test Automation ProcessShift-Left for maximum results In order to maximize your test automation efforts, you need to begin your testing as early as possible and as often as is required; or, as many know it, you need to Shift-Left.The Shift-Left movement is one that is seeing testers and developers begin their testing efforts much earlier than was historically done. The reason being is that when testing begins earlier in the project lifecycle, the more bugs and glitches can be found. Tests like automated unit testing can even begin on the first day of development and used to gradually build your test suite. It doesn’t require an extensive or complicated explanation to realize that when bugs and glitches are detected earlier, it is much faster and cheaper to fix them than in the ensuing production or heaven forbid, deployment.If you are looking to produce higher quality products, reduce your time-to-market, and garner a higher ROI, then I wouldn’t hesitate to suggest test automation as the solution. However, the solution of test automation is only of value when it is implemented correctly and utilized using best practices. And while not every business is the same, nor are their uses for test automation, the aforementioned best practices can all be easily adapted to help you maximize your automated testing efforts.
“The Best” of the Best Practices for Test Automation
My daughter recently asked me if I would take her to the toy store. I had just come home from the office after a long day, and all I wanted to do was relax on the couch and watch TV. I told her I couldn’t, the reason being that I was “too tired” but I would gladly take her tomorrow. She, reluctantly, accepted my answer and went about her business, likely to pose the same question to my wife.This is an example of an excuse, masquerading as a reason. I had no real reason preventing me from taking her; I just used me being tired as justification. Fortunately, the consequences of my excuse were virtually non-existent; my daughter only had to wait a day before she got what she wanted. Sadly, the same cannot be said for many of the excuses we make, especially in business, where most opportunities aren’t as persistent as my daughter.Today, we are going to look at some of the most common excuses companies make for why they have not already implemented test automation. And while many of these excuses may sound familiar, or have been echoed within your own organization’s walls, the main takeaway from this is not the excuses themselves, but the benefits of test automation that you’re missing out on by making these excuses.test automation too costly“The cost of test automation is just too high!”In business, the number one excuse I hear for not doing something is the expense. However, interestingly enough, not incurring said expense usually comes at its own cost; often, a much higher one.In the case of test automation, I usually hear test managers claim that the cost of implementation is just too high. This is understandable, after all, at first glance investing in automation or in an automation testing company may seem cost prohibitive – especially for smaller organizations. However, when implemented properly and utilized correctly, test automation will typically pay for itself through decreased labour, reduced time-to-market, and by allowing your teams to focus on more critical initiatives like customer needs and product functionality and improvement.Test automation best practices“I don’t really have a need for test automation.”Perhaps the cost of test automation isn’t an issue for you. Maybe, you believe that your business simply wouldn’t benefit from such an initiative or by looking into the possibility of hiring an automation testing company – which is a fair point. Why would you want to incur any cost if there wasn’t a sufficient need to justify it?Test Automation ProcessBut let me ask you, does customer experience and the perception they have of your brand matter to you? Would your organization benefit if it was able to not only produce better products but bring them to market much faster? What if you were able to reduce the operating expenses of your business, without sacrificing growth and profitability? How about ensuring that you can repeatedly and accurately run tests that help to ensure the highest quality products?If you answered yes to even one of the above questions, then you certainly do have a need for test automation, one that won’t only delight your customers but improve your operational agility.test automation not for us“I don’t think test automation will work in my industry.”Of all the excuses I have been given as to why an organization is reluctant to adopt test automation or hire a test automation company, “I don’t think it will work in my industry” is undoubtedly the easiest to refute.The truth when it comes to test automation is that it is, in fact, industry agnostic. That means test automation can be successfully implemented in any repetitive and predictable test environment, regardless of the industry. I personally have been involved in successful test automation implementations in Telecoms, Banks, as well as Healthcare, however, from Manufacturing, Insurance and other Financial Services, Media, Entertainment, and Automotive, examples of successful and profitable test automation implementation abound.prefer manual testing“Manual testing is better.”In my experience, it is a bad practice to have a dogmatic allegiance to any one method of doing anything, especially when, if the circumstance is right, a better alternative presents itself.In truth, when it comes to testing, there simply is “no better than the other,” just different, in both approach and application. Manual testing undoubtedly has its place, like for one-off tests or ones that require human observation, however, when it comes to time-consuming, tedious, repetitive, or missional critical tests; test automation can not only help brands develop quality software faster, but it also allows them to do so at scale and a fraction of the cost. Typically, the best testing strategy is one that utilizes both manual and automated testing and finds a happy medium that is uniquely tailored to your business.Test AutomationI told my daughter the reason I couldn’t take her to the toy store was that I was tired, and that was my excuse parading as a reason. And the rationale behind doing it was that there were no significant consequences. However, by now, it should be clear that many of the excuses for not adopting test automation are not so consequence-free, and the sooner you start to accept them for what they are, excuses, not reasons, the sooner you will be able to make an accurate assessment as to whether test automation is right for you.
The High-Cost Excuses Preventing Test Automation
“Imperative” is not a word to be thrown around lightly. It stresses upon the vitally important, the critical, and perhaps the unavoidable. At the same time, imperatives needn’t be intimidating for they help shape the world around us as we know it. Likewise, Digital Transformation isn’t a choice anymore for any business. It’s imperative because the economy demands people, technology, and business to be unified; to pursue innovative and agile operating models; find newer ways of accelerating growth and profitability. But then, like anything worth achieving, this transformation also requires the right approach and the mastery of three critical outcomes: Experiences, Productivity, and Empowerment.Experiences Despite popular belief; it isn’t only about products and processes, but experiences. Why? Because experiences define the brand, its reputation, its ability to stick, and its possible recommendation. Emotions remain long with us even after the screen has dimmed, and the power turned off. So good or bad, customers and employees will have an experience with your brand, why not make all the effort in turning them into your competitive advantage.Productivity Everyone wants to achieve more; which is why it’s not about choosing to be productive, but how. It’s about how to free men and women from the shackles of repetitive and mundane tasks. It’s about how to reach new levels of speed, accuracy, and cost-efficiency; all while liberating talented minds to focus on what matters most. Adopting intelligent and scalable approaches ensure not only enhanced productivity and reduced time-to-market, but also a more meaningful employee experience.Empowerment To achieve something you never have, you have to do what you’ve never done. The future will demand a lot of firsts and if you are not prepared to learn, to innovate, and to take your ideas to the next level – then be prepared to be left behind. It shouldn’t be about living in the future, but inventing it. So, invest in yourself, your empowerment, and most importantly – your future.Success in this transformation isn’t complicated. It’s a choice. A choice to be better than yesterday; a choice to perfect experiences; a choice to be more productive; and a choice to empower your future.
Digital Transformation: How We Approach Tomorrow, Today
One evening I was having drinks with some colleagues after work and, as should come as no surprise, the topic made its way to Scrum – more specifically, what was the best advice we’d ever heard on the subject.“If your team looks good, you look good,” said Oscar looking around the circle for approval. We all nodded in unison as it became Lin’s turn to chime in.“Always experiment with your process- nothing is permanent.” Another piece of sage advice we collectively agreed with, as Phil tried to flag down the waitress. It was my turn.“Never confuse movement with action,” I solemnly said. It didn’t get the same quick reception as the others; however, slowly, the group began to nod in unmistakeable agreement.“Yes,” exclaimed Lin, “that is brilliant! Where did you hear that gem of Scrum advice?”I looked around the circle of my peers and with a smile said, “Ernest Hemingway.”Putting aside the source of this counsel, including the fact that it was never intended for Scrum and that the person who penned it never even used a computer, I have yet to come across more sound advice. That is because confusing movement with action is the same as confusing output with outcome; two valuable measures in the Agile methodology.Output can be considered the story of what you produced, such as velocity and volume. However, where output falls short is in addressing the value of what was produced. For that, we have outcome, which is arguably a more appropriate measure for development as it helps to quantify the actual performance and success of the processes we put in place. Sadly, we see Sprint Reports, Burndown, Burnups, and Velocity Charts all relating to output, likely because outcome is harder to interpret. Which begs the question – how do we ensure we work, and more importantly, deliver, on both?While the four Scrum events admittedly seem to showcase output over outcome, the latter is still present and teeming with value – that is, if you know how to find it. Today, we’ll show you how to do just that by extracting what output should be gathered from each event as well as the often overlooked, but no less valuable, outcome.Daily Scrum Daily ScrumAt the heart of the Agile framework is the Daily Scrum or Daily Standup. These short, 15-minutes meetings are designed to improve communication, with all members arriving prepared, punctual, and ready to answer some variation of the “three questions” we’re all too familiar with.In the Daily Scrum, the output can be considered:Looking for anything that is stopping the team’s current effort and reporting these impediments back to the team Once established, it is imperative to devise an action plan to deal and ultimately remove these impediments What stories are completed and what will the team be working on that day The outcome, on the other hand, should be:An updated sprint backlog. This should be done by keeping it in front of you during the Daily Scrum, so you can determine how impediments will affect it and adjust accordingly Improvised plan to meet the sprint goal that is based on the team’s updates It is imperative that each sprint has a sprint goal that can act as a catalyst for inspiration and instil a sense of achievement in the team. When trying to achieve value and not just velocity, you’ll likely find that teams function better and work with an increased sense of collaboration.Sprint Planning How is Sprint Planning done?The Sprint Planning event is one that focuses on two main questions:What needs to be and can be delivered in the Sprint? How will the work needed for the execution of the Sprint be achieved? Answers to the above are derived from the Product Backlog, past product increments, projected capacity, and past performance. However, when dealing with output and outcome, it is usually the Product Backlog that yields that most information in the Sprint Planning phase.The output from Product Backlog includes:A shared understanding of the items to be taken into the next Sprint Ensure that definition of ready is met for all the stories Concerning outcome, the Product Backlog yields:That stories in the Sprint are fully understood by the team, increasing the probability of achieving true value The team becomes clear on the value and acceptance criteria of the stories, including the rationale behind it The team clearly defines ask and have prerequisites ready to estimate the story, sorting out all assumptions before development Items are more refined and prioritized based on customer impact and business justification By the end of the Sprint Planning, the team should be able to explicitly state the desired outputs and outcomes to the Product Owner and Scrum Master, as well as how they intend to accomplish them in the upcoming increment.Sprint Review Sprint reviewDuring everybody’s favourite Sprint Review, the efforts of the team are assessed against the sprint goal. The team will showcase what they have accomplished; however, this shouldn’t be limited to merely output.Typically, a Sprint Review takes the form of a demo, with the team ideally having completed each Product Backlog item. Generally speaking, the success of these meetings is based on the simple output of:The Product Owner reviews and accepts the delivered product increment or provides feedback Seems a little sparse if you ask me, but when you dive into the outcome of the session, you start to see some real value brought to light. These outcomes include:A strengthened partnership between stakeholders and the development team. The focus should be on the experience, not the demo Feedback on the increment produced in the sprint with a particular emphasis on the stakeholder’s needs in the backlog and how the feedback will be incorporated into the stories A team-wide agreement on changes to scope based on feedback, along with the timeline of the planned release, with a focus on how it will impact the vision of the project At the end of the Sprint Review, not only should the team have a revised Product Backlog that helps define the next sprint, but it should also act to clarify that valued outcomes are on par with output.Sprint Retrospective Sprint retrospectiveOften the most misunderstood of all Scrum events is the Sprint Retrospective. This is designed to afford teams the opportunity to inspect themselves and create a plan of action for improvements moving into the next Sprint. It is also an excellent opportunity to review and assess output and outcomes.The output from the Sprint Retrospective include:What issues arose in the last sprint Develop an action plan to fix them Develop a proactive approach to prevent them from happening The most important and yet, usually overlooked outcome of this event is one that can be found in a core Agile principle – to at regular intervals, reflect on how to become more effective, and then fine-tune and change behaviour accordingly. In other words, Continuous Improvement. This includes looking for technical debts to upgrade the code base and working with Product Owners to clean and maintain the Backlog.If asked what sounds more compelling, a company that increased its velocity by 300% or increased its share price by 30%, the answer is obvious – 300%. However, this point beautifully illustrates the importance of asking the right question, because while 300% is more compelling, an increase in 30% share price is by far more valuable. When working in Scrum, it is essential to ask the right questions to not only get a more accurate picture of the development but to determine if you are confusing “movement with action.”
Scrum Methodology: Why Focus Needs to Shift from Output to Outcome
Time and time again, the strategy that is delivering great customer experience, driving business, and seeing some of the most significant returns is personalization, and in the digital world, smart personalization. Gartner predicts that e-commerce businesses that personalize their customer experience successfully could see profits rise by up to 15% by 2020. Apart from the vision, strategy, and talent, you need the right tools; and much like a carpenter is crippled without a hammer, our modern business landscape is growing ever reliant on personalization engines.The goal of smart personalization is to make decisions easier and experiences more enjoyable, so I thought I’d do the same by compiling a synopsis of 21 smart personalization tools, all in one convenient location. While many of the features presented may overlap, each offers its own unique value, a value I’d encourage you to discover if you also wish to deliver an excellent customer experience. Just read below to uncover which personalization engine is the best fit for you.ppersonalization tool- attraqt behavioural targetingCapitalizing on the fact that humans are visual creatures, this software takes a more visual approach to behavioural targeting, focusing on product sequencing to analyze – and ultimately optimize – what customers are looking at in order to increase the conversion rate tangibly. It also offers search services in over 40 languages, making it one of the few to have such broad, global implications and is an obvious choice for companies looking to expand their market internationally.Barilliance Customer ExperienceThis software is set on improving the customer experience by analyzing and personalizing shopping not just while the actual shopping occurs, but even when it doesn’t work out. Leaving the website without a purchase or even cart abandonment where items don’t go all the way to a transaction, are part of this data gathering process. This coupled with retargeting emails, product recommendations, and real-time website personalization make Barilliance a great option to up your personalization efforts.baynote omnichannel experienceModern commerce is all about omnichannel, which is part of the reason that Baynotes cross-device personalization engine is so appealing. Their solution works with existing systems and utilizes powerful algorithms to not only identify shopping behaviour patterns, but collect that data, analyze it, and in turn, deliver highly targeted responses. The behaviour data that is collected then helps brands gain a single view of their customer, like, where they came from and why; irrespective of the device the journey started from.bouncex marketing stackBased on the simple principle that it is impossible to market to your visitors if you don’t know who they are, BounceX offers a full segmentation stack comprised of sophisticated cohort rules that hyper-targets each unique visitor into strategic segments. It then couples the visitor’s data with their behaviour on-site, enabling for precise and targeted campaigns.Product recomendation engine Bunting“You can sell more by getting personal” is the stance that Bunting takes, and given the plethora of features in their cloud-based personalization tool, I’d have to agree. Built for marketers, by marketers, Bunting offers Product Recommendations that can be tested to determine which is most efficient, Personalized Content, Urgency and Social Proof, and Cart Abandonment targeting that can help you increase your conversions.Episerver Digital Experience Cloud This is another comprehensive package that integrates not just with catalogue and purchasing aspects of a website but also works with third-party systems for search, PIM, and more. It uses machine learning to improve its efforts over time, ever increasing the degree of personalization. This truly omnichannel platform is designed for the modern consumer, and with its new expandable add-ons, brands can further customize this tool to their specific needs.Everage Real time personalization platformThe dream of every marketer is to achieve 1:1 customer engagement; and Everage promises to do just that. Combining customer data with advanced machine learning and in-depth behavioural analytics, Everage for E-Commerce Optimization allows you to systematically understand and interact with each visitor to your site or app; one at a time, in real-time, and at scale.Email personalization software exit intelligencePower and price are two of the most significant selling factors when it comes to Exit Intelligence, a marketing tool that is primarily used to catch visitors before they leave your site. With their expertly managed pop-up software, this mobile-first tool provides gorgeous designs, reduced bounce and abandonment, split testing and targeting, and is easy to install. All this makes it particularly useful for design thinking experts, developers, and other stakeholders in the team to create a highly personalized customer experience. Plus it comes with an ROI tracker, so you’ll always know how your investment is paying off.Revenue optimization software granifyWhen it comes to personalization, the more granular that you can go, the better. Granify, a machine learning powered platform allows business to get specific with the data they are after. From in-depth shopping behaviour right down to “mouse hesitation,” Granify tracks over 400 specific micro-behaviours to give business a truly unique view of their customers.Limespot personalization toolA powerful combination of linguistic analysis technology and machine learning, LimeSpot is designed to not only target content but to understand it. Personalizer is their AI-powered option that helps to deliver personalized recommendations, upsell, and cross-sell, while, Approach, is a customized email campaign engine design to increase sales by targeting recipients with the products they are most likely to buy.monetate personalization softwareWhile the goal of business is to make things as easy and effortless for customers, that isn’t to say that important and valuable efforts like personalization need to be complicated. Monetate brings more than a decade of experience and over 300 brands in their portfolio to back up their platform that boasts 1:1 personalization, product recommendations, and an easy, customizable segmentation engine that builds and runs tests to ensure your automated messages are the type your audience is looking for.Optimization and personalization tool omnicinvertBefore you can optimize your marketing efforts for your buyers, you first need to understand them. With Omniconvert, you can do both at the same time. They claim to be the only tool that allows brands to survey, test, message, and segment all in one place, however, while that is undetermined, their premium support, 5-minute installation, top-notch security, and 30 day money back guarantee all make this tool a great option.online reatrgeting software optimonkBringing surgical like precision to e-commerce personalization, OptiMonk utilizes onsite retargeting technology that presents targeted popup overlays to your visitors. Not only that, but it also includes the ability to capture contact information like email as well as segment visitors based on a variety of categories like Cart-Contents, Engagement, and Page Stay Duration and then automatically provide personalized, relevant content.Omnichannel personalization tool personyzePersonyze uses the power of AI and powerful targeting to create tailored experiences for your audience. Giving the user the ability to set their target audience based on a list of 70 “out-of-the-box” characteristics as well as custom-defined ones, Personyze goes beyond just website personalization, offering recommendation engine, email personalization, targeted banners and pop-ups, as well as A/B testing features.personalized ecommerce software PureClarity Anyone should be a little hesitant when a company claims to be able to increase online revenue, especially by a specific number like 26%, however, given the features of PureClarity’s platform, it may not be too far off. Combining AI and Big Data, this tool provides personalized site searches, personalized merchandising, personalized email marketing, and analytics; all in one platform that is packed with hundreds of segment variables.Richrelevance personalization cloudA global leader when it comes to omnichannel personalization, RichRelevance is a highly acclaimed tool utilized by more than 200 multinational companies, all of whom trust it to deliver relevant and innovative customer experiences across web and mobile. Using machine learning and 125+ pre-built algorithms, this tool can learn and respond in real-time to customer behaviour and activity in order to provide them with the most relevant recommendations and content.Ad personalization software softcubeFew people in business can argue the power of video when it comes to customer engagement, and it is this fact that Softcube hopes to capitalize on. Powered by AI, Softcube boasts the ability to create videos showcasing your products in use automatically. Using an expansive video library and advanced neural networks, videos are effortlessly produced and can be showcased across a variety of platforms.Steelhouse personalization tool review This software gathers first-party data in real-time, looking at search terms, purchase patterns, location, and other useful metrics to create an image of the customer. Not stopping there, SteelHouse also offers users the opportunity to create unlimited target segments; opening a new realm of possibilities for targeting. Users of DemandWare are also now able to enjoy increased integration with SteelHouse software thanks to a strategic partnership between the two companies, further adding to the power of the platform.Perosnalization software for product discovery unbxdWhile many of the entries on this list offer a specific tool for enhanced personalization, UNBXD boasts a complete “product discovery suite.” This includes an impressive commerce search feature that provides enhanced product discovery and recommendations, all while subtly guiding customers in the direction you want. Perhaps the most unique offering by this tool is the ability to provide recommendations at the shopping cart, which can dramatically increase upselling and cross-selling.Content personalization software webengageOne-to-one marketing just got easier thanks to WebEngage and their personalization module that comes integrated with a complete multi-channel marketing suite. So what does it include? More like what doesn’t it include, for it provides journey mapping and user profile creation, cross-device segmentations, geo-fencing and more, all working towards a single customer view. It also offers real-time user tracking with attribution so you can utilize those channels that yield the best results.machine learning based personalization tool yuspA personalization tool is only as effective as the features it has in proportion to the needs a business has. In regards to Yusp, you’d be hard pressed to find a feature it doesn’t have. This personalization engine boasts Product Recommendation, On-Site Personalization, Search Personalization, Mobile Personalization, Email Marketing Personalization, Personalized Couponing, Cart Abandonment Email, Social Personalization, Online Ad Retargeting Personalization; and if you can believe, more.Personalization, in all of its proven glory, is not to be considered “an effort for next quarter,” “an idea we’ll review next month,” or “something our customers just aren’t interested in yet.” Instead, it needs to be celebrated, much like the customers it is geared towards. With the possibility of providing tailored, unique, and personalized experiences, the question isn’t going to be when will it happen, but why hasn’t it already?P.S. while my list is extensive, I’d encourage you to search out options I may have missed and also share it with me.
21 Smart Personalization Tools to Improve Customer Experience
Business innovation and the opportunities they create is how enterprises distinguish themselves from one another. It is how they do things better, how they create value, and ultimately, how they pass that value over to the customer. Business innovation isn’t a box you can check off and forget about, rather, it is a continuous effort that is empowered by technologies and methodologies that are available at any given moment. Today, that technology is artificial intelligence.Many of you are likely familiar with the AI enablers to follow; some having worked with them first hand. Others are likely familiar with the applications, however, may not have known that artificial intelligence is playing an important role in the background. Regardless, my point is to inspire you to think differently about AI and how it can impact your business. Like many new technologies, the full potential of AI is being realized slowly, and it only takes someone exploring the possibilities around them to discover something new.Enablers of Innovation Big Data Here is the thing about Big Data – it’s big. I’m talking massive. Big Data has to be so in order to reveal patterns and associations, and predict trends accurately. However, while humans do have the capacity to discover patterns and predict trends, it is an impossibility at the scale in which modern enterprise demands. For AI, on the other hand, it is impressively suited to glean through large data sets in order to quickly and most of all accurately derive actionable insights.Internet of Things The Internet of Things was bred out of convenience and personalization, which only stands to reason why AI will only help to continue its widespread adoption. Building internet connectivity into a wide variety of devices is one thing, however, allowing those devices to communicate with us and coordinate with each other will only lead to greater shopping, home, entertainment, and professional experiences.Enablers of InnovationDeep Learning When talking about artificial intelligence, the word that stands out most is intelligence, and a hallmark of that is the ability to learn. Deep learning does just that, by utilizing artificial neural networks to act as a human brain would, analyzing and learning all without the aid of a computer programmer. This ability to “think” on its own is a driving force behind such innovations as autonomous vehicles, which is great, as keeping a computer programmer in the trunk of your car isn’t a feasible option.Reinforcement Learning Reinforcement Learning (RL) is an important type of Machine Learning where “machines” learn how to behave in an environment by performing actions and seeing the results; not unlike students in a classroom. This behaviour can be learnt based on a reward mechanism, once and indefinitely, or keep on adapting as time goes by. RL algorithms can converge to establish an ideal behaviour baseline, especially for robotics, autonomous driving, and process control.Probabilistic Programming One of the fascinating things to rise out of AI is the feasibility of probabilistic programming. In simple terms, this programming allows for problems to be solved in nonlinear time. What does that mean? Well, traditional simulations used for problem-solving only arrive at the results at the end; however, the probabilistic programming can look at the conclusion first and determine how those results can be achieved “going backwards.” This has far-reaching implications, from customer service to financial forecasting.The above are the enablers that bring the latest and most advanced business applications to light. However, what’s arguably more important are the opportunities that AI can bring to your business, and here are some of the most exciting ones.Applications & Opportunities Autonomous Vehicles The automobile market is enormous, however, despite what you may think, it is still a limited market. That is because while anybody can buy a car, not everyone can drive one. That is, they couldn’t before Artificial Intelligence came along. People who are blind or suffer from certain physical limitations will soon have the ability to go anywhere thanks to this new technology. The use of these Self-Driving Vehicles (SDVs) in logistics is another innovative application and this tech is already being tested with prodigious results.Robotic Process Automation While we hope everyone loves what they do for a living, the reality is that even the best “dream jobs” have their periods of boring and monotonous work. In fact, some jobs seem to be exclusively filled with such processes. But it doesn’t have to be. AI fueled Robotic Process Automation (RPA) currently replicate basic rule-based tasks, much faster, accurate, and cost-effective than humans, and will eventually constitute the epitome of an Intelligent Digital Workforce.how Artificial Intelligence can help your businessLogistics & Delivery A product is only of value if it reaches the hands of the customer, and this principle is why logistics and delivery is so crucial to business success. Integrating AI in your supply chain management can unify your data; analyzing and providing insights across the organization as well as streamline the customs brokerage process. However, it is in predictive analytics that we see the most significant value, through its demand prediction, route optimization, and network management.Customer Service Whether they have made a purchase or not, and regardless of how far along in the buyer’s journey, any good enterprise needs to ensure that the customer’s demands are met. However, given the multitude of touchpoints on that journey, this can be difficult. For AI, however, it can act as a “gatekeeper” throughout the experience handling simple questions like inventory, availability, or straightforward exchanges and refunds, which frees up staff to focus on more complex and sensitive issues.Chatbots Thanks to AI, chatbots have grown more sophisticated, and in many ways, are almost indistinguishable from humans. In fact, chatbots are often a better alternative than using traditional CSR. Instant response to inquiries, reduced service time, fewer errors, increased customer engagement, the ability to handle simple transactions, and proactive customer interactions are all within the grasp of these bots. And if you can think of a scenario that wouldn’t be improved with AI, then you have just found an instance for a human CSR to take the lead.Customer Relationship Management CRM systems were in and of themselves a considerable business innovation, one that continues to yield results for sales teams. However, given the less than stellar success rates of such implementations, AI is poised to do what sales teams and CRM alone can’t. From transcribing and analyzing calls to qualifying, engaging, nurturing, and following up with leads via email, AI is positioned to not only do more for the enterprise but the customers they serve.Payment Services Life is filled with some certainties that go beyond death and taxes. For example, if your house is anything like mine, you regularly need milk, fruit, toilet paper, and a variety of other “staples.” AI, as your own personal “butler,” can make those authorized payments and arrange for shipping to your home when your supply is getting low. Anyone with kids will quickly see the value of always having the essentials on hand.Translation Whether you are a business traveller or looking to branch out into new international markets, one of the most significant barriers to not only business but people is language. However, thanks to AI, more and more companies are expanding into new markets, no longer encumbered by language. And while technology has made the world a smaller place, I believe it is AI that will help empower true universal communication.Behaviour Prediction Anyone in business knows that the customer is the most important thing, which is why perhaps so much time is spent trying to guess what they’ll do next. Thanks to Artificial Intelligence, however, these predictions have gone from guesswork to a science. AI and its ability to analyze massive data sets give the enterprise the ability to learn more about their customers, such as their shopping habits, preferences, and even churn rate, so that they will not only be able to foresee what the customer will do but can ideally influence it.How can Artificial Intelligence help my business growDecision Making When asked the key to their success, it isn’t uncommon to hear powerful men and women give credit to “trusting their gut.” And while this may be your best option in certain situations, the modern business landscape is unlikely to be one of them. Artificial Intelligence has given enterprise the ability to weigh the variables, judge potential outcomes, and make the best decision based on the relevant data. And while not as sexy as “trusting your gut,” AI-powered decision making is likely to be a lot more accurate and yield better results.Intrusion Detection While technology has enabled us to do more, it has also caused us to be more conscious and aware, especially when all our new capabilities can potentially leave us vulnerable to digital intrusion. Current defence against cyber attacks are generally of a responsive nature; however, with AI’s help, this can be switched to proactive. With AI, an enterprise can set a baseline of normal activity on their network, and as a result, more accurately recognize potential threats if they deviate from typical behaviour.Content Creation Content isn’t just a way for an enterprise to get their message to the customer, it is a way to provide that customer with value. However, AI is increasing the efficiency in how we do that by allowing us to deliver personalized content to the user and by helping inform our strategy through insightful data analysis like which type of content will perform best. Creation aside, AI already does aid in the distribution of content, allowing for more efficient and documented campaigns.HR & Recruitment HR and recruitment are by nature a very “people” laden vertical; however, that should be no indication that AI integration isn’t applicable. HR is filled with numerous rule-based tasks that could be done much better by AI and RPA. Let us take onboarding for example. Typical onboarding would take an HR associate 2.5 hours to complete from hiring decision to sending the welcome email, while an AI-fuelled substitute could accomplish the same in just 8 minutes.Digital Marketing Marketing is usually only effective when the right message gets to the right audience, more specifically, on the right channel. Thanks to AI, with its ability to analyze large data sets and to automate processes like distribution of marketing materials, targeted messaging across channels is becoming easier and more effective than ever. This will help ensure that marketing dollars are spent in more effective ways and can also help to tailor messages that are appropriate for whatever stage of the buyer journey the customer finds themselves.Manufacturing Robots are already par for the course in many industrial sectors, however, that is for their physical capabilities, but today, AI and its ability to reason, theorize and forecast is what has the manufacturing world excited. From improving predictive maintenance, reducing supply chain forecasting errors, and reducing energy costs through demand forecast, the benefits of AI in manufacturing directly impact the bottom line.Few moments in history are marked by the presence of a technology that is so adaptable, has such widespread potential, and that can impact as many verticals across as many industries, as AI. With businesses investing more each year and with jobs like Data Scientist topping the list of “Best Job” three years in a row, the relevance of AI should be clear. However, while the intelligence behind AI is artificial, its applications and use are as real as they get, and there will be nothing fake about the business innovations yet to come from this important technology.
15 Business Opportunities Enabled by Artificial Intelligence
Words can be funny; more specifically, how the same word can have incredibly different meanings for different people. Take the word scrum for example. For 95% of the population, that word either elicits thoughts of people in jerseys all huddled together about to restart a game, or holds no meaning at all. However, when you change the ‘s’ to a capital, to us, the word Scrum takes on a whole new meaning.Scrum is on the mind of many engineers, managers, and especially software developers; however, with any widely spread practice, it is usually only a matter of time before misconceptions, misinformation, and myths begin to infiltrate. What’s worse, is that for many, we don’t even realize it is happening.To separate fact from fiction and in hopes of empowering us all to practice Scrum in its purest form, I have taken the liberty of compiling five of the biggest Scrum myths that many of you may be familiar with but might not know them to be false.Myth: Scrum Master Leads the Daily Scrum Myth: Scrum Master Leads the Daily ScrumOne of the biggest myths that I have come across happens at the Daily Scrum; and if you have been around as long as I have and attended as many Daily Scrums as myself, you’ve likely seen it too.Let me know if any or all of these sound familiar:You attend a Daily Scrum, and the entire team is giving their updates to the Scrum Master The Scrum Master gives his or her input and suggestions, trying to micromanage the efforts of the team The main focus of the Daily Scrum is on the Scrum Master The meeting lasts for more than 15 minutes If you answered yes to any of the above, then first off, allow us to tell you that what you witnessed is NOT a Scrum Master leading a Daily Scrum; at least, not how it should be.The goal of the Scrum Master is not to lead the team, nor do they have any such authority. In fact, the presence of the Scrum Master isn’t even mandatory for the meeting. According to the Scrum Guide, the daily scrum is entirely owned by the Development Team; however, the Scrum Master is responsible that the meeting takes place. This includes sending calendar invitations, choosing the time that works best for everyone, instituting soft penalties for being late, and ensuring all impediments are noted so that they can be resolved later. Remember, the goal of the Daily Scrum is merely a chance for the team to all get on the same page and agree upon a strategy for the following 24 hours. Ideally; within 15 minutes, all the work from the previous day is discussed and analyzed while the work to follow is plotted.Myth: The Scrum Master Must Resolve Every Problem Myth-Scrum Master Must Resolve Every ProblemDifficulties, problems, issues, complications, hurdles, setbacks, and snags are just par for the course when you are in the midst of development. Actually, that’s just life, but I’ll leave that conversation for another day.The Scrum Guide, which should be considered holy text for development teams practicing Scrum methodologies, clearly outlines all the various duties that a Scrum Master is expected to fulfil. And one of those is to remove impediments to the Development Team’s progress. I know what your thinking, “Doesn’t that statement seem to validate the myth?” I agree, it looks that way, but the key thing to remember here is the word “impediment,” which many developers assume to be any and all problems that come there way during a sprint.An impediment, when taken in a Scrum context, should be considered problems that are interfering with a Development Team’s progress that lie OUTSIDE of their capability to resolve. This notion is closely related to one of the most fundamental concepts of Scrum: self-organization.Development is an often precarious, usually unpredictable, and almost definitely a complex undertaking; however, the use of a teams expertise to collectively solve problems is crucial. Some examples of issues that may arise that deserve the attention of a Scrum Master includes:Team member falls ill Hardware issues Absent Product Owner Bugs and glitches in the production environment Problems with the development environment Internal conflict between team members Remember, the capacity of a Scrum Master is to solve problems that the Development Team cannot. So if you’re unhappy with your lunch order, you missed your train into the office, or your significant other is giving you a hard time, it is best to save those problems for someone else.Myth: Velocity Equals Value Scrum velocity and valueThe short answer; no. However, as that wouldn’t make for good reading, I feel I should elaborate. But first, let us make sure that we all have a clear understanding of what is meant by Velocity and Value.According to Scrum.org glossary (because where else would you go for all things Scrum), Velocity is defined as “an optional, but often used, indication of the average amount of Product Backlog turned into an Increment of product during a Sprint by a Scrum Team, tracked by the Development Team for use within the Scrum Team.” As such, velocity can be an incredibly useful metric for predicting the volume of items that can be delivered in a Sprint, or comparatively, how many Sprints will be required to reach release.Value, on the other hand, as defined by the Oxford Dictionary is “the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something.” Now, when most people think of value, their minds normally turn to money, so for the sake of this point, let us use it as a proxy and a valuable product as being able to increase revenue or decrease cost. In the context of Scrum, value is only created when the product or increment reaches the customer; they find it useful, and they start benefiting from it.Now that we have two clear definitions of velocity and value it should be clear that they are very different things and one is not indicative of the other. One (velocity) is a tool that a Scrum Team can utilize to self-manage during the development process, and the other (value) is simply a means of the customer assessing the usefulness of the product.Myth: Sprint Review is a Demo Scrum Myth-Sprint Review is a DemoDevelopment is by no means the easiest of work, which is why the opportunity to showcase and demo your increments to Stakeholders can be so rewarding. However is the Sprint Review really the time to do it?Do any of these sound familiar:You gather for the Sprint Review, and the Stakeholders are on one side and the Development team on the other; not unlike a middle school dance There is very little input from Stakeholders (often because they weren’t invited to) The mouse and keyboard never actually make it into the hand of a Stakeholder None of the Stakeholders present are actually going to use the product The Sprint Review gets referred to as a ‘Demo’ If you answer yes to any of the above, then there is a good chance your definition of a Sprint Review may is bit askew. But rather than tell you why all of the above is wrong, let us draw a comparison to how a Sprint Review should look:Development team and Stakeholders should appear indistinguishable to an outsider The Product Backlog holds a distinguished spot and is continuously adjusted as new insights are uncovered Participants are invited to offer up their ideas, feedback, and suggestions actively The Increment is presented not just by the Development Team, but by the entire Scrum Team – including Product Owner The Product Owner assesses the Product Backlog and discusses progress and expected completion dates If you think the latter sounds more productive than the former, you’d be right – and the Scrum Guide would agree with you. For it emphasizes that Scrum Team and Stakeholders must collaborate about what was accomplished in the sprint and based on any changes in the Product Backlog, discuss next best actions to optimize value.Myth: In Scrum, There is no Planning Scrum Planning MythFor some Scrum Teams, the word “Plan” or “Planning” is considered taboo. Certain Scrum Masters may refuse to let their team look past the current Sprint. And from the outside, many seem to believe that Scrum Teams are aimlessly working away trying to create products without a sense of direction or overarching aim. However, despite popular opinion from the outside and some misguided souls within, planning is, in fact, a crucial part to Scrum – and there is no better way to prove it than by the numbers.The Scrum Guide mentions the word ‘Planning’ a whopping 19 times! And the word ‘Plan’ a still impressive 9. And in case you were wondering, use of those words at no point are preceded by the words “You shall not.”So what are some examples of planning in Scrum?During Sprint Planning (see the word ‘Planning’) Scrum Teams work together to plan (see, again) what will be performed during the Sprint. This plan is then captured in an albeit flexible Sprint Backlog that is aligned with an overarching Sprint Goal in order to provide direction and focus The Daily Scrum is about planning what the Development Team will do for the next 24 hours During the Sprint Review, the Sprint Team and Stakeholders inspect the work completed and based off of it, plan what can be done next to optimize value The above are just a couple of examples of planning that are imperative to the success of any Scrum endeavour. And while flexibility in approach is undoubtedly of great appeal and one of the most valuable aspects of Scrum, it should never be thought that Scrum Team efforts are lacking specific intent.While earlier I made the distinction between scrum and Scrum, in reality, they have a lot in common. Both involve groups of people in what often looks like an unorganized mess; however, they are all ultimately working towards a shared goal, passing the ‘ball’ backwards and forwards while the team marches ahead. And although it is unlikely that the Scrum we are all familiar with will result in us wearing matching jerseys, it is always important to understand that you are a part of a team and to succeed and win at the game; you need to understand the rules.
5 Myths about Scrum Methodology, and the Scrum Master, Busted
The challenge with the customer experience is that it is ever-evolving, and all too often we are seeing the seemingly infinite demands of the customers met with the finite limitations of people. So how can brands meet these demands? When you take into account Gartner’s statement that “By 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationship with the enterprise without interacting with a human,” the answer becomes simple – technology. And there are none that exist that are so perfectly poised to improve nearly every facet of the customer experience like artificial intelligence.So how is AI changing the landscape of the customer experience? Simple, it is empowering more personalized, self-serve, and scalable experiences.Personalization using AIShopping Experiences Have you ever gone to a restaurant where the food was so-so, but the service was unparalleled? The type of place where you are always greeted by name when you walk in; they know what table you liked to sit at, and usually have your drinks on the table shortly after sitting down. It is this familiarity and personal touch that keeps people coming back, and it is this same feeling that is driving customers to specific brands. The only difference is that it is AI powering this experience rather than a waitress.In our lifetimes, each of us will generate thousands of gigabytes of data, which seems impressive; however, it is only valuable if analyzed. Sadly, this is where our human limitations come in, along with our ingenuity, since just because we can’t actually do it, doesn’t mean it can’t be done. AI and machine learning are being used to comb through big data to provide the customer with an unrivalled level of personalization. This includes product recommendations based on previous purchases to websites changing their appearance in real-time to adapt to a customers browsing habits – even going as granular as adjusting to their reading level. When AI-powered personalization is implemented, not only is the customer experience improved but so is the conversion to purchase, driving new and repeat business.Behaviour Prediction through Artificial Intelligence Human beings are brilliant, mainly in part to our brains, which is the most complex structure in the known universe. With it, we cannot only absorb the information around us, but for the most part, we can take that information and process it, put it in context, and use it to realize patterns and make predictions. This has proven incredibly useful not only in our survival as species but in business, as the ability to predict what the customer wants and will do next can often mean the difference between success and failure. It is here again, however, we find ourselves faced with our limitations, as the ability to analyze, process, establish patterns and make customer predictions at the scale that modern business demands are simply an impossibility. Fortunately, what we can’t, AI can.The only thing better than giving the customer what they want is being able to predict that want before it is expressed, and AI can do just that. Analyzing behavioural patterns, trends in the market, and user experience across multiple channels through Artificial Intelligence can lead to not only accurate predictions, but instills a feeling of value and of being understood by the brand, all of which help to develop loyalty and retention, as well as being a natural pathway to upselling and cross-selling.Product Discovery Few would argue that the most desired action a customer can take is to make a purchase; after all, sales are the driving force of business. Still, there is a lot that goes on before that action can take place, and looking at it from a logical perspective, the next most crucial step to making a purchase is discovering what exactly you want to purchase – sometimes without even knowing you want it.Does this sound familiar: you walk into a store “just to browse,” however, after an interaction with a skilled sales associate, you end up walking out with a bag full of things you didn’t know you wanted but are ultimately happy you purchased? Well, replace that sales associate with AI, and you’ll get a pretty good sense of the capabilities of this technology. AI can hone in on the wants and needs of the customer by analyzing their previous purchases and search history, and make recommendations accordingly. With time and relevance being perhaps the hottest commodities in the life of the consumer, AI-powered product discovery can not only streamline the process and lead to upsells and cross-sells, but also garners goodwill with the customer who now only sees products and services that have been predetermined to be relevant to them.self service using AIImage Credit: Amazon Go The New Standard When discussing the notion of customer experience, the conversation should always begin and end with the preferences of the customer. There was a time not long ago when these preferences included a very hands-on approach from brands and their representatives, whether it was in product discovery, sales assistance, or customer service. However, today, we have seen a dramatic shift, one that considers the customer opting for a more self-service experience – an experience ultimately powered by AI.There is a growing belief that a phone call is not the best way to resolve a customer service issue – and I’d have to agree. That, of course, isn’t to say customers don’t still have issues; instead, these new, tech-savvy generations prefer to solve their own problems, turning to online forums, FAQs, chat, and bot services. To adapt, brands need to recognize this new, self-reliant customer and offer them a human-free, digital-only experience. Failure to do so will not only result in a negative CX but will invariably impact the businesses bottom line.Rise of Chatbots The goal of every brand should be to try and provide value to their customers through the experiences they have with them. However, this poses a problem with humans limited capabilities and customers seemly limitless demands. One solution to this problem, if you couldn’t have guessed by now, is AI, more specifically, the use of AI-based chatbots to act as assistants to your customers.First of all, chatbots inherently enhance the customer experience through their timelines and efficiency. Natural Language Processing (NLP) allows chatbots to understand customer questions and respond to them with precise answers, all without having to dial-in to a call centre or wait in a queue. Not only that, but they can also make personalized recommendations in real-time based on historical data. Finally, chatbots ensure a consistent level of service, a fact that cannot be guaranteed when you have a human being on the end of the line or chat.Customer Service Roles It is truly awe-inspiring to imagine all the capabilities of AI and how much it can do for us, especially in the world of business. However, that should never wholly discount the roles humans play in the customer experience, more specifically, customer service. Today, we see these roles have evolved, but they most certainly have not been eliminated.The use of AI in customer service is gaining prevalence, specifically, with AI-based chatbots and virtual assistants that result in an automated, fast, and ultimately hassle-free experience when it comes to lower tiers of service issues. This has not only proven profitable and more efficient for an enterprise but also tailors to the preferences of the customer who demand immediate solutions. As a result and despite people’s fears, the consensus is not seeing the elimination of customer service representative jobs, rather, their evolution, one that is seeing them handle more complicated, difficult, and comprehensive support issues, giving the customer more time and attention if that is what they want, or their issue deserves. Ultimately, delegating more straightforward tasks to AI means premium human customer support can handle the more valuable and elaborate matters; ensuring the customer experience is a pleasant one.Customer Touchpoints A customer touchpoint is any point of contact between a brand and a customer where they engage to exchange information, provide a service, or handle a transaction. While this definition seems pretty straightforward, it starts to become a little complicated when you account for our modern marketplace that sees an ever-increasing amount of ways for brands to interact with their customers. However, this is where AI really shines, for the implementation of AI can help lead to a unified experience, regardless of the touchpoint chosen by the customer.Thanks to AI, whether a customer has an issue at 2pm or 2am; if they are reaching out from their cell-phone or desktop, or whether they are located in Toronto or Munich, the ability to provide a seamless and holistic experience for them is within the grasp of enterprises.Continued Learning Among the many advantages of AI is the fact that it is always on. It is on to assist customers in their product discovery, it is there to help them make a purchase, and it is present if and when an issue arises that requires brand support. However, as a complementary feature of always being on, by nature, that also means that AI is continuously learning, improving, and making itself better, which in turn, facilities a better customer experience.With AI in place, from the moment a customer, potential or current, logs on to your site, browses your catalogue or interacts with your app, it is watching, learning, and recording what happens. As a result, the next time a customer logs on, things will look different, more personalized, more specific to that unique customer. This allows for more concise and targeted marketing efforts which save time and money on the brand side and exponentially increase the customer experience by only providing tailored and relevant information.How to scale services using AIInventory Management One of the fastest ways to hinder your customer experience is through poor inventory management. Can you imagine the frustration of going through all the effort of finding what you are looking for – and even after it is clearly displayed – you discover that your choices are out of stock?Inventory management, interestingly enough, exists on a single contradiction – keeping enough stock to ensure orders are met and business keeps moving, but not enough that it impacts cash reserves. This is where AI comes in to automatically monitor the stock, uses machine learning to analyze bulk data and forecast demand within the supply chain, and in some cases, even implement robotic automation in the procurement process. After all, the key to a happy customer and a superlative CX rests in the ability of the customer to get what they want when they want it.Cost Effective The aim of every business is to ultimately build and expand; however, doing so is not without its cost. For a company to successfully grow, they must have an infrastructure in place that can handle the increasing volume of sales, inventory management, and customer service issues. Typically, that would require the hiring of more staff; that is unless you have the power of AI in your corner.AI empowers businesses to scale up their customer service at the push of a button (or several, but you get the idea). Imagine, you launch a new product, and at the same time, you release a new and interactive FAQs that can solve thousands of customer concerns. Then you switch one server to another and now have a mighty fleet of chatbots who are ready to respond to the onslaught of customer inquiries instantaneously. Couple this with the ability of AI to continuously learn and you can now easily branch out into new geographic markets, no longer encumbered by language barriers. And the best part – you only have to train them once.By now it should be clear that technology such as AI has already begun to revolutionize and change the landscape of the customer experience – as it should. Customers today are by no means the same customers of yesterday, and as such, the same level of attention, service, and accommodation is just not on par. The truth of the matter is that customer demand is ever-increasing; which is all the more reason for AI to fulfill those needs.The future isn’t about AI replacing humans; instead, it is about AI empowering humans to do more, and the sooner you realize it, the happier your customers will be.
10 reasons why your CX needed AI starting yesterday
Have you ever driven down a road that was incredibly uneven or bumpy? Did you ever get frustrated trying to install a piece of software on your computer? Have you ever eaten at a restaurant and had lousy food and even worse service? If you said yes, then you have been a victim of poor user experiences that you haven’t forgotten. While UX is a crucial element in both the digital and physical world, it is in digital that we see the value of UX skyrocket, and that is for one reason – choice.People will often drive down a bumpy road because it is faster or will eat at a restaurant with bad service because it is the only one in town; however, they won’t settle for a subpar digital experience. Why? Simple – quick and easy access to your competition. The internet and technology have torn down limitations and empowered the user to find what they want. What does this mean? Well, if you cannot provide your user with the experience they are looking for, rest assured, somebody else can and will.So what’s trending in User Experience? That was my question, and fortunately, I am lucky enough to work with a room full of UX designers, creatives, and researchers who could help me find my answers. Here’s our pick of 17 UX trends.User Journey Simplification Although trends in UX are ever evolving, a constant that will never fall out of fashion is simplicity. When users interact with an app or site, they typically have a goal in mind that they’d like to accomplish, and if any aspects of the design impede, hinder, or delay achieving that goal will only lend to a bad experience. Simplifying the journey isn’t just about making the next steps from point A to point B easier, but it is about making those steps more intuitive, and where possible, minimizing them. This is why linear flows, with their clear beginning, middle, and end, and progressive disclosure, making information visible when needed, have gained such popularity.Simplifying the journeyImage Credit: Uber In-App Gesture Paired with Animation Today’s market is seeing more devices being introduced that are gesture reliant, which sounds ideal, but not without its hurdles, mainly, the lack of physical interaction, such as a “button click” that indicates input. For this reason, developers have started relying on animation to provide the user with feedback and guide them through a smooth, memorable, and “natural” experience.In-App Gesture Paired with AnimationImage Credit: Dribbble| Full-Screen Experiences Modern devices are not only devoting much more real estate to screens, but those screens are among the highest quality available. So what does that mean for developers? Simple – more space to play with. However, the fact that these devices are capable of so much visually will also work against you if your media is not up to par. Images and videos that appear pixelated will only serve to lower the expectations and the experience of the user.Full-Screen ExperiencesEmotional Experiences Brands have long known that the most effective way to interact and create memorable experiences with users is through emotions. However, this year we see emotional intelligence actually being integrated into the mobile experience to make it not only more enjoyable but more engaging. This technology allows users to better express emotion, provides them with a natural way to interact with a UI, and can even mimic emotions in UI feedback. Today, we are seeing technology becoming an expressive extension of our personalities.Emotional Experiences in AppsImage Credit: Apple Biometric Authentication The ideal UX is always a near perfect blend of form and function; however, in our world today, the coupled considerations of security and privacy cannot be ignored. Fortunately, this has provided the perfect opportunity to not only enhance security but also do away with one of the most cumbersome parts of personal devices – passwords, and the solution is biometric authentication. The technology behind biometric authentication is not new; however, we see more widespread adoption along with the evolution of the technology, with touch ID being replaced with facial recognition.Biometric Authentication in app development Image Credit: Biometric Updates ; Dermalog Conversational Design Few things are more natural for a person to do than converse using their voice and as technology has made it possible, we see a rise in conversational design and interfaces. However, while conversational interfaces are unlikely to replace GUI completely, we see an integration of the two. For example, chatbots are regularly integrated as assistants into messaging platforms, and progression in natural language processing is giving way to completely voice-based interfaces to develop conversational design. As a byproduct, the need for copywriting for this type of interface has never been more important, as the words and exchanges between device and user need to be selected carefully. After all, the difference between a memorable bot and an ineffective one is personality, and that is what UX designers and other stakeholders can achieve through conversational design.conversational designAdvanced Personalization There was a time when the bar for personalization was when a piece of correspondence included the recipient’s name; however, as the user has evolved alongside technologies like conversational design, that simply won’t cut it anymore. One of the most exciting uses of personalization is utilizing the fact that people carry their mobile devices when travelling and providing them with useful and relevant information that corresponds to their location. Technology is also allowing the personalization to go one step further by actually adapting the UI to the user’s requirements, such as language, poor eyesight, or colour blindness.Advanced Personalization in app developmentAugmented Reality While conversational design has the potential to change the way we interact with our devices and applications, augmented reality, or AR, has the potential to change the way we view the world – through those devices. For many, their first exposure to AR was in the form of a game, Pokémon Go; however, thanks to Apple and Google releasing AR frameworks, we are seeing a surge of these applications. From immersive games that allow us to turn our devices into a lens through which to view (and play in) the world to solving real-life problems, like being able to measure the size of objects without using a traditional physical measuring tape, AR is poised to be a helpful and engaging trend.Augmented Reality in UX3D Effects Developers have long understood that the greater depth and more immersive the experience, the more memorable it becomes. That is why many are opting to shed their 2D habits and push technological and processing limits by creating more 3D effects. However, it is important to remember that just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Accessibility needs to be accounted for on par with the user experience, and thus, in order to implement this trend correctly, it will likely require a delicate balancing act of form and function, but the excitement of adding another dimension to how we design in digital is hard to ignore.3D effectsImage Credit: WebDesign Trends ; 3D websites Expressive Typography The goal of a brand is to engage and communicate a message to its customers; however, all too often, one of the most fundamental ways of communication, words, or rather, the style in which the words are written, is often overlooked. Thankfully, that is looking like it is changing as more and more designers are embracing typography. Large, unique, and in many cases, hand-drawn fonts are quickly becoming the norm, as typography is becoming a more sought-after aspect of design and development. Utilizing this practice can allow brands to distinguish themselves further, ultimately enabling the typeface to become an expressive element of the message, especially when combined with animation, as well as encourage prolonged reading for the user.Expressive Typography in appsBright and Vivid Colours Looking to influence people? By now you probably know that emotion is the route to get there; however, what you may not have known is that colour, much more than words and images, can help facilitate whether a person has a positive or negative user experience. Fortunately, the onset and ready availability of display technology such as 4K have made it even easier for designers to implement a dynamic and much more impactful colour range. And almost symbolically, the direction is towards bright and vivid colours, almost as if to cut through the bland and dim designs of years past.Colour usage in appsImage Credit: awwwards Creative Menus Anything other than the most basic user experiences will all have one thing in common – options; however, it is the way in which those options are presented that can make a huge difference and possibly pay huge dividends on user-interaction. And while depending on who you ask, this couldn’t come soon enough, it seems the classic, yet dated, hamburger menu is on the way out in favour of more inspired, experimental, and design-driven alternatives. We are seeing more and more designers embrace horizontal menus, progressive disclosure menus, and utilizing unusual typography.Creative Menus Image Credit: Shiny Demos ; Charlotte Wood Design Usability Engineering Have you ever heard of the human-computer interface or HCI? You should, as that is the way in which users interact with technology; which at its core, is a cornerstone of user-experience. However, in today’s fiercely competitive market, more developers are turning their focus to usability engineering, which is a discipline that blends a firm knowledge of computer science and psychology to approach the development process. Usability engineering is done hand-in-hand with users to ensure a deeper understanding of functionality and design requirements, such as utility, learn-ability, efficiency, retain-ability, errors, and customer satisfaction. Given the direction of the market with AI, AR, VR, IoT, and voice, this more in-depth understanding of what resonates with the user through Usability Engineering has never been more valuable.Usability Engineering Image Credit: Fuzzy Math Content Focused Experiences There has begun a shift recently that is seeing UX turn away from design elements that are intended to merely impress and solely relying on UX designers, and instead, focus on what is arguably more important – the content. Utilization of flat design and minimalism are all meant to remove the distraction and help shape a more content-focused experience for the user. In this situation, UX designers take the role of ensuring that nothing impedes a user experience of the content. To follow this trend, UX designers must implement a distinct visual hierarchy, designed to ease content comprehension; utilize functional minimalism by removing unnecessary elements for more precise focus; and whitespace, which gives the content “more room to breathe” and improves the user experienceDevice-Agnostic UX Design There was a time not that long ago when everything was designed for desktop, with mobile seemingly an afterthought. However, today we see a progression towards more mobile centred design, and yet, that still doesn’t do enough in our ever-changing digital landscape. With the rise of the Internet of Things, we are shifting from mobile-first experiences towards multi-device experiences. At its core, this trend is all about creating a continuous interaction and digital experience, regardless of the device. For the user, they have a task in mind, and the way in which that task is accomplished should solely be based on the most convenient and relevant medium on hand, be it a phone, computer, smart speaker, or car. In order to achieve true user experience, it needs to be device agnostic.Device-Agnostic UX DesignAccessible and Inclusive Design No matter the industry you work, there is a global shift underway in which is seeing people becoming more socially aware, and this is causing a push towards more inclusive and accessible designs. And while yes, admittedly it is a fool’s errand to try and design something that is truly universal and is equally enjoyable to use for everyone, it is still no excuse to utilize all existing technologies and practices to make someone’s life easier. This includes reframing from using triggering or inconvenient elements for the sake of design, accepting that your users aren’t cookie-cutter and diversity is the norm, that you test using users from a variety of backgrounds, and utilize a diverse set of designers. Remember, inclusion and accessibility isn’t a barrier to innovation, rather a stepping stone to universal design.Image Credit: CAL Design Collaboration in Design To think that UX designers are the only players in the UX game would be a gross oversight. That is because marketers, product managers, designers, developers, copywriters, and even the user, all play a role in shaping memorable user experiences. By collaborating through the process and practicing design thinking, not only is empathy and experimentation added to the process but all of the aforementioned can give one another feedback and work towards establishing a collective understanding. The result is not only better experiences being crafted but does so with such intent and diversity that the previous point, accessibility and inclusive design, almost definitely becomes a byproduct of such collaboration. By identifying shared goals, continuously opening the lines of communication, and being open to new perspectives and constructive feedback, the world of UX promises only to become more lucid as time progresses.Collaboration in Design Image Credit: Stormid Considerations For UX Designers Going Forward Experiences are surely evolving alongside the technology that empowers them. As is clear from some of the trends mentioned above, we do not only see a global shift in UX but one of global citizenship that is purposely taking into account the diversity of the user through design thinking, like through conversational design or usability engineering. And while impossible to predict the future, we do know one thing about the direction of UX – it will continue to have a direct impact on the top and bottom line of your brand.
17 Trends for UX Designers to Create Unforgettable User Journeys
Socrates was an ardent critic of the written word and his most famous pupil Plato once wrote that “If men learn this, it will implant forgetfulness in their souls; they will cease to exercise memory because they rely on that which is written.”Daryl Zanuck, CEO of 20th Century Fox in 1946 once predicted that “Television won’t be able to hold on to any market it captures after the first six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.”And Thomas J. Watson, CEO and Chairman of IBM in 1943 once infamously said: “There is a world market for about five computers.” We know how that turned out.What do the above examples show us? That very often some of the most important, transformative, and disruptive innovations can have an uphill battle from their inception; usually associated with false assumptions, and sometimes from unlikely places. And while the above examples are from a time past, our present day is not immune to misconceptions, misinformation, and false beliefs. Case in point – Robotic Process Automation or RPA.Simply put, RPA is the practice of taking routine, repetitive, and rule-based tasks and automating them with software “bots” to perform just as a human would. This can include automating processes in financial operations, human resources, IT, procurement, and data and analytics to name a few. While robots have long been used on the factory floor, they have evolved, and now software bots have infiltrated offices across the globe through RPA tools. However, much like the written word, the television, and the computer, there are still many who are yet to embrace this technology due to false claims and myths that abound on the subject.Today, I am going to dispel those myths once and for all.RPA Is Just Physical Upon hearing anything with the word “robotic” in it, most of us will turn to metal machinery, perhaps a long mechanical arm or a powerful torch fusing together two pieces of metal. This isn’t surprising, especially when those specific uses have been implemented in the automotive industry for decades. However, that is a very limited view of RPA, for the key word to note is “process,” and as you should all know, business is filled with repetitive tasks and processes that can’t be done through a solely physical output.Myths about Robotic Process AutomationWhile the applications are many, one such area that organizations are seeing real value by implementing RPA is in the hiring process. For example, UXPLORE has automated everything from the Offer, Onboarding, and Integration process for their clients. Normally, it would take 2.5 hours for an HR associate to onboard a new hire; from hiring decision to a welcome email. However, by automating the process, that time has been incredibly reduced to just 8 minutes.Robots Will Replace Humans One of the most popular misconceptions about RPA is that we humans, or at least, a good number of us, would eventually be out of a job. Well, that is only partially right.RPA isn't about the loss of jobs but the creation of an industryAs with every emerging technology, this is both true and untrue. There’s no denying that something like the automobile put wheelwrights and blacksmiths out of business. However, it also created a new industry for auto repair and manufacture. Also, the creation of the internet created a whole new suite of jobs and skill sets for the jobs it may have made redundant, such as video rental store clerk. RPA is a new change that will affect some occupations while at the same time creating new opportunities, the same as every other emerging technology before has done.RPA Only Reduces Cost Unquestionably, one of the greatest appeals of RPA is the potential for vast cost savings. After all, bots don’t get paid, don’t get sick, and can work 24/7. However, yet again we see this misconception being caused by a narrow scope of RPA.Time, accuracy, and in some cases physical safety can all be substantially improved upon with RPA. And this value not only supports business operations, but the effect can be felt right down to the customer experience. RPA improves accuracy, process quality, and response time, which means a greater experience for the customer. Not only that but by capturing data for analysis, they are able to provide a more tailored experience for the user. By handling simple, frequent questions, it can leave the humans free to deal with more complex, challenging customer support issues that require comprehensive, sophisticated, and empathetic responses. It also doesn’t hurt that bots can be scaled up or down, making it ideal for seasonal operations or periods of high-traffic.rpa process for accuracyRPA Is Just a Trend Technology, like fashion and music, can be full of trends that are wildly popular one moment and fall to the wayward, however, that in and of itself is one of the hallmark characteristics of a trend – they are short-lived. RPA, on the other hand, has been used for decades as a physical technology, and in recent years, as a software solution. Needless to say, it is only picking up steam.Let’s take a look at the once-popular customer service model of offshoring. This was done to save cost as labour was typically much cheaper overseas. However, that fact doesn’t hold true anymore, and as the cost of labour rises, companies have been scrambling to find a better way. And the better way for an ever-growing number of companies is RPA, and the benefits and savings are as real as the satisfied customers. According to the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM), RPA can yield companies a “cost reduction of 35-65% for onshore process operations and 10-30% in offshore delivery…[and] an investment recovery period as short as 3 months…” So tell me, if something is more efficient and saves you money, why would you stop doing it?RPA Is Expensive and Not Worth the Cost of Investment RPA is a business initiative and one that should ultimately be sought out to not only cut cost but improve efficiency. However, like any initiative, RPA is not immune to initial upfront investment for implementation.cost of RPAFrom the build phase which includes the provisioning of IT infrastructures such as physical/virtual machines and databases to consultancy costs and partnerships, an RPA initiative undoubtedly comes with a price tag; however, that is taking a very narrow perspective. That is because typically, the initial cost is usually dwarfed by the rapid internal cost reductions and significant ROI. When you think about it, implementing RPA is essentially tripling your capacity, as bots don’t begin at 9 and end at 5. Due to this fact alone, I have seen organizations yield a 50-100% and higher ROI within the first few months of implementation.RPA Won’t Work in My Industry While the idea of using RPA to lighten workloads, improve efficiency, and reduce cost should be appealing to anyone in business, many are still uninformed of the real potential this once burgeoning technology has now that it has made its way into the mainstream.Let’s take insurance, for example, an industry that is continually trying to balance and mitigate risks and reduce costs in order to turn a profit. However, with today’s customers demanding faster, more personalized service, the old system of doing things wasn’t cutting it. The same can be said for the banking industry.Healthcare is another, with RPA quickly taking over patient scheduling, claims processing, billing, and data entry. Of course, let us not forget telecommunications, manufacturing, distribution, and utilities. In the last decade, RPA has made huge leaps in providing real value across industries, and as the technology grows and improves, its uses will only evolve and become more commonplace.RPA Is Only for Large Organizations There was a time when I would have said yes, RPA is only for large organizations, and that primarily had to do with the upfront costs such as purchasing a “boxed” solution or hiring the appropriate IT support. However, thanks to cloud technology RPA is now a viable option for businesses of all sizes.RPA is now a viable option for businesses of all sizesTypically, if your organization, from HR to customer service, is faced with repetitive and rule-based tasks, there is likely a place for RPA. According to Energias Market Research, the global RPA market is expected to reach over USD 2.8 billion by 2023, which translates to a compound annual growth rate of 33.3%. While certainly an impressive figure, I believe that it will only be realized by the steady adoption of RPA by small and medium-sized businesses driven by inexpensive implementation costs and high ROI. Keep in mind though, that in order to adopt RPA effectively, you need to assess its viability and ensure you have the right tools and alignment in place.Office Work Can Be Completely Done With RPA Across the globe, organizations of all sizes are utilizing RPA to increase accuracy, save time, and reduce cost; and while RPA is literally built to do just that, it does have its limitations. RPA is ideal when dealing with repetitive and rule-based tasks; however, when you start to use it for more complicated and non-standardized processes, it becomes a much more challenging process.Even processes that pass the feasibility of RPA may not be an ideal candidate to automate; specifically, if the process itself is not efficient. When you automate an inefficient process, all you will be successful in is speeding up your inefficiency. The best approach is to redesign your process prior to automating or change it accordingly during the design phase of delivery.A Truth Worth Remembering Robotic Process Automation has come a long way from its inception and use on factory floors. Today, it is being utilized for more “white collar” tasks, and as the technology further develops, we are seeing it transcend industry and provide real value to not only business but to the customer. However, before you can utilize RPA in your strategy, you first need to understand what this technology can and can’t do, and in order to do that, you need to stop believing the myths and realize what RPA really is – the future.