Digital Innovation

UX Myth: Simple = Minimal

Simple and minimal go hand in hand, but they are not synonymous.
Minimal design is a visual decluttering of objects, forcing designers to say more by displaying less. It is a reduction in style elements, adding only enough to tell a story, accomplish a task, or meet product goals. According to Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO, minimalism is skin deep. What appears simple-looking can contain hidden complexities in UI.

 

Minimal Website: Landlife

Minimal Website: Landlife

Minimal Website: basecamp

Minimal Website: basecamp

Simplicity seamlessly blends the whole experience. Where there is both simplicity and usability, the overall product/application will shine. Design choices are meant to support product goals and empower users, period.

 

Simple website: Apple

Simple Website: Apple

In his book, The Laws of Simplicity,( http://lawsofsimplicity.com/, John Maeda notes, “On the one hand, you want a product or service to be easy to use; on the other hand you want it to do everything that a person might want it to do. […] The simplest way to achieve simplicity is through thoughtful reduction. When in doubt, just remove. But be careful of what you remove.”
To that end, keeping text copy simple and accessible is key––but not at the expense of meaningful information. Combining both elements is simplification at its best, working in support of both clarity and user experience.
Simple Website: Uber

Simple Website: Uber

The fewer elements on the screen, the more potent the communication. This is respectful design, as long as users are still able to perform intended functions. We should all strive for simplicity, while avoiding the cost of oversimplification.
To quote Albert Einstein, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
More UX Myths
UX Myths Infographic

UX Myths Infographic

Enabling a Digital-forward Government | Key Takeaways from the Digital Transformation Summit 2018

Digital transformation in the 21st century demands leaps of rapid innovation. Federal agencies, though, are not famous for speed. Their legacy systems represent huge investments and are vulnerable to emerging security threats. Future-proofing government infrastructure requires agile development processes to create progressive, sustainable delivery models.

Senior officials from Federal agencies and technology companies gathered at the Dell Digital Transformation Summit to discuss how agencies can evolve to better serve their customers, meet their mission goals, and succeed in the connected future.

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Here are a few highlights from the summit:

Creating a NextGen Cyber Workforce and an upcoming hiring regulation
Disruptive Technologies
Digital Intelligence
Cloud Smart
Data Analytics
AI + VR

Col. Chris Wade, Director, Task Force Cyber Strong, G-3/5/7, U.S. Army says the Army is training young talent to be problem solvers, in lieu of specific technology training that will be outdated in a few years.

“85% of jobs we will have by 2030 don’t exist today. We should expect to partner with machines & utilize AR/VR technologies.” – Marius Haas, President & Chief Commercial Officer, Dell EMC

“There won’t ever be a single solution for all mission needs; it’s about a consistent infrastructure, consistent operations and consistent developer experience”– Robert Ames, Sr. Director, National Technology Strategy, VMware

During the “Creating a NextGen Cyber Workforce” panel, Basil Parker, senior advisor for Government-wide IT and Cyber Workforce Development at OPM, announced that The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) will soon release a new regulation that will allow the Federal government to directly hire cybersecurity personnel. This will significantly shrink a lengthy hiring process that has bogged down the Federal government. Currently, it takes an average of 106 days to hire new personnel, and this regulation will aim to reduce the bottlenecks and lengthy vetting processes that are obstacles in securing cyber talent.

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Referring to the Federal government’s IT ecosystem, Matt Lira, special assistant to the president for innovation, policy, and initiatives at the White House Office of American Innovation, emphasized the need to focus on true, enterprise-level, agency-wide transformation.
Lira said, “We want to be able to say that the United States government is able to change, is able to adopt the latest technology–whatever it may be.”  

In his keynote address, William Bryan, senior official performing the duties of the under Secretary for Science and Technology, highlighted two crucial issues of the digital age: The impact of advanced technology on the security landscape, and how the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) is adapting research and development business practices to keep pace with these emerging threats.
 

“How we serve our citizens is at the center of what we do, Don’t just have a project mentality, but a continuous evolution dialogue.”– Suzette Kent, U.S. CIO, Executive Office of the President
Watch Video:
Bill Bryan, Sr. Official Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary for Science & Technology, DHS on Mobilizing Innovation to Secure the Homeland

The Keys to Driving Successful Digital Transformation

The terms “Digital Workplace” and “Digital Transformation” swirl so prominently in the corporate air these days that it is hard to go a day without hearing them, if not inhaling them. In a recent study conducted by IDG Research for Unisys, nearly two-thirds (65%) of respondents stated that it is “highly important” for their organizations to implement digital business over the next 12 months by substantially modifying their technology as well as their IT processes and resources. The survey identified five key priority areas: mobile application development, cloud deployment, social media, data science, and security.

Digital business transformation requires an experimental mindset that is inclusive of the entire business—marketing, sales, services, IT, R&D, and customer and partner communities. Unfortunately, many companies still cling to a vertically oriented, bureaucratic, hierarchical system of operations and governance, essentially the calcified spine of an operational model that once propelled progress but now erects roadblocks to change. Large companies therefore lack the single most important attribute required for successful digital transformation: adaptability. I believe that a lateral, rather than vertical, orientation must form the basis of a new business model that ignites creativity instead of inhibiting it. I will explore aspects of this model in detail below. First, however, let’s examine the central elements of successful digital transformation.

Keys to Digital Transformation:

1. Make Customer Experience (CX) the top driver of digital transformation. Digital Transformation analyst Brian Solis notes that, “Companies that don’t grasp or internalize the customer journey are obstructed from seeing its potential for optimization and innovation.” In far too many cases, IT and marketing departments still influence technology investments without fully understanding customer behaviors and expectations. Customer experience should be a top driver of digital transformation, and organizations should map their processes to the customer journey, rather than, in essence, asking customers to alter their behaviors to fit an existing corporate process.

a. Understand that evolving customer behaviors and preferences are the primary catalyst for change. Customer expectations and behaviors are dynamic. Effective digital transformation is impossible without an understanding of the changing preferences of existing customers and the new ways of thinking that potential customers bring to the table. Businesses must therefore invest in smart applications combined with artificial intelligence, including deep learning, machine learning, and proactive and prescriptive analytics. It is also advisable to include marketing automation technologies that integrate with both services and sales lines-of-business for improved understanding of customer behaviors.

b. Map out the journey of new, connected customers. Twenty-first century connected customers differ in fundamental ways from customers of the past. It is critical to gather information on their unique attitudes, behaviors, and experiences. IDG Research found that 71% of executives describe the number one challenge their organizations face as understanding the behavior and impact of new customers. Yet only half (54%) of survey respondents have completely mapped out the customer journey. Without such a map, it is impossible to implement truly customer-centric changes that improve the overall customer experience.

c. Familiarize yourself with mobile data and the challenges it embodies. Become more familiar with the challenges inherent in mobile data, and deploy this intelligence to drive digital transformation.

d. Respect and improve the mobile customer journey. “Mobile is just the beginning of disruption in the customer journey,” Solis notes. “With the runway for disruptive technologies still ahead (e.g., wearables, Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality), companies will need a resilient infrastructure that adapts to not only mobile’s ‘micro-moments,’ but also the impact of all these trends and new devices over time.” Any effective digital transformation strategy has mobile technology as a centerpiece.

2. Focus on the top three digital transformation initiatives:

  • Accelerating innovation
  • Modernizing IT infrastructure with increased agility, flexibility, management, and security
  • Improving operational agility to more rapidly adapt to change

3. Recognize that CMOs and CEOs continue to lead digital transformation. As digitally savvy leaders, CMOs and CEOs must accept personal responsibility for the progress of digital transformation, and must rise to the challenge of leading their companies into the 21st century.

4. Create formalized, cross-functional digital department workgroups. Of the 81% of companies with digital departments, only 40% have a formalized cross-functional workgroup. This deficiency directly impedes the development of a laterally oriented structure that fosters innovation. Create a strong group of four to five full-time employees that focus on digital transformation.

5. Embrace digital transformation efforts and eliminate “fear of disruption.” According to Solis, “Another top challenge facing digital transformation is the very thing that governs the course of business: a culture that is pervasively risk-averse (63%). Boards, shareholders, and stakeholders want to make improvements and increase profitability but are often unwilling to examine and change the governance in place today.” Understand that disruption helps create new customers, products and markets. Embracing disruption spurs future growth.

6. Create short-term plans for digital transformation: The digital world changes frequently. Create short-term plans for growth that leave room for updates and the inclusion of new technologies.

7. Create a multi-disciplinary digital transformation approach. Accelerate innovation by launching a formal “innovation center” to promote the testing and understanding of new technologies and the development of new solutions and services.

8. Combat internal barriers to progress and expand innovation by partnering with startups, investors, entrepreneurs, and universities. These partnerships accelerate the adoption of new technologies, shortening the timeline for digital transformation.

9. Exploit the combination of an innovation center, partnerships with startup ecosystems, and a focus on concept development and product innovation to boost digital transformation ROI. Create a plan that combines multiple areas and harnesses the strengths of each one. Improved cross-sector understanding will facilitate ongoing collaboration and ensure that every sector continuously tracks toward enterprise-wide digital transformation goals.

Implementation and the New Business Model

A recent Huffington Post article serves as a good reference on the six stages of digital transformation identified by Solis, and on how mature companies implement emerging technologies. Yet no matter the level of a company’s commitment to proceeding through those six stages by adopting the principles detailed above, adherence to a 20th-century business model will bring the most well-intentioned efforts at digital transformation to a grinding halt. A new, laterally oriented business model must underpin any digital transformation initiative if the potential ROI is to become a reality.

Social applications of digital technology offer a world of new possibilities for organizing and orchestrating work inside an enterprise. Whereas hierarchical communication structures tend to breed the very sort of toxic, manipulative corporate culture that has driven so many talented people away from large firms, cross-departmental social engagement fosters a spirit of collegial collaboration, boosting morale and productivity at once. Such a model promises to reshape the way executives and employees alike think about internal support functions, by focusing those functions on creating, maintaining, and improving the individual micro-services that form the heart of the organization’s operating platform.

From a management perspective, embedding rules, processes, and workflows in the platform itself is both simpler and more reliable than using manual control methods to enforce them. From a technology perspective, the organization can create an integrated, internal user experience layer that brings together what is usually at present just a collection of point solutions and off-the-shelf software. From the perspective of employees, this shift toward lateral integration cuts the puppet strings that control them from above, instead weaving processes and workflows into a supportive platform that becomes a stage on which to shine. Stage directions still provide guidance, but employees become actors with greater freedom to perform.

Benefits (ROI) and Challenges of Digital Transformation

Research has demonstrated that effective digital transformation realizes the types of ROI any C-suite or board appreciates…

  • Increased market share (41%) and increased customer revenue (30%).
  • Improved employee morale: 37% of respondents stated that second to increased market share, employee engagement was the next big return.

…but it will not happen overnight.

“Digital Darwinism favors those companies that invest in change,” Solis observes. However, he adds that, “Digital transformation isn’t easy though. Its true evolution takes time and resources, with benefits delivered in the long-term. This, to some, can represent deliberate moves away from delivering against quarterly returns. That’s the paradox of investing in digital transformation; it gives returns to those who treat it as a long-term investment versus those who expect immediate impact,” said Solis.

Measuring Outcomes

“Digital strategists must still rethink metrics to chart future development in new channels, experiences, content, and devices,” Solis explains. “Existing KPIs help validate early work in digital transformation. But often, measurement efforts are focused on measuring isolated efforts within each department/function. For example, only 22% of those surveyed cited having a content strategy in place that addresses customer needs at all journey stages, but content analytics are in the top five most important metrics measured. There is disconnect between strategy and measurement in digital transformation efforts.”

Therefore, once the new business model is implemented, exploiting the emergent cross-sector connectivity to develop metrics measuring all stages of the customer journey is crucial.

Measuring internal progress toward transformational goals is equally important, and equally difficult. An Enterprise Social Network (ESN), internal collaboration system, or social intranet is a powerful tool to address this challenge. The network can serve as a human sensor array to help guide improvements to the organization and its functions over time. Input must be sought from people at all organizational levels to identify the key capabilities the organization should possess in order to fulfill its strategic goals and respond to emerging threats and opportunities in its markets.

At the leadership level, these capabilities are typically broad and strategic; at the departmental level, they are often quite tactical; and, at the level of individual teams, they might consist mostly of simple tweaks or solutions to bureaucratic pain points. The ESN facilitates gathering these capability targets as agile user stories. Progress can subsequently be measured using a combination of available data (e.g. Social Network Analysis) and by querying the human sensor network, which will also contribute strategies to realize particular target capabilities.

This simple framework provides a way to bring together all transformation actions within the organization, both those planned and those already underway, and to view them through a common lens of capability development.