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The People Behind User-Centred Design ‚Äď and why they hold the keys to your future…

by on Jul.09, 2010, under Storage

The People Behind User-Centred Design °V and why they hold the keys to your future…

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User-Centred Design was brought to my attention a few years ago when I was client-side in Ecommerce at Virgin Atlantic.  Our goals and strategies always focused on the business and IT efficiencies, so when the EMC User Experience team introduced me to the concept of a
user-centred approach it was a new way of thinking for me, but one that really made sense. 
I then had the chance to work on interaction design with Flow Interactive at tesco.com and it made me start to look at digital design with a new perspective… starting with an understanding of users and their goals, and solving problems with them front of mind.

I wanted to hear what the industry experts are saying on the subject and had the opportunity to attend a talk on °•The People Behind User-Centred Design °V and why they hold the keys to your future°K°¶ at Cass Business School in Moorgate on Tuesday evening. I anticipated a creative audience of Art Directors, Designers and User Experience experts, so was surprised to see a mainly business and IT audience in a fairly sober environment.

The talk was held in a lecture theatre with a panel of speakers moderated by the editor of WIRED magazine, David Rowan.  His panel included the Creative Research Fellow at
City University, CEO of Electronic Ink, the
Lead Partner in IT Enabled Business Transformation at KPMG, Chief Enterprise Architect at Reuters and Operations Director of Nomura (investment information).

They each gave a three minute synopsis on what User-Centred Design means to them and the importance of design-led development, citing the new digital work Reuters has done at Reuters Labs to feed ‘the eco system’ that companies like Apple have created. They spoke of McLaren Automotive Group in-car system designs where systems have been optimized for the engineers to allow pit stop changes to be made in seconds, to working cross-industry with companies like National Air Traffic Control to find opportunities from others who are demonstrating good practice in this field.

They highlighted the challenge of embedding the mind-set and practice of User-Centred Design into the organisation and changing traditional ways of thinking that tend to start with system solutions, rather than the customer solutions. Company culture is key to this and enabling the business to work closely with designers and the technology teams is crucial.   Roles like business-minded architects, engineers and psychologists were also seen as extremely valuable, more so than a single role of °•Chief Design Officer°¶ since it could be seen as authoritarian. They felt it would be better to weave the principles throughout the company and focus on training.

I did find it a little disappointing that the obvious choice of Apple was cited as the best example of User-Centred Design, and it made me think about companies I believe designs with the user in mind; people like tesco.com where they design for external customers in online grocery ordering through to purely dotcom grocery warehouses with handheld devices designed for staff ease of use and efficiency.  Morgan Stanley are another good example where they are redesigning their trading systems with designers and User Experience Architects on the trading floor watching human behaviour and implementing efficiencies, with impressive financial results.

A question and answer session at the end raised points like, °•what do you do when it goes wrong?°¶ to which there was no clear response and a recruitment consultant was keen to know °•how to find the right people?°¶ and told us the challenges of recruiting the right people and getting these roles embedded within organizations.

It seems there°¶s still a way to go for companies in making the shift to a fully
user-centred design mindset with a directive from the top, weaved throughout the organization and the business and technologists designing with customers in mind.

It did however, make me optimistic to see so many business and IT people attending an event at a business school in London and I feel encouraged that as more business-people and IT departments start to think in a user-centred way the potential is truly massive. It gives EMC the opportunity to help clients design technology solutions with customers at the centre.

Useful related reading:

The Inmates Are Running The Asylum by Alan Cooper

About Face 3: The Essentials of Interaction Design by Alan Cooper, Robert Reimann and David Cronin

Wrench in the System, Harold Hambrose

 

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Where has Dave been?

by on Jul.09, 2010, under Storage

Where has Dave been?

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If, like me, you skirt around the edges of the fitness blogging scene, you’re probably familiar with the person who starts a fitness blog, writes about their incredible gains (in fitness) and losses (in weight) and then suddenly the blog dries up for six months or a year.¬† You know what happened — the person hit a rough patch with their fitness and didn’t want to write about it.

So when someone who writes about today’s workplace, about corporate culture, about working at EMC, slowly dries up in terms of post count, it might be a good default assumption that they’ve hit a rough patch at work and don’t want to write about it.

In some ways, this is true.¬† I’ve struggled a bit over the past year to balance the different roles I have to play in the office,and I’ve felt like I don’t have anything insightful to say about that struggle.¬† Some of the struggle has been in getting to know and work well with new people, and I’m never comfortable blogging about the specifics of “live” interpersonal relationships.

But there are other factors at work here.¬† I’ve been busy as hell with my day job, trying to figure out how to rebalance my time management mechanisms to keep me from going insane.¬† Entire sections of my day job are getting deprioritized in any given week, so you can assume that blog posting is getting hit, too.¬† And my family life has gotten busy too — for great reasons!¬† Having a two-year old at home is more than enough to keep you occupied and engaged.¬† And when I do get a few free moments, I’m more apt to deal with things that need to be done around the house than writing a post.

The truth is, day by day, I’ve just been doing other “stuff” during the time when I used to blog.¬† I am still active; I monitor twitter and occasionally speak up.¬† I read blog posts, and share them on my Google Reader feed (which gets posted here on the blog and goes out to my Buzz account).¬† But I miss the outlet this blog provides.

From years of blogging for personal and professional reasons, I know better than to promise anything about the future.¬† But don’t unsubscribe yet.¬† Things are about to get really interesting in my office, and odds are I’ll find things to write about.¬† And if not, well, you know where else to find me….

This post is from: Dave Talks Shop

Where has Dave been?

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UC4 Software Appoints Industry Vet Jason Liu As Its New CEO

by on Jul.07, 2010, under Storage

UC4 Software Appoints Industry Vet Jason Liu As Its New CEO

UC4 Software, a provider of Intelligent Service Automation and IT process optimization solutions, today announced its board of directors has appointed Jason Liu as UC4°¶s chief executive officer, effective immediately.

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