Human Centered Transformation: Stay a Step Ahead of Change

The enterprise of the future will win or lose based on the experience they provide their end users and their own employees and partners.

Digital IQ is an important attribute of tomorrow’s enterprises. Digital IQ is – or is quickly moving to become – a mix between emotional quotient (EQ) and intelligence quotient (IQ), a heady cocktail of empathy and off-the-charts machine intelligence. Digital IQ channels emotions, empathy, expectations, business viability, team-play, intelligence, creativity, ideas, innovation, technology, data and algorithmic confidence, to stay one turn ahead of constant change.

Everyone understands the potential of digital technologies like big data and analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). Adopting them is the path to digital transformation. But the smart path is to adopt human centered digital transformation (aka experience design) and deliver new value to consumers, partners, and employees.

Human centered digital transformation requires organizations to bring people – employees, suppliers, partners and customers – to center stage of the digital transformation program, delivering technology and support in a manner and at a pace that is flexible, is contextual and fits the needs of individuals.

Historically, technology adoption often has been a slow and painful process where users have had to be "trained," depend on incomprehensible manuals, rely on experts to troubleshoot, wait endlessly for fixes, and generally suffer the pain of not being in control. This has led to digital transformation investments turning into embarrassments with little to show by way of business impact.

Human centered digital transformation aims to fuse the needs of people with the potential of technology and the elements of business success. This has an important implication. It means that collaboration with users is the not-so-secret sauce that leads to better outcomes. This is substantially different from what we have become used to hearing over the last 45 to 50 years, that “technology leads to better outcomes.” But the reality is that transformation is as much about designing for humans as it is about adopting technology.

The idea is quite simple. Think of it as a bottom’s up approach with people/users and end user influencing process and application development at every step, bringing the end product closer to the end user. This may appear to be common sense. And, it is. But for multiple reasons user friendliness has so far been consigned to being an afterthought. Now there is pressure to completely reverse the thinking and engineer things backwards, so to speak.

While it is common sense, why is it difficult to inject human centered digital transformation into an enterprise? One of the reasons is that humans are fluid in their thinking and even oddly random (they use intuition, which is what makes them so good at what they do). It therefore requires an astounding amount of expertise to achieve human centered digital transformation.

We advocate three criteria to frame human-centered design and simplify the process:

  • Understand the business: The focus is on the why and who. The audience is identified, goals are articulated, and KPIs are agreed upon. Understanding the audience helps design the high-level information architecture and puts human experience at the core
  • Design the experience: This allows us to determine the technological path to achieving the target goals of performance and experience.
  • Design method: This is a user-centric approach to problem-solving and leads to digital transformation that focuses on the human element which in turn effectively deliver the target business process.

The lens of human desirability is what makes the difference. It reshapes process and drives functional innovation to elevate experience. Tomorrow’s enterprise will win or lose basis the experience they provide their end users and their own employees and partners.

Anand Birje is Corporate Vice President and Head of the Digital & Analytics practice at HCL. He drives the global growth of the organization’s Digital & Analytics business covering the Digital Consulting (Experience Design & Process Consulting), Digital Applications & Platforms services, and Business Analytics services.

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