People have been discussing digital transformation as a mostly abstract concept for a really long time. Unfortunately, for most companies, it just meant taking a paper process and copying it to the digital sphere. Only that’s not digital transformation; it’s digital conversion, and it doesn’t really solve anything.
Remember the (now embarrassingly) old 2003 Super Bowl ad for Reebok that featured “Terry Tate: Office Linebacker”? Have we really advanced from that? You still need the cover sheet on your TPS report, now it’s just online.
Think about how that has played out across private and public sector organizations in the past few years. Now, instead of having a bank of cubbies with paper forms, you have a virtual repository with those same forms (and perhaps fewer signs of copy-of-a-copy wear). While that generates some efficiency, the process still sucks because no one is really thinking about how to make the experience better.
We can all sympathize with the forced rush to push old processes online as, suddenly, paper has become obsolete without people in the office to push it along.
Companies scrambled to digitize existing processes without stopping to ask some critical questions. So, that conversion didn’t generate any real efficiency or solve problems because it was simply digitizing broken processes.
Here’s the hard truth: everybody who goes down the path of digital conversion (which summarizes most “transformation” efforts) is just becoming a slightly more advanced dinosaur.
How human-centered design fuels digital acceleration
Instead of rushing to recreate inefficient processes, achieving digital acceleration requires hitting the pause button and thinking about problem-solving as a design-thinking exercise.
Human-centered design is all about asking the right questions—who's involved, what needs to be done, what are the challenges, what systems need integrating, what's the desired outcome, etc.—to produce the best possible user experience.
While all this takes time, if companies slowed down to conduct this type of exercise, they would speed up. By that I mean, they would get to the solution much faster—the one that truly helps people do their jobs, creates organizational flow, and moves the business forward.
Stop thinking about requirements. Start thinking about problems.
Consider the average IT department. Too often, its employees are swinging from vine to vine, not thinking about where they’re headed in the jungle. They are short-order cooks, working through a backlog without asking why something needs to be done or grokking the challenge deeply.
I don’t blame the employees for that because they’re often battling a dysfunctional company mindset. In many ways, subtle and outright, organizations telegraph that they don’t have time for process optimization or systemic problem-solving. Both are viewed as pet projects rather than business necessities—as “slow” versus “fast.” A painful fallacy.
What results? Disconnected systems and poorly designed user experiences. For companies to deliver holistic solutions, they must stop thinking about requirements and start thinking about problems. They must ditch constraints-based thinking for first principles.
In other words, if you had a blank canvas or whatever resources you needed, how would you approach solving problems?
It’s key to remember that “technology first” is not the answer; in many cases, it’s the problem. Think about the human first, then apply technology to solve the challenge—even when you’re using automation to solve part of it.
A human-centered design success story
Modular Walls is one organization putting human experience at the center of its apps. As an industry expert and market leader of fencing solutions across Australia, the company wanted to take the pain out of project quotes for its partners, customers, and employees. With its Quick Quote Calculator, Modular Walls did just that.
The calculator walks prospects through an easy, yet sophisticated visual process that both creates a quote and gets them excited about their home improvement project. Most importantly, it gives the customer precisely what they crave with any experience: control.
Rather than entering their information and waiting for a salesperson to get back to them in 24-48 hours, customers get to build the estimate themselves in just four steps. The experience is mobile-friendly, too.
Check out a demo of their solution.
Slaying time and resource challenges
Without the right tools, digital acceleration is tough to implement. And by tools, I don’t just mean tech. Sure, it’s vitally important to have the right tech, but it needs to be paired with the right approach.
Traditional app development is slow, both in philosophy and execution. Organizations skip the “what problem are we solving” step entirely, while struggling to enact basic agile processes. Beyond that, it’s hard (and costly) to find experienced developers to help you build elegant experiences. And even the best of the best can only move so fast.
To accelerate business, companies need the ability to quickly solve problems. Doing so effectively requires continuously designing, creating, and delivering useful, human-centered experiences. We call this “app agility.” Notice the very purposeful first step: Design.
The right technologies should help you merge the human-centered part of the process into quickly building apps and experiences that actually solve problems and help people do their jobs.
What makes the Skuid approach effective? Our process focuses on deeply understanding the business problem, aligned with our product, which optimizes delivering experiences that are useful, clear, efficient, and delightful.
But don’t just take my word for it. Check out these customer stories to see what companies like yours are building with Skuid. If you could design and deliver experiences like these on day one (and every day after), what would that make possible?