Agile Development, Behavior Modeling & Design, Business Analysis, Information Technology, Innovation, Product Development, Requirements Development, User Analysis, User Experience, User-centered Design

It is beyond doubt that the current times of digital, mobile and social age demand professionals who are versatile, agile, sociable and dynamic. Business Analysts and product specialists are no exception to this. Whether its due to the industry demands, peer pressure, market needs or pure evolutionary tactics, BAs today are far more leading-edge, competitive, assertive and visionary contributors to the products, processes and businesses, at large. From an also-ran team player role, new-age analysts have come a long way as the multi-disciplinary, multi-skilled and multi-dimensional professionals. In this post, I will touch upon the many facets of the new-age Business Analyst and how they are adapting to the continual changes happening in the spheres of business, technology, professional and personal lives.

Emergence of the new-age BA/PO

As we discussed in the previous posts, there have been several factors that led to the emergence and evolution of the Business Analyst. The BA today moved on from just a requirements owner and a document expert and is now addressing several facets around products, processes, business and technology. Their focus still remains pretty much around the problem space, compared to the facilitation role in the solution space. The analysts identify problems, dependencies, needs and opportunities. However,  products, processes and business domains. The BAs today have been involved in scoping, release management, continuous engagement with customers and users, strategising, laying out roadmap, and working with multiple teams.  In a nutshell, the Business Analyst of the modern age is much like a leader, architect, soldier, team player…all rolled into one.

NBA_Leader.Architect.Soldier.Team Player_Texavi

Leader, architect, soldier, team player & more – the new-age BA

From being an analyst, the BA needs to transform into a leader, architect, soldier, team player and perhaps many more such roles, all rolled into one. Of course, they need not be all of these roles at the same time. The analyst today has to don one, few or all of these various roles based on the context, time, stage of implementation as befits the occasion. During the initial stages, the emphasis could be on being an architect, while during the scoping it could be that of a soldier. However, throughout the project, or initiative analysts have to keep their hat of leader and team player, no matter what stage the work is in. I touch upon the four primary facets of the new-age Business Analyst in the following paragraphs.

1. Sensible leader, not just an also-ran

You can’t talk enough about the all-imperative skill and art of analysts to work with people. They must have their hands firmly on the pulse of the different categories of people. These include the various stakeholders – direct and indirectly responsible for the product and process, from senior management all the way through to people working on the factory floor. As an able leader, the analysts must not only lead the way, but also set an example by following and working along with the team members. They should  listen actively, take steps pro-actively and be able to put in their efforts with sustainable passion, drive and commitment to achieve this shared vision and common goals.

2. Architect and a builder, not just another player

New-age business analysts must be able to look beyond the near term goals and benefits. They must have a really good and long term vision to not only lead themselves but also the team members and the organisation, at large. They must think far and beyond, using their rich experience, in-depth and specialised domain expertise. The added advantage is that these help the analysts with a “peripheral vision” around the markets, business domains, products, processes and technologies.  Besides, the new-age analyst adds great value by laying a robust roadmap that is flexible, scalable, high-performing.

3. A soldier, well-equipped and prepared

Like a soldier, who is well-equipped and well-prepared to face any kind of challenges, the new-age analyst must be prepared with all the right tools, methods and a positive attitude. The very nature and aptitude of business analysts help them to stay on the top of their game, be it at home or outside their turf. Their ability to adapt easily and quickly depending on the situation helps build on to the agility of the new-age analysts.  Analysts’ skills of being sensitive, scrupulous and open-minded, help them usable insights from ideas and actionable intelligence from information. In addition to these, the BAs try to keep ahead by addressing all possible scenarios, potential challenges and constraints, internal and external dependencies and assumptions – stated and implicit.

4. Team player, not just a one-person show

Business analysts over the ages had been looked at more as specialised consultants who come in, do their work and get out. The contribution of analysts is considered from the prism of a “support” role who comes in early in the project, find problems, specify scope and requirements and exits the scenario. However, with the advent of agile practices such as Scrum, user stories, XP, BDD and TDD being put in place, organisations are increasingly looking for analysts to be well-integrated into the development teams. The analysts today are very much an integral part of the teams and by being  participative, they contribute to the collective value delivered by the team. So, new-age analysts are equally adept at being followers and team members themselves as much as they excel at leading the teams.

I hope this post helped you understand the many dimensions, skills and demands of the new-age business analyst. We will cover more specific details on the tools, and methods for the business analyst/product owner in the upcoming posts, until then, ciao!

Agile Development, Behavior Modeling & Design, Business Analysis, Innovation, Product Development, User Analysis, User Experience, User-centered Design

Innovation, as you all know, is a very powerful concept and tool. It could be used to understand the problems and create improvements in the existing products. Innovation also helps us to create completely new solution(s) to solve the otherwise unimaginable problems. Innovation is not just restricted to the products space, but is equally effective in the improvement of services, processes or solutions.  Just a week ago, I participated in a very interesting workshop on collaboration through Innovation Games. This workshop is based on the concepts and exercises proposed by Luke Hohmann and also the GameStorming techniques by Dave Gray et al. In this post, I will touch upon the key takeaways and useful tips from the workshop. Also in this post, I will make a business case for Innovation Games and how they could be used to boost the productivity and bring about value to businesses and individuals alike.

Let’s talk innovation

Innovation would never lose the sheen and shine, despite the numerous changes in work, education, lifestyles and thinking over the last few decades.  This could be partly due to the very construct and meaning of the word, innovation intended to find out “newer, different, better” ways. But then innovation by itself is not just one tool or technique, but a collective application of a whole suite of theories, schools of thought, approaches, tools and techniques. How would you then decide which one of them. That’s where Innovation Games come in and help you choose the right technique, and bring about the right value in a quick, fun, cost-effective way.

Innovation Games_Texavi_Workshop_Items Innovation Games - at play

Innovation is collaborative product development

First off, you would need interested and motivated people who are motivated to pave way for innovation. Also important is a conducive environment to help boost the free thinking and to let the creative juices flowing. Innovation games, as the name suggests, are a fun, interactive and engaging way of bringing out the innovation and creativity among teams. These are serious games played to bring out the hidden problems, create fresh ideas and arrive at plausible solutions. Innovation games are cost-effective, quick-win tools that can be organised with very less effort and minimal preparation and planning. There is no doubt that Innovation Games provide a perfect setting for aiding innovation with supporting collaboration tools and techniques.

What are and what aren’t Innovation Games

A word of caution here…Innovation Games are not the same as gamification or the Game design that you might have come across. So, what exactly are these Innovation Games? Product in a Box, Prune the Product Tree, Speedboat, Show-and-Tell are a few popular ones. While some of these help you in convergence (idea generation), some help in shaping (structuring) and  a few others help support for divergence (prioritising and pruning). You can get more information about Innovation Games and collaborative exercises from the leading thinkers and authors in the innovation, collaboration and product development arenas. A few sources for some great inspiration are “Innovation Games : Creating Breakthrough Products Through Collaborative Play” by Luke Hohmann and “Gamestorming” by Dave Gray et al.

Innovation Games_Consultants and agile coaches

Business case for collaboration through Innovation Games

Now that you are aware that there is a great tool set for you to help in collaborative product development, let us look at the business case for using Innovation Games. In the context of an agile product development, Innovation Games certainly help bring various stakeholders, team members and customers in the same room. They do help in setting common goals and also provide a fun and interactive environment to promote innovation among teams. Another important aspect of using Innovation Games is their adeptness to not only generating ideas, but also prioritising the features and decision-making.

Innovation Games_Collaboration_Benefits

 

When and where to use Innovation Games

You might be wondering in what scenarios you can use Innovation Games and how they can help you and your teams. Well, they can be put to use when you or your business is in need of generating ideas, pruning them, prioritising the features, and understanding the problems and needs of your customers. This means that Innovation Games are a great tool in the context of product development, process improvement, creation of a solution or a service. The collaborative tool is extremely handy not only in the creation of new products, services, solutions or processes, but also in enhancing or re-engineering the existing products, processes or solutions. In short, Innovation Games are of great relevance when you want to bring together people, and create a collaborative environment to help foster innovation and creativity through focus, group dynamics, interaction and yes, most importantly a bit of fun.

Hope this post helped you in getting a grasp of Innovation Games and collaborative product development. In the future posts, I will get into further depth and discuss the details on this topic. As always, drop in with your valuable feedback and advice. Until next, ciao!

 

Agile Development, Behavior Modeling & Design, Business Analysis, Information Technology, Product Development, Requirements Development, User Experience

Ever since the role of Business Analyst came into being, they have been associated with one specific area more than anything else. That is requirements and over the last four decades or so, the words analysts and analysis  have become synonymous with requirements.  In a traditional project or product development context,one of the frequently asked questions for a Business Analyst undoubtedly  is “Where are the requirements?”. However, in the recent times of agile methodologies and lean processes, like all other roles in technology and business, BAs too have had a significant makeover. In this post, I will touch upon this transition and look at the all powerful tool kit of the new age business analysts.

Texavi_NBA_Transformation

Business Analyst as the owner of requirements 

BAs traditionally had been responsible primarily for requirements in a product development or project execution scenario. Even though the role of business analyst involves right from the pre-sales stage all the way through to the project delivery, their focus area had always been scoping and requirements areas. BAs traditionally had their mainstay contribution to the product/project starting with requirements gathering, and then specifying and documenting requirements and communicating them to the stakeholders ranging from the management to the team members and from customers to the end-users.

Not just requirements in terms of the functionality, the influence and focus areas of the analyst could well be extended to some of the adjacent areas. Besides requirements, the reach of the BA would still be restricted to the peripheral aspects such as vision, scope and roadmap for the product, system, process or business in question. BAs have been made the masters and owners of requirements. This has been the case with the various roles, forms and names of the business analyst – be it a business consultant, product specialist, functional consultant or a domain expert.

Traditional meaning and scope of requirements

 So, what exactly do I mean by requirements in the traditional sense of the business analyst’s focus? Let me clarify this very important point with some examples. Requirements traditionally meant the long list of documents that ran into hundreds and thousands of pages. Some were called as Business Requirements Documents (BRD) while some others were referred to in the eighties and nineties as System Requirements Specifications (SRS) during the time of SSAD (Structured Systems Analysis and Design) times. As we moved slowly into the software analysis and development, the focus of the BAs slowly shifted into writing Functional Requirements Specification (FRS) and Software Requirements Specification (SRS) documents. You can notice that its just a change of the name, however the perspective, work and the output of the analysts still remained the same.

NBA_Texavi_Blog_31Jan2014

New age BA goes beyond documentation

In the age and times that we now live in, virtually everyone and everything  is going digital, mobile, agile and social. Like all other professions and roles which have undergone a huge shift, BAs too have had a significant change, after a really long time. The actual transformation in the role, responsibilities and contribution of the analysts came with the introduction of agile development methodologies like SCRUM, BDD (Behaviour Driven Development) and User Stories.  As we started implementing more and more agile and lean methodologies in the businesses, products and projects, the role of the business analysts has a far reaching impact on how the end products or processes shape up.

Texavi on the NBA requirements and communication

Today’s analysts need to move beyond the realms of requirements area and become more versatile and tech-savvy. All the way from interactions with key stakeholders through to the time the product or process has been delivered, the new age BA has to actually work with the team members. Analysts have to actively engage with various people involved in the project, product, process or business context and work alongside them analyse, design, develop, deliver and continually enhance the solution. This means that the analysts have to now create various artefacts such as the product backlog, user stories, wireframes, domain models, solutions models, prototypes and test cases, to name a few. I will discuss the details  of how the new age business analyst creates and works with these more effectively, in a separate post.

Hope you found the post useful – like always, please feel free to drop in with your valuable feedback. Until next post, ciao!

 

 

Behavior Modeling & Design, Business Analysis, Events, Information Technology, Innovation, Mobile, Product Development, User Experience

Look around you and what you find everywhere being used by almost everybody is no surprise. Yes, Mobile has taken us by storm and no doubt that its one of the most happening thing in the modern age. There are positive aspects and as some say, more negative effects to this Mobile revolution. From large global technology organisations to small, local startups  jumping on the bandwagon, Mobile has indeed become a potential mega-trend of the 21st century. As Mobile is fast becoming a pervasive, persuasive and personal technology choice, you might wonder what makes the Mobile tick and wish to know about the key ingredients behind its success. In this post, I will touch upon the things that make Mobile the most sought-after medium of communication and interaction in this day and age. Also of note is, this is one of the topics at Texavi’s IMAGINEERING – INDIA, 2013 conference to be hosted in Hyderabad and Mumbai, India in Aug,2013.

The Mobile Eco-system – Sum, not just parts

First, let us try and define what Mobile really means before we get any further. Is it the phone(device), the operating system that runs in it, the network that enables it or the apps that user? Well, its not just one or the other, but all of these and much more that make up the Mobile. There is no denying of the success of the Mobile platforms and the ubiquity of the smartphones that pushed the penetration and usage of Mobile. Also, the wide range of networking and communication technologies e.g., GSM, CDMA, Edge, 3G etc. make it a compelling case for the rapid build-up and penetration. And yes, you can’t also discount the sudden impetus provided by the affordable Mobile apps. So, it’s the sum-total of all the components in the eco system that have contributed to the success of Mobile. I present this view in a graphic below to sum up the components that make up this Mobile eco-system.

TheMobileEcoSystem_Texavi

Pervasive – Anywhere, anytime…

The biggest driving factor for the success of Mobile is its ability for being pervasive. It is this anytime, anywhere, the always on and always accessible aspect of Mobile that contributed big time to its wide spread usage all over the world. The portable form factor of the device, the supporting communication networks all make it a really pervasive technology. There is no question that the powerful combination of the Mobile platform, networks, devices and apps make it virtually anytime, anywhere.Also,increasingly the ubiquitous Mobile apps have only added to the pervasive nature of Mobile. I have put together a diagram (shown below) to depict the positives, not so positives and the neutral aspects of the Mobile, as we see them today.

Mobile_Pervasive_persuasive_personal_Texavi_final

Persuasive – Why Mobile makes it compelling

From the school student to the retired grand parents, Mobile has found its place in the hands of almost everybody. It doesn’t require a certain person with specific education, work experience, technology-savviness and employment credibility to start using Mobile. The beauty of the Mobile is its appeal to one and all, irrespective of the background, potential or skills. With the later generations of the Mobile devices, improvement of the networking technology, and the availability of the applications, Mobile has picked up momentum.  Increasingly, with time and over the generations of the Mobile devices and technologies, its not getting just easy to use  for the existing users, but also easy to learn to use for the new users.

Personal and private – From possessive to hazardous

During the late 80’s the PC came in and conquered the whole world, making the computers personal. Then came the block/brick phones as I they were popularly referred to.  Slowly the Mobiles have reached far and wide across the world and now it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that some are not happy with just one Mobile at their disposal. With a wide choice of devices, platforms and networks available to the consumers, Mobile is definitely getting more personal and personalised. From details of the contacts, official and personal eMails, chats and conversations, photos and videos, Mobiles have virtually become your second personae. Aside all these positives, there is also the potential hazards to privacy and security of personal data.

Wearable Technology  – Wear it on your sleeve

Besides the personal and portable aspects of Mobile, in the last couple years, wearable technology has been placed in the same league as 3D Printing. From the much-touted smart watches to the small fitness devices which one can carry on them, there has been a surge in the wearable technologies. Move over the Bluetooth-enabled ear-pieces, Mobile phones are now acquiring a new meaning of wearability. These come in different shapes and sizes ranging from the smart watches and fitness devices such as Fitbit, Jawbone Up and Nike Fuel, wearable technology is now coming of age. Mobile is only powering this wearable technology revolution and we might see more interesting use cases in the near future.

sony-smartwatch-android-watch

As you would have noticed, what I have mentioned above is merely touching the surface and there is more to Mobile than meets the eye. To get a detailed perspective, come join us at the Texavi’s IMAGINEERING – INDIA, 2013 Conference to be hosted in Hyderabad and Mumbai in Aug, 2013. Until next post, ciao!

Agile Development, Behavior Modeling & Design, Business Analysis, Events, Information Technology, Innovation, Product Development, Social business, User Experience

Disrupt, hack, fail and lean…in case you are wondering what these are, they are the latest buzzwords in the technology industry today. No more terms with a negative tone or tinge, these once swear words are now the tech world’s definitive words to swear by. They have taken the world by storm, so no wonder businesses and individuals alike are encouraged to embrace them strongly. Rightly so, in an age of digital, mobile, agile and social times that we are living in, technology does have a profound impact on businesses and people. Change is the only constant thing, and entrepreneurship and innovation are sure ways for survival and success. In this blogpost, in a run-up to Texavi’s IMAGINEERING – INDIA,2013 conference, I will touch upon how embracing the mean and lean aspects like disruption,”fail-early-fail-often”, hacker way and being lean will separate the winners from players.

1. What are you disrupting today

Look around you and you will find disruption as the mantra behind every successful business, product, service or individual. For instance, in the technology space, the Internet and web sites and applications came and disrupted the way we work, play and talk. Google came in and disrupted the way we deal with information changing the preferred navigation mode of millions of people from browsing to searching. Apple’s iPhone and other Touch-sensitive  technologies disrupted the way we interact with phones and devices. Plastic money a.k.a credit cards came in and changed the purchase behaviours of people, which some would argue, in a negative way. With the technology powering the businesses, brace yourself for more disruption to happen in the near future. From wearable technologies to 3D printing and alternative currency, disruption is the name of the game. Disruption is not only the key differentiating factor but also the secret weapon that separates the great ones from good.

bitcoin

It is equally important if not more important, for the large well-established organisations to be disruptive as much as the small, suave start-ups. Large organisations such as Google, Apple, 3M and McDonalds continuously strive at disrupting the professional and personal lives of their customers leaving a huge impact, through their new products, services and business models. Small start-ups too are doing their bit to help disrupt the existing behaviours of consumers. Take the case of Bitcoin which is a startup wanting to disrupt the way people use currencies, although some people consider it a cheeky option. Over the last 5 years or so, Bitcoin has emerged as a new alternative for payment online. Similarly, David Fishwick’s Burnley Savings and Loans Limited has been pitched as disrupting the models of the high street banks. Yes, disruption is the name of the game today and anyone who would like to make it big in business must have the answer to the question What are you disrupting today? In fact, this is the question every business and start-up must ask for themselves, not only to survive but also make a mark in this world of cut-throat competition.

 

2. Fail fast and fail often

Failure has never been more recognised and more encouraged than now. The importance of failure was best brought out by the famous saying of Thomas Alva Edison, “I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”. Failure is the stepping stone for success and nobody who has succeeded wouldn’t have done it without ever tasting a slice of failure earlier. Behind every successful entrepreneur, you can find a string of failed initiatives and this applies equally well in the case of the technology businesses and products too. I don’t mean in any way that we all must have failure as our goal, but what is important is to be prepared for failure, often to the extent of keeping it as option A. This would help ensure that you cover all the possible scenarios. Also, when you fail, you are bound to become battle-hardened because with failure, you know what works and more importantly what doesn’t work.

Fail fast, fail often_texavi

It may seem that I am all for hailing failing, but the important bit is to recognise the need to fail early. Failing early on helps us to correct the course quicker and better. It will also help us in preparing to prevent similar instances or occurrences in the future. Failing earlier is better than failing quite later down the line, as the impact would have been lesser as also the resources required to for corrective action. Failing often is also a key step in the journey of progression and success as that shows the continuous endeavour and effort for improvement.

3. Adopt the Hacker way

Times are gone when people want to do things in a linear, bureaucratic and often long-winding manner. From venture capitalists to employers and financial markets, everyone nowadays insists on street-smart, tech savvy and ingenious attitudes on display. In a world where the boundaries between work and play are being constantly erased, what one needs is the ability to make a killing with speed, accuracy and confidence. One word to describe all of these and more is HACKER. Yes, hackers, at least in the context of IT industry, are your new battle-ready warriors who are the new age ninjas to pump up the productivity, profits and products’s successes through their shrewd, speed and solid work.

Hacking - brilliant idea

Hacking is not evil anymore, well if done with the right intent and intentions. It used to be often associated with young, smart brains turned in the wrong direction a la snooping. In the context of this post, I am referring to hacking in a slightly different skill – that of “doing” rather than relying on lengthy debates and futile processes. When Facebook went for the IPO, we got to know one of the secrets for their sustained success, which is The Hacker Way. Hacking in this sense is not about snooping, but it is the ability to quickly conceptualise, design, develop and test a product or feature quickly  and iteratively. So, there is no two ways in embracing the hacker way to deliver and turn around successful products, services and concepts quicker and more effectively.

4. Lean is in, are you ready

Building huge monoliths of businesses had been the key focus in the last few decades where power and might took precedence over everything else. Excess drive was on to build up the industrial mega-revolution making things bigger, mightier and powerful without consideration for the effectiveness, efficiency and long-term sustainability. However, as technology led from the front in the last couple years, businesses realised that its not the size and strength that matters, but efficiency and productivity on a sustainable basis. So, lean is in and started to impact various industries from manufacturing to IT. Going agile and being lean is not in processes alone, but must be replicated in people and other resources too.

Be_nimble_and_lean_TEXAVI

I shall touch upon each of these topics in greater detail in the upcoming blogposts. Please drop in with your feedback for further improvements and yes, you can also share some ideas for new topics. Have a nice time and until the next post, ciao!

 

Behavior Modeling & Design, Business Analysis, Interaction Design, Product Development, Requirements Development, User Analysis, User Experience, User Studies, User-centered Design

“There is no Average Joe Bloggs” – reads the copy on the billboard advertisement of an insurance company. I couldn’t agree more with this, especially in the context of designing and developing new products for end users. No matter how much I like Statistics, we just cannot apply it to all things in our personal and professional lives. While its good to be number-savvy, we need to balance the quantitative with qualitative aspects, to get it right. More so in the case of product design and development, the “law of averages” doesn’t quite contribute to the successful product development. We are all familiar with the concept of user profiles and personas used in the design and development of products. These help a great deal in understanding the real needs and goals of your target audience. In this post, I will dwell on why designing for average users is a misconception and how we can make use of user profiles and personas in developing successful products.

All customers are not users

This is the biggest notion among my clients that customers are well, users of the products. Not always true! The good thing is that both customers and users are both people, the similarities end there.  I think that “Customers” is a favourite term for Marketers whereas Designers and User Experience professionals connect better with the term “Users”. Customers are the people who purchase your products and services, while consumers or users use these. In some cases or well, most cases customers and consumers are the same. As in the case of some daily use products, white goods, FMCG, customers and users are the same i.e., people who buy your products use them as well. But in the case of high-end products, enterprise applications and productivity solutions, buyers could be different from consumers. For instance, office supplies, financial services, technology products like computers etc., the people who pay are different from those who suggest. These in turn are different from the people who decide and yes, the people who actually use the products or services could be completely different from the above groups.

First, know your Users

Knowing your users is the most important step in the approach to developing great products. By knowing your users, I mean to say that you must understand the goals and needs of the users. This understanding will help you in shaping your product or service, make it more suitable and appealing for the users. You can’t just create a product in thin air and then retro-fit it to the benefit of some people. As they say, the most important question in any business is asking “whose needs is the idea/concept/product going to solve?” . Texavi’s Unified Experience Framework has a whole phase dedicated to help you get to this. The “Know the Needs of your Users” phase has all the tools, techniques and technologies to ensure that we understand the real needs of the users. These are often unwritten, untold, unexpressed and even unknown to the very users. So, its a big challenge to get to the real needs of the users.

Know the Needs of the Users - Texavi Unified Experience Framework

 

User profiling holds the key

It doesn’t make sense to design and develop your products for all the people in the whole world. There is a danger of missing out on most people, as they think it doesn’t suit their specific needs and goals. Also, on the extreme end, it doesn’t make sense to design your products for one or two users. This argument lends weight for some people to think the middle path and rely on the law of averages. So, they think that the best path is to design and develop for average user. But hold on, what is an average user? How can you get to that person and define the characteristics of average user? The answer to this question lies in the user profiles and personas. User profiles are essentially the characteristic grouping of users based on various properties, traits and behaviours. This doesn’t mean that you are defining an average user. Instead, you are trying to understand the essential aspects of your users.  Using the profiles and personas helps the team to have a common language of understanding. This not only helps them in having a good picture of the end users, but also gives them a great affinity to the users, because of the name, form and physical characteristics.

UserProfiles_Personas_Design

Personas – archetypes not stereotypes

You might have heard of the term “persona” used in the context of marketing, research and product design. A persona is a representative user from amongst the group, but does not point to one user from within the group. It is a powerful design tool that helps the design and development teams and client relate to the target audience. Persona is not a stereotype of the users, but rather an archetype from the user group. In a persona, you give a form, a name and a picture to the representative users, so that all the team members and concerned people can relate to that person more effectively and easily.

Persona - Texavi example

 

Benefits of user profiles and personas

While there are many benefits of using the user profiles and personas in the product development life cycle, I list below a few of them that really stand out.

  • Understand the real users who you should target from amongst the many people in the population
  • Help prioritise the target segments within the groups of people
  • Know the real needs and goals of the target audience
  • Support in connecting and relating to the real needs of the users
  • Design, develop the products in a more practical and pragmatic manner
  • Evaluate and test the products, keeping the real users in mind
  • Minimise the effort, time and cost of development and rework

Hope you agree with me now that the average user is a myth and acknowledge the power of profiles and personas. Please keep writing in with your suggestions and comments. Till the next post, ciao!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Behavior Modeling & Design, Life, Social business, User Experience

It’s that time of the year again when we make resolutions for newer and better things. While some of us vouch to take the route of a healthier lifestyle, some others may opt to being more productive at work. New year resolutions are indeed a nice trigger for behaviour change. At an individual level, people themselves initiate changes in their behaviours, being driven by their own goals.  However, businesses also attempt to change the behaviours of their customers and users. In this post, let us look at what behaviour change really is and how to define correctly the target behaviours.

What is behaviour change

Behaviour change can be defined as acquiring new behavours, increasing or decreasing or stopping altogether the existing behaviours. It can result from the motivation to change and the simplicity in adopting the new or changed behaviours. Sometimes these behaviours, over a longer term, can result in the formation of new habits or cutting down on the current habits.

 

Habits and behaviours

Behaviour change can happen when you attempt one of the following:

  1. Do new
  2. Do different or do more of the existing
  3. Stop or do less of the existing

For instance, a change in the existing behaviour can be to wake up from bed 30 minutes earlier. Whereas a new behaviour can be to learn ice-skating, a decrease in existing behaviour can be a resolution to cut down on eating high-fat food every Thursday.

What are behaviours

It is important to understand what target behaviours are and how we can make use of them to our advantage. First, let us look at the common misconceptions and myths about behaviours. Please note that behaviours are not

  • About tasks or processes alone
  • Those that effect people in a short term
  • Always linked to the attitudes and personalities

BehaviourChange_Texavi

This brings us to the question as to what behaviours actually are. I would like to highlight the key aspects of a behaviour in the following points:

  • Can be about actions and their outcomes – personal, professional or both
  • Spread over a longer period, potentially leading to habits
  • Involve creating new ones, changing or stopping the existing ways
  • Are purely about the actions or behaviours

Defining the target behaviours – the right way!

Before you attempt to change the behaviours, an important step is defining the target behaviours and defining them correctly. When defining the behaviours ask the following questions:

  • Am I defining a behaviour, in the first place?
  • How crisp is the behaviour definition?
  • Can I make it any crispier?
  • Who are the target people for this behaviour?

An example of a good behaviour definition that I recently came across is the “Get London Reading” campaign. Launched by the Evening Standard newspaper, this campaign is aimed at increasing the literacy levels in schools. With a crisp definition of the objective, this campaign  is an example of defining the target behaviours well.

Here is how to define behaviours

After defining target behaviours, let us look at what makes a good behaviour definition. I give below a few simple rules that you might want to keep as a reference checklist:

  • Start the behavior definition with an action word/verb
  • Use simple words and terms. Eg., get, make, do etc.
  • Be brief and specific. Verbose statements don’t help anybody
  • Focus only on behaviour – leave out attitude and personality
  • Ignore the process or implementation. Aim at the end result

As they say, “Well begun is half done”, by now you have completed the most important thing in behaviour change.  After this step, we need to identify the ways and means of how we are going to achieve the target behaviours. Let us look at this topic in the upcoming post. Hope the new year 2013 brings in joy, peace and success to all of you.

Agile Development, Behavior Modeling & Design, Business Analysis, Business Case, Information Technology, Innovation, Interaction Design, Product Development, Social business, Social Technologies, User Experience, User-centered Design

This post walks you through with an overview of Texavi, what we do, who we are and where we serve. You will also get to see the core services and offerings, practices and focus areas of Texavi. With this presentation, you will know how we can help you and the benefits for you, working with us.

– Team Texavi

Behavior Modeling & Design, Business Analysis, Information Technology, Innovation, Social business, Social Technologies, User Experience

Businesses, like individuals grow over time, adjusting themselves to the changes, situations, market demands and business drivers. Organisations mature in their processes, improving continually their products, services and operations. Often the maturity happens by doing, learning and unlearning from their own experiences. However, some other times, maturity could come in through vicarious learning i.e., looking and observing at others and their ways of working. This applies equally well to the social businesses which undergo different stages of progression. Social businesses join networks, identify their goals, create and innovate content and engage people. As they mature, the focus shifts from selling their products and services to building their brand. In this post, I will first touch upon the criteria for defining a successful social business and then discuss how you can drive your social efforts with the social business engine.

Maturity levels show progress towards goals_SBMM_Texavi

1. First define the goals and success criteria  

In order to become successful, the first step is to identify and define in clear terms, what success means. The definition of “done” and the success criteria have to be specified and agreed upon well in advance. These will help the organisation, team members and also the stakeholders to understand the progress. To be able to understand whether you have reached your goals, you must first define what the goals are. For social businesses, as I mentioned in my previous posts, the goal is to become a people-focused business. This goal translates into the organisation delivering experiences instead of products and services. Success also depends on how well businesses help change the behaviours of their customers and users.

I think social businesses must focus on the following areas, to become successful.

  • Brands, not just products and services
  • People, not just customers and users
  • Experiences, not just engagement and influence
  • Habits, not just one time actions
  • Insights, not just metrics and analytics

Goals for Social Business_SBMM_Texavi

2. Identify the key drivers – People, content and business

There is no doubt that the social business engine powers your social initiative providing the direction and fuel for your social efforts. I view this engine as comprising three main components- people, content and business. The social business hinges on these 3 key components, and they are inter-related among themselves. People contribute and create engaging content, and this content leads conversations to transactions. Yes, its true that social networks are about conversations. But merely engaging people with interactive content does not help businesses become successful at social business. So, a combination of people, content and business working in tandem would help build successful social businesses. No wonder most successful social businesses have got it right with these three components of the social business engine.

Power with Social Business Engine_SBMM_Texavi

3. Invest in people, the true asset to social business

The way organisations manage their relationships with people shift from one level to another, as they get matured in the social business. The maturity on this component of the social business engine varies from being a novice at identifying the right people within their networks to actively engaging them. In the initial levels, you put the efforts in finding and connecting with the right people in the target networks. You slowly start to follow them and their activities, interact with them in different ways to create some value in the process. But as you reach higher levels of maturity, you go beyond conversations and engage them with innovative content, and encouraging them to conduct commercial transactions. This happens as there is increased level of trust and also there is a sense of give-and-take between the people and you. At the highest level is the goal to influence and delight the people, coercing them to make or break habits, to the advantage of all involved.

Here are some top tips for getting it right with people-focus. Some of these are aligned with our Unified Experience Framework.

  • Look beyond customers. Focus on People {customers, users, stakeholders, followers}
  • Follow and be followed by the right people on your networks
  • Enable people to change their behaviours
  • Synchronise people’s online and offline behaviours
  • Deliver unified experiences across multiple platforms and channels
  • Cut out the noise and care for people’s voices and heartbeats

4. Create meaningful and engaging content 

Curating, creating and innovating content is critical for the success of any social business. Curation of the content can happen when there is a value-add done by means of sharing it to relevant people and making changes to it. Social businesses can succeed when they could enhance the content and also innovate. Innovation with content can be done in many ways, based on the industry, size and nature of business. Essentially, businesses innovate when they create different types of content altogether. For instance, Apple created iBooks and gave power to small time authors who want to publish their books, quickly, easily and in a cost-effective manner. Many companies who have been traditionally printing books, started with digital publications. The content is still the same, but these companies innovated with different way of delivering it.

5. Social business goes beyond conversations

Engaging people on the networks with interesting content is key for social businesses, to start with. Also, encouraging people to be involved in meaningful conversations aligned to the business interests of the organisation is critical too. However, as the business matures, the focus needs to be to interactions leading to commercial transactions. Otherwise there is not much of a value-add for the business to be on the social networks. You should start to motivate people to do online transactions, review your products, recommend of their friends so that they become your customers too.

Hope you find the above points helpful in building your social business. As always, please feel free to drop in with your comments and suggestions. Until next post, ciao!

 

Behavior Modeling & Design, Business Analysis, Information Technology, Innovation, Product Development, Social business, Social Technologies, User Experience

A few days ago, I was thinking about what separates the great organisations from the good ones.  I tried to connect a few successful companies with the secrets behind their success. Here is a small question for you to get thinking on this..what is common to Google, Apple and simple? Of course the letters LE, but the prize goes to the correct answer, “their commitment to make people happy”. Google and Apple have positioned themselves as people-focused firms, creating innovative products and services that not only work for people but also delight them. They have established a clear differentiation based on delighting their customers, stakeholders and followers with simple and easy to use products and services. In this post, let us learn how any organisation which aims to become a social business, needs to focus on ‘the people’ to be successful.

Focus on people – Make them happy

Businesses traditionally have been focusing on people  in one form or the other. Every organisation works hard to keep their customers happy as that would guarantee their existence. Some businesses focus on keeping their employees satisfied with good facilities, pay and perks.These companies think that happy employees lead to higher productivity and thereby better results. A few large organisations with deep pockets can afford to keep not only their customers and employees  happy, but also extend their reach to the stakeholders like shareholders and suppliers.  However, a social business needs to do all the above and a bit extra as well. Let us see in the next section what social businesses need to do to get it right.

Social Businesses focus on People

Social business – Internal and external people

Social businesses have to optimise their business strategies, operations and resources towards the ‘people’. The people here means those who are both ‘internal’ as well as ‘external’ to the organisation. Internal people are the employees and other key stakeholders such as the management, sponsors and the shareholders. They are critical to the success of any initiative as everything starts with them, from the business vision to strategy, from planning to execution and delivery. External people refers to the customers and suppliers. However, in the context of social business, the list doesn’t end here. These external people include the followers, friends and fans on social and professional networks. Social businesses succeed by putting the people’s interests first beyond anything. Their business objectives and bottom lines are all dependent on their people-focus. Social businesses have to ensure that both the internal and external people are happy.Here is how they can achieve this. :

  • Involve, encourage and empower the right teams
  • Find, connect and follow the right people
  • Educate, influence and engage your followers

In the following sections, let us see how the organisations can become effective following the above rules.

Involve, encourage and empower the right teams

Teams make or break your organisations initiatives and attempts for successful campaigns. Great teams often are one of the biggest success factors behind great social businesses. You need to involve the team members from the very beginning so that they none of the team members feel left out. Also, this would help build ownership in them and increases their responsibility. Encourage and motivate the team members to start delivering towards the goals of social business. Empower them to take decisions on their own, try new things and implement their ideas. No matter if the ideas are bad or good, let the team work on those ideas and realise the efficacy of these ideas, on their own. Empowering the teams enables the team to own up the social business initiative and deliver activities and succeed, all by themselves.

For successful social business, empower the team and allow them to:

  1. Estimate the efforts and timelines
  2. Come up with the plan
  3. Commit and agree upon the plans
  4. Deliver on the plans
  5. Bring out the problems, if any, during the execution

Find, Connect and follow the right people

Whereas the teams working on your social business are internal to your organisation, you also need to look outside of your business. These are customers, suppliers and others, speaking of traditional businesses. Often in the context of social business, this extends to those people in your social and professional networks. Follow these simple rules to follow the right people on your social and professional networks.
  1. Define the profiles of the people who fit your business requirements
  2. Create a persona with the demographics and psychographics
  3. Search, browse and look out for the people fitting in the persona
  4. Connect to these people and follow their activities on networks
  5. Interact with them by liking and favouriting their content
  6. Engage with the people by sharing their content across networks
FindConnectFollowandInteractWithTheRightPeople

Educate, engage and influence your followers

Following people on the social and professional networks, interacting with with them and sharing their content is one thing. It is quite another level to get people to follow you. Even harder is to engage people consistently with content that they are interested in. Of course, the most difficult step in the social engagement is to be able to influence your followers, friends and fans positively and increase their trust in you and your brand. The starting point for all of these accomplishments is to start sharing content which aligns with the interests of your followers. Make it worthy of their likes, and encourage them to comment upon and share it with others in their network. Influence your followers

Given below are some useful tips to help you with engaging your audience and influencing them.

  1. Identify the target audience from amongst your followers, friends and fans on networks
  2. Understand their interests and focus areas
  3. Align your campaigns and content to be aligned with their interests
  4. Interact with them, encourage people to like your content and share it
  5. Reach out to friends of friends (FoF) and widen your network reach
  6. Influence your followers to trust your brand and make them your ambassadors

Hope you find the above suggestions helpful in your social business efforts. As always, please let me know your views for improving this blog. Until next post, Ciao!