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!

 

 

Agile Development, Business Analysis, Information Technology, Product Development, Social business, User Experience

In an age of rapid changes in the business, technology and lifestyles, organisations and individuals alike have to be adaptive. Business Analysts are not an exception to this much alike the other professionals. What does it take to be a modern day business analyst. Is it just the logical thinking, sound communication skills, good domain knowledge? Yes, these are all necessary but not sufficient. The modern day business analysts have to be agile, suave and tech savvy. They need to be adaptive and quick to embrace change, not just to survive but to succeed. In this post, we will look at what it takes to be a successful business analyst in this new-age of digital, mobile, agile and social times.

Transformation of business analysis in the new-age

Business analysis today is less of writing requirements in long documents and more of working with the design and development team. Its about owning the product roadmap, business strategy and/or the organisational processes. Gone are the days of writing up functional specifications documents running into hundreds and thousands of pages, spending months and years. Its the time for them to be agile and lean, and move on from being traditional verbose document writers. So business analysts today have to write user stories, create wireframes and mockups, model problems and solutions, validate and test the functionality.  They must be open to change and pro-actively understand the impact of changes on business, technology, products and people.

NBA_platform_Definition_Framework

Business analysis is changing and how

From a traditional perspective,  BAs needed to be good with communication skills. They were positioned as domain experts and to some extent looked up as product specialists. Some analysts have been positioned as specialists in business process management. However, in the last few years, business analysts have moved on from mere requirements owners to product/process owners. With the extensive use of agile practices, business analysts too emerged as the change management experts. In this digital, mobile, agile and social age, the focus of business analyst has shifted to user stories, customers and users engagement, stakeholder management, modeling domain, problems and solutions. In short, the modern day business analyst is versatile, cross-disciplined, tech-savvy, agile  and a team-working professional.

NBA_platform_BusinessAnalysis_New_Age

The new-age Business Analyst’s toolset

I give below a diagrammatic representation of the toolset for the modern day business analysts. This provides a snapshot of the fundamental set of skills and knowledge that power the BAs today.

NBA_BA_Skills-and-knowledge_Toolset

Alongside the mainstream skills, the business analyst needs to be a master of communication and leadership skills. From interacting with the key stakeholders, engaging with customers and users, and working alongside the team members, business analysts must have excellent “people skills”.  Also, technology has been playing a key role in the design, development and delivery of products and services today. So, needless to say that the business analysts today have to be aware of the technologies, platforms and the application of these technologies to business context. I don’t however see that the business analysts have to be experts in technology but then they must be able to use technical applications, tools and methods to understand problems and help create solutions. Also, the new-age BAs have to be creative and be equally good with the right brain as much as they are comfortable with the data and analytics.

Hope you find this post useful – as always, please feel free to get back with your review comments and helpful feedback. On behalf of Team Texavi, I wish you and your loved ones a very Happy New Year, 2014! May your personal and professional lives be filled with joy, prosperity and success! Until next post, ciao!

         

 

 

Agile Development, Business Analysis, Conference, Events, Information Technology, Innovation, Mobile, Product Development, Social business, User Experience

It’s with pride and happiness I wish to share with you that recently Team Texavi successfully hosted Texavi’s IMAGINEERING – INDIA, 2013 Conference. Held in two cities Hyderabad and Mumbai, during the last week of August, the events were a huge hit among the IT community.   The conference had a good participation from the practising and aspiring IT professionals who made it happen. Thanks to the enthusiastic participation of delegates and speakers, the conference in both cities had turned out as a big hit among the community. I salute the untiring efforts of  Team Texavi in putting together such fantastic events which many people hoped to be held every year . In this blogpost, I give a snapshot of the conference for the benefit of those who could not attend and also for those who participated. Hope this would help you all understand the magic behind this memorable event called Texavi’s IMAGINEERING – INDIA, 2013 Conference.

What’s special with Texavi’s IMAGINEERING

If you ask me the formula for the successful hosting of Texavi’s IMAGINEERING – INDIA, 2013 conference, it’s the PEOPLE that made it happen. Yes, right from the word go, Team Texavi had put in their brain power at work and ensured that the right topics were selected to ensure maximum interests among the audience. Next to contribute majorly were the speakers who are industry-leading thinkers and professionals. These are not just people who talk, but who are thought-leaders and those who actually put their ideas to work. Bringing this unique set of people who are hands-on lent practicality and workmanship to the focus areas. Through the talks, panel discussions, interactive Q & A sessions, these speakers brought out the best for the benefit of participants. And last but not the least, the prize also goes to participants from different organisations who made it to the event, despite it being a Friday. They all took an active part in the proceedings of the event and needless to say contributed to the success of the conference.

Texavi IMAGINEERING Conference_1 IMG_3803Dr.Rajeev_Srinivasa

What happened at IMAGINEERING 2013 Conference

The theme of the conference was very topical and relevant to the current times – “Technology trends, challenges and opportunities in the times of Digital. Mobile. Agile. Social“. The talks, special sessions, panel discussions and interactive sessions revolved around this topic with varied flavours. Ranging from the mundane Social media aspects to the raging hot theme of today’s technology world, Mobile platforms and applications, the conference had covered all the bases. The Keynote address by Dr. Rajeev Srinivasa rightly brought out the nuances and guidelines for embracing the good things around in Technology, highlighting the challenges involved. Dr. Srinivasa very eloquently touched upon the finer yet very practical aspects relevant for the IT community. A case in point is the importance of knowing the business aspects alongside the application of technology, for successfully delivering technology products and applications, today. Towards the end of the conference, everyone in the hall left with a firm belief that Technology and Business are two sides of the coin and that one can’t live without the other.

For all the action as it happened, you can watch the videos of the Conference, by clicking on the links below:

Interactive and engaging panel discussions

The keynote was followed by a very engaging panel discussion comprising some very competent and experienced professionals from the IT industry. The discussion for the panel was the topic “What’s the next BIG Thing”, which they ably covered sometimes hovering around, while other times diving deep into the key aspects. The panelists drew examples, business cases and insights from their own experiences to weigh in their points and delegates couldn’t have enough of the nectarine knowledge being shared with them. Sprinkled with generous doses of tips, tools, techniques and methodologies, the discussions threw light on important areas for the participants to take in all they could. The floor was opened for questions from the participants and it got so engaging that the session was brought to a halt by the time keepers. Texavi_IMAGINEERING_Panel_discussion_1 Audience participation at Texavi IMAGINEERING 2013

IMAGINEERING,2013 – A conference with a difference

Perhaps no other conference can boast of the unique feature that Texavi’s IMAGINEERING had – that of the focus on careers and professional development. Besides running as a deep undercurrent of all the items on the agenda, there were special sessions catered for the careers advancement and professional development of the IT community. Mukund Sathe’s engrossing talk on the IT industry’s trends and challenges struck the right chords with participants. Mukund’s talk was full of insights, ideas and recommended solutions and went beyond just highlighting the problems. Towards the end, participants with their questions and views made the talk even more insightful.  Not just that but also the careers talk from Texavi’s Niroop Racha was a huge hit among the audience. It started off as a solo talk but drawing audience’s participation, it slowly turned into a very engaging exercise. Delegates jumped in with their experiences, views and added the much needed “E flavour” to the conference. The E here stands for “Engagement” and “Entertainment” too, as it turned out that Texavi’s IMAGINEERING – INDIA, 2013 had no dearth of learning, sharing and fun.

Please check out the Presentations used during the Texavi’s IMAGINEERING, 2013 conference by clicking on the links below:

Hope you enjoyed reading the post. Please feel free to drop in with your valuable feedback as always. Till next time, have a nice time, 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, Business Analysis, Conference, Events, Information Technology, Innovation, Mobile, Product Development, Social Technologies, User Experience, User-centered Design

I am both happy and proud to announce the launch of Texavi’s IMAGINEERING conference. As part of the IMAGINEERING series of events, Team Texavi is hosting the IMAGINEERING – INDIA, 2013 conferences in India. The theme for this year’s event is Technology trends, challenges and opportunities in the times of Digital. Mobile. Agile. Social. The conference will have talks, panel discussions, special sessions, exercises, activities, fun and more. We have got a great lineup of eminent speakers on our elite panel, leaders who have been there, done that in the IT industry. This year, we are hosting the conference in Hyderabad on Friday, 23rd Aug,2013 and in Mumbai on Friday, 30th Aug 2013. In this blogpost, I will touch upon the motivation and bring into fore a few facts about the upcoming Texavi’s IMAGINEERING – INDIA, 2013 conference. Hope these will help in making a strong case and encourage you to be part of the event.

1. What is this conference all about

Texavi's IMAGINEERING - Main Theme

The IMAGINEERING – INDIA, 2013 is a conference for the  IT community organised by the IT community. It focuses on the topics and issues  that matter for IT professionals. The theme of the conference this year is Technology trends, challenges and opportunities in the times of Digital. Mobile. Agile. Social. We are living in an ever-changing world full of digitised and increasingly portable solutions. As they say change is the only constant thing, now more than ever, we have a need to be prepared, respond and manage change in a more effective and efficient manner. And then there is no denying that going social (and using the popular social and professional networks) is not an option anymore, for businesses and individuals too. So, it can safely be argued that the IMAGINEERING conference dwells on the most important, current and pertinent topics and issues for the IT community.

2. Theme and focus areas

With environment-friendly, cost-effective and accessible solutions, the digital, mobile, agile and social solutions are having a significant impact on the way we live, work and relate to each other. They help shape up and make us better equipped to face the ever-changing world. However,alongside the opportunities and benefits, these also bring forth numerous challenges in the form of intrusion into privacy, potential risks to health, hazards to the future generations of humankind and the long term impact on the sustainability of our Planet Earth. There is no better time and place to pause and ponder about these, than at the IMAGINEERING – INDIA, 2013 conference.

 

Texavi_IMAGINEERING_Themes

 

3. Who is the IMAGINEERING conference for

Texavi’s IMAGINEERING  – INDIA, 2013 is a compelling platform targeted for all the experienced, young and aspiring IT professionals in India. From the core IT workforce i.e., developers, analysts, designers and testers to the managers of projects, products and processes, IMAGINEERING 2013 caters to the needs and goals of the Indian IT professionals. The conference has everything you needed and more…from speeches by leaders to panel discussions, from career camps to contests, from interactive exercises to fun games and from useful insights and snippets to great takeaways. With all these interesting and useful programmes, rest assured the IMAGINEERING – INDIA, 2013 conference packs quite a punch!

Texavi's IMAGINEERING - Who should attend

 

4. What makes IMAGINEERING – INDIA, 2013 so compelling

There are a host of things that makes the IMAGINEERING – INDIA, 2013 conference unmissable for the IT professionals. Great line-up of speakers, fantastic panels formed of eminent and prominent IT professionals, current and topical themes are just a few reasons urging you to be there. Besides these, we have planned some really cool, interactive,  informational and entertaining programmes to keep the participants engaged and glued to their seats. Alongside the physical takeaways of swag bags filled with usable goodies, the participants will have great insights and ideas to take away, relish and cherish even long after the event. The conferences will be hosted at centrally located and accessible venues with state-of-the-art facilities. Also, the registration process is kept really simple and straight-forward so that you join us quickly and without any fuss. And last but not the least, the ticket price is kept very competitive so that we get as many people as possible. These are but a few good reasons for you to sign-up for the event, at the earliest.

5. A glimpse at the programme

I am giving below a peep into the package and coverage of the conference. Of course, this is neither full nor final but it’s enough to give you an idea of what the IMAGINEERING – INDIA, 2013 will have. Needless to say, the event is packed with the right mix of programmes, topics and people to offer the participants an enriching and rewarding experience. These are all presented in interesting and engaging formats ranging from talks, panel discussions, exercises, games and fun activities. The whole event is focused on IT professionals and so obviously we have quite a few programmes on the careers such as job hunting support and career camps. I mention here a few topics that we have already identified that form the crux of the IMAGINEERING – INDIA, 2013 conference.

  • What’s the next BIG thing? Advantage IT! A peep into the future of technology and technologies of future!
  • Pervasive, persuasive and personal! How mobile devices and apps are shaping up our world!
  • It’s a connected, changing and shrinking world! Blending technology, people and business for success!
  • Past Perfect. Present Tense. Future­­ ??? Trends, challenges and opportunities in the IT industry
  • Designed in India. Made in the USA! Paradigm shifts impacting the IT industry and community
  • From Promise to Profit! Prioritising is key with the 3 PROs – Products, processes and projects!

Hope this post helps in setting the stage for the upcoming IMAGINEERING – INDIA, 2013 conference. Keep a watch on this blog for more interesting and insightful posts on the themes, topics and focus areas of the event. Until next post, ciao!

 

 

 

 

 

Agile Development, Business Analysis, Conference, Events, Information Technology, Innovation, Mobile, Social business, Social Technologies, User Experience, User-centered Design

I have this question constantly coming back to me and kept playing in my mind time and again. What makes a great product? What is it that creates successful brand, organisation or an individual? After thinking about it from all possible experiences and view points, I finally came to a conclusion. The answer came to my mind when I applied myself to various scenarios, situations,industries and domains. Yes, I found the answer!!! It is balance. I would like to use this connotation of balance to bring forth the importance of IMAGINEERING in our professional and personal lives. In this post, I wish to bring to you the meaning and potential of IMAGINEERING, as a run-up to Texavi’s upcoming conference IMAGINEERING – INDIA, 2013 in August this year.

Imagination is a natural instinct

They say that “Imagination takes you everywhere!”, how true! Yes, with the very mind that we have we can create and weave bundles of thoughts. These indeed can take us places and sitting in London, we can go to Miami or Mumbai. Of course, this same imagination makes us travel across time as well, from the present to the past and lets us dream peep into the  future too, in the form of dreams. This greatest power especially found in abundance in young children, is responsible to make us curious, enthusiastic, inquisitive and exciting. This adds the much-needed zing to our lives, which otherwise gets mundane and monotonous. Though not entirely related, imagination could be mapped to the emotional part of the human instincts.

Logic is critical for growth

But then the next question could be “is imagination everything that you  need?”. Well, the answer to this question is a resounding “NO”. It is important to have imagination, but its not just enough. We need logic to back up the emotional appeal, analysis should be the engine that should drive the vehicle forward. Intellect powers the development of human beings and it is the constant churning of WHY and HOW that leads us in the right path to reach the right goal quickly. Its logic that lends support to the otherwise fragile and weak facade of imagination. I would even say that logic and analytical bent of mind provides the string and controls the high-flying kite of imagination.

Imagineering – the true meaning

Having looked at both imagination and logic, by now you would agree with me that we need to make the best of both worlds. To get it right with anything in the world, from building a product to a creating a powerful brand, and from taking an individual from good to great, we need to strike the right balance between balance between imagination and engineering. In the context of developing successful products and services, imagineering, as I refer to it, could be the powerful combination of technology and business.  Whereas in the case of building a brand, balance should be between identity and image of that brand. And in the case of an individual’s personality development, what helps the most is the right balance between left and right brains, or rather harmony between heart and mind.

Why is Imagineering powerful

Simply put, if we take a case of a problem and solution, we need to balance imagination with engineering and that’s what I would refer to as Imagineering, a powerful combination of creativity and logic. I didn’t coin this term though, but found out that this terms was copyrighted by Disney. What one needs today in the world of me-too products is the clear differentiation whose value-add can be clearly seen by your customers and users. While both are equally important to create any product or solution, sometimes Imagination precedes Engineering while in other times vice-versa. What is more important and more prioritised between the two of these, depends on the factors like…

  • Stage in the life cycle
  • Availability of resources
  • Personality and/or mental makeup of the people concerned
  • Business drivers

Digital. Mobile.Agile.Social times

There have been umpteen instances in our careers and personal lives, where the digital, mobile, agile and social aspects have been influencing us either directly or indirectly. These are playing a significant role in the way we live, work, interact, connect and communicate with our customers, family members, friends and followers. I penned my thoughts, views and ideas about the web of influence these 4 themes have on our lives. The diagram below depicts in a sense the various meanings, influences, challenges and opportunities posed by the quartet of Digital, Mobile,Agile and Social.

Texavi's IMAGINEERING conf theme

 

Texavi’s IMAGINEERING – INDIA, 2013 Conference

I take this opportunity to announce Texavi’s conference IMAGINEERING – INDIA, 2013. The theme for this year’s conference is “Technology trends, challenges and opportunities in the times of Digital. Mobile. Agile. Social”. We have good 3 months for the conference, but Team Texavi have started the planning and preparations are in full swing. We have a fantastic lineup of speakers for the conference, and the agenda has been shaping up  pretty nice. I will share more details on the IMAGINEERING – INDIA, 2013 conference in the coming days. As a teaser, I present to you the logo of the IMAGINEERING – INDIA,2013 conference. This logo is the result of the hard work by the team, putting their mind, heart, and soul into creating something splendid and I must say the outcome has been a pleasing experience.

Texavi IMAGINEERING-INDIA, 2013 Conference Logo

 

As a run up to the Texavi’s IMAGINEERING – INDIA,2013 conference, I will be writing more posts in the next few weeks. Watch out for more details not just on the conference, but also around the related themes and perhaps some guest posts too. As always, keep writing and share your feedback. Till next time, 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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Agile Development, Information Technology, Product Development, User Experience, User-centered Design

Today our lives revolve around the mobile, agile and social aspects that have global appeal along with local flavours. Their impact factors  could be attributed to the surge in various platforms, channels and devices that we use for both professional and personal lives. The PCs of the 90s are now complemented with the handy Smart Phones, ubiquitous Tablets and numerous trendy gadgets. Post (Snail mail) is giving way to Email, which in turn is waning in popularity compared to chatting, texting and gaming. There has been a massive shift in the roles of technology, business, products and services. Nowadays, there is one thing on the top of mind for clients, product designers and developers. No prizes for guessing the answer…Responsive Design! How can we deliver similar, if not identical experiences to our customers and users, despite the varied number and nature of the things around us? In this post, I will touch upon Responsive Design, as I see it in the light of delivering consistent and unified experiences.

The case for Responsive Design

Let us try and look at this from a technology perspective, especially computing technology at that. Till the late 90’s we were all familiar with the PC as an alternative to the manual operations. Back then there were only 3 major types – Windows, Mac and the more Open Source flavour – Unix. Applications and programmes had to be written specifically for 2 major mainstream platforms – Windows and Mac. Since the execution of the programmes depended completely on the underlying Operating System (O.S.), these had to be written and deployed specifically for these two platforms separately and explicitly. However with the advent of Java programming language, came the paradigm shift – “Write once, run anywhere”. In the early years of 21st century, Microsoft aggressively pushed its Dot Net platform and associated languages such as C-sharp. Both these were successful in ensuring the universal delivery and adoption of programmes and applications that were platform-agnostic.

The problem of plenty

New Technologies, same old problems

When the PC domination was waning, the cross-platform problem only got aggravated in exponential proportions. Thanks to the explosive usage of laptops in the early part of the 21st century, computing has gone mobile and portable. But this didn’t create many problems to the application and technology product vendors. Largely it was only the foot-print or size of the application that got impacted due to the new addition to the PCs. Following some other innovations in the programming and scripting languages, developers had some respite from grappling with re-writing massive applications to suit for multiple platforms. But it didn’t solve the problem completely. It only took a new shape with the onset of different browsers and their versions, numerous sizes, resolutions and vendors.

Solution to “the problem of plenty”

The good old sayings – “Variety is the spice of life” and “More the merrier” are applicable to most business scenarios and our own lives. However, with the advent of Internet and adoption of Smart Phones and Tablets, customers and consumers today are faced with the “problem of plenty”. This can be witnessed in the exponentially increasing numbers, varieties and ranges of platforms, operating systems, channels and devices. These are all increasing at such an alarming rate that often customers are pushed to the brink of confusion, chaos and frustration. But don’t lose your heart yet, there is a good news – the effective solution for these problems is a comprehensive  methodology  that comprises the approach, tools, techniques and resources. You can now analyse, design,develop, deliver and support solutions, products, applications for multiple platforms, channels, devices and browsers. In the following sections, we will look at how we can approach Responsive Design through the Unified Experience framework.

What is Responsive Design really

Design, by definition needs to meet the needs of the user in the right place, right time and right manner, of course, for the right users. Essentially, it is about creating products, applications and services that work and look the same across all systems, platforms and devices. While there are lot of definitions for Responsive Design, I would define it simply as designing, developing and delivering “Unified Experience“. Whether it is a product or service, the objective for product vendors is to deliver consistent, panoramic and unified experiences to their customers and users. Irrespective of the platforms, devices, underlying operating systems, numerous channels.

Responsive Design is Unified Experience

What makes a Design, Responsive Design

In the context of technology and programming, there had been a perennial debate on graceful degradation versus progressive enhancement.  Despite the growing number of platforms, operating systems and devices, users want consistent experience. This consistent experience can be delivered only when you take care of the underlying navigation, content, presentation, functionality and interactions. Don’t forget that the customers and users are the same, their profiles and personas are not varying across the different platforms or devices. The first step in this approach is to identify, specify and communicate clearly the problems, opportunities and needs. Then the the conception, conceptualisation and implementation of suitable solution will follow through smoothly and in a structured manner.

How to create Responsive Design – Tips & tricks

I give below a few guidelines to get it right with minimal rework, redesign and repurposing. When implemented initially in the development cycle of any product or application, these would help achieve the responsive design and offer optimal experience to your users.

  • Think ahead, far and wide
  • Build eco-systems not just stand-alone products and tools
  • Consider all possible options – short term, medium term and long term
  • Go beyond technologies, assess real business needs and goals
  • Use minimally the platform-specific services and components

Hope you got some insights about Responsive Design that you can take away and implement practically. Love to hear from you on how we can improve the Blog. Until next time, ciao and yes, Happy Easter!

 

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

Information Technology, Innovation, Social business, Social Technologies, User Experience

Thanks to the social media, businesses are now relying on the social channels besides the mainstream media. Apart from having a web presence, companies are now having their presence on social and professional networks. Because of this, there are more networks, more people and more content getting shared. As highlighted in my earlier posts, social business is not an option for organisations now. Businesses have now acquired thousands of followers, friends and fans on the social networks. But these numbers fail to indicate the true success of a social business. What then are the true indicators for the progress in a social business journey? Our Social Business Maturity Model helps! With the Key Progress Indicators (KPIs), you can easily assess the progress and measure your success. In this post, let us look at these KPIs and how they offer insights into the social business performance.

Measures and metrics in mainstream media

I would prefer to call traditional, digital and online media together as mainstream media. These incude print channels such as magazines,newspapers, electronic media including television and radio, web channels like web sites and web applications. As the saying goes, “measure it to manage it”, people have been measuring the progress of the effectiveness using these mainstream media. Measures and metrics like sales per region and ROI have become standard across industries. However, going by the current trends, their usage is limited and cannot be relied upon to judge the impact across all channels of the business. The following are some of the popular numbers, which are still helpful to get some understanding about the performance on the specific channels.

  • Sales per region – all
  • Number of impressions – newspapers and magazines
  • Number of footfalls – Physical stores and shops
  • TRPs – Television
  • Conversion rates – Web sites
  • Page views – Web sites

Social media brings new measures for businesses

Besides the above, social businesses now have newer measures added to manage, track and measure the social efforts. Since social networks are mainly focused on people and content aspects, businesses are engaged in connecting and following people and viewing, sharing and creating content. Alongside these activities, advertisements in Facebook, YouTube etc., help businesses generate leads and enable online transactions, smoothly. In line with the activities and social engagements, the newer social measures and metrics emerged that would help track these activities. These ranged from the simple measures like number of followers to more complex metrics like influence score and engagement score. However, these numbers alone are not helpful to see the activities on social networks and the results therefrom, in silos. They are not of much use in getting the big picture for social business. Our Social Business Maturity Model and the associated KPIs surely give a better visibility on the activities and results.

Social measures, metrics and analytics

According to the Social Business Maturity Model, there are 3 key areas that offer insight into how the social efforts are performing. These are the people, content and business. Within each of these 3 areas, there are measures, analytics and social business insights. The measures add up to the metrics and they in turn contribute to generate the usable insights.

  • Social measures
  • Metrics and analytics
  • Social business insights

Social Metrics - FocusAreas -SBMM - Texavi

Social measures are pure numbers that are straightforward and do not depend on other measures. These are expressed typically in numbers, averages and time taken to perform an action. Examples for social measures are number of followers, views, likes, shares, votes etc. Metrics and analytics, on the other hand are derived from the social measures.  For instance, influence score, engagement score and network reach are some of the popular analytics that we track and analyse for understanding the user behaviours, content quality and campaign’s performance. Social business insight is the overarching measure that would help understand the effectiveness of a campaign or series of activities on the social networks. Total value per action, for example is one such social business insight that is derived from the metrics and analytics.

Social Business KPIs

In the Social Business Maturity Model, the Social Business KPIs offer the true insights about the performance, progress and success of the social business efforts. While most of them are quantitative, a few of them are based on the qualitative aspects. These are derived from the social metrics and analytics. And metrics in turn, are computed based the social measures. A case in point is the analytic ‘network reach’ is dependent on the social measures – no. of followers in the networks, no. of new followers added in the last week, no. of FoF (friends of friends) etc. This analytic network reach however is not complete in itself and cannot be a great business value. So, we have a KPI called Total Value per Action (TVA) which is derived from other related analytics like the influence score, engagement score, number of leads generated from the advertisement, number of transactions triggered etc.

The following diagram shows how an insight, total value per action, is derived from the associated metrics and social measures.

TVA - Social business insight -SBMM -Texavi

 

Hope you find this post on the social business insights helpful. Please feel free to drop your comments and feedback. Until next post, ciao!