As Technology Becomes More Complex, Design Becomes More Important

July 1, 2013


Business is supposed to be all about applying hard, that is, quantitative, analytical approaches to management. What then do we mean by bringing seemingly soft topics like design and creativity to business and why is it so important in today’s world?

The preceding quote is from the latest “DFS Learning e-Blast” article, As Technology Becomes More Complex, Design Becomes More Important, by Irving Wladawsky-Berger.

In this April 16, 2012 article on the CIO Journal area of the WSJ website, the author discusses the increasingly important role design, vs. just technology, plays in dealing with an ever more complex, volatile and uncertain world, by utilizing human, holistic methods.

More from the article:

Advances in technology–faster, more powerful, less expensive–are concrete and visible. Design is subtle, more subjective, more open to human interpretation. But, as our increasingly advanced technologies enable us to build larger, more capable, more complex systems, the role of design becomes ever more important. It is the only way to ensure that our technologies will help us deal with our increasingly hectic lives.

Read the short article to learn more!

Mike Osorio, your Dare to be Contagious™ strategist

What do you think?  Please add your comments to join the discussion!

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The New….oops?

September 20, 2011


New – 09-13-2011

September 13, 2011

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from StorefrontBacktalk, a site tracking retail technology, e-commerce and mobile commerce.

When Target’s development team launched the new on August 23 after two years of development, it must have felt like a dream come true. But it wasn’t — at least not for customers who discovered that big chunks of the new site didn’t work at all, and almost nothing worked as well as the site they’d seen a day or two before.

Why? What went wrong? Actually, not much, from the point of view of experienced developers. Naturally the site had glitches — that’s to be expected.

Target decided to end its arrangement with Amazon two years ago — and that meant it had a completely blank slate to start from in creating a new site. Most e-commerce execs would love that opportunity to shed all the legacy code, the decade or so of kludges, workarounds and hacks that make it so difficult to do anything really innovative. All that old junk makes new approaches next to impossible.

But the downside is that there was also no legacy code that worked. If a new feature was too buggy, there was no old version to fall back on.

Target’s developers figured that was OK. The site would go live, they’d work the kinks out as quickly as possible, soon there would be all sorts of great new stuff built on the wonderful infrastructure that was still invisible on opening day, and everyone would understand — right?

No. Customers neither knew nor cared that the new website was the product of two years of loving development and was bound to have a few hiccups at first. It didn’t matter to them that Target had to build from scratch or that all sorts of wonderful new features would be coming once the site was stable.

All that customers saw was that their passwords, which worked fine on Monday, didn’t work on Tuesday. They couldn’t edit their wedding registry lists. They could no longer track orders they had paid for a day or two before. The weekly newspaper ad wasn’t showing up; neither were coupons. A large digital countdown clock on the homepage (an extremely long homepage) warned that today’s Daily Deals would end in so many hours, minutes and seconds — but the link went nowhere.

In fact, lots of the links were dead ends, delivering customers to very pretty error pages featuring Target’s mascot dog. (There’s a downside to using pictures of a dog mascot all over your site, including error pages: at a certain point, customers are likely to start really hating the sight of that little dog.)

No doubt all of that will soon be fixed. Much of the site was working far better the following day. But it will take a lot longer before customers feel like the new site is as good as the old one — which, of course, means better than the old one.

Discussion questions:  Do you think Target bungled its new website launch? What’s the best way to prepare and reassure customers for likely problems encountered as part of such overhauls?

My post:

Well it is now 11:30pm East Coast time and the site appears to be mostly working.  It was down when I first tried and then came up 10 minutes later with everything functioning except the “daily ad” link.

The comments above are accurate:

1.  “Glitches” are certainly failures, and

2.  The customer will not hold this against Target.

It is, however, a significant embarrassment to the IT team and should be a cause for concern for senior leadership.

Overall I like the design of the new site and think the situation will be forgotten by tomorrow – as long as it continues to function!

Mike Osorio, your Dare to be Contagious! ™ strategist

What do you think?  Please add your comments and add to the discussion!

Go to the full discussion at  New Target.Com


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Retailers seek to keep up with consumers on mobile devices

July 27, 2011


Mobility Survey from RSR Research 07-26-2011

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of an article from Retail Paradox, Retail Systems Research’s weekly analysis on emerging issues facing retailers.

The other day, on one of the many technology solution briefing calls we had, one of the technologists we were speaking with said something very interesting. His company is aiming to bring a solution to market that enables retailers to get ahead of consumers using mobile devices — a highly relevant goal for the times. To emphasize the need for such technologies, he asked us if we could think of a few case studies where retailers have had mobile “happen to them,” without much control of how mobility is being used in the shopping experience. My partner Paula Rosenblum’s response was perfect: “All of them!”

The retail respondents in our brand new mobile survey agree. Of the 60 qualified retailers who’ve responded so far, only six percent are happy with the results of their mobile offering to date. In fact, 49 percent are currently in the process of selecting the right components for their mobile offering as we speak, and 91 percent say that they “need to be there” right now due to the fact that consumers are using mobility as part of their everyday shopping routine.

But 77 percent agree that the true impact of mobile and its best uses are still not fleshed out. Retailers are hungry for practical, intuitive mobility solutions, and many more are willing to experiment than even we could have predicted. In three years’ time, 50 percent of our early respondents anticipate that slightly more of their total sales will come from the mobile channel — another 42 percent say it will be significantly more. These numbers represent massive and fundamental change in how retailers can and will interact with consumers.

Discussion questions:  What do you think is the most important mobile channel capability from the perspective of retailers? Where do you think most retailers should be focusing their mobile investments now?

My post:

We are still in early days of consumers interacting with retailers via mobile platforms. Most uses seem to be informational (store locations, hours, product availability) or seeking value (sales, coupons, other promotions). The level of usage is much more prevalent in Asia, with millions accessing blogs and other information channels unattached to the retailer or brand. I expect the U.S. to follow.

Retailers are losing direct control over consumer interaction and messaging, with consumers and independent thought leaders taking over. Retailers must learn how to authentically reach the influencers and ensure consistent customer experiences in-store and online to create more positive than negative buzz.

In short, the most important mobile channel capability will be to influence the influencers who are often on their mobile devices blogging, tweeting and more in real time about their experiences with the retailer.

A key mobile investment should be to enable mobile interaction in-store (free Wi-Fi) to make it easier for the consumer to gather information, access promotions, and blog/tweet in real time.

Mike Osorio, your Dare to be Contagious! ™ strategist

What do you think?  Please add your comments and add to the discussion!

Go to the full article at  Mobility Survey from RSR Research


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e-Reader & Tablet evolution

July 16, 2011


Target to Sell Google e-Reader, Amazon to Launch Tablet 07-14-2011


The e-reader and tablet computer categories are in the process of getting more competitive based on recent announcements and reporting.

Earlier this week, Target announced it would be the exclusive retailer of the iriver Story HD, the first e-reader fully integrated with Google’s eBooks. The device, priced at $139.99 (five percent less for guests purchasing with their REDcards), provides access to Google’s library of more than three million free e-books as well as its catalog of titles for purchase. Consumers may also trade-in electronic devices for further credit toward the purchase price.

“Target strives to provide guests with exclusive access to the most innovative new products, and the iriver Story HD is no exception,” said Nik Nayar, vice president of merchandising, Target, in a press release. “With the rapid advancements of e-readers and tablets, the iriver Story HD’s superior features and integration with Google eBooks sets it apart.”

Target’s announcement comes on the heels of a report by IDC that said Barnes & Noble’s Color Nook had taken the top spot in the e-reader category during the first quarter.

“Amazon’s Kindle was second, but the lack of a color offering has clearly impacted the company’s previous dominance in the eReader market,” wrote IDC as quoted by Reuters.

Target also sells the Kindle along with other e-readers from Sony, Kobo, Pandigital and Aluratek. The chain also sells Apple’s iPad tablet device.

On the tablet front, The Wall Street Journal is reporting that will launch a rival device to the iPad in October.

Citing unnamed sources “familiar with the matter,” the Amazon device will have a screen around nine inches and run on Google’s Android platform.

Sarah Rotman Epps, an analyst with Forrester Research, believes Amazon is best positioned to compete with Apple and is likely to develop a device that will sacrifice features to offer a lower-priced alternative to the popular iPad. The new unit, unlike Apple’s product, is said to come without a camera.

Discussion questions:  What is your current take on the e-reader and tablet device markets? Will Kindle continue to lose share in the e-reader category? Will lower priced alternatives pose the biggest threat to Apple’s iPad going forward?

My post:

Like the iPhone, Apple’s design edge and first-to-market consistency has held the iPad iPad2 ahead of the pack, at least for those with fewer budget limitations. However, there is a clearly building market for lower cost alternatives of both pure readers and fuller functioning tablets. I’m betting on Apple remaining ahead in the more lucrative premium market and for several others to fight it out in the less profitable low cost arena. I’ll continue to enjoy my iPad2–with the Kindle App loaded on for my e-book reading pleasure.

Mike Osorio, your Dare to be Contagious! ™ strategist

What do you think?  Please add your comments and add to the discussion!

Go to the full article at  Target to sell Google e-Reader


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