6 Ways Ecosystems Have Changed Our Roles and the Way We Work


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In a mobile, net­worked world, we par­tic­i­pate as much as we con­sume. We expect expe­ri­ences “built for me”, acces­si­ble from any place and every device. As con­sumers, we con­flate prod­uct, ser­vice, adver­tis­ing and infor­ma­tion into a single brand expe­ri­ence sub­ject to harsh scrutiny. Smart com­pa­nies can no longer just “sell prod­uct” — they must build ecosys­tems of gen­uine value, com­prised of dynamic, inter­con­nected touch points that stoke cus­tomer inter­ests and sup­port their needs. And in this dawn­ing era, dig­i­tal strat­egy becomes the prod­uct, mar­ket­ing evolves past per­sua­sion and into value, and tech­nol­o­gists design com­plex webs of func­tion­al­ity. Everyone works differently.

Drawing from expe­ri­ence devel­op­ing strate­gies and designs for multi-channel ecosys­tems at R/GA, this pre­sen­ta­tion will explore six ways in which evolv­ing cus­tomer expec­ta­tions are chang­ing our roles and the way we approach our work. From what we research to how we col­lab­o­rate and design, her hope is that you’ll walk away from the pre­sen­ta­tion armed with some prac­ti­cal insight that will help your team pre­pare for the advent of these challenges.

Published in: Design
  • Great deck. Thanks for sharing!
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  • Excellent deck, Really helpful clarification of the way our UX proposition can, and is changing - I would challenge the concept that personas can be replaced with user journeys - I think its important to have the persona as a stake in the ground and then animate it through the journey to reveal opportunities, but that's just detail - all in all fab unpacking of the eco-system as the object of analysis
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  • Your presentation for IXDA 2.21.13 was captivating, and super useful. I've been working with a small nonprofit and we shrug at the social tools, and look to understanding and improving user journeys through the larger digital 'ecosystem'. Your ideas and visuals clarified my thinking in this area.
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  • Great presentation! It's all about context driven journeys.
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  • Christina,
    Thanks for your comments. :) That's a great suggestion about the design cycles. I would agree that it shouldn't be so specific. It should really be about the form that communicates the design. In fact, we are thinking of moving straight from sketches into fireworks prototypes (for a specific project), which is like creating interactive wires. But as you suggest, that collapses the wireframe into prototype. So no need for 'the extra step'.
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  • Audience tally: innies, agency folks, start ups, independents So one of the things that makes our job interesting AND hard is that the kinds of stuff we're making is always changing. We jump from social being the thing to everybody wanting to understand how to design responsive websites. It's what keeps our work interesting and new. But over the last three years, there have been some really BIG shifts that are not only disrupting how companies do business, but are literally disrupting how we work. And that's what I want to talk about today. It's no longer as simple as keeping up with trends, but it's about rethinking our roles----stepping up to new challenges with a fresh perspective about how UX leads contribute. It's also about re-thinking process. Every company is so used to it's own model, that it's hard to get people to go about doing things differently. And the reason I use ecosystems as the starting point is because is the best expression of how dramatically things have changed, especially from a business POV.
  • For example…
  • Then it became about a multi-platform experience. Netflix was not only a great service, but it provided the ability to view movies anytime, anywhere and on anydevice. Nike plus was a product connected to a shoe, connected to a mobile app, connected to a website. Experiences like these not only changed businesses, but they changed customer expectations.
  • And now they have ecosystems. A simple way to think of an ecosystem is an integrated collection of products, systems and services that bring greater value to the customer.   It's no longer just about selling a great product, it's giving customers an even bigger reason to do business with you.  And it’s something that spans the physical as well as the digital space. This is HUGE. Why? Because it’s suggesting an altogether new business model. In just a matter of years, we’ve gone from companies trying to understand the value of their website, to digital products & services being at the core of their offering. And those that aren’t are struggling to catch up.
  • WW; Guidance for every aspect of healthy weightloss B&N: surrounds reading with new resources, products and services
  • So for the purposes of this presentation
  • It's about how we solve the problem of this thing in the context of all these other things.
  • This is both a role and a work shift.   
  • Now, if you buy into the idea of building your brand/product ecosystem, the first question is where do we start? What kinds of services do we need to bring greater value? In a pre-eco/system world businesses primarily focused on optimizing their "channels", one of which was the web.   In a world where customers have more complex buying patterns, we're starting to see that it makes more sense to throw dollars at the places or things that have the most impact for the customer/user, and hence, the business.   The best way to see that is by mapping the journey of your key customers.   Some UXers refer to these as experience maps.  
  • It's a work shift because personas are no longer enough to support strategy and customer-centered design.  We need to have solid grounding in the paths as well as the context in a core customer's interaction with a brand. It's a role shift because this tool is putting UX leadership at the table with business, helping companies make smart decisions about what the priorities should be as well as identifying opportunities for new product extensions and services.  
  • Ecosystems have evolved because smart companies are realizing that people are looking for greater value. It's no longer just about the product, but the products and services around the product that create a greater sum value and, hence, a big reason for investing in a brand. Not only is the ecosystem itself the thing that brings value, it puts a whole new spin on what we think of as traditional marketing. 
  • It’s not the TV that tips them over, it’s each consideration along the way. It’s the right message for the right context as well as the right tool.
  • It's a work shift because it demands that marketing and UX cohabitate.  The lines get blurrier as marketing folks come up with ideas for an app and UX folks think of strategies for delivering the right information at the right time as a point of service.  It also about the death of mono-messages.  With insight into customer journeys marketing and UX can work together to determine where and how to provide real value to the customer.  
  • Okay….I have to admit that if you take this idea back to your jobs someone’s going to freak out…
  • Anytime you have an integrated collection of products and services, the work becomes more complex.   And if you want to ensure that you're creating an experience that's consistent with other brand experiences you have to design the part with the whole in mind.   We need to know how things work in other regions of the ecosystem.  We also need to understand more than ever about our customers.  And we need to have a deeper understanding of the systems and data that drive and support the experience.  This is the stuff we need to think about when we’re talking about cross-channel design and functional integration. And if you think about it, all of those things are changing constantly. And because of the complexity, it's sometimes not possible getting everything answered before we start design.
  • ----- Meeting Notes (2/20/13 13:20) ----- This is as detailed as any process diagram you'll see at R/GA. What I love about it is that it's represents a clear idea, but is open to interpretation.
  •   This is shift in the way we work because we now have to adjust our mental model of what a good process looks like and learn how to be flexible and adapt to new inputs along the way.  We need to balance the need to move forward with the need to have all the right information. With increasing levels of complexity research and planning are something we're doing all the time:  before, during and after we design.    
  • The kind of collaboration required for creating something that needs to be functionally integrated into an ecosystem means that people who are involved with a connection to the thing that you are designing will somehow have to be included in the process.  In other words, you can't build a road without connecting to the guys who own the property.  And complexity itself demands collaboration because it requires getting all the right people in the right room to solve a problem that cannot be solved by any one person.  But in traditionally siloed company and team structures, this becomes one of the biggest challenges to successful planning and experience design within an ecosystem.
  • This is a work shift because we need to start involving and soliciting input from folks we'd normally consider outside of our domain.    This is a role shift because it often the UX team who makes this happen.  It puts UX leaders into the role of  "collaboration facilitator" sometimes even designing the process for how to connect cross-functional teams
  • The best ecosystems are those that remember who you are and what you've done so that they next time you engage with the product or service you can pick up where you left off or it can offer recommendations about where to go next.  What I'm talking about is not creepy personalization, but what I consider to be an exceptional form of customer service.  
  • Remember those cool (but kind of literal) scenes of personalized advertisements in Minority Report (the original)?  Well, we're pretty much there now. Though I have to say this is an example of a really bad experience. It's bad because it feels like it's driven by a bad use of data. And it’s an example of why it's no longer enough to think about the interaction layer of an experience.  
  • Everything we've talked about demands a deeper understanding of the data and the rules that drive it. We need to have a literacy of systems that allows us to talk to the folks who are implementing and maintaining this stuff so that there's a real connection between the desired experience and the data that drives it. 
  • This is a work shift because designing for experiences within an ecosystem requires a deep understanding of data.
  • One of the most challenging aspects of planning and designing for an ecosystem is about creating things around a common purpose.  No matter how much collaboration is enabled, companies and people still have a way of congregating in silos.  Nobody ever truly "owns' the ecosystem.  It's like a confederation of states in a country with no consitution.  Or can be, if there's no alignment.  For years I've been talking about experience themes, which became a foundation for how I think about experience strategy and, now, in the context of an ecosystem, these ideas seem doubly important.  It's easy to align on vision for a single product, but how do we solve the problem of alignment across an integrated collection of products and services? 
  • This is a work shift because the vision should be a reference point for all disciplines not just the design team.  This is a role shift because UX is in the best position to facilitate the definition of the vision with key stakeholders.  
  • See the presentation: UX Professional as Business Consultant for more thoughts on #8.
  • So I leave you with this. Chances are your client or your company already has an ecosystem of sorts. Almost everyone does, it’s just that very few have a strategy around it. If that’s the case, it’s your opportunity to start teeing up that conversation.
  • 6 Ways Ecosystems Have Changed Our Roles and the Way We Work

    1. 6 WAYS ECOSYSTEMSHAVE CHANGEDOur Roles andthe Way We Work Cindy Chastain MIMA Summit 2012MIMA Summit/ October 2012 @cchastain1
    2. IN THE BEGINNINGCOMPANIES HAD websitesMIMA Summit/ October 2012 2
    3. THEN THEY HADCONNECTED PRODUCTS & SERVICES iTunes iPodMIMA Summit/ October 2012 3
    5. NOW THEY HAVEECOSYSTEMS eventMIMA Summit/ October 2012 5
    6. DEFINITION OF ANECOSYSTEMA business strategy that seeks to leveragedigital technology to create dynamic,interconnected touch points and productextensions that provide additional value tocustomers, deepen their connection with abrand, and, ultimately, feed business growth.MIMA Summit/ October 2012 6
    7. MIMA Summit/ October 2012 7
    8. MIMA Summit/ October 2012 8
    9. MIMA Summit/ October 2012 9
    10. DEFINITION OFFUNCTIONAL INTEGRATIONThe art and science of orchestratingproducts, services and the underlyingbusiness systems to create holistic customerexperiences that are both valuable,desirable.MIMA Summit/ October 2012 10
    11. The model of the ecosystem is aboutbusiness strategy.MIMA Summit/ October 2012 11
    12. The design of the ecosystem is abouthow it all fits together.MIMA Summit/ October 2012 12
    13. So, what’s changed?MIMA Summit/ October 2012 13
    14. 01/customer journeys nowdrive strategy Both a role and work shift.MIMA Summit/ October 2012 14
    15. A tool used for user experience design isnow an important input to strategy. MIMA Summit/ October 2012 15
    16. THE PHASES consider evaluate purchase use/enjoy advocateMIMA Summit/ October 2012 16
    17. THE CHANNELS/CONTEXTS consider evaluate purchase use/enjoy advocateTVwebMIMA Summit/ October 2012 17
    18. THE JOURNEY (across the ecosystem) consider evaluate purchase use/enjoy advocateTVwebMIMA Summit/ October 2012 18
    19. THE OPPORTUNITY SPACES consider evaluate purchase use/enjoy advocateTVwebMIMA Summit/ October 2012 19
    20. KEYPOINTSPersonas are not enough to supportcustomer-centered strategy anddesign.Customer-centricity requires UXleadership at the table with businessleads.MIMA Summit/ October 2012 20
    21. 02/marketing moves frompersuasion to “value” Work shift.MIMA Summit/ October 2012 21
    22. In the context of an ecosystem,marketing has a whole new meaning.MIMA Summit/ October 2012 22
    23. Online photography Photo classes sharing Inherently This product Photo blog awesome product exhibit will make you feel artistic and creative. Customer serviceMIMA Summit/ October 2012 = value! 23
    24. right “thing”, right context consider evaluate purchase use/enjoy advocate TV Spot SocialTV breaking sharing assumptions Toolweb for comparison Onboarding mobile app Social chatMIMA Summit/ October 2012 24
    25. KEYPOINTSUX and marketing must cohabitateand collaborate.Mono-messages are no longer usefulor relevant in context of an ecosystem.MIMA Summit/ October 2012 25
    26. 03/complexity demandscontinuous discovery Work shift.MIMA Summit/ October 2012 26
    27. Iteration and constant learning are thefoods that feed the ecosystem.MIMA Summit/ October 2012 27
    29. DESIGN PROCESS DISCOVER & PLAN DESIGN & BUILD & ITERATE MEASURE & REFINE EXPERIENCE STRATEGY DESIGN TECHNOLOGY ANALYTICS What is it? How does How do we How is it it work? build it? performing?MIMA Summit/ October 2012 29
    30. THE DESIGN CYCLEMIMA Summit/ October 2012 30
    31. MUTIPLE DESIGN SPRINTS Sprint 1 Sprint 2 Sprint 3 Sprint 4 New learning New learning New learning New learningMIMA Summit/ October 2012 31
    32. THE AGILE DEVELOPMENT CYCLEMIMA Summit/ October 2012 32
    33. OVERLAPPING DESIGN & DEV SPRINTS Sprint 1 Sprint 2 Sprint 3 Sprint 4UXDev MIMA Summit/ October 2012 33
    34. KEYPOINTSWe need to shift our mental model ofprocess from linear to iterative.We need to learn to be flexible andadapt to new inputs along the way. MIMA Summit/ October 2012 34
    35. 04/more collaboration =adaptive team structures Both a role and work shift.MIMA Summit/ October 2012 35
    36. Ecosystems are pushing us to reinventthe way we work together, literally.MIMA Summit/ October 2012 36
    37. THE OLD WORLD:SINGLE PROJECT MODEL Client/ Agency/ Business lead Project lead Team TeamMIMA Summit/ October 2012 37
    38. THE NEW WORLD:MULTIPLE PROJECTS Client/ Agency/ Business lead Project lead Team Team Team Team Team TeamMIMA Summit/ October 2012 38
    39. THE NEW WORLD:MUTIPLE CONNECTIONS Client/ Agency/ Business lead Project lead Team Team Team Team Team TeamMIMA Summit/ October 2012 39
    40. THE IDEAL: ONE INTEGRATED TEAM Client/ Agency/ Business lead Project lead Team Team Team Team TeamMIMA Summit/ October 2012 40
    41. THE IDEAL: ONE INTEGRATED ANDCROSS-POLLINATED TEAM Client/ Agency/ Business lead Project lead Team Team Team Team TeamMIMA Summit/ October 2012 41
    42. KEYPOINTSWe need to pull in folks from outsideour domain.UX needs to lead collaboration andevolve the processes of XF teams.MIMA Summit/ October 2012 42
    43. 05/data and algorithms rule Work shift.MIMA Summit/ October 2012 43
    44. The soul of an ecosystem is about thethings that enable connected andpersonalized experiences. MIMA Summit/ October 2012 44
    45. MIMA Summit/ October 2012 45
    46. What should personalization personalization we display? engine engine What content CMS CMS do we need? What customer data profiles customer data profiles correlations can we make? interacts with an What’s interface tracking engine tracking engine working?MIMA Summit/ October 2012 46
    47. What should we display? What content do we need? What’s the desired experience? What correlations can we make? What’s YOU working?MIMA Summit/ October 2012 47
    49. KEYPOINTSDesigning for experiences within anecosystem requires a deepunderstanding of data.Data are the new pixels - they are thecell units of ecosystem design.Algorithms are the new rules of styleand composition. MIMA Summit/ October 2012 49
    50. 06/aligning on vision iscritical…and hard Both a role and work shift.MIMA Summit/ October 2012 50
    51. Not having a common vision to supportthe ecosystem is like having aconfederation of states in a country withno constitution. MIMA Summit/ October 2012 51
    52. MIMA Summit/ October 2012 52
    53. A place to sit and relax and be productive…MIMA Summit/ October 2012 53
    54. Before coming up with a solution, weneed to align on the value we intend todeliver to our customers.MIMA Summit/ October 2012 54
    55. THE VISION Building trust and helping the value we intend to create people work smarter. THE PILLARS the strategies that will get us there THE PRINCIPLES the aesthetic and behavioral qualities of the experienceMIMA Summit/ October 2012 55
    56. SAMPLEEXPERIENCE PILLARSGUIDANCE EFFICIENC PARTNERSH INSPIRATI RELEVANCProvide the informationand education needed Y IP ON Eto make confident Help users create Facilitate collaboration Provide content Deliver a personalizeddecisions. tasks quickly and and communication that helps customers experience that seamlessly. understand and supports unique that improves our relationship advocate for the brand. user needs. with the customer.MIMA Summit/ October 2012 56
    57. SAMPLEDESIGN PRINCIPLESSimple and intuitiveGuided and directiveIntegrated and interconnectedScalable and fastEasy to administer and maintainMIMA Summit/ October 2012 57
    58. KEYPOINTSVision, strategy and execution arereferences for all disciplines.UX leaders are in the best position tofacilitate the vision for online/offlineintersections with key stakeholders.MIMA Summit/ October 2012 58
    59. RECAPOf the changes…MIMA Summit/ October 2012 59
    60. THE WAYWE WORK From To Personas Customer Journeys Message Service Linear Iterative Siloed Integrated (and cross-pollinated)MIMA Summit/ October 2012 60
    61. OURROLES From To Design leads Strategic partners Team members Collaboration facilitators Digital-focused Digital + real-worldMIMA Summit/ October 2012 61
    63. Thanks! Cindy Chastain @cchastain chastaincm@gmail.comMIMA Summit/ October 2012 63