Category: Conference

Executive Forum on Digital Transformation (DX)- Chicago, September 12 2017


“Argyle Executive Forum is bringing together senior digital & IT executives from a variety of industry verticals for our biannual CIO Chicago Forum. Throughout a full day of content and networking, we will focus on the most pressing issues facing IT executives with regards to leading the business through digital transformation, with an agenda geared specifically towards Chief Information officers, Chief Data Officers, Chief Digital Officers, as well as Data/ Analytics/MIS VPs, Directors, and Architects in a leading role.

Leading the Business Through Digital Transformation – Argyle.



imageFirst, thanks to the team at Argyle for what turned out to be a timely and insightful conference on DX, Digital Transformation. Nokia was one of the Executive Forum’s sponsors as a Senior Supporter.

It is worth noticing that this event featured partners who we work with such as HP Enterprise, Thought Leader Sponsor, and IBM, Breakout Session Sponsor.

That talks to the criticality of collaborative undertakings as Digital Transformation becomes a pressing objective across industries, academia, public service and government sectors.

What follows is my notes and personal insights. While all the sessions and discussions were quite relevant, I would like to highlight the opening keynote, which set the tone and narrative of the event.


imageJames P. MacLennan, SVP & CIO at IDEX, discussed “The Five Components of a Great Digital Strategy,” which addressed the fact that “Design Thinking”, “Human Factors” and a collaborative culture involving interdisciplinary workstyles and “Great Teams” have become of the essence.

Moreover, he stated that “a Digital Business” will only succeed when it understands hot to connect with people.” The “human element” and, therefore, “people centered” strategies turn out to be critical success factors.

I would like to add that this entails engineering a continuum of (a) stakeholders, who are all human personas by definition, and to do so across (b) UX (user experience) and CX (customer experience) domains.

This job takes (c) a holistic understanding of customer facing (front end) and resource facing (back end) elements forming a coherent end-to-end system. Otherwise, operational fragmentation will take a toll and will deny the intended DX benefits.


imageJames’ presentation displayed the convoluted UI (user interface) shown in this picture to illustrate the paradox of well intended yet counterproductive implementations that negate transformation initiatives.

Here is another valuable insight coming out of Argyle’s Executive Forum: information technologies (IT) and tech and processes for operations cannot longer be worlds apart, which demands superb cross-functional teamwork.

Cognitive overload, deficient information architecture, and poor usability translates into: human error, risk aversion, costly budget overruns, missing or deviating from goals, so on and so forth.

Any and all of these issues combined can be silently impacting quality or, simply, just lowering the bar for a business to get through noisy and cluttered operational environments. That is hardly the stuff that operational excellence calls for.


Obviously, in the context of CX, customer satisfaction becomes harder and harder to attain and, more specifically, to get that effectively done in a consistent fashion.

Predictability and consistency are key objectives for any Quality Management program. If that scenario alone wasn’t troublesome enough, Customer Delight (rather than just satisfying agreed upon requirements) is Design Thinking’s ultimate performance indicator, which commands a premium clearly beyond reach under those circumstances.

Quality management wise, “satisfaction” is the fulfilment of expected specifications while “delight” is about great pleasure, or great satisfaction if you will. “Satisfaction” can be rationalized and is the acceptance ticket to be in business. “Delight” accounts for human affects (emotions) and is a powerful source of differentiation. Those who think that’s just about splitting hairs should take a pause and think twice because DX is set to enable game changing experiences on all counts and fronts.


Thoughtout the forum and session after session, Jim’s “Design for Humans”  principle gained more and more critical mass as presenters and panelists discussed the reasons why we should be mindful of the user journey and how to best improve all touch points along the way.

In one of the panel discussions this became even more evident when the question on aligning people, processes and technologies pointed to difficult prioritization exercises. Note that there was immediate consensus on the need for putting people first and humanizing technology and processes by applying Design Thinking, a human centered methodology that is corner stone to the job of creative technologists.

That means projects that are driven by clear missions and specific experiential outcomes and lifecycles (Goal Directed Design) rather than just an I/O approach. It also means rapid experience prototyping and A/B multivariate testing to explore possibilities since Design Thinking is a serial innovation engine.



imageLet’s connect some more dots.

Chicago’s NPR station aired a rerun of The Power of Design this past weekend. The discussion was centered on “How Can We Design For A Better Experience.”

By the way, TED’s acronym actually stands for the convergence of Technology, Entertainment and… Design.


Interview with Tony Fadell, one of the main designers of the iPod (Apple) and founder of Nest (Google).

 “Design begins by also noticing all those little problems that many ignore (…) we we though our lives accepting these design flaws that actually don’t improve our lives.”

“Steve Jobs challenged us to see our products through the eyes of the customer, the new customer, the one that has fears and possible frustrations, and hopes and exhilaration that the new technology can work straight away for them. He called it “staying beginners” and wanted to make sure that we focused on those tiny little details to make things work faster and seamless for the new customers.”

“There is this positive emotional momentum that builds on itself at each step of the process (…) when you hit a brick wall you loose all the momentum (…) and though away an entire great experience.”

“There are to halves to design, just as there are two halves to your brain, the emotional part and the rational part. If you want people to truly adopt your product it has to have an emotional component, something that grabs you (…) that unlocks your curiosity, it also needs to rationally work (…) because people see value beyond the sexiness.”


Interview with Joe Gebbia, Airbnb cofounder.

“Any time that you see duct tape in the world, that’s a design opportunity (…) it’s an indicator that something is broken, that something did not perform the way it was design to and that there is an opportunity to improve it.”

“Design is the key to (Airbnb) success (…) and as a competitive advantage, design is thing that can separate you (…) the next thing that can differentiate you. All things being equal, two comparable products side by side with the same technical features and components… you will be crazy to choose the one that is harder to use.”

“Airbnb’s design decisions not only made the service easy to use but it helped millions of complete estrangers trust each other (…) and open their homes (…) design is more than the look and feel of something, it is the whole experience.”


Related Posts:

Chicago’s CIO Forums on Digital Transformation, Customer Experience and Big Data

This is just a quick note to share that I’m planning to attend the following forums on Digital Transformation, Customer Experience and Big Data in Chicago. Let me know if you will be there and let’s plan to meet. Thanks to Argyle’s team for their kind invitations.


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Leading the Business through Digital Transformation / The Future of Cognitive Customer Engagement is Now 


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Customer Experience Think Tank


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Leadership in Big Data & Analytics Forum


See you there : )

Nokia C3LM @ Service Design Week


“Service Design is big. Being holistic, it includes the researching, envisioning and orchestrating of service experiences that happen over time and across multiple touch points with many stakeholders involved, both frontstage and backstage.”

“At Service Design Week, we seek to strip away any fluff, examining service design methods and processes at their core, and unpack the practical tools and skill-sets, hard and soft, needed for this way of working. Service Design Week will gather service design leaders from various functions and disciplines across all flavors of Service Design. With content for all levels of Service Design maturity, we look forward to drawing both fledging and experienced service designers.” 

 www.servicedesignweekusa.com

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I am looking forward to joining Service Design Week and I would like to thank Michel DeJager and the team at the International Quality & Productivity Center for their kind invitation. My talk will discuss C3LM, Customer Co-Creation Lifecycle Methodology, in the context of Blended Service Design, which I will take care of defining and demystifying in my talk.

I am proud to share that C3LM is the recipient of a Nokia Innovation Award. My work seeks to interweave a set of known and brand new interdisciplinary practices to best address end-to-end solutions for complex and dynamic environments, also known as soft systems given their organic and morphing nature. And, most importantly, achieving that by optimizing for the delivery of quality experiences while humanizing low and high tech in the process.


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Widespread digitalization in our everyday activities is not just far reaching, but is also leading to a renaissance in Human Factors disciplines. The delivery of “effective quality services” with “highly efficient end-to-end solutions” is the reason for being and rationale behind creating C3LM. This new brave world entails Blended Services that intersect Data Science, Automation and Programmability, all orchestrated with Human Centered Design in mind.

My talk will also cover how we can best experience Artificial Intelligence and how to make it transparent to Blended Services. That will be a sneak preview in advance to another talk that I’m giving early next year. In case you have already heard what Elon Musk has to say about AI, let me share that Human Factors Engineering has been revisited and redefined to come to the rescue. More on that when we get to meet at Service Design Week : )  



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Here is the event’s registration page. See you in Boston : )

Pictures courtesy of Service Design Week.


Nokia HFE17 Human Factors Engineering Conference May 23-24 2017

“We celebrated HFE’s 70th Anniversary at Bell Labs, the home of the creative technologists who pioneered this inter-disciplinary field. We are also encouraging our community’s renewed efforts to shape innovations that enable the human possibilities of technology in today’s connected world.”

“This year’s agenda featured guest speakers from AT&T and Verizon, practitioners in diverse industries from NASA, IBM, Information Builders and Lab Z, experts from MIT and IIT, as well as Bell Labs and Nokia flagship and award winning innovations. This event is organized by Nokia’s Technology Leadership Council in partnership with Bell Labs.”



The above file delivers the event’s agenda and topic abstracts. First, there is a need for thanking everyone involved: speakers, participants, volunteers and sponsors, as well as Nokia’s IT and Real Estate staff. Our conference involved 20 fast paced sessions over two days. 300+ of us participated in this conference from multiple worldwide locations as well as online. Approximately 150 people registered with NokiaEDU, Nokia’s training platform.


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I am happy to share that feedback received during and after the event was very positive and encouraging beyond expectations, some of it was incredibly passionate. If you are a peer at Nokia, note that you now have access to HFE17’s communications, conversations and files and the recordings.

Moreover, we are now working on jumpstarting a company-wide community of interest centered on Human Factors and are also gearing for HFE18, which will feature the John E. Karlin Recognition Award. John pioneered HFE at Bell Labs in 1947. He passed away four years ago and his contributions paved the way for user centered innovations.


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Nokia’s legendary journey has already passed the 150 year mark and, interestingly enough, more than 95% of us did not carry a Nokia badge four years ago. There are more than 100,000 of us embarked in this endeavor and we all collectively represent 160 nationalities working in more than 100 countries.

Our customers are the world’s communications service providers, governments, enterprises and consumers. We deploy the industry’s most comprehensive set of products, services, as well as licensing opportunities with a patent portfolio featuring in excess of 30,000 inventions.


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But, most importantly, our innovations and collective know-how make a decisive difference when we “shape technologies that truly transform the human experience” as technical prowess alone does not suffice. HFE17 was sponsored by Bell Labs and supported by our Technology Leadership Council, a grassroots organization formed by volunteers whose goal is to help foster a culture of innovation that honors Nokia’s renewed commitment to “enabling the human possibilities of technology.”

Humanizing technology is the core belief of those of us working in Human Factors Engineering, whether the job focuses on UX, User Experience, or CX, Customer Experience, dataviz and graphical interfaces or natural language interaction, services or operations, software or hardware, HCI, Human Computer Interaction, or HITL, Human in the Loop Computing, with AI, Artificial Intelligence.

HFE2017’s main objective was to get our community connected so that everyone’s good efforts become as meaningful and impactful as they can be.


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I would also like to take this chance to highlight Betsy Cowell’s leadership. I had the pleasure to co-chair this event with her. Betsy’s discipline became instrumental given the scope of the effort and unexpected challenges.

Some of you might recall our first attempt to get HFE off the ground last year. Back then, we encountered technical and scheduling shortcomings when being asked to switch to a new webcasting system yet to be deployed. So, we ended up postponing.

Betsy managed to re-energize this undertaking with the turn of the year. She engaged a small army of volunteers who became key to HFE17’s success. Some just wouldn’t give up even when facing technical and organizational intricacies in the eleventh hour. TLC makes a difference by taking down silos and fostering a culture of collaboration across the company.

Nokia’s First Prize for Product Innovation goes to LeanOps


“Inventing the Future with a focus on groundbreaking innovation, Nokia has been a catalyst for the world’s most powerful, game-changing technology shifts. We are committed to innovating for people and developing new technologies and solutions for the world we live in. With our Technology Vision 2020, we are helping operators deal with extreme traffic growth, simplify network operations and provide the ultimate personal gigabyte experience.”  https://networks.nokia.com/innovation


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Last month I joined the Chicago’s Science Fair as a judge in the Computer Science category. I am glad to share that received a plaque for my fifth year of service. Then, just a month later, I found myself on the other side of things as a contestant at Nokia’s Innovation Event in Espoo, Finland.

This year’s competition registered about 500 submissions worldwide. LeanOps qualified among the Top 3 Finalists in the Product & Solution Innovation Category. Ted East and I made the trip from Chicago to present on behalf of the team. We all were happy enough with LeanOps’ Finalist position. Moreover, any of the other finalist and shortlisted projects deserved being recipients of the first prize anyway. That speaks to Nokia’s renewed ingenuity and technical prowess.

But, those of us scheduled to be on stage could also feel the kind of mounting pressure that comes from making the most of this sort of high visibility opportunity. So, Ted and I spent a considerable amount of effort crafting and improving our delivery until the very last minute. We had the benefit of invaluable coaching and genuine advice while gearing up for this event. That should not be taken for granted and, therefore, we are humble and grateful for it. The fact is that Barry’s, Fabian’s, Kelvin’s, Corinna’s and Tuuli’s consideration and words of wisdom paid off. We came back home with the First Prize and our gratitude should be extended to everyone making this year’s event happen. My apologies for not having listed everyone’s names here.

Communicating science and technology is a challenge: any of us can risk alienating audiences willing to listen and individuals who would otherwise be excited about what our project entails. Information overload, convoluted jargon and failing to convey what the actual impact would be can jeopardize anyone’s good work due to lack of clarity. Moreover, it can compromise funding opportunities and drive collaboration and talented people away. So, it shouldn’t be hard to concur with Alan Alda, founder of the Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University, when he states that “science communication” is as important as science itself (watch min 01:20 onward):



On my own note’s cover page I always scribble a couple of Einstein’s quotes: “if you cannot explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough” and “everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” The former reminds me about the negative effect of self-defeating complexity. The later cautions about the diminishing returns of over-simplification and nonsense. Audiences can spot either issue right away, which negatively impacts speakers’ credibility and reputation. Recovering from that bad impression becomes an uphill battle and, unfortunately, bridges can be also burned for no good reason.

Communicating science and technology works best when striking an equilibrium point with (a) a well structured flow populated with (b) meaningful and engaging information of interest that is (c) purposely abstracted at the right level for each audience. Admittedly, by being in Human Factors Engineering, I cannot help but thinking that Information and Cognition Theory principles which serve us well when addressing the design of UI, User Interfaces, also become of the essence in any activity where we happen to be the medium to disseminate concepts, achievements, possibilities, constrains and what’s needed to move forward with a given project.


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There also is a need for working with visual communication that can effectively deliver far more information than what words alone would be able to. We created backdrops of infographic quality that helped set the stage at each step. Half way of the talk we played a short video clip that illustrated a key and differentiated project element.

Our discussion flow followed a basic creative brief breakdown, which covered: what, why, how, who and when and the Q&A section helped us provide the next level of detail. Long story short, relevant content of substance remains “conditio sine qua non” – which means distilling indispensable items down to need-to-know, anything you-cannot-do-without.


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We also had an impactful demo station at the so-called bazaar area, which had been unveiled and praised by experts at Mobile World Congress 2017 back in March. Last but not least, full credit for this award goes to one of the best teams in our industry. These are craftpeople who put their diverse talent to work by solving new and hard problems and, most importantly, making stuff work in no time.


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