Tagged: Human Factors Engineering

NOKIA HFE18 Conference (2) GI: Genuine Intelligence

Every once in a while we get to experience Murphy’s (dreaded) Law. This time around that had to do with stability issues with a media webcasting platform. We are now working on rescheduling NOKIA HFE18 under a different format. In parallel, we are also kicking off planning for HFE19… and we will take full advantage of lessons learned.

HFE18 Banner

Ref: Nokia HFE18 Conference (1) #MakeTechHuman

We regret any inconvenience that this eleventh hour change in plans might cause, and remain extremely grateful to both speakers and volunteers who have already invested time and efforts, which should not go to waste.

In the meantime, I’d like to volunteer just a handful of insights on the session that I was scheduled for and, therefore, keep the discussion going. The objective is to further improve what’s already available and allow for an even better session when we get to reconvene. Here is my session’s abstract to begin with.


“Our quest to deliver productivity tools yielding operational excellence for DSPs, Digital Service Providers leads to the design of signature experiences by innovating in the process.”

“The Studio at Nokia Software’s Solutions Engineering is set to work with deceptively simple techniques and elegant sophistication… because neither oversimplification nor self-defeating complexity allow end-to-end systems to efficiently operate at digital speed and global scale.”

“This discussion intersects the soft and hard natures of dynamic systems by modeling Human Machine Systems (HMS) and the design of cybernetics. This practice focuses on critical success factors for the early acceptance and broader adoption of emerging technologies.”

“The work at the Studio embraces a renewed approach to QbD, Quality by Design, which is set to left-shift and unveil instrumental considerations at early design stages. The result is Nokia Studio’s QXbD, Quality Experiences by Design, optimizing for customer delight rather than table-stakes customer satisfaction.”

GI4HMS Jose de Francisco

NI – WHAT IS NATURAL INTELLIGENCE? At the time of writing this, we humans possess NI, Natural Intelligence. NI involves naturally developed cognitive functions and models leveraged by the sort of biological beings, which humans happen to be. Intelligence (a) captures, (b) generates, (c) applies and (d) evolves knowledge. Our individual and collective brainpower can be gauged in terms of (e) skills and (f) talent levels, jointly with an understanding of (g) the underlying decisioning process and (h) our perceived experiences in context.

AI – WHAT IS ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE? Intelligence that is not naturally occurring, simulated knowledge in other words. This is generated by programmable artifacts consuming, processing and producing data under closed loop models. Whether working with individual or networked machine intelligence, there is neither information derived from mindfulness nor the type of general purpose sense making that match those of the human experience. The year is 2018… and that’s where state of the art is today.

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GI – WHAT IS GENUINE INTELLIGENCE? Earlier in the year I introduced this topic at Design Thinking 2018 (plenary session) and at IEEE Emerging Technologies Roundtable (invitation only workshop.) Coincidentally, both were held in Austin, TX, back in May. I proposed thinking about GI as the outcome of NI powered by AI.

By the way, “genuine” means acting in bonafide. To be clearer: with honesty and without the intention to deceive. Given the trade-offs (pros and cons) that NI and AI bring to the table, GI gets us a step closer to productive bonafide systems.

GI is, therefore, the outcome of purposely crafting optimal technology solutions that augment human possibilities. This is addressed by Human Factors Engineering interdisciplinary science given HFE’s holistic approach and focus on value driven Human-Machine-Systems, HMS.

Quick side note: those of you into Lean and Lean Six Sigma can approach this topic with Jikoda (autonomation.) Ditto for anyone working on Human-in-the-Loop Computing, Affective Computing, RecSys (Recommender Systems,) Human Dynamics and Process Mining with Machine Learning or, better yet, xAI, Explainable Artificial Intelligence.

DDESS Nokia Studio

DDESS – The most tangible design work entails the delivery of DDESS, Digital Decision & Execution Support Systems. This is where GI gets interesting because we need to apply new optics to take a fresh look at what Operational Excellence is (and is not) moving forward.

In a nutshell DDESS’ purpose is to reveal and inform decisions and to make decisions, all in context. But, I will pause here as this topic will be better covered in subsequent posts… just one more thought: DDESS addresses decision support for (NI) humans, (AI) machines, and (GI) human-machine systems. Coming to terms with that one insight alone becomes a critical success factor.

Some other thought… it turns out that, in today’s day and age, projects that are techno-centric heavy only succeed a fraction of the time, 10% or so by some estimates. Selective memories tend to focus and celebrate the 10% that make it… but that is a terrible ROI, Return on Investment, which inflicts (1) severe technical debt, (2) latency costs in systems engineering and (3) a huge opportunity cost as funding and good efforts could have been put to work for more productive endeavours.

By many other well documented and more recent accounts, HCD, Human Centered Design, happens to flip that ratio as designers are obsessed with optimizing for user acceptance and frictionless adoption from day one. HFE takes painstaking work on purposeful and value driven technological solutions where a smart combination of Outside-IN-innovation and Inside-OUT-ingenuity happens to make all the difference.


Nokia HFE18 Annual Conference (1) #MakeTechHuman

We are gearing up for NOKIA HFE, our annual conference focusing on that it takes to create technologies that deliver unique value by optimizing for early user acceptance and broader adoption.

Human Centered Design (HCD) is the practice addressing the users journeys and technology lifecycles. Human Factors Engineering’s (HFE’s) is the holistic and interdisciplinary science focusing on optimal technological solutions that #MakeTechHuman, which intersects psychological, physiological and sociological factors.

BEING DIGITAL is this year’s theme. As shared in the above brochure, Bell Labs’ Claude Shannon, the father of information theory, first addressed the meaning of “bit” in his landmark paper published in 1948. Just a year earlier, John Karlin, a fellow Bell Labs pioneer, set up the first Human Factors Engineering department in industry. Their combined effort set the stage for today’s digital experiences.

More than seven decades later we get together to explore what “being digital” is now about. This year’s discussion takes place in the context of game changing and pervasive “Digital Transformation” initiatives across industry and public sectors.


Chirryl-Lee Ryan is Idean’s Head of Studio in New York, and this year’s keynote speaker.

Chi is an transdisciplinary design practitioner, writer, speaker, coach, and leader, specializing in experience design. Chi believes that design can help everyone live better, happier lives, and to do so, she merges different design disciplines to produce radical outcomes for humans – and humanity.

As Head of Studio at Idean, a global experience design company, Chi evangelizes a mantra of endless curiosity, fearless execution, and purposeful impact, and as host of the This is HCD Podcast, she is creating a continuous conversation about the future of design. Chi’s goal is to arm as many people as possible with the skills, tools, and confidence they need to create the change they want to see in the world.

Dan Kraemer


“Through the lens of his recent work in guiding leading global companies through digital transformation initiatives, IA Collaborative Founder and Chief Design Officer Dan Kraemer will discuss how to bring a Design Thinking approach to digital innovation – specifically, how to combine user experience, emerging technologies and profit models to prototype entirely new and sustainable digital businesses.”

As Founder and Chief Design Officer at global design and innovation consultancy IA Collaborative, Dan Kraemer is an internationally recognized brand, product, interactive and architectural experience designer who works with some of the world’s most successful companies and brands – including Johnson & Johnson, United Airlines, Samsung, GE, Nike, and Hyatt. Dan leads IA Collaborative’s multidisciplinary design team to identify unseen human needs, frame breakthrough opportunities and drive systemic solutions to commercialization.

His work has been recognized by the International Design Excellence (IDEA) Awards, GOOD DESIGN™ Awards, the Red Dot International Design Awards, the iF World Design Awards and the Design Intelligence Awards. Dan’s work has been featured by Wired, Fast Company, Forbes, the BBC, Branding Magazine and Innovation Magazine, and he is a frequent lecturer on the national and international stage.



“Our quest to deliver productivity tools yielding operational excellence for DSPs, Digital Service Providers leads to the design of signature experiences by innovating in the process.”

“The Studio at Nokia Software’s Solutions Engineering is set to work with deceptively simple techniques and elegant sophistication… because neither oversimplification nor self-defeating complexity allow end-to-end systems to efficiently operate at digital speed and global scale.”

“This discussion intersects the soft and hard natures of dynamic systems by modeling Human Machine Systems (HMS) and the design of cybernetics. This practice focuses on critical success factors for the early acceptance and broader adoption of emerging technologies.”

“The work at the Studio embraces a renewed approach to QbD, Quality by Design, which is set to left-shift and unveil instrumental considerations at early design stages. The result is Nokia Studio’s QXbD, Quality Experiences by Design, optimizing for customer delight rather than table-stakes customer satisfaction.”

Jose de Francisco is a Senior Creative Director at Nokia Software Group. His 20+ year experience encompasses global award-winning projects that entail multi-disciplinary leadership responsibilities. Jose is a Distinguished Member of Technical Staff (DMTS) and has worked with Bell Labs on next generation platforms for mobile networks.

He is a Member of the Advisory Board at MIT’s Institute for Data Systems and Society (IDSS) and is the recipient of an MBA in International Marketing and Finance (MBA/IMF) from Chicago’s DePaul University as a Honeywell Europe Be Brilliant Scholar. Jose also holds a postgraduate degree in Human Factors Engineering from BarcelonaTech (UPC) and developed his passion for innovation at Massana Art &Design Center’s Industrial Design program. His thoughts and endeavours can be followed on innovarista.org.

JC Grubbs


“The motivation to make our businesses more digital often cause us to miss the mark. Business transformation, and “being digital”, isn’t about technology, it’s about becoming more human.”

“In this presentation I’d like to share what I believe should be the driving forces for any company in this era of technology, data, and sometimes noise. Together let’s explore how we translate our humanity into the things we create.”

JC Grubbs is the CEO and founder of DevMynd, a strategy, design, and custom technology firm in Chicago and San Francisco. He has spent his career working to improve the way that technology is designed, built, and delivered. With a focus on human-centered and inclusive design, his company has worked to solve meaningful challenges for organizations like the Department of Defense, Motorola Solutions, Verizon, and AbbVie.

Iana Kouris


“Employee experience (EX) is recognized as a key competitive advantage and a prerequisite to deliver outstanding user experience (UX) and customer experience (CX). Companies that invest in EX outperform those that don’t in terms of financial and operational results.”

“Together with Human Resources (HR) colleagues, we have embarked on a journey to make HR our Chief Employee Experience Office. We are applying a Service Design approach, which is revealing human-centered perspectives as we look into our processes and tools from the employee & line manager point of view.”

“User interviews and workshops identified key pain points and game-changing ideas to take EX to new levels: aadequate digital channels and user interfaces are of the essence. The question that we are currently working on and will openly discuss in this session is: “how might we provide the most insightful & engaging digital experience to further personal & career development?”

As a Design Lead at Nokia, I am driving design-led transformation across the company by applying design approach to management and technology challenges. I believe that design is and will remain central for our future, infusing human focus, accelerating learning and fostering collaboration. I have 10+ years of experience in business and creative roles in Telecommunication, High Tech and management consulting, including 5+ years with McKinsey & Company Inc. My education background spans between Business, Mathematics, Philosophy, Fine Arts and Music.

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HFE18 - Nokia Chicago Tech Center

Nokia HFE Talk Series

NOKIA HFE18 Credits

My first 2+ years at Nokia

Nokia Team

“Nokia has transformed itself many times in its 150-year history, starting as a paper mill in Finland in 1865. (…) ‘In 2013,’ Nokia launched a dramatic, bet-the-company turnaround (…) ‘as’ a full-fledged network infrastructure provider, Nokia decided to retain its patent and technology licensing business in order to continue its legacy of innovation and reinvention (…) from the start of the turnaround through early 2017, the company turned over 99% of the employee base, 80% of the board, and all but one member of the executive team.”  (Nokia: Reprogramming for Growth.)

Nokia Banner

“The Finnish giant has exited mobile phones and doubled down on its networking business. (…) Nokia is a paragon of corporate renewal (…) this corporate phoenix has reemerged as one of the world’s largest telecom network service providers. (…) The fact that it subsequently became a vibrant business just emphasizes the fantastic turnaround. (…) In the summer of 2012, Nokia’s market capitalization was $5 billion and (…) enterprise value was $1.5 billion. By the beginning of “2017,” (…) market capitalization was close to $40 billion and (…) enterprise value was about $30 billion. (…) Out of some 100,000 employees today, less than 1 percent had a Nokia badge three years ago.” (Nokia’s Next Chapter.)

Bell Labs and Nokia books

linkedinBefore I started to write this post I pre-ordered “Transforming Nokia” by Risto Siilasmaa, Nokia’s Chairman. His book is coming out this October, which I will add to my Kindle collection for Bell Labs and Nokia.

Interestingly enough, my LinkedIn profile shows what it looks like my 20 year-long career with Nokia. Though, I need to share that I am among the 99% of staff who did not have a Nokia badge just 3 years ago. I became a Nokia employee with the acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent in January of 2016.

Career Logos 2

My recollection is that LinkedIn does not show corporate logos for brands that are no longer in business. In my case, that happens to be the outcome of M&A (Merger & Acquisitions.)

Otherwise, LinkedIn would have featured the above four logos as part of my professional record. They happen to be part of different market conditions, job responsibilities, experiences and organizational cultures.

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Year 1: 2016

Make Tech HumanJoining Nokia was very exciting from the get go. The company’s motto was “Expanding the Human Possibilities of Technology” and had recently ran a public relations program known as “Make Tech Human” in partnership with Wired Magazine.

All of that was music to the ears of those of us devoted to Human Factors Engineering (HFE.) Moreover, User Centered Design (UCD) was pioneered by Bell Labs all the way back to the mid 1940s. Bell Labs is a legendary industrial research and scientific institution that became part of Nokia in 2016.

It’s hard to draw the line between traditional human factors and what we might call ‘user-experience’, aimed at human-centered design of interactive systems. Bell Labs was one of the pioneers in making this transition, starting with the first psychologist hired to design telephone systems in 1945: John E. Karlin. By the 1950s, Bell Labs definitely did UX work.” (A 100-Year View of User Experience.)

Back to 2016… our team at the Cloud Innovation Center (CIC) in Naperville, IL, worked tirelessly to create the system behind the LeanOps initiative showcased at Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress 2016 as one of Nokia’s flagship innovations. That premier industry event became the first chance for many of us to come together as one-Nokia-team.

About month later, I was interviewed and featured in an article for “My Life at Nokia,” a corporate initiative capturing what it feels to work at Nokia. That same year, I was invited to join the Steering Committee for our Technology Leadership Council, a silo-busting and grass-roots organization lead by Anne Lee, a Bell Labs Fellow.

Year 2: 2017

LeanOps’ latest was selected again as one of Nokia’s innovations for Mobile World Congress 2017. Thereafter, the demo running at Nokia HQ in Espoo, Finland, became the most visited station of the company’s Customer Experience Center.

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A few months later, LeanOps was the recipient of Nokia’s First Prize in Product Innovation. We were made aware of the fact that there had been more than 500 submissions. One can only feel very fortunate and humble given the high-caliber work performed across the company.

Year -1: 2015

Digital innovation enables an impressive and unprecedented succession of emerging technologies and services. Some are improved versions of well understood staples, some are fluid and fast evolving, some other are yet to be invented and will rely on enabling capabilities to be in place… and there is such a thing as hybrid operational environments intermingling them all.

Back in 2015, I was deeply involved in a global primary research effort, whose outcome put the emphasis on execution and, therefore, Operational Excellence. Running highly effective and efficient ops is a critical success factor and top priority for Nokia’s customers, these are Digital Service Providers (DSP.)

No Service Provider would like to like be a victim of their own success. Briefly and in terms of leading (cause) and lagging (effect) indicators… that actually happens when demand grows exponentially, but systems fail to adapt and scale at speed. Lagging indicators then show subpar quality of customer experiences and dreaded churn kicks in to offset and even undermine early gains.

Digital Operation Centers designed for highly dynamic and complex systems should adhere to ‘Lean’ design principles for the purpose of executing system-wide lifecycle events at scale and speed anytime, and to do so in compliance with Service Level Agreements (SLA,) which are contractual obligations.

Most importantly, operational excellence calls for optimizing both users’ experiences and resource utilization levels, which entails financial considerations and business modeling. Note that ‘end-users’ applies to Business to Consumer (B2C,) and Business to Business (B2B) markets.

Back to Year 1: 2016

My focus is on (a) advanced visualization coupled with (b) cybernetics for workforce automation at high performance Control Centers, which happens to be a decisive source of innovative system requirements.

The fact is that nimbler operations teams are asked to be responsible for greater scope, scale and speed than ever before. This prompts a pressing need for equipping agile and interdisciplinary teams with next generation tools that set them up for success. So, no surprise that Human Centered Design is of the essence, and that any self-service capabilities happen to reinforce that point as ‘making sophisticated operations effortless’ is a must.

About this time last year, my work in Decision Support Systems (DSS,) was shortlisted among the top 10 concepts for the first phase of Nokia Applications & Analytics’ (A&A’s) ‘Intra’-preneurial Program, which processed hundreds of submissions involving a wide range of applications and technologies.

After the “hacking phase” the panel’s evaluation recommended taking further steps in the context of the existing product portfolio. By the way, Nokia’s former A&A is now known as Nokia Software Group (NSG) and DSS is my current area of work.

Bell Labs

Year 2+: 2018

Admittedly, things got even more exciting for me with the turn of the year by being promoted to a Senior Studio Director position reporting to the VP of Solutions Engineering. This is an entrepreneurial department tasked with complex end-to-end systems and chartered to deliver the superior value of the whole.

More recently, I became a Bell Labs DMTS, Distinguished Member of Technical Staff, which I am very proud of. Anecdotally, just a few weeks ago I ended up in Cloude Shannon‘s Bell Labs 1940s office in Murray Hill, New Jersey. Shannon was the father of Information Theory. I couldn’t help taking a picture with his lifesize cardboard cutout : )

The photograph on the extreme left shows Telstar, the first communications satellite and commercial payload in space. The one on the extreme right was taken at the anechoic chamber, which held the Guinness record for the quietest place for some 30-40 years. That space was instrumental in the invention of the microphone. It is a bit hard to tell in that picture, but I was standing on a fairly thin net that is set way above the ground, which makes one feel like floating in mid air.


Nokia also allows a fairly active life beyond the company’s conventional business. Some examples are my current participation in the Advisory Boards for MIT’s institute of Data, Systems & Society, and the Design Thinking conference for the events held in 2017 and 2018 in Austin, TX. I would also like to highlight Nokia’s own HFE (Human Factors Engineering Conference) that I am honored to co-chair.

Last year I spoke at Service Design Week 2017 in Boston and also received Chicago Public Schools’ Science Fair plaque for my five years of service as a judge. My focus was high school projects in the areas of Computer and Behavioral Sciences. Chicago’s Science Fairs were held at an incredibly engaging venue: the Museum of Science & Industry (MSI.)

Earlier this year I was invited to speak at IEEE Emerging Technologies Reliability Roundtable (IEEE ETR-R) and I also joined a panel discussion at IEEE’s Communications Quality & Reliability (IEEE CQR,) both held in Austin, TX.

Interacting in industry and academia turns out to be a highly gratifying ‘give & take’ exercise. By sharing and helping others a healthy feedback-loop develops. That experience takes the shape of a virtuous circle neutralizing negative ‘echo chamber effects’ while exposing and promoting diverse optics: a re-energizing effect and a source of personal growth.

Long story short… my first 2+ years at Nokia have been packed with a number of good and even thrilling experiences.

I have been given the opportunity to be involved in the kind of high visibility projects that I happen to enjoy. As a Human Factors practitioner, I value Nokia’s Intellectual Capital above a number of other considerations because commonplace work ethics and working with and learing from exceptional and thoughtful professionals makes all the difference.



Aspara, Jaakko et all. Strategic Management of Business Model Transformation: Lessons from Nokia. May, researchgate.net/publication/244085692_Strategic_management_of_business_model_transformation_Lessons_from_Nokia. Accessed 19 Aug. 2018.

Baeza, Ramon, et al. Nokia: Reprogramming for Growth. BCG, 13 Nov. 2017, bcg.com/en-us/publications/2017/transformation-value-creation-strategy-nokia-reprogramming-growth.aspx. Accessed 19 Aug. 2018.

Gertner, Jon. The Idea Factory. Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation. Penguin Books, 2013.

Nielsen, Jackob. A 100-Year View of User Experience. Nielsen Norman Group, 24 Dec. 2017, nngroup.com/articles/100-years-ux. Accessed 19 Aug. 2018.

Siilasmaa, Risto and Catherine Fredman. Transforming Nokia: The Power of Paranoid Optimism to Lead through Colossal Change. McGraw-Hill, 2018.

Siilasmaa, Risto and Rik Kirkland. Nokia’s Next Chapter. McKinsey Quarterly, Dec. 2016, mckinsey.com/industries/high-tech/our-insights/nokias-next-chapter. Accessed 19 Aug 2018.

Weldon, Marcus K. The Future X Network: a Bell Labs Perspective. CRC Press, 2016.