February 01, 2017
Technology trends for people: Design for humans
By: Michael Biltz
What if technology could understand customer and employee behaviors and goals--and

respond appropriately? Digital transformation is making it possible.

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One of the best ways to explain the Technology for People theme of the Accenture Technology Vision 2017 is through the tech trend Design for Humans. In a decade-long quandary, a gap has existed between how systems and applications are designed versus how customers and employees use these technologies. It’s been either functionality or usability, but seldom both.

Now, thanks to artificial intelligence (AI), user experience design, behavioral analysis and more, technology is increasingly adapting to people. In other words, digital disruption is resulting in a more human technology that works with us. Adaptive technology is increasingly observing our behaviors, tracking our biometrics and creating customized interactions to drive the outcomes we want and need.

Think of this human by design approach as a new wave of personalization—one that goes beyond delivering bespoke products or fully customized experiences, to understanding people’s behavior and continually adjusting to improve outcomes. Accounting for unique human behavior in technology design expands the quality of the experience and the effectiveness of the solution.

A beautiful dichotomy

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To reach this objective, companies will need to change their philosophy toward technology design and specifically the front-end aspects of their systems. Those that succeed will use agile development techniques and sophisticated data analytics to build applications that work simultaneously on two levels: enabling the company to achieve their business goals while empowering customers and employees to achieve their personal goals. It’s a dichotomy of perfect proportions.

With more data on the ways people interact with technology, companies can understand why customers are buying their products, or employees are using workplace tools in a certain way. From this, organizations can reshape everything from the interfaces people rely on, to the larger engagement journeys that help people achieve their personal goals. As shown in Figure 1, designing technology for people will transform personalized relationships into something much more valuable: partnerships.

Human Design Principles
Figure 1: The customer and employee engagement journey from provider to partner sustaining human by design principles

Businesses will maintain these long-term partnerships by aligning people’s goals with business processes. Currently, many companies use A/B segmentation to derive behavioral information; some have graduated to modern, distributed computing frameworks for large-scale adaptive analytics. With user-centered design, however, businesses can go beyond these methods, and begin adapting technology based on human behavior as it occurs throughout a customer or employee journey.

Financial company Betterment, for example, helps investors reach long-term goals by understanding and reacting to their customers’ behavior. Working to minimize the losses that result from human investors taking short-sighted actions, Betterment’s dashboard hides a portfolio’s daily performance. Knowing that the human tendency is to overreact to volatility, their site is designed to encourage customers to take fewer actions, minimizing the risks of the behavior gap, and maximizing long-term profits. This approach has created an ongoing journey with Betterment’s customers that, like a human financial manager, follows an investor’s goals, monitors progress toward those goals, and guides decision-making needed to stay on track.

Developing long-term partnerships with people will also provide companies with new opportunities to innovate with products and services, as well as new pathways into digital markets and industries. As just one example, companies could build cooperative relationships with people and other companies by designing services that use technology as a pathfinder, leveraging all available information and tools to define the way forward.

How will your company design technology that adapts to customer and employees
—and puts their goals first? Tweet. This opens a new window.

To learn more about this IT trend, I encourage you to:

  • Read the Accenture Technology Vision 2017 overview and trend highlights

  • View the essential slide shares, videos and infographics

  • Share your thoughts at #techvision2017

  • Reach out to us to put these innovation-led ideas to work in your enterprise.

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