Every digital transformation has two parts—a customer facing experience and an internal business process transformation. Consumer needs are changing quickly and have significantly evolved from a decade ago. Organizations want to create more efficient and innovative experiences for their customers. Individuals are expecting real-time, omnipresent, omnichannel experiences that are highly personalized. To meet these demands, organizations are leveraging new technologies and building systems differently.
However, the adoption of new technologies may not deliver the promised value if the services are not designed with a human-centered approach. Systems need to collaborate more with humans to drive business outcomes. Services should be designed with the end-users in mind—customers, employees, partners and suppliers.
A human-centric digital architecture that can consistently meet changing customer demands is needed. While it seems like common sense, it can be difficult to inject human-centered digital transformation into an enterprise. One reason is that humans are fluid in their thinking, and use their intuition to evolve continually. Therefore an evolutionary architecture that is ingrained with characteristics to support human behavior is needed.
Here are a few key tenets required for building a human-centric architecture:
- Ease of use: The architecture should enable easy human interactions using AI- and machine learning (ML)- based natural language processing and gesture controls.
- Contextual: All system interactions for end-users should be in the current context, considering the surrounding environment and past interactions.
- Value-driven: Systems should be designed to continually build relationships with end-users and provide value in each interaction to win customers for life.
- Resiliency: The architecture of the system should allow for high availability of every component and handle failure to enable constant interactions.
- Scalability: System performance must be within the acceptable limits even under load.
And how do we build human-centric architecture?
- Understand the business: Systems need to be designed to meet business goals and achieve KPIs. Understanding the end-user experience will help achieve these goals and build applications that put human experience at the core. Product owners and architects need to think through how both business KPIs and goals can improve through better customer experience.
- Design for experience: Following a human-first approach will help build experiences that will drive the adoption of applications and systems that propel business growth. Following a design thinking approach to understand the customer journey then building applications to address it will help organizations make decisions on their technology adoption.
- Collaborate with users: While this may sound simple, it is often sidelined in the overall application design. Collaboration is often taken for granted. Many may think that “technology leads to better outcomes”. But after designing the experience with a set of users, it’s important to keep watching and collaborating with a wider set of users to adapt products and services as needed. An iterative process to improve user-friendliness should be built into the process of application and system design.
A human-centric architecture must be evolutionary. For the flexibility required to support a human’s fluid thought process, a technical architecture should be based on certain key characteristics. It must be decoupled, pluggable, secured, boundaryless and intuitive—all at the same time.
Technology has already geared up to support all these characteristics with the use of microservices for decoupling, cloud-hosting for boundaryless, and AI, ML and data veracity for secure data transfer. Meanwhile, augmented reality, virtual reality and voice-driven user interface will support humanized natural user interactions.