How to disrupt competitors using superior UX
- Simon Norris &
- Alex Metcalf
our white paper research journeys with unicorns. So my name is Simon. I’m the CEO of Nomensa. I’ve been in the user experience game for two decades and I think today we’re going to share some pretty exciting stuff with you about how we think about user experience with our clients and the kind of way we try to get them to sort of think about it in terms of excellence.
So we’ve got. Good afternoon, my name is Alex Metcalf, I’m a UX consultant in Mensa we’ve got the overview of the white paper first of all, looking at about 20 to 30 minutes for that. And then we’re gonna have a q&a session afterwards, we’re gonna a couple of methods will give you at the end of how you can submit some questions. But you’ve also got the chat interface as well where you can submit questions as well. So just a bit about both of ourselves. I’ve been UX consultants now for a pure, pure UX consultant for 15 years my second Master’s was in HCI back in 2001, and I help them and advise and lead our clients on digital strategy and experience excellence and yourself Simon.
So I’m the CEO of Mensa founded the company back in. Early 2001. Pretty much focused on sort of the kind of intersection between human behaviour and design. So I want to talk to you a little bit about why we did this research. So a lot of our clients ask us the question, you know what, what do we need to look at to understand what are the best examples to kind of copy or to emulate and this is a really good question because user experiences is gone from being pretty unknown craft to now. Arguably, arguably the most demanded design discipline in the world, so it’s very, very, very popular. And a lot of user experience tends to sort of focus still on the kind of either the visual sort of tactical elements of design. What we want to talk to you today is, the more kind of strategic commercial elements, so that when our clients ask us this question. What should we be looking to do. We, we, you know, we thought, actually, this is a really good question. Yeah, we’ve been doing user experience for a very long time there’s a lot of people here that do it at the mentor that have all been doing it for a very long time but what can we return to. And when we started to think about it we saw well, who are the companies in the world, demonstrating a level of experience, excellence when it comes to user experience.
And the thing the main thing that people. The easy trap to fall into is to stop copying features and to look to the competition and be competing on marginal price differences or feature sets. And that has a problem because they’re easily copied, especially in a world where technology is moving so quickly, and the cost to implement new technology solutions is very is much lower than it used to be, infrastructure for worldwide reaches is tending to zero, so you get the problem people try and introduce new features and trying something slightly different but then it can be copied so quickly, like for example Instagram adopting Snapchat features such as the stories feature, and Instagram is hella product early in the year said that this is the way the tech industry works, and it is and it’s understandable we do, we do have this proliferation of, of, of tick box features throughout the industry. So the question really comes when things are moving so quickly. How do you differentiate.
And this is important because one has to think of it in terms of a balancing act well that’s how we think of it. Essentially, you’re either being or acting as a disrupter, or you’re being disrupted or try to avoid disruption. And that’s pretty much what is happening right now and there are many examples. The people know of where technology is being collapsed with D materialised So, you know, for example, you know, Kodak is a great example of a company that we all know of that was very advanced when it came to sort of digital photography but they were kind of quickly superseded by a completely new technology, and that this is, you know, this is you know these sorts of things are very very interesting to understand rather than just looking at it from the perspective of, well, what are the features that we need to copy, we’ve kind of taken a step back and thought right what are the things that businesses do commercially to better choreograph kind of business and commercial value consumer value consumer propositions, how do they do that, how do they turn human behaviour into meaningful design that allows them to deliver an experience, and scale that experience quickly
is a wonderful example of the importance of experience, June 29 2007 Apple introduced the first iPhone. And a lot of people found this immensely frustrating in this industry because there was so many features it didn’t have it didn’t have 3g didn’t have a camera. Didn’t have apps you couldn’t even some people said copy and paste. So why was it received so well why that cause such consternation from everyone from Steve Ballmer at Microsoft to many of the industry leaders, because they put a relentless focus on the quality of the experience, the differentiator. If you’ve been seeing the keynote, when the crowd reacted when there was inertia, in the scrolling where he flipped Steve Jobs flicked his finger across the screen, and the scrolling kept going gliders were stopped after he let go. It’s commonplace now but this was truly revolutionary at the time. And of course, then came the features after the fact, when they’ve got the core experience of solid so correct to experience truly became a different differentiate and calls out many of the biggest people in the industry, completely by surprise.
And it’s easy to get caught up thinking well actually what we need to do is deliver a set of features or dessert, or a set of functionality that is going to differentiate, and the kind of analogy that we tend to use with our clients is, if you imagine a cathedral. St Paul’s Cathedral, for example, you deconstruct that Cathedral into its component parts, Windows steel bricks, etc etc and you put you put that on the ground and you look at it from above, it’s just a bunch of stuff. However, when you combine it together it becomes a cathedral. And this is the point that it’s the combination, or the orchestration of features which actually delivers a great compelling experience.
So Apple was one obvious example I think one of the classic companies now in 2017 that are really understand this and they’re able to deliver an amazing experience, and to scale it really well we’ll come back to that concept but the Group of Companies is unicorns and a unicorn here’s a great quote from investopedia unicorn if you don’t know it’s a term from I believe, 2013 was its first use in the world of business, a company usually a startup that does not have an established performance record with a stock market valuation on estimated estimated valuation of more than $1. billion. And so, Simon. This means that what can they do with this reagent with this ability.
It means, ultimately that they’re able to deliver an experience at scale that’s through digital through the large addressable markets that are accessible to them they’re able to design an experience and scale that and thought is essentially a very differentiating factor in comparison to the colour incumbents that existed before that so a lot of people will say, Apple OSH ushered in this idea of saying responsive design or cross channel omni channel interaction. They get something much, much deeper than that they move computing from something that was done at work or at home to someone that was done 24 seven, and that created a global inflection which then, in which a lot of companies thought right. Do you know what, we can design an experience for a talent for communications for all manner of things. And this is why we think that the unicorn businesses represent a very good Guide to Understanding how to deliver experience excellence. And if you look at the graph what’s quite. What’s quite interesting here is that you can see a few businesses in kind of q1 2009 kind of this is literally 18 months after the launch of of the iPhone. And if you kind of fast forward to sort of q4, 2016, the number of unicorns that exist, is, is, is much, much, much more. We know right now that unicorn businesses are emerging in many different sectors, not just technology in many different sectors and we think this is the beginning of something quite interesting. If you imagine, less than, as we say 10 years ago, which was the time that the iPhone came out there were kind of maybe around 10 unicorns today. This is very very different there as, you know, we’re talking about almost 300 exist. So, this is, this represents some global change, a massive global change and it would be kind of prudent for us to be aware of is kind of experienced designers how we can tap into the insights that these companies can reveal to us to help our clients. Also, emulate some of the great things that they do.
So what we did in this research we took six unicorns and picked out six experience characteristics that exemplify the way they’ve taken a stranglehold globally on really interesting paradigms and really interesting ways of revisiting old problems and taking advantage of technology in ways quite extraordinary ways and we’re going to cover them off and I’m going to lay too much and then we’re going to cover off a key summary of these six unicorns now. There’s loads more detail in the white paper, which hopefully you will have all received, or will be receiving in your email inbox as well and please let us know. After checking junk mails and so forth. If it hasn’t come through. But let’s start with the first one, and that is, Uber. Now, obviously there’s the elephant in the room of some of the the ethical, moral aspects of being hugely newsworthy, especially in this year, and we’re not dismissing that but in the essence of what Uber and similar companies have been able to achieve is in a way separate from that. When you look at their valuation, almost $63 billion. Having delivered over 5 billion rides, and to get a sense of the scale of growth on that the first billion rides took five years to achieve but the next 4 billion rides took less than 18 months. and it’s the perfect convergence of technologies and so I’m gonna talk about what they’d be able to do for the value proposition.
Yeah. So, one of the big things that we that we get asked to we have our current clients understand is the link between the value proposition and the kind of user experience that they want to or need to design. And we’ve tried to make it quite transparent here because when you think about Uber the kind of value proposition is the transformation of experience through saving in time and effort. Now this isn’t specific to just Uber. When you look across many of the unicorn businesses and the sixth that we’re going to talk about we see this kind of same kind of reemerging again and again and again. What is important here is that here is an organisation that a traditional supply led business model turned it on its head through on demand thinking and that advice, that’s quite unique and there’s many businesses that are kind of emulating that now the way that we like to kind of explain it is, is through, through a customer journey.
So here’s an example of a traditional taxi journey across the top of this diagram you fill in the map you share your location as best you can describe it, and destination you wait for pickup and hope their estimate is right. You take the journey and they hope you’ve got the right payment at the end of it. There’s many classic steps and you can look at some of the savings now. The GPS in your phone can identify exactly where you are, you can use mapping to get the optimal route for the taxi draft to the destination. You can have payment information ready in the app. So that payments handled automatically. As you look at the bottom of those three journeys with Uber you just got four simple steps, open the app shadid destination. Wait for the pickup, take the journey with so many ambiguous ambiguity and uncertainties taken out, and so many other features they add on top of that, from ride splitting. So you’re fast betting to services they provide and journey. So it’s been an extraordinary upheaval of a classic journey and technology has enabled this transformation, and there’s companies such as Uber and Lyft and many others, taking full advantage,
and just just to sort of kind of build in a build, build on that point. It’s not the features that they have because you know, in recent months their colour and a disability to give a tip is the fact that they add features which add significant value to the overall experience. They’re not going to feature war. They’re in an experience war. It’s a very different way of thinking about how you design, digital technology.
So Spotify Next up, fascinating example of a huge amount of data. True, true example of big data has been 40 million active users and more, and 50 petabytes of production storage which has many zeros I believe it’s 15 zeros after more than 2 billion playlists, they work in a space of huge data. But, Simon, beyond the being this massive multi processing, what is the value proposition here,
humanistic insights from Big Data. Well, what does that mean, if you take for example the discovery feature. I love Spotify, we all love discovering unique new music. They’ve made that literally so convenient like Uber made. Getting a cab, a click, Spotify of me, discovering new music, the same. This is the point they. It’s not just a simple simplification of the user experience. It’s a choreography of human behaviour integration with unbelievable amounts of data that deliver something truly amazing something truly discoverable. And that’s kind of for us the thing that differentiates them. This is a company that absolutely demonstrates excellence in machine learning.
And the beautiful thing is they realised, early on that. Once you can handle this amount of data, how do you get these insights. So in 2014, they acquired the canasta music intelligence company. There was a fantastic quote from Spotify CEO Daniel Eck at the time, he said. At Spotify, we want to get people to listen to more music, and we are hyper focused on creating the best user experience. And it started building the best music intelligence platform on the planet. So all the features you see, to this day, such as discover weekly minis radar and so forth. They are, as described by one of their engineers in a blog the tip of the personalization iceberg. They put a massive investment into machine learning models and sharing that insight within the company and outcomes, the result that hopefully you go to the Discover feature and actually finds music that you actually like, and that simple human interpretation and discover something new, takes a huge amount of thought and care and time and experience in the processing of the information to get those insights.
And if you’re going to take it a step further and start to think about the fact that it you know you you could see what we want to copy, Spotify. Well, that’s going to be pretty difficult because it’s this choreography, and this absolute commitment to understanding that human beings want to discover new music, that actually sets our experience apart from all others. And this is, you know, this is the kind of stuff that we are currently looking for the kind of insights that we’re trying to discover and share with our clients, how can you get a perspective on what to truly do with this big data. Well, Spotify is a perfect example of that.
So Airbnb. Another famous unicorn. $31 billion estimated valuation in 65,000 cities around the world. And you can see on that graph on the right. The growth has been extraordinary that’s a graph showing summer travel if the resolution is not showing it for you. groans 353 times in just five years, a classic up into the right graph, if ever you saw one. And it’s something that can’t be emulated. When you have physical constraints and don’t talk about the value proposition, they bring to the table.
Yeah, so this kind of seamless incentivize onboarding experience this is, this is the kind of thing that we’ve seen before with the likes of say, Google AdWords or talking about completely automated non sheep not non human innovation based system that allows suit you know superfast acquisition and onboarding the kind of effect of that is that the kind of acquisition and onboarding costs kind of create this network effect that the more people that you take on the lower and lower and lower and lower and lower the cost goes it’s really, really powerful it’s kind of one of the things that we think, you know, sadness separates out the big digital disruptors from everyone else’s ability to automate a process completely.
And so, here’s an example a screenshot from the current site as Simon said they’ve really extracted the employees of Airbnb from the onboarding process you can sign up in a fully automated way network affects the improvement of the service as more people join. So as more hosts become available, more people wanting to find a room, join the service, and because more people want to find the route, join the service will host become available. It’s a beautiful balance and starts to improve the quality of the overall experience. One interesting aspect around the scanning experience is that you can’t build it in some magic automated thing from the start, because so many other nuances of experience come into play. Like people becoming familiar with this service and as a CEO of Airbnb Brian chesky noted, it’s a different a different problem they had to some other businesses because people in one city needed to have access to rooms and another city so you couldn’t go city by city necessarily and build up the same way. So some wonderful stories you can find on many articles on the internet about how, for example, they started off. chesky would go round the CEO of the company to individual hosts houses and help and take professional photographs, completely unscalable solution, but it started the ball rolling and started that development of the customer base, which then you can set off for the kind of gross we saw on the previous slide, and that
this is a really interesting insight to share because we we believe in what we think that we worked out as the first thing you need to do is to define what the experience needs to be. And you need to work on that until you’re absolutely certain that you haven’t. And then you scale it. This is very, you know this is very different to what
typically happens at the moment, I mean there’s still consensus that you can kind of agile, your way to develop the right experience. Well, I think that if you look at these companies and this, and this research I mean what we would argue is
that these companies have invested heavily in working out what their experience should be. And then they set about scaling that experience.
So before we come onto slack just to say if you want to submit questions to us for when we get to the end here. You can either use the interface in the webinar. The chat interface or you can use the hashtag at journeys with unicorns on Twitter. So the hashtag journeys with unicorns and let us know anything that we can answer the ends. So slack wonderful example we actually have. I hope I’m not going to jump ahead too much and say we have a, an article coming out about that and some extra value, that they bring, but $3.8 billion valuation,
a wonderful proposition where they’ve really brought something new, because we’re so used to talking about understanding user needs and then iterating on that and delivering something to somebody when talking about the value proposition, and the unique situation they face to come into the market.
Yeah, I kind of think you know, thinking about slap reminds me a lot, a lot of many of the kind of great you know great sound bites and quotes would come from Steve Jobs thing you know they’re kind of value you know their value proposition around delivering experience excellence in a completely new market, this isn’t something that you could go and ask people what to do, because you know it’s it’s it’s like that kind of, it’s like you know when when Ford
would ask people what do people need well they just need faster horse and carts Yeah, so it’s kind of this is something
completely utterly new and it lends itself so beautifully to digital in all ways this is a way to choreograph something that didn’t exist or probably wouldn’t have existed before digital and people wouldn’t have thought of it before digital.
And one of the ways that they do what they do and we’re able to basically define this new market is with the concept of feedback loops. Now feedback loops, taking the feedback that any number of ways that that your customers or clients give it to you. And then iterating the service that you offer, and then listening some more. These are fairly well established as an idea and if you’re not doing that in some formal way. It’s something we hope a lot of our clients develop and it’s extremely important. But in this case, you’re also taking the feedback from users, you are adjusting the service, and then you’re also shaping the proposition. You’re changing the messaging, of what you’re offering because nobody knew in the first place exactly what this was going to evolve into. So really tight, if it have feedback loops, with every single bit as you can see the quotes on the screen from slack CEO Stewart Butterfield. We can take user feedback any way we can get it. Take it all and treasure it that old adage of, if one person says it and 10 people were experienced it themselves and didn’t say anything. Trees are all like gold dust. And again, even to this day you try and send a tweet to slack on Twitter or reach out some way, they respond and quickly, and it’s a tribute to this fundamental approach built into the company.
Yeah, I think, you know, picking up people will say, Well, what does feedback represent feedback, and specifically this level of feedback this deeply integrated level of feedback represents excellence in user experience design. It is essentially a demonstration of an organization’s ability to listen and respond, based on what people are saying, and it is a trend that is very common that within the kind of startup industry it’s something that will define the types of experiences that organisations want to make and it’s this type of listening as well to kind of really save slack because slack didn’t start out good at Alex is the kind of integrated Uber communications tool is today.
No, the original company was with tiny speck there’s a game called glitch, which unfortunately closed in 2012, and the this the the the starting point of slack was this internal communications tool they developed and they kept on a core team to build up this tool and to commercialise it so it really was a beautiful Phoenix from the ashes story and again. I might have let’s say there’s the next article in our strategic UX series not blog isn’t to talk about this in more detail. So, yeah, definitely check it out.
I mean we live in a big you know we’re big, we’re big fans of slack here. And I also think it’s, it’s, it’s such a, you know, we, you know that slack is powerful when for example, you know, Mike, you know, Microsoft, as the same sort of functionality to their technology you know this is you know this goes back to what we were saying, previously about defending disruption. So, these, you know the cut in the cabinets, technological incumbents that kind of precede the kind of unicorn businesses that are the ones that are taking No, look at what they’re doing and go, you know what, we need to make sure that we can deliver a similar experience with similar technology, because otherwise we’d cough very good chance of them disrupting us.
So we’ve got a couple of unicorns look at maybe about five to 10 minutes of of our review of the white paper again. Any questions put them through, and hashtag journeys with unicorns as well. Something like this to cover after the fact. We work, wonderful example because, I mean, apart from that, again, these astronomical valuations and success is 20 billion, and a wonderful quote there from the Chief Product officer, saying user experiences need to be baked into every aspect of what we do. And they treat user experience as a holistic concept across physical and digital, which is going to be an ever increasing way to look at experience ongoing especially as our markets in augmented reality and Internet of Things, flourish, but Simon. The reason we got we work and this is about the organisational structure and Nancy can talk a bit about that.
Yeah, so, you know, the kind of value, the value, value proposition here is putting experience at the heart of the organisational structure here’s a business that is actually delivering office space that is kind of as integrated digital and physical ways of thinking and acting. If you imagine that they’ve kind of broken down how you would actually interact with with their organisation into a number of journeys, represented by a number of teams. This is very, very clever thinking so you know in in the UX world in the design world we talk about journey design or here’s an example of how you deliver journey design, not just to say, deliver a better journey, but deliver a better business customer journey. This is a much deeper collaboration. This is the you know this is a very interesting way to look at it I mean it’s a great example because when people say, well, we’re not a digital company we don’t do digital stuff we just say we look at we work. Look at what they’ve done.
And last but not least, a really beautiful example in Pinterest. The idea of the personalised experience, and I’ll let Simon speak to that in a minute but again, foreshadowing slightly are going to come to in a minute but a lot of data, they’re working with 75 billion plus pins. $12.3 billion valuation, a wonderful company built around discovery and the importance of discovery in our information saturated world. So we have this wealth of information and Simon speak about to us about the how that is personalised down to every single user.
So what what we love about Pinterest is that the design is is very atomic so you’ve got this kind of classic card base design so there’s a very high level of user experience hygiene it’s very visually rich, when you imagine what we’re talking about is collections of images suggestions things that you can discover and this is a way of making, as, as Alex said the overwhelming amount of information that we have today which is only going to get bigger and bigger and bigger and turning it into something that feels manageable. This is personalization excellence. This is the, we believe that this demonstrates a level of personal experience design that firms should be looking to emulate everywhere
and wonderful quote Ben Silverman CEO of Pinterest. It talks about Pinterest in new time and there’s lots of really beautiful insights he has, if you want to research more there’s many of the white paper as well. But this book, a lot of ads really suck and they’re really ugly, they detract from the experience but you want promoted pins to fill out the ideas, you want to make your own. So you’re looking at, how can every part of this experience be yours. And you’ve got the features such as Pinterest lens which they introduced at the start of this year, where you point your cameras. Your phone’s camera at an item and it will actually give you suggestions of pins based on what is the text using machine learning and some other advanced tools, and they’ve also a lot of work on personalised emails, the end of bulk marketing emails so that every email is tailored exactly to that user and things are interesting. So it’s a holistic approach hyper focused on a personal experience, a beautiful contrast to the billions and millions, that you know they deal with being a hugely successful unicorn.
So hopefully that that gave you a kind of a feel for some of the insights that we’ve kind of uncovered and shared for the kind of unicorn research. And we know that the kind of value propositions that we’ve kind of teased out, aren’t specific to say one unicorn you know there are many unicorns right now, and many organisations out there exploring machine learning, that are exploring personalization, that I really tried to get a handle on how are we going to help our customers manage this overbearing amount of information that they have to deal with. And it’s kind of it’s thinking in these ways I’m trying to look at the best companies that are kind of delivering at speed experience at scale that we’ll have to when we’re thinking about the kind of work that, that we do on a day to day basis,
given how accessible technology makes a lot of capabilities and how we have a global reach the the pressures have increased in a way that we’ve never seen before. And it’s, it’s not unrealistic to say if it’s not you taking advantage of some of these trends. It really is the competitors. There are so many out there ready to move, and yet if you imbue your entire proposition and everything you do as a company, rich with a commitment to experience excellence. It’s not easy to copy it becomes that long term differentiated.
So what we argue is that the best way to deliver experience excellence is firstly to define what the experience needs to be before you even attempt to scale it is the first thing that you need to do. We think that these six unicorns. Absolutely exemplify that you don’t get to be a unicorn without having a user experience which is excellent. And you have to be able to deliver that experience at scale, millions of users. This is very very tricky. I mean, to put it in a nutshell, it’s never been easier to deliver a digital experience. However, it’s never been harder to deliver an excellent user experience
few other bits and pieces that you might want to kind of have a have Have a think about so we kind of run events we do other research you can come to our blog humanising technology. If you want to kind of share our white paper around please please do you know please do do that and if you know if anyone has any questions that they want to ask us No, no, this is a really good opportunity to do to do that. Alternatively, you know, email us and, and we will follow up with any questions that you may have.
Yeah, I think. Looking at our, our marketing guys here we have any questions at this moment please send them through to us. There’s wasted content on the screen, you’ve got firstname.lastname@example.org to reach out to us. We’re going to have the white paper freely available, should be with you. The blog will have a series of articles, tying into these unicorns on strategic UX, so please check that out as well. And beyond that, I would say, thank you very much for your time on behalf of Mensa.
Yes, thank you very much. We We hope you’ve enjoyed it,
and we’ll give a minute just a spot for any questions, and then if not we will look forward to hearing from you. Yeah, just talking to guys we’ve had some questions which a bit more specific and be warranted more of a one to one answer so please get in touch with us, and allowed to deal with anything else, and thank you very much for your time.
We are in a period of extraordinary opportunity and digital growth. Augmented reality, digital cities, smart homes — technology is weaving its way into our lives at a more rapid pace than ever.
The global reach of the Internet, combined with exponentially plummeting technology costs, has accelerated the rate of change and transformation in business. Distribution costs tend to zero; barriers to competitive entry are largely removed; new ideas can take a worldwide stranglehold in a blink.
But what does this mean for your business? It means competition can move more quickly, more easily, in dominating your market.
Differentiating features and services are rapidly copied. New ideas and processes bypass your established infrastructure, rendering long-standing physical asset investments effectively worthless. In short, you are exposed to the strongest ever forces of market disruption.
For a modern business to survive, let alone thrive, it must balance between the two effects of disruption: acting as the nimble disruptor and staving off disruption from all angles. Both goals are most easily accomplished when a business enjoys a clear differentiator that can be promoted and protected in the long term. One such differentiator which has seen many businesses thrive is experience.
Join Simon and Alex as they reveal how you can harness the power of experience to stay ahead of the disruption curve and learn how the likes of Uber, Airbnb and Spotify are delivering superior experiences in their quest for market differentiation and leadership.
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We believe that creating groundbreaking experiences that make measurable differences in the way people live takes a special type of collaboration. Our team designs impactful experiences by leaning on the variety of capabilities and expertise within Nomensa to ensure our solution is bespoke to your needs. We believe collaboration is key, let’s work together.