February 21 2018
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Human-Centered Design tames big data into information that your business can use

The amount of data that we are creating in our increasingly connected lives is staggering. While we are all conscious that big data will be transforming our businesses and even our way of life, the best use and how to translate all of that data is not always immediately evident. Human-Centered Design helps find the most meaningful ways to translate big data into information that your business can use to the benefit of your organisation.

By employing Human-Centered Design behaviors and techniques, something as inhuman as big data can be distilled successfully to a human scale and employed to sharpen leadership, differentiation, and focus.

Some tools to help along this journey?

Stakeholder Mapping Human-Centered Design Tames Big Data

Who for? Who with? Begin with a stakeholder mapping exercise, helping to understand and clarify relationships and potential gaps, being sure to include both internal and external stakeholders. This will help you understand who you should have involved in the process (fostering collaboration and assuring buy in further down the road) as well as both the target user and who will benefit most from your future innovation.

Jouney Mapping Human-Centered Design Tames Big Data

Empathize! Empathize! Journey mapping to reveal gaps and unmet needs for key internal stakeholders as well as users or consumers would be a logical next step. Building empathy is a cornerstone of Human-Centered Design. Once you have determined who and where in the journey you should concentrate your efforts, you can then understand your consumers or users and develop insights and opportunity statements to act as a springboard for ideation. Look at how key stakeholders use (or don’t use) information currently, concentrate on individual experiences, invite stakeholders into the process as much as possible, whether through contextual observation in the early stages or collaborative workshops as your process evolves.

Collaborate Prototype Human-Centered Design Tames Big Data

Collaborate, prototype, iterate… Together in a supportive workshop environment, ideate and prototype your ideas. Prototyping allows you to identify actionable ideas quickly or paths for further exploration and rapid initial evaluation. Remember that this is an iterative process and you can explore these rough prototypes in a collaborative environment with stakeholders, internal or external as most appropriate.

Nest thermostat Human-Centered Design Tames Big Data

A prime example of using HCD successfully to guide the usage of big data is Nest when it developed its groundbreaking thermostat. Through an investigation of key stakeholders, it realised that benefitting both the household residents and the energy firms would be key to the success of their products. Empathizing with both stakeholders needs allowed them to use the data they were collecting through their thermostats to both regulate the inside temperature of the house in a much “smarter” way than traditional thermostats (learning household patterns, detecting when people are in the house or not, adjusting for sudden dips in the temperature when no one is home…) as well as provide energy companies with valuable information to cope with peaks and drops in demand (residents give permission for this data to be shared in exchange for a financial incentive). The results: both key stakeholders benefit. According to Nest, power companies have been able to reduce energy wastage by up to 50% where they operate and customers have benefited from bills that are 10 – 15% lower, a more comfortable environment and increased peace of mind.

At times, it may seem that the limitless scope of the question, “What would be the best use for data in my organization?” leads to more questions than answers. Bringing the scope down to a very human level, paying attention to the human factors that contribute to or motivate success, is the surest way to harness big data for competitive advantage.

For more information about Human-Centered Design and our Design Thinking workshops, visit our Innovation Training page.

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Posted by Janet
Principal – Design Research

Languages spoken: English, French.
The last thing that inspired me: Introducing my kids to great artists at Beaubourg.
My dream project: Figuring out a way for everyone to have access to clean food.
My obsession: Reading cookbooks.

Image credit Nest Thermostat


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