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User experiences, Customer Journeys, Change Management and everything in between: The Common Element of Human Factors

There is a lot of conversation happening these days about Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine learning, and Robotics. Artificial intelligence or AI is the ability of a system to understand what it is being asked of and then infer the best possible answer from all the available evidences. These trendy buzzwords, AI, robotics, machine learning, etc. may sound fascinating. However, they pose a serious and real threat – the threat to potentially alienate users and their experiences leading to trust issues and therefore abandoning adoption.

In one of my co-authored papers 14 years ago, at the Rigi Research group at the University of Victoria, we had proposed that humans should be treated as modeled, managed elements in an autonomic control loop to deter user alienation, improve user experiences and build user trust. We suggested synergistic design ideas to make communication with users more effective, and to allow the system to learn from the users’ actions. A system that exhibits initiative and interaction, creates a dialogue with humans and engages the people side of things is hence likely to be better adopted.

Fast forward to today, I am elated to see that our research aligned exactly with what is being asked of in today’s world. No wonder then our paper received 5,939 citations. Be it an enterprise-wide transformation or localized self-service web application, the human factor is of utmost importance. Today everything lies, not only around but also, within human experiences. As Digital-Media puts it, there can be no transformation without the human touch. Circumscribing digital transformation to the technological area is a grave error because change must be driven by the will, capacity, and commitment of people, in an organization where different generations coalesce.

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Social media frameworks today have spread contagiously and seen unprecedented success. These social media platforms such as Instagram®, Facebook®, and Snapchat® were built with a focus on people and their experiences. No, I am not suggesting to build or buy social networking tools but the point I am trying to make is that these applications were instantly intuitive and appealed to their users. Nobody needs formal training for Instagram. The same expectation of instinctive usability has to be part of any transformation initiative. In other words, User Experiences, Customer Journey and Change Management is not just about graphical user interfaces—it’s about interactions, collaborations, value mapping, and adoption. Therefore, while human factors determine the success of digital transformations, those same human factors must guide transformative actions in a smooth, efficient process for making the shift to the new digital environment. For example, analyzing available raw data made through a “Human” prism provides the ability for decision making. Without a human dimension, data is just a massive occupier of storage space that adds more problems than it solves.

As digital continues to penetrate our lives and transform our world at an accelerated pace, it will also expand the ways in which it permeates every aspect of our everyday lives. Giving heed to Human Factors, today and in the future, is therefore, fundamentally required to transform digital from a distinct, disconnected field into something that’s embedded in the fabric of everyday businesses. By ensuring people are at the center of any change, organizations can ensure they are on a path to success so that it can adjust naturally to the rapid tempo of future transformations that are yet to come.

Priyanka Agrawal

Priyanka Agrawal, MSc, CBAP©, is a senior business analyst and management consultant with 20 years of consulting and industry experience. Priyanka has a proven track record of aligning IT solutions with business needs, promoting change through strategic initiatives and managing business process improvements while successfully leading projects. With a depth of experience in IT and breadth of experience across industries, Priyanka has applied her skills in both public and private sectors. Priyanka is a published author, advisor, recurring speaker and instructor at the Project World Business Analyst World conference and at the IIBA Vancouver chapter. She is also the course content developer for the Agile BA course at the University of Manitoba and BA Instructor at Simon Fraser University. Priyanka founded her own consulting firm called PA the BA™. She previously served as secretary and vice president of membership on IIBA Vancouver’s board of directors.