Innovative technologies are changing the way we live and work dramatically, and digital transformation projects are seeing these technologies implemented to improve business processes, resulting in increased efficiency, productivity and staff satisfaction.
However, technology is only successful if implemented correctly;
- If it actually solves a business issue
- If the users are comfortable and clued-up on that technology, and how to use it for their individual needs.
Many businesses are jumping on the ‘tech bandwagon’ currently and initiating implementations that they then fail to get the full value from because either the transition hasn’t been planned effectively, employees haven’t been trained and properly introduced to the technology, or most importantly, they haven’t defined the problems the technology is solving at an early stage.
This is where ideation comes into the mix and as a technology supplier, we believe it’s essential to get involved in this to ensure the successful roll out of technologies. After all, we have responsibility for the transition to work as well as possible, as quickly as possible and if we don’t help our customers realise the full potential of their implementation, there’s a risk they may not continue with it, which is bad for all involved.
Businesses should, therefore, consider the following steps as part of an ideation strategy:
Discovering use case examples
The best place to start is highlighting the main pain points or the areas that consume large amounts of employees’ time. Think about what areas could benefit from automation in your organisation and what would enable employees to focus on more profitable activities. For example, this might be the automation of contract lifecycle management so setting up a process that automates the creation, negotiation, approval and review of any type of contract, form or online agreement.
Apply design thinking to your ideation: The double diamond
The double diamond is a visual map of the key stages of the design process: discover, define, develop and deliver. The Design Council states that “In all creative processes a number of possible ideas are created (‘divergent thinking’) before refining and narrowing down to the best idea (‘convergent thinking’), and this can be represented by a diamond shape. But the Double Diamond indicates that this happens twice – once to confirm the problem definition and once to create the solution. One of the greatest mistakes is to omit the left-hand diamond and end up solving the wrong problem.”
When solving a business process issue and implementing technology, you are essentially designing a new process so these same principles should apply, and the same level of scrutiny should be applied.
Consider viability, desirability and feasibility
Once you’ve developed a set of ideas – both good and bad – you can then evaluate, which means carefully considering the viability of how it will work in practice, the desirability of whether people want a solution to this problem and the feasibility of whether it can be achieved with the available resources.
Once you’ve refined your ideas and decided on which ones are viable, you always need to prototype and build the process structure. What’s interesting here is looking at the different ways of building the structure. I always like to bring the ‘how to make toast’ analogy in here because this is a great way to discover how different people will look at a problem, and what’s important to them as an individual. This is the concept of asking a group of people to draw how they make toast. It never fails to amaze me how wildly different these drawings will be, from some simply drawing a toaster with bread in it, to someone drawing a wheat field and the early stages of how bread is made. This process truly highlights the areas important to different people and will, therefore, help to define what needs to be built into the structure of the technology in order to serve these different individuals.
We’ve designed our ideation workshop – a day-long session with these principles in mind. It aims at working with teams to identify pain-points, generate large numbers of ideas, recognise the key questions to ask when structuring the design of the technology, what the next steps should be and how to then effectively implement. The idea is that this then adequately equips the customer with the right tools to generate value from the implementation quickly.