By John Armstrong
The current tech narrative is rife with examples of how data analytics has reshaped our world and the industries that play in it. Healthcare providers are able to analyze vast pools of data to improve patient care through greater understanding of an individual’s medical history or determine which treatment is likely to be most effective, for example. Retailers can keep tabs on their customer’s purchases to make product recommendations that are most inclined to catch their interest.
Buoyed by these successes, the industry is pushing data into new, unexpected corners. Recently, we’ve seen individual companies begin to experiment with how data can inform design, from a company’s products to the experiences they offer. It’s about taking something that was once largely art and enriching it through science.
For example, Nike experimented with what it calls “smart data,” using the right data and scenario planning to come up with more sustainable designs for its products, such as a dyeing technique that doesn’t need water.
Facebook is using data to design new features, including one that helps its users message friends who post a photo they don’t like and asks them to remove it. This helps Facebook avoid what was previously the primary source of reported abusive or inappropriate content on the social network.
Banking startup LendUp’s use of data allows it to offer its customers a lending experience that is designed to be easy and intuitive. Instead of asking users to answer reams of questions, the company instead relies on telling data points around how a user interacts with their site, for example, to help it make the case to approve applicants. As a result, the start-up remains viable while also better serving the underbanked.
So we’re beginning to see early, one-off forays into using data to inform design. The challenge is to make this process highly repeatable and scaling it so a broader set of companies can benefit. Recognizing this opportunity, IBM in January launched a new consulting practice called the IBM Interactive Experience dedicated to using data to inform business strategy and design. Today, IBM is taking the concept global as we open 10 new labs around the world in Bangalore, Beijing, Groningen, London, Melbourne, Mexico City, New York, Sao Paulo, Shanghai and Tokyo.
The goal is to help companies re-imagine the customer experience, which is a moving target as players new and old continue to up the ante.
As Bridget van Kralingen, Senior Vice President of IBM Global Business Services, said today, “The last best experience that anyone has anywhere becomes the minimum expectation for the experience they want everywhere, and the quality of that experience is entirely dependent on the use of individualized information.”
With the help of data analytics, companies can respond to this requirement with newer, better experiences that will woo their customers.
Later this year, IBM will once again team with the U.S. Open to create an incredible experience for fans — one that is built on terrific design informed by data. Last year, fans were treated to a truly digital experience that allowed them to act as armchair sports analysts with access to a range of Big Data insights streaming from the courts as well as historical and real-time analysis of tennis data served right to their device. Of course, fans don’t want the same experience twice, so this year’s event is sure to offer something new to surprise and delight fans.
There isn’t a single discipline or field today equipped to handle a challenge like this on its own. Such efforts require the input of multi-disciplinary teams that bring together experts in data, research, design, mobile and digital marketing. When viewed through a new lens, businesses can look at their challenges differently and come up with better answers.