By Piia Jalonen
- 4 minute read
Last week we brought together design-minded folks from across the industry to discuss the role of digital product design in delivering best-in-class customer experiences.
The event was organized as part of this year’s Helsinki Design Week’s official program and held at our Merikortteli headquarters.
Didn’t make it this time? Here’s a brief summary to read.
Building sticky experiences
Starting out, keynote speaker Kalle Asikainen, Group Product Director at Sector Alarm, delivered a truly insightful talk about the company’s product transformation process. Kalle opened the doors to the inner workings of his organization and explained how focusing on customer experience has enabled Sector Alarm to refresh their products despite heavy legacy debt, improve customer satisfaction, and win prestigious design awards in the process.
The starting point for Sector Alarm’s transformation journey was the painful realization that the company’s product offering was lacking in the desired performance, functionality, and premium feel, which had defined their all-inclusive service offering for decades up to this point. The product team, under Kalle’s leadership, identified design and especially user experience as the main avenues to improve the quality of the digital and physical products.
The team put down some key goals which would achieve just that:
- Build a custom, end-to-end product platform that enables future iterations.
- Bring the promise of daily convenience and peace of mind to the products and not only the service.
- Design highly-integrated services that hide the complexity of the system from the customer.
- Deliver best-in-class experiences that stick and work so seamlessly that they feel a bit like magic.
In order to achieve all of these goals, Sector Alarm needed to bridge competence gaps in their team with experts from consultancies like DK&A and others, and start building a culture that would support their product development far into the future. Great designs would mean little, if the processes weren’t in place to implement them.
A key driver of the transformation from the get-go has been a laser-sharp focus on customer-driven prioritization to ensure customer satisfaction, and remembering to stop and ask “why” at each crucial step. The Sector Alarm team introduced systematic mechanisms for collecting quantitative and qualitative customer feedback, using several different channels to measure and guide the success of the product transformation. So far, the metrics have shown that this has paid off in a major way.
The best design in the world is worth nothing if it’s not delivered.
Design principles are product principles
After his keynote, Kalle was joined on stage by Heidi Tulensalo, Service Owner at Lindström, and Maria Uhari-Pakkalin, Head of Design at S Group, for a lively panel discussion hosted by Florian Plank, Chief Strategy Officer at DK&A.
The panel discussed topics ranging from the role of design in their organizations to views of how AI will shape our industry. Heidi, Maria, and Kalle shared valuable insights on establishing design processes in their teams and how their organizations have used design methods to become truly customer-centric.
Here are some of our favorite moments:
“You can really tell when a company hasn’t focused on design. If you only focus on developing your technology but don’t shift to a design-led approach, you risk losing business.” – Heidi on the importance of design in building successful organizations.
“I believe that design methods and principles aren’t just design principles, they’re product principles. Design thinking is essentially product thinking.” – Kalle on adopting a design-led approach to product development at Sector Alarm.
“By getting designers to the problem space and leading processes from a customer experience point of view. Designers are often the ones planting seeds and connecting people across silos, especially in large organizations.” – Maria on how they’ve succeeded to integrate designers across the organization at S Group.
“AI will become one of our team members. It can give us that extra brain power to start solving complex problems that no one’s wanted to touch. But we still need people to do that sanity check and add empathy and sense-making to the equation.” – Heidi on how AI will change the way we work.
New rules for UX
This is the iPhone moment of artificial intelligence. This is the time when all those ideas within mobile computing and all that, it all came together in a product that everyone kinda [says], I see it, I see it.
Before the DJ took the stage and the audience headed for the food and refreshments, our Head of Usable AI Aki Ranin gave a quick round-up of the AI-based paradigm shift that’s currently happening across industries.
Building on Huang’s recent take on AI, Aki pointed out that no one yet knows what the AI-first internet is going to look like. What we do know, however, is that the way we do business and design services will change significantly in the course of a few short years. The responsibility is shifting towards product leaders, designers, and developers to identify opportunities and use cases for adopting AI responsibly and effectively.
Finally, Aki shared a teaser of something we’ve been working on at DK&A: Usable AI.
Our new, design-led approach combines human-centric methods with the latest AI technologies to enable meaningful and captivating customer experiences.
If you want to hear more about Usable AI, sign up for our free webinar: Create Business Value with Design-Driven AI this Thursday, September 21st, 2023.
Thank you to all the speakers and panelists for making this event happen with us, and to everyone else who joined us for the excellent conversations about design and digital products before and after the talks.