Human-centred technology - are we using its full potential?

  • Posted on May 13, 2019
  • Estimated reading time 3 minutes
human-centred technology

This article was originally written by Avanade alum Bernadette Harkin.

Human-centred technology trends have the power to influence people and culture in ways like no other previous technologies.

Avanade’s recently released ‘Trendlines: Make smarter bets’ proposes that digital ethics, intelligence & design and the blurring of technology boundaries can bring a significant human impact.

The way in which we transform our organisations to nurture a positive impact on our people and culture requires a distinct change in approach to traditional transformations of the last decade.

In my work with clients (and also from leading transformations), the pressure to reduce risk and contain cost in the delivery of technology projects has driven strict adherence to how they are managed from inception through to deployment.

The power of the technology wave that is now upon us requires us to reconsider our approaches in both project delivery and the manner in which we prepare ourselves before we even reach for the HoloLens or RPA software or any other form of technology that will have a human impact.

New approaches, allow us to design for a positive human impact, reduce risk and contain cost while delivering an ethically sound outcome.

In recent years, I have been fortunate to share the insights and learnings with clients and colleagues on the emerging deployment of human-centred technology. Here are four keys to successful projects:

  1. Encourage direct and robust communication between end user & technology – End users really do know the business best and what is essential to the clients and stakeholders they serve. The first stage in any transformation is, of course, to align on strategic intent and then move into the design phase of the transformation. Engaging end users and business representatives in the design phase is crucial.
  2. Apply Design Thinking - Transformation leaders often feel unsure about their organisation's ability to lead or be engaged in Design Thinking and Agile-based delivery, employing external consultants to work between the business and IT or the vendor. This leads to diminished impact of the requests from the business. However, a coach could play an important role developing the skills of the transformation team and will provide valuable learnings and development over time.
  3. Be Agile – An agile approach keeps the end users close to the transformation and allows for continuous assessment, re-thinking and re-balancing of the transformation. Agile reduces risk through having early learning and adjustment in the approach. The ability to showcase in weeks or months what was previously presented after a 12-month stretch reduces the risk of ‘that is not it’ and the subsequent costs of re-design, re-work, extensions of existing environments and a long list of other implications. Agile is not about failing early, it is about engagement and adjusting early.
  4. Own Digital Ethics – Every jurisdiction is at different stages regarding digital ethics and leaders need to take accountability for the foundation. There may be a need to have external parties view the legal and regulatory aspects. Develop an initial framework and build on it over time and with each and every sprint. Understand what is acceptable to your people and your clients and have a strong point of view on what you stand for. Design thinking approaches can be used to test the ethical concept of technology. Establish a cross-business digital ethics team to continuously guide new digital deployments with the organisations' digital stance.
  5. Retrospective – With the transformation underway, taking time to reflect on the project, ways of working and continuously measuring the people and culture impact provides a strong base to continue the journey.

Depending upon what you do, the impact on people and culture can be absolutely amazing, or not at all.

Learn more about the emerging trends that will impact design, innovation and technology choices.

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