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Design Thinking is a powerful problem-solving approach that spurs innovation and growth by combining what is desirable from a human perspective with what makes the most sense technologically and economically.

In Mobile Minute #10, we discussed how design thinking could help you create an unbeatable Mobile strategy. In Mobility Minute #11 we introduced you to our own proven seven-step design thinking process and explored the first two steps—Scoping and 360° Research.

Today we’re going to look at steps three and four: Synthesis and Ideation. We’ll show how these steps help you identify your target mobile user’s unarticulated needs and generate ideas for solutions that are aligned with your organization’s goals and systems.  

Step 3 – Synthesis: Reframing the needs and pain points

If you were to ask your target users which mobile solutions they wanted the most, their answers probably wouldn’t include an idea for a truly cutting-edge app.  The funny thing about people is that they don’t always know what they need before they see it or use it.

Synthesis is the process of gaining deeper insight into the users’ needs and pain points that can typically reframe the original problem. Creating a user journey map, experience map, or day-in-the-life scenario are some of the approaches that can be used during this step. Pay close attention to the differences between an average user and an outlier, outliers often hold the keys to unlocking user behavior and design patterns that can be leveraged to improve overall design for a desirable outcome.

For example, one commonly available journey map online, the Starbucks Experience Map describes a customer’s touch points with Starbucks coffee, from anticipation, entering, engaging, and exiting, to reflection. These touch points can be sorted into positive and negative experiences. One example of a negative experience for the touch point, “entering,” would be always having difficulty finding a parking space close to your favorite Starbucks location. This mapping of a negative experience easily highlights an important and often unarticulated customer need. It allows for important insights to help build positive experiences for a Starbucks customer.

User journeys, experience maps or day-in-the-life scenarios can be created for any user/activity. For example, you could construct a user journey that your sales reps could use to profile their experience in relation to a customer visit. Or create a day-in-the-life scenario for your best marketing prospects in order to better understand their experiences and motivations.

We started out at step 1 by scoping mobile intentions for the organization, target users and criteria to go mobile. For some organizations at the Synthesis step, the mobile use case insights and sometimes even the value criteria that are discovered reframe the original mobile problem approached during the scoping. Synthesis is the step at which you identify an addressable problem space for your mobile strategy and get your first real chance to tackle the wicked problem!

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Step 4 – Ideation: Identifying and refining Ideas

Once you have a deeper understanding of the needs of your target mobile users, your next step is to identify ways to address these needs, keeping in mind your organization’s overall vision and goals. What kind of impact does each need have on your key value drivers? Which ones, if solved, will have the greatest positive impact on your bottom line?

Let’s revisit Mobility Minute #11 where we used “sales excellence” as an example of a value driver. Imagine a scenario in which your sales reps don’t have an adequate way of documenting their leads –they’re writing random notes on paper or memorizing them and then later transferring them into a CRM system, often with considerable delay or insufficient information. The impact on sales excellence is significant as this problem prevents sales reps from doing their best possible job. Your goal in this example is to identify ways in which you can use the features on a typical mobile device (e.g., a camera, GPS, or voice recording tool), to address the needs of the sales reps. Maybe you create a simple “lead generator” app that makes it easier for your sales reps to document all necessary information on the spot. If you want to get fancy, you could include preset data such as location-based customer details triggered by GPS or an easy image-to-text scanner to capture business card information. The better equipped your sales reps are, the more effective they’ll be at converting leads into customers. Note that some of the benefits attached to each idea might be intangible or indirectly linked to your value drivers. In the above example, happy sales reps may lead to a better brand image, and thus to growth. These intangible benefits can have a very real impact on your business.

Moving beyond this example, by this point of step 4, you have identified a wealth of ideas for relevant mobile use cases. A great way to refine and structure ideas is to draw a use case map that links your ideas to the relevant components including:

  • User groups: identify other user groups who would benefit from your wealth of ideas
  • Processes: understand what impact your idea has on the existing process, and whether it may be used to improve it 
  • Systems: identify the systems where the data reside that are necessary to implement the idea
  • Devices: inventory your devices so you know which ones your target user groups have, and what must-have features are needed to put the idea into action (e.g., a camera)

A well-conceived use case map is an invaluable tool as it can help you refine the ideas that will have the greatest impact on your value drivers, and are also in alignment with your systems and processes.

In Mobile Minute #13, we’ll look at steps five and six of our seven-step design thinking process: Prototyping and Validation. Watch for it during the week of May 16! 

Whitepaper: Defining Innovative Mobile Strategies: How Design Thinking Offers an Effective Way to Address the “Wicked Problem” of Enterprise Mobility

Jomy Pidiath

Global Mobile Strategy Services | SAP

Follow me on twitter https://twitter.com/jomypidiath

Tonja Erismann

Global Mobile Strategy Services | SAP

Connect with me on linkedin

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