The silver bullet

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Anyone who’s worked on iterative design projects – sometimes called ‘agile’ projects, although that term itself often hinders understanding, rather than helping it – will know that reflection is a key part of the journey. We’ve been doing a lot of reflection lately, and it’s prompted me to reflect on what digital transformation is – or perhaps more importantly, what it isn’t.

I’m a service designer, so – guess what? – I design services. But what does that actually mean?

The human touch

We look at the world from a certain perspective – the perspective of the user, or the customer, or, perhaps more accurately, the human being that will be doing the doing. Human-centred design.

We help operational teams that provide something of value to human beings to understand what they do through the lens of providing a service. For more about what a ‘service’ actually is in this context, Good Services by the mighty Lou Downe is a must-read. But, in essence, a service helps someone to do something. It’s not rocket science.

Looking at a service from a human-centred perspective allows us to focus on who the users of our service are, and what their needs are. What are they trying to do? And how is our service helping them (or hindering them) in getting that thing done?

We also consider the human beings who are delivering the service – our colleagues in the organisation. What do they need to do to meet the needs of customers? And how is the way the organisation operates helping them (or hindering them) to deliver an excellent service to our customers?

So where’s the tech?

I can hear you all at the back – ‘she’s 250 words in, but hasn’t mentioned digital yet… What about digital, surely all services are digital these days?’ I hate to disappoint, but there really is no such thing as a digital service.

Services provide value from one human being to another. Some services might be supported by digital tools – to make it easier for our customers to interact with us, or to remove the administrative burden from our colleagues – but human beings need to make decisions, manage relationships, provide expert advice.

Digital transformation isn’t about technology – it’s about the change that technology can enable. When to use technology – and when not to – should be driven by the needs of our customers, and the needs of our colleagues, and a solid understanding of the value that our service is trying to achieve for our customers.

It really isn’t rocket science.

I'm a service designer with a background in content design, web development and graphic design. My career began in the last century, when words were written on paper and publications printed with bits of metal. The world moves on.

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