Archive | July 2012

Taking over the Future

A profitable long-running design firm does not only design to solve a problem. It also thinks ahead and design for the future problems. It is good to keep in mind that we think about the future to avoid danger, to set goals, to be creative and think about where you want to head, in relation to today’s lecture.

Google, for one, is growing uncontrollably with its continuous release of new products and services. But has Google thought of its own future? There is a debate whether its sudden growth is it’s one way ticket to downhill.

An article written by Rob Enderle for Tech News World, doubts the success of Google.

In 2007, it is predicted that Google buys Microsoft in 2015 and pretty much takes over the world by 2050. Is really is rather interesting to watch. I do think it accurately showcases Google’s potential, but I don’t think Google is on this path either.

As was revealed in Steve Jobs’ biography, Jobs himself, effectively speaking from the grave,argued that Google was becoming Microsoft — too unfocused and too willing to toss crap out to the market. In short, Google needed to focus and grow up.

Recently it even got its own version of the old Microsoft consent decree (which ironically mirrored IBM’s decades before). As I was writing, an Android fragmentation chart was released showcasing that Android, Google’s premier operating system, pretty much screws the people who use it.

This brings up a second clear problem for Google, and that is quality. By separating the revenue from the product (it funds everything indirectly through advertising), it does what any product company knows is death: It makes its developers a cost center. Cost centers are naturally starved for funding and generally underperform as a result. So, for Google to reach its potential, it needs to stop focusing on showing Microsoft up, find a way to adequately resource its efforts, and focus instead on what it wants to be when it grows up — or it will fail, as Netscape did, for being the perennial child.

I also doubt Google wants to be remembered as the company that stole from Steve Jobs while being mentored and while Jobs was dying of cancer.

(Enderle 2011)

Google release too many design solutions all at the same time to compete with the success of Apple. This is where quality versus quantity draws the line in design.

Further examination of where the firm has planned of going as opposed to where the firm is going needs to be taken into consideration. This also may link back Backcasting mentioned in the lecture today. This is when a firm starts with a vision that it wants and it go backwards to take in the steps needed towards the vision. This enables the firm to identify feasible pathways towards the future to improve quality and credibility of the design.

Reference:

Enderle R. 2011, Which Tech Giant Will Own the Future, Tech News World, website, accessed 4 July 2012, <http://www.technewsworld.com/rsstory/73612.html>

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Borders: From success to failure

Borders opened its first store in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Along with competitor Barnes & Noble, Borders pioneered the book megastore business. Not being able to address the concerns on the change of the book industry over time and re-strategising their business model has caused the megastore to file for bankruptcy in late 2011.

Here are five explanations to why this had happened (Sanburn 2011):

1. It was too late to the Web

Borders outsourced its online book-selling to Amazon.com. Everytime you visited borders.com, you were redirected to amazon.com. It might have seemed to be a smart decision at the time, however, Borders did not expect that the outcome resulted to hurting Borders’ branding strategies and cut into its customer base by relinquishing control to another company.     Borders usually have a fixed price for their books and not being able to acknowledge the fact that once they outsourced to Amazon.com, this enabled buyers to compare prices with other sellers, which usually are more competitive prices.

Peter Wahlstrom, who tracks Barnes & Noble for the investment research firm Morningstar says,

In our view, that was more like handling the keys over to a direct competitor.

(Noguchi 2012)

2. It was too late to e-books

Borders also did not forsee the rise of e-books like how Amazon and Barnes & Noble did. It didn’t develop its own e-reader to compete with the Kindle or the Nook immediate enough, and only realised to open an online e-book store a year ago. Once they have actually adopted to selling e-books for devices like the Kobo and Cruz, their marketing strategy was not strong enough to attract buyers. In contrast to that was Barnes & Noble’s initiative to getting their product Nook out there to their target market, which had visually dominated their stores to attract attention and interests.

Amazon Kindle (Goldring 2009)

Barnes & Noble’s Nook now in its 1st Edition of Wi-Fi! (CouponAlbum.com, 2010)

3. It opened too many stores

Borders carelessly expanded too quickly in a short period of time. Many Borders stores were competing with a local Barnes & Noble’s, offering a glut of bookstores even as people were shifting to online shopping.

4. It had too much debt

Carrying a huge debt load while going through the 2008-09 recession only damaged the firm further and where in a desperate attempt to pay down some $350 million it owed by trying to restructure. Because of the inefficient business practices they had put itself in, there was no easy way out.

5. It over-invested in music sales

                  It started off as simple as a bookstore, then over the years, it has morphed into a multipurpose entertainment retailer. Another factor that had cost them was investing heavily in CD sales during the 90s just as when people had stopped buying CDs as they began to purchase iPods instead.

Many of the ‘avid’ readers saw this fate approaching Borders. Their main concerns where Borders had lost its niche market that they once had to their further promotion on ‘Best Sellers’ which were often written by celebrities who usually don’t have a proper background in writing or they may have hired other writers to write for them. True readers were turned off by this approach as Borders intentions where to appeal to a wider customer base to increase their profit. Their failure to listen to want their loyal niche market wanted instead tried to win the hearts of a wider market had cost them consumer trust.

Borders is a great example of what could happen to our firms should we choose to ignore what our lecturers, reading and videos had been informing us. The failure of borders significantly relates to both of Ilka Staudinger’s lecture. Creating scenarios of the extremes with drivers of change is vital when deciding to create an innovation as this will only help you be more open-minded to the possible outcomes that could have a great impact on the success or failure of your business. It is better to acknowledge these scenarios and provide solutions now to be more prepared when one of these scenarios does actually happen as you can only improve it for the better. It also relates to finding your firm’s persona/s. Firms are usually more successful providing accurate and efficient solutions to a niche market rather than trying to cater for general use – which is almost impossible as different people has different views, needs and personalities.

It also links the Brown reading ‘Design Thinking meets the Corporation or Teaching to Fish’ when he talks about re-thinking strategies and used Nokia as an example. As he argued that Nokia was a leading mobile phone for providing services such as texting and calling. Now that new technologies had emerged such as the iPhone and Androids which offered an endless variety of services on their phone systems perfect for our current way of living ( fast-paced and efficient) which had then made Nokia re-think its strategies and services to stay in the game.

We could learn from the mistakes of Borders and apply this when evaluating our firm.

Reference:

CouponAlbum.com 2011, Buy.com Deal: Shop NOOK First-Edition Wi-Fi at 43% OFF + Free Shipping, online shop, Coupon Album, accessed 3 July 2012, <http://blog.couponalbum.com/buy-com-deal-nook-first-edition-wi-fi/>

Goldring D. 2009, Review: The Amazon Kindle 2, weblog, Gear Diary, accessed 3 July 2012, < http://www.geardiary.com/2009/03/16/review-the-amazon-kindle-2/>

Hamilton C. 2011, Borders’ Potential Failure Maybe Good for Publishers, Authors, weblog, Florida Writers Conference Blog, accessed 3 July 2012, <http://floridawriters.wordpress.com/2011/02/02/borders-potential-failure-may-be-good-or-publishers-authors/>

Noguchi Y. 2011, Why Borders Failed While Barnes & Noble Survived, weblog, NPR, accessed 3 July 2012, <http://www.npr.org/2011/07/19/138514209/why-borders-failed-while-barnes-and-noble-survived>

Sanburn J. 2011, 5 Reasons Borders Went Out of Business (and What Will Take Its Place), weblog, Time Moneyland, accessed 3 July 2012, <http://moneyland.time.com/2011/07/19/5-reasons-borders-went-out-of-business-and-what-will-take-its-place/>

Waste Chem Pty Ltd

Since our firm is about resolving waste issues, we have to consider what kind of businesses are already out there trying to find solutions to the same problem. I have come across a firm called WasteChem which offers a variety of services

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WasteChem’s key focus in delivering waste services to assist our clients in reducing their carbon footprint. We do this by reducing waste to landfill through the recovery of recyclables and where practical, reusing resources.

This is a firm which provides solutions to their client’s needs with regards to their wastes and resources usage. They specialise in identification, collection and recycling of all types of hazardous and non-hazardous waste streams, including mine site, waste oils, paints, resins and cardboard and plastics.

Motto: We make sure the risk in everything we do before we do it. 

WasteChem specialises in 2 distinct services: Waste Management and Spill Control

WasteChem provides a Total Management solution to its clients specialising in the collection, recycling and disposal of all types of Solid, Hazardous and Liquid waste streams.

A list of waste management services they provide:

  • Total Waste Management
  • Monthly Waste Reporting
  • Chemical Identification
  • Project Management Services
  • Product Destruction
  • Site Auditing
  • Liquid waste management, oily water, dam water
  • Solid Waste Management including: General Waste, Cardboard and plastic Recycling
  • Waste tracking
  • Site Testing and Analysis
  • Product Destruction onsite and offsite
  • Acids, Oxidizers, Flammable Liquids
  • Lab Chemicals
  • Oily Rags, Oil Filters, Grease, Paint, Ink, Solvents, Resins, Glues, Adhesives
  • Aerosols
  • Fluorescent Tubes
  • General Waste
  • Ferrous and Non-Ferrous Metals
  • Waste Oils including, Hydraulic Oil, Gear Oil and Engine Oils
  • Solvent based and Water based Paints Thinners
  • Mine Site Wastes
  • Confidential Document Bins

WasteChem can also supply a range of Spill Control Management Kits and Equipment on demand. Some of the products are:

  • 240litre and 120 litre Spill Kits
  • Mini Booms
  • Large Booms and Absorbent Rolls
  • Absorbent Floor Sweep
  • Heavy Weight Pads
  • Hazchem large and small Pillows
  • Contaminated Waste Bags and Ties
  • Industrial Gloves
  • Emergency Spill Response Signs
  • Drain Wardens
  • Stick Down Bunding
  • Storage Cabinets
  • Laminated Instruction Guide
  • Pan and Brush
  • Transport Spill Kit
  • Wheelie Bins
  • Drain Seal – Stormwater

Their strong approach to waste minimisation and environmental responsibility has focused them to significantly reduce waste to landfill by enhancing the recovery of resources. They believe ‘reducing waste to landfill is not as complicated or expensive as some may have thought. By having in place a waste management program that addresses the needs and requirements of the site, now an din years to come many companies will release real cost savings and significantly improve their environmental footprint.

They believe that education is the key and at the commencement of any contract they will propose an education program that is supported throughout the full contract term. This could be linked back to the type of business model discussed from the 26th of June lecture about Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship. In order for this firm to create value, they have considered improving their customer relationship through this education program. Thus, creating an atmosphere of trust and acceptance between the people and the firm.

One of our firm’s goal is to create a relationship full of trust with our target market for us to be able to successfully contribute for the better of their lives. But before that, the people need to acknowledge the problem first and educate them with what they could do for their environment. This is the ‘Discover’ part of our mantra. Once we’ve gain their trust, it will be easier to present them our main focus. This is called the ‘Connect’ part of our mantra. Once they have acknowledged the problem, engaged with our firm for solutions now we can assist them in re-shaping their world, which is the third word in our mantra. ‘Discover. Connect. Shape.’

On their website, they have a subheading called ‘Smart Ideas’ and in here they talk about ways that anyone and everyone should consider to contribute a little for the better of the environment. These ideas are categorised under Re-Think. Re-Use, Recycle.

Re-Think:

  • Don’t print e-mails unless if it is necessary
  • ALways buy recycled packaging
  • Print “only” the page you need, not the entire document
  • Does it need to be replaced “NOW”?
Re-Use:
  • Cardboard Packaging
  • Metal and plastic drums
  • Manila Folders
  • Use refillable printer cartridges where possible
Recycle:
  • Office paper
  • Printer cartridges
  • computers
  • Aluminum cans
  • Plastic bottles
  • Shrink wrap
  • Standard pallets
  • Waste oils
  • Gunwash Thinners
They have recommend placing recycling bins under desks of officeses for the recovery of office paper which coudl be then emptied out in larger bins and sent for recycling (which I believe many organisations, schools and other workplaces have now acquired) and also plastic recycling bins in lunch rooms for plastic bottles.
Reference:
 Smart Ideas, website, WasteChem, accessed 2 July 2012, <http://wastechem.rtrk.com.au/?scid=143247&kw=1867788&pub_cr_id=14297254958>

Personas

Today’s lecture was about considering personas and scenarios as design tools of a business. My tutor has also stressed about the importance of identifying the persona of your firm to improve efficiency and quality, corporate cohesiveness, focus and decision making at every level.

Pragmatic Marketing, for example, creates personas, or example users, as tools to represent the needs, desires, skills and environment of one or more classes of real users. The terminology they use is as follows:

  • Primary personais the primary user of the particular interface or entire product.
  • Secondary persona is another use of the primary interface, one for whom they will make accommodations so long as the primary person’s experience is not compromised.
  • Negative persona is the user for whom we explicitly will not add product features or capabilities because to do so will pull their product in a direction we do not want.
  • Buyer persona is the buyer (either an extension of an existing persona or a non-user) whose biases and needs must be addressed int he product and/or the marketing material.

These personas enabled us to make appropriate decisions when building and marketing our products.

In this video, Donna Tellam, Director of Users Experience for Global 360, explains why using a user-centric, persona-based approach to business process design costs less ans is more successful than other approaches.

(Global360 Persona BPM 2011)

Here is a sample persona from Interaction Design:

User: Fred Fish, Director of Food Services

Picture of one typical user for usage scenario

Background  Fred is Director of Food Services for Boise Controls, a mid-sized manufacturer of electronic devices used in home security systems. He uses a computer, but he’s a chef by trade and not so computer-savvy. A computer is just another tool for getting his administrative tasks done.

Key goals  As a manager, Fred doesn’t get his hands (literally) dirty the way he used to. He stops in at all the Boise Controls sites and sticks his fingers into things once in awhile to stay in touch with cooks and cooking.

A Usage Scenario: Fred Fish a Persona (Interaction Design 2011)

Resources:

Global 360 Persona BPM 2011, Cost Benefits of Persona-based Business Process Design, video recording,  viewed 2 July 2012, <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tI2AdM10vw>

Interaction Design 2011, Product Design: A sample persona, Interaction Design, website, accessed 2 July 2012, <http://www.user.com/persona-example.htm>

Rind B. 2010, The Power of the Persona, Pragmatic Marketing, website, accessed 2 July 2012,  <http://www.pragmaticmarketing.com/resources/the-power-of-the-persona>