Humanizing Big Data with Design Thinking

Big Data, Design Thinking

The amount of data each one of us is creating, in this world of increasing connectivity, is enormous. Although, we are aware that big data is poised to transform businesses and even our lives, but companies are gradually struggling to find a way to translate all that data in a way which actually benefits the business.

We’ve reached a stage in the field of technology where consumers are no longer attracted to access to data, as data availability, even our own, is increasingly the norm. If you are wondering what exactly are consumers looking in products and services, the answer lies in the usability of the data.

So what are successful companies doing to stay ahead in the game to woo consumers? It is Design Thinking. By employing human centered design thinking techniques to something inhuman such as big data, companies are continually engaging with customers in an emotional way and outsmarting the competition in the market.

Design Thinking and Big Data, exciting right? 

No matter how much the world has come to revere Big Data, data scientists don’t hold some magic formula that’s going to save the world, radically transform businesses, or eliminate poverty. Problems cannot be resolved just by accumulating large amount of data or setting a bunch of nerds loose on a pile of data. Solving a problem not only requires a high-level conceptual understanding of the challenge, but also a deep understanding of the nuances of a challenge.

Let’s take a quick recap of the design thinking process:

  • Observe, empathize and understand the customer’s behavior or interaction.
  • Develop theories about their behavior, including spoken and unspoken aspects of their behavior, explicit and implicit needs, etc.
  • Based on derived theories, develop potential solutions that could address the problem they face.
  • Qualify some of these solutions based on various kinds of criteria, such as feasibility, scope, technology, cost, etc.
  • Start designing a prototype, iterate and then begin developing the final product idea.

Applying Design Thinking on Big Data

Getting back to how big data companies can leverage design thinking, data scientists could benefit by starting with asking right questions like who for? Who are? Instead of applying frameworks and algorithms right away to the data, begin with a stakeholder mapping exercise. Understand and clarify relationships and potential gaps, being sure to include both internal and external stakeholders. This will help data scientists understand who is the target user and who will benefit most from their future innovation.

UI UX Design, Design Thinking, Big Data

Design relies heavily on empathy and it is the cornerstone of ground breaking products.To utilize design thinking methodology, understand your consumers or users and develop insights and opportunity statements to act as a springboard for ideation. Look at how key stakeholders use (or don’t use) information currently, concentrate on individual experiences, invite stakeholders into the process as much as possible, whether through contextual observation in the early stages or collaborative workshops as your process evolves. Forming a deep customer empathy allows data scientists to understand the consumers, the environment and the criteria of a good solution. The end-goal of any product is to be consistently used by all users, not just power users, and the only way to accomplish this is to make it as simple as possible to discover the relevant insights.

Design thinking has given a rise to a new mantra- Fail fast to succeed faster. Sooner you identify that something is failing, the quicker you can fix it and the faster you will ultimately succeed. A vital component of design thinking is a prototype, which conveys a realistic impression of the new problem solution as early as possible. Developing prototypes allows to obtain more informed feedback from users, and combining this information with additional research, iteration, and brainstorming lays the pathway to reach the final goal.

As technology is evolving at a rapid pace, enterprises are facing new challenges every day which is only growing complex with time. When design-thinking is applied to analytics, sheer magic is born. Big data in combination with design thinking can be revolutionary by virtue of the value it creates for organizations. Thinking from a human level, paying attention to the human factors that contribute to or motivate success, is the surest way to for organizations to unlock new opportunities, build empathy for users and pave the way to exceptional experiences that are truly human-centered.

Step into the Bold and Beautiful ‘AI + Design’ Era

Artificial Intelligence, UI UX Design, Design Thinking

Although there was a certain paranoia revolving around Artificial Intelligence (AI), thanks to Skynet, but in recent years AI has enhanced by leaps and bounds. 2018 is especially witnessing a new surge in the field of AI, especially among various enterprises that are collecting big data.

What is AI?

If you are still wondering where I am trying to go with all this, don’t worry you will know soon enough. As AI continues to become more understood with each passing day, it’s becoming less confined to the domain of developers and data scientists and slowly but surely we have stepped into the era of ‘AI + UX’ where both of them are inextricably entwined. They both affect and inform how the other works and some are proclaiming that down the line, AI will eventually replace designers. But no, chances of that happening are pretty slim. Phew! I could almost sense my fellow designers choking.

Leveraging AI to create better UX (Oh the possibilities!)

In the world of UX, the rise of Big Data, AI, and automation is steadily opening new possibilities for designers. Besides architecting human-like conversations and actions, designers can do a lot more by leveraging AI. Traditionally designers relied on metrics and tools to improve functionality and effectiveness of an app, but now with AI, designers today have access to the myriad of empirical, actionable data that gives them a better platform to create outstanding UX.

Taking the more personal route

Core skills of a UX designers centre around having a deep understanding of the product’s functionalities, predicting how the users will interact with the solution, ultimately forming a bridge with design thinking. Even though there has been no greater shift in these core skills of designers, but with the introduction of AI, there has been a huge change in the how of designing products.

In a sensory overloaded world, users are increasingly expecting a more personalized experience. This has led designers to turn towards AI, to understand patterns from large sets of data to create compelling tailor-made applications. Instead of checklist and list of deliverables, designers are scrutinizing sheer volume of information to make data-informed decisions, and coming up with perfect interfaces, messages, push notifications, colours, and fonts to suit each and every user’s needs.

Taking advantage of AI to do the legwork.

Every UX designer have to do tons of mundane work on a daily basis, such as cropping assets, resizing images, color correcting photos , yes all of us hate doing it, but it is part of the job. However, these jobs are slowly getting automated with the help of AI (Hallelujah!). For example, Adobe recently announced the launch of Sensei Stitch, an Artificial Intelligence, which identifies patterns in the image to help designers patch, edit, or even completely reinvent certain scene.

Such AI enabled systems not only helps designers become more efficient at what they do but it allows us to focus more on the creative and strategic aspects of the work instead of technical tasks.

Create smarter Interfaces

Some companies have incorporated AI to create smarter interfaces which are slowly making many traditional interfaces disappear. For example, focused on usability, Amazon’s Alexa which runs on Artificial Intelligence, interacts with users by simply talking to them and acts on their behalf by handling tasks when asked to. Alexa and Amazon Alexa users show a considerable increase in the online purchase.

AI not only improves user experience but it offers a dramatically better way to solve problems and, more importantly, gives the power to do things which were previously not possible.

The world is galloping towards embracing the umpteen number of opportunities AI has to offer. As AI evolves, designers at Scketch are collaborating with data scientists and clients to innovate and create exciting meaningful experiences that not only benefits end users but also the future of UX. Our journey with Artificial Intelligence is teaching us that a combination of data, algorithms and user experience methodologies can trigger an avalanche of memorable experiences for the end users.

Alexa, What’s all the buzz about you and your sisters?

Voice User Interface, VUI, Internet of Things

Voice assistant- Is it a necessity – or overhyped – like Google Glass? Will it survive the test of time ?

If you are a fan of the Star Trek series, you’d remember this scene in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home(1986) where Chief Engineer Scotty travels back to 1986 with the Enterprise crew. He is given a computer and he goes like, “Hello Computer” using the mouse as his microphone. He gets surprised for not receiving a response. When given a keyboard to operate the computer with, he says “How quaint!”.

I am sure if Chief Scotty travels back to 2018, he wouldn’t find our tech that “quaint”.

Voice User interface (VUI) is taking the world by storm. The Smart Audio Report finds out, in just three years the smart speakers are “already outpacing the adoption rates of smartphones and tablets”. But before we dive into the core of the craze, let’s see what is exactly Voice User Interface.

Voice User Interface, allows you to interact or control your devices using your voice.

Gone are the days when you have to find your device and look into the screen to just know the time or book a cab. Ask your virtual assistant and you shall get your job done! This technology is truly maximising the power of multitasking.

Infographics from Canalys showing the increase in demand for Smart speaker

Now let me answer the 3 burning questions related to VUI for you without any delay.

Why is there a sudden uproar for Voice user interface(VUI)?

Humans are wired for speech. It’s a common childhood imagination of having a computer with A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) like J.A.R.V.I.S to save the world like Iron man or have it just as our friend.

Butters talking to Awesome-O in South Park
Credits : Comedy Central

So, this concept was not only well established in our imaginations but was way ahead being tried and tested in the research world.

With this comes the next question.

If this idea came to us long time ago, what took us so long to bring it into existence?

Developing a VUI is like building a personality for a novel’s character. Similarly, a machine has to be provided with data and the power to process it to build a personality. This is being given to the machines in the form of cloud computing, data mining and machine learning.

You can also check this amazing video below which shows an experiment performed in Michigan University called “Donald Sherman orders a pizza using a talking computer, Dec 4, 1974” where a pizza is ordered from Mr.Mike’s using a computer.

Credits : John Eulenberg (YouTube Channel)

But one of the common questions being asked around is, when we have mobile applications doing everything we want and more, why do we need a voice assistant?

The beauty of speech is, it’s a skill which encompasses a wide range of people. For example, my granny has a hard time setting an alarm on her smartphone. She comes to me saying “Tanushree, I want to set an alarm for 5 A.M. Can you please set it up on this phone?”

Now imagine the joy she’d experience when she gets her work done on her own by simply telling Alexa, Siri or any other voice assistant to do it for her.

Credits : The Star Online (YouTube Channel)

Speech is a skill which brings different ages, people with imparities together to enjoy technology. It is definitely not solving the problem for all, but it’s making a right step towards including everyone.

How Scketch is making use of VUI

At Scketch, we love to learn, incorporate and work with new technology for two reasons. First, it helps us to study the pros and cons of the technology. We accordingly play with it and extract the best out of it. Secondly, it helps in analyzing and predicting where the world of technology is heading towards. This helps us to equip our clients with advanced technology which sets them apart from their competition.

We wanted to accomplish an important task in a much more exciting way. Our forever-energized developers set out to the adventure of building a skill for Alexa, which would add more tech and pep in our weekdays.

This is how Sckarlett, our talking logbook skill came to life!

She helps our employees to not only login and logout. She helps us in our other tasks like leaves and time sheet management, providing monthly and weekly stats to the reporting head of different departments and more.

Do you want to venture in this exciting world of VUI? If you do, feel free to contact us at info[@]