Live from SAPinsider Studio: Storyminers on the Importance of Design Experience

May 17, 2016

Mike Wittenstein, Lead Experience Designer, Storyminers, visits SAPinsider Studio at the SAPinsider 2016 SCM-CRM event in Las Vegas to discuss the importance of delivering a top-flight customer experience.

This is an edited transcript of the discussion:

Natalie Miller, SAPinsider: Hi, I’m Natalie Miller with SAPinsider, and we are here at the SCM, CRM, and IoT event in Las Vegas, and I’m joined today by Mike Wittenstein, who is the founder and Lead Experience Designer at Storyminers. Hi Mike, how are you?

Mike Wittenstein, Storyminers: I’m wonderful, Natalie.

Natalie: Thanks for joining me today.

Mike: Thanks for having me. My very first SAP event.

Natalie: Well, we’re happy to have you here.

Mike: Thanks.

Natalie: If you want to start by just telling us a little bit about yourself?

Mike: I have a background that goes all the way back to the last millennium. I worked as an e-visionary for IBM after selling a digital agency, one of the first ones in the country. While I was at ibm, we worked on a whole bunch of new ideas, everybody does in tech, but the ones that I worked on had to do more with people. I started three practices. One was about helping enterprises to become more agile, like changing the way they organize themselves on the inside without using org charts or pyramid charts, and the other one was about understanding how to design the total customer experience, not just the digital part. And both of those topics have become passions of mine ever since. And in 2002 we started Storyminers to help retailers, service companies, and B2B companies deliver better experiences to their customers, which turned into better stories. That’s where the name came from.

Natalie: So in line with that, here at the event we’re talking about digital transformation. How do you talk to your customers about that, and how is that changing the game for them?

Mike: Well, there are two conversations that go on in digital transformation. One is the one that the companies have in and amongst themselves. And you know what, no matter how big the challenge is or how hard it is or how much tech it requires, the customers don’t pay any attention to digital transformation. It is not an issue for them at all. Customers want what all the other brands that they love do to work with the brands that they choose. It’s interesting.  

Natalie: So how do you help customers walk through that process in terms of their own business?

Mike: Well the thing that Storyminers adds, as a design thinking kind of agency, is we show them the way that customers see them. It’s common in business, because of the way we’ve been trained and what our parents and grandparents in business have done, to look at the customer and to think that we’re designing for the perfect customer, or we know what’s best. We use some very experiential techniques, like taking people on tours in front of the store or behind the store, or any kind of business. We do a special type of service prototyping. We have very engaging and emotionally engaging experiences for the clients to understand how the customers work. We also bring the customer into the scenario. So bottom line is, we show the company how the customer sees them.

Then, the trick is to correlate between those expectations that the customer has and the capabilities that the company can create. That’s the really interesting part. So any of the people I’ve spoken with here at the event think, 'oh digital transformation is big,' and then they start to imagine it as this giant weight on their shoulders, personally, like I’m going to have to change so much. The cool side of digital transformation is that you can get rid of a lot of the things that you’re doing that you don’t need to do anymore. And to give people a really clear picture of what that is, we’ve got some really fun techniques. One of them is called human prototyping; another is the 3D journey map that shows people here’s what’s happening at the customer level, here’s what’s happening at the promises inside the company to keep the brand in tact level, here’s some of the tech, here’s some of the governance, and we show everybody that whole stack. So just like you have a technology stack, you can have a design stack for the business, for the experience, and show how the parts interconnect.

And, if I can go on one more second? It’s also possible through good conversation to show what the value for the customer will be. And we always talk about value of the customer, how much money can we take out of their pocket? Well, as a business, or as an SAP client, how much value can you put back into the customer equation? Looking at that stack diagram that shows all the different ways – not all of them, but several different ways of thinking at the same time – you can start to see the interconnects and start to understand what your friends in this department need and what the customer needs, and you start to make more systemically good decisions. It’s been my experience that the more you can see the big picture, the less work you have to do, and the lower the costs. It actually takes that giant bubble and makes it a little bit more manageable.

Natalie: And in terms of implementing these types of things, how can SAP customers work through that and make sure their design is adoptable by their employees?

Mike: I believe in two things. One is making sure that there’s a shared context inside the organization, shared language, shared understanding around goals, visibility into each other’s parts of the operation. I recommended the creation of customer rooms, kind of like a war room but a friendly spin, where all the cool new things are talked about, depicted, 3D visualized, and all that. The other thing that you can do is give people the opportunity to see how that new experience is going to look. You can do rapid service prototyping. We do it with actors, directors and experience designers. Put everybody on stage except the clients, the clients get to watch from the safety of the sofa or the theater seats, and they have a chance to see how their ideas are playing out. Instead of doing a scrum in a week, we can do a service prototyping scrum in five minutes, or several of them in an hour, and it gives people a chance to see what that future state will really be like. And then people can respond to it and say, 'I like this, I don’t like that, what about this part of the decision?' And you’re looking at the whole thing instead of just a technical flow diagram. It really brings it to life and helps people reduce fear, and it opens up people’s aperture for change, makes it easier for them.

Natalie: Well, thank you so much for sharing these insights, Mike. I really appreciate it, and I think it’s going to help SAP customers really set themselves up for success. Thanks for being here.

Mike: Thanks for the opportunity, Natalie.

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