Something has radically changed since the 2007 introduction of the iPhone. As consumers we are now exposed to beautifully crafted devices and the thousands of awesome apps running on them. Our work life however continues to suffer from poorly designed software which in many cases were designed decades ago. We now expect the same high quality user experience from all of our online interactions. As a company, we have always been focused on providing technology services to enterprise customers but have come to realize the profound importance of design in our work. It is clear to us that successful companies in this mobile-first and cloud-first world need to be good at design, technology and agility to achieve fast idea-to-impact time frames. This is the story of how we continue to evolve in all the three areas in our mission to deliver innovative customer experiences.
“It is in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough — that it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our heart sing and nowhere is that more true than in these post-PC devices.” — Steve Jobs during March 2011 launch of the iPad 2
This year was my sixth consecutive year attending the Google I/O developer conference. The conference has come a long way since my first year there in 2010 but what started happening since the last year was the focus on design and specifically Material Design. Google’s story of how they finally got design unfolded right in front of our eyes as it evolved into creating beautiful software.
The new Google Photos app for mobile and web comes with unlimited storage, search powered by the magic of machine learning, face clustering and automatic backups, but this technology alone is not enough. What makes our heart sing is the beauty of it all as you scroll through the timeline put together automatically for your teenager’s photos all the way back to the first one you took at birth in the hospital.
Irene Au’s excellent article explains how the relatively new User Experience (UX) design field is multidisciplinary and exercised by professionals with expertise in user research, interaction design, visual design, prototyping and front end development. It was clear to us that to build design capabilities in our company we had to build all the above expertise. Finding all these in one person as the article confirms is not easy. UX professionals are trained in either one or two of these disciplines. Her second article was just what we asked for with guidance for writing job descriptions and we were off to build our dedicated design team. In the interim we started using templates available on sites like themeforest based on Material Design, Bootstrap and Angular JS. We continue to build this dedicated design team with a recommended ratio of 1 designer per 10 developers.
This has been our core competency in our previous venture and also MediaAgility since its inception. As a Google for Work Premier Partner we are usually the very first engineers to get access to developer preview technologies. As a company focused on new paradigm shifting technologies it became clear within the first few months that we had to design our offerings to meet our customers where they are today and then start the journey together towards the new architecture.
- From DW/BI to Real Time data processing — We had to continue working on Oracle and SQL Server expertise while training our teams on Google Big Query, Data Flow and Big Table. We continue to help customers with data integration problems, poorly designed dimensional models (star schemas) and long running ETL processes while encouraging them to start migrating to the cloud based technologies in phases. We had to build packaged solutions to certain industry specific problems like the Real Time Insights for Insurance that makes great use of Google Maps to visualize sales data, market share and territory management. We now provide advisory services ranging from short innovation workshops to longer term engagements, continue to implement that strategy and go on to provide on going support to ensure customer success.
- From On-premise web apps to designing amazing Customer Experiences — A large number of our enterprise customers had invested heavily over the last decade to migrate from client-server technologies to web technologies. These applications however no longer provide the user experience in this mobile-first world. We have to meet our customers where they are and start managing these legacy applications and encourage them to move towards designing new customer experiences for mobile. For some of our new customers with the luxury to start from scratch this has been an easier choice. One example is a soon to be announced application built across Android, iOS and Web to help student athletes across the US to gain financial literacy. We now run innovation workshops and follow agile processes to bring those ideas to life.
- From legacy collaboration tools to modern real time platforms for Enterprise Collaboration — The tools that we enjoy at home like Gmail, Google Drive, Docs and Hangouts are now also available for Work. We partnered with Google to help bring this enterprise collaboration suite as of this writing to over 500 customers globally. These are the same tools that large companies like Google use internally as their fabric for global collaboration that leads to an innovative and open culture. We built capabilities right from advisory, change management, training, migration, deployment and ongoing customer success service.
- Geospatial technology — The innovative Google Maps API has democratized how anyone can now bring the vast geospatial data in designing their experiences. Maps, imagery from street to satellite level, massive places database, driving directions and the new world of indoor mapping is just the beginning. As a strategy we decided to build this core competency during inception and have now gone on to build many Maps based applications delivering value in decision making, asset tracking to encouraging people to walk and share their routes.
These core technology competencies have helped us build a strong customer base that is now benefiting from our design capabilities.
As our company name suggests, right since inception we built agility into our DNA. Media (plural for medium) in our name represents the browsers, mobile, social, wearables and now the IoT through which people now connect with each other and the businesses they admire.