By George Evans, Head of Melbourne office
Cities such as New York and Palo Alto have begun to strategise their development by considering the merging of the physical and the digital, also called ‘phygital’ if you like a trendy portmanteau.
The City of Melbourne has also taken on this approach. The City seeks to explore how digital technology can help keep Melbourne one of the greatest places to be today — at work, at play and at home. Have a look yourself!
Some of the Precedent team including myself were invited to kick this off with an event last month: CoMConnect. We quickly realised this event developed into a collaborative forum. All partaking groups united to help figure out ways digital technology can improve Melbourne at work, play and home.
In other words, CoMConnect was an open discussion between the City and certain key audiences: community leaders, thinkers, designers, technologists, researchers, urbanists and makers. This format is known as ‘unconference’, meaning a loosely structured conference emphasising the informal exchange of information and ideas between participants. It was great fun and I highly recommend the format for anyone interested in trying out variations on the ‘open space’ method.
I facilitated a discussion on the topic “UX, Community engagement, and experience mapping”. The discussion suggested methods the city could use to engage with their audiences, both digitally and in analogue forms, as ways of understanding the publics’ needs. I put forward recommendations such as more unconference style events, whiteboards in city squares, using existing communication channels. Another key for a better understanding of who the cities audiences are is to create personas. Like every story, you need characters; and characters, or personas, allow personalisation and prioritisation of short and long term actions.
Participants’ ideas were shared, recorded and developed over the event, and eventually made out for three separate themes:
- Theme 1 — Long-term projects: changing policy & infrastructure to be able to respond better to technological advancements, such as opening up the huge amounts of data sets a city possesses
- Theme 2 — Short-term projects: quick win projects and conversations which the council can pick up and move forward with
- Theme 3 — Tools: localised search, leveraging NBN, ethnography, gamification and crowd sourcing
Crucial to the success of this great venture is to combine the three themes. This will make open data and progressive policy allowing groups to collaborate and use tools to improve the lifestyle of Melbournians.
Over the last few weeks I’m keen to see how the city is moving forward, tackling the following goals:
Identify and prioritise the long and short term themes
Support short-term projects
Work towards long-term goals
Continue to engage, and with a wider audience
In short, I think the answer is to think big, start small and act quick.
With many structural changes, mergers and service changes within the NHS, it can be a challenge to communicate these successfully to your audiences. However digital can be the perfect way to not only keep your audiences informed about these changes but also help them to embrace new ways of delivering services.
We’ve recently been working with Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust and Barts Health NHS Trust to help them with their digital communications following their mergers. Together we’ve learnt some important lessons and would like to share some tips with you.
1. Make practical information easy to find
No matter how important a new brand, partnership, department or building is to your organisation, your service users’ priorities will still be access to information about practical services and care. Ensure they can quickly find this without having to figure out your internal restructuring to do so.
This practical approach can also be extended to GPs and referral information. This can be as simple as providing downloadable referral forms.
Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust (shown below) do a great job of providing clear practical information aimed at different audiences.
2. Provide reassurance
With the news full of headlines about NHS cuts, bear in mind you are talking to a suspicious audience who now more than ever need reassurance they are getting top quality care. Show them how delivering familiar services in new ways, for example through integrated teams or at home can actually be a better experience for them. Consider using video to explain new services; having staff or even patients explain changes will help you instil trust in your users.
By , Head of Strategic Research
After our recent membership seminar, I was asked by a number of people if we have any techniques for getting senior stakeholders to take digital seriously and release budget for digital projects.
The answer is yes, and of course the easiest way to secure buy-in and get cross-organisational support is to employ an agency like us to cut through internal structures and politics in a stakeholder engagement exercise that delivers a digital roadmap for the future. However, getting to the point of commissioning work like this is often too fraught with internal obstacles. I can say though that having worked with many very complex and multi-faceted organisations, it is evident that there are similarities between them which can be used as catalysts for change.
Where to start?
A digital vision needs to be owned by the whole organisation, which means it has to have buy-in from the top. However, as we all know it is often difficult to get the idea of a cohesive and holistic digital strategy across to those who are likely to release the budget to produce it. This is to say that unless your CEO is a digital evangelist, you will have to prove the benefits of digital first in order to get the idea of a digital future on the agenda.
By , Head of Research
It is with a sense of relief, and not a little gratitude to my colleagues, that I can formally announce the launch of our latest sector report: Integration or isolation? – The digital landscape for UK financial services.
I have been producing big reports into various sector websites for over ten years and the title of this one had me reflecting on the process that we undertake to get these reports ‘to press’.
As always the research and data collection is really the easy bit. It can be done in isolation. Just put me in front of a computer, leave me alone for a few weeks with a spreadsheet and ‘the job’s a good ‘un’!
It’s the concept, design, proofing and coordination of the people who help me bring the reports together that presents the biggest challenge – the integration.
This is the second in a series of profiles we’re pulling together from across the company covering all disciplines, to give you an idea of what Precedent’s about, how we work as a company and the opportunities that come from joining our team.
, business development manager, Precedent London
I’ve been at Precedent for 2 years now, and still, everyday, I learn something new. That’s one of my favourite things about working here. My other favourite thing is the people. We’re not your classic trendy digital agency types, although there are quite a lot of thick rimmed glasses going on I have to admit. The people here are all very smart at what they do, all with very strong opinions, and all passionate about getting the job right. We’re also very good at working together in teams, even when we’re disagreeing! There can be a lot of debate, but that’s a good thing because it means the best idea is the one that wins out.