Tag Archives: Experience

Technology is the means to an effect, it is the idea that counts.

Healthcare Digital Communications, by David Hunt

HAVAS LYNX celebrates 28 years of business this month, and a decade in healthcare digital communications – so what’s changed in the last decade?

Closed-loop marketing (CLM) has never been far from the agenda. Promising more efficient use of resource & more rewarding customer interactions. The ambition has barely changed, but unfortunately neither has the reality. There are some notable exceptions & I am very pleased with our work in this area, but it could & should be so much more. And it will be. The release of the iPad acted as a catalyst for an important shift in ownership from IT to Business. As a result, we are now driven by function & value, not constrained by fear & naivety. In 2014 merely embracing new hardware is not enough. In a world whereby the paper sales aid has become unique, and digital tools are omnipresent, points of differentiation must be earnt through innovation and ideas.

HAVAS LYNX Celebrates 28yrs

HAVAS LYNX Celebrates 28yrs

It would be hard to categorise the broader Pharma marketing community as innovators or early adopters. But as Facebook has celebrated its 10th birthday, I think we should recognise the progress made in social media. It has always been a hot topic of debate, but now we are starting to see more frequent, more tangible outputs. In addition there has been a noticeable increase in the social media briefs that we receive. The usual tone of caution has been replaced by one of courage, underpinned by a belief in ethics over our previous fascination with rules.

I believe in Pharma sponsored healthcare professional product websites, but I am definitely in the minority. The last decade had seen limited change, limited innovation and unsurprisingly limited success. However, poor execution & a lack of imagination should not render the tool redundant. If I’m looking for a car, I check the manufacturers website before validating the information in social media, the same is true for hotels, new trainers & my next laptop. I don’t discount the company’s website just because they are marketing to me, in the same way doctors don’t discount reps. It is true, the product website is not a silver bullet, but with renewed passion & a dramatic improvement in user experience, it can play an important role in integrated campaigns.

In 2004 I wasn’t addicted to my mobile. I didn’t use it for news, I didn’t ask it’s opinion on the new local restaurant & I didn’t use it to broadcast my opinions. The biggest change in the last decade is EVERYONES digital behaviour. It is absurd to think that healthcare professionals use digital for finance but not research, that they use digital to follow news but not medicine, that they connect offline but not online. Today, more than ever, we are not limited by our customer, but by our imagination. 

Performance by the aggregation of marginal gains, What we can learn from sporting superstars

User experience; Big air and big ideas, by David Hunt

The Sochi Winter Olympics has been quite a spectacle. Putting aside the politics and the controversy, it has been a truly awe-inspiring sporting display. Like most people, I’ve been absolutely gripped by it and spent Sunday evening ‘casually’ browsing flight prices to Val d’Isère, considering the possibility of a break with my board.

Whilst competing at the games in 2018 might be little more than a pipe dream, I take inspiration from the parallels between the methods of these winter superstars and our practices at HAVAS LYNX. Our game might be user-centred design, but the outcome we aspire to isn’t so far from that of the athletes in Sochi. Like a boarder dropping into a half-pipe or a sled driver ripping round the bobsleigh track, our work can help those that we engage with feel connected and even inspired. The build up to such a major championships requires meticulous preparation. Identifying and addressing potential areas of improvement is a rigorous science. Data from practice runs and previous events is analysed, examining everything from split times to a rider’s claim that ‘it just doesn’t feel right’. Both data types are equally as valuable in UX; a qualitative insight such as a patient interview can reveal as much as reams of quantitative data.

Whatever it’s form, this data is then collated and evaluated into concise insights; problems that need solving. Then the exciting part – solving these problems. The science of hypothesis and analysis is worthless if you cannot couple it with the creativity. However meticulous, your research will only highlight the problems, not solve them. How many times have you heard a sports commentator exclaim ‘that came out of nowhere’ in response to a moment of sheer brilliance from an athlete? Free-style skiing is one of the most exciting sports I’ve watched in my life. I can’t help but marvel at the way GB star James Woods and his contemporaries constantly push the boundaries of their sport, inventing new tricks and putting together more imaginative and exciting runs. Working in healthcare, our work has the potential to dramatically transform outcomes, but only if we show the same ambitious zeal as the likes of ‘Woodsy’ and co. For our work to be successful it must inspire, challenge and connect. Invoking such responses is not a matter of routinely following a checklist.

A new idea in its raw form is great, but the job’s a long way from finished. These sparks of inspiration need to be fed back into the UX process to be honed and refined. Bobsleigh’s are tested for aero-dynamics in wind-tunnels, reviewed over hundreds of test runs as the team of engineers tweak and improve the design. We must be as meticulous and focused in our testing; products and services must be tested for what matters and by who they matter to. A small, focus group can be just as effective as mass-testing if well-selected.

New ideas are great, but innovation isn’t only a matter of the new. It can be the mastering of something old, something that’s done before, and improving it. Dave Brailsford’s troop of British cyclists were unstoppable at the summer Olympics of 2012. During the games there was a brief controversy surrounding the wheels the GB team was using, as if instilled in these wheels was a black magic giving them an advantage. Was their success really due to having an ace up their sleeve that no one else had? Could one single product, EPO a side, turn a whole team of men and women into winners? I don’t think so. Brailsford (Performance Director of British cycling) says their improved performance was down to ‘the aggregation of marginal gains’.

There wasn’t a single item or process that gave the GB team the advantage over their competitors, they were just doing a lot of little things a little bit better. The cumulative effect of all these things was what made such a resounding difference; those one percents added up. It’s the same in user experience design.

‘It means taking the 1% from everything you do; finding a 1% margin for improvement in everything’

10, 20, 50, 100 or 1,000; what’s the perfect size for an agency?

Client / Agency relationships, by David Hunt

178, the size of HAVAS LYNX. Ask anyone that manages an agency of 178 & they will say the same – it’s perfect. I imagine that in a few weeks 181 will be even more perfect. 

For years we were perceived as being too small. Now we are too big to be innovative, yet still too small to be a player?!? I disagree with both opinions.

Innovation & creativity is not about headcount. Never has been, never will be. It’s about people, passion & culture. With a background in digital, technology & creativity, I was appointed CEO at the age of 33. I’m driven by ideas & not numbers. Supported by a management team that believes in great work, we  now invest in more diverse expertise, try more unique technologies & chase more ideas than ever before. We are constantly looking for new concepts for ourselves, for our clients, for HCPs & for patients.

Can you be small, commercially motivated & technology agnostic? With the correct approach and the right people, perhaps. However, are you more likely to settle with the specialist you shared lunch with, or the unknown you still need to locate? With a big agency comes diverse expertise under one roof, providing seamless access to broad ideas. But can you be big & still bright? Certainly, but only by breaking down silos & embracing diversity. Different experiences, points of view & interests inspire innovation.

Like the story of Goldilocks, some agencies are too big, some agencies are too small, and some agencies are just right – it depends on your taste.

Three Bears

It is a matter of taste

Another strange question – do you have enough capacity? Does a prospective customer really want an agency that’s quiet? I’ve never walked into an empty restaurant, however if it’s heaving I want a reservation – evidence suggests that the product will be great. Do you want a partner that is free, or do you want a partner that is expert? A well run agency will have the infrastructure, process & connections to scale smartly and meet the fluid needs of their customers.

I’m proud to say that we are very big and we are very busy. And our clients choose HAVAS LYNX for our  ideas, innovation & ability to exceed expectations, and we are grateful for their patronage. 

Steve Jobs, a catalyst for innovation or a poster boy for the digital revolution?

User experience; Pursuit of perfection, by David Hunt

Where does the late Steve Jobs sit amongst the greatest minds of our time? Is he simply the poster-boy for the global culture of innovation? Or is he the catalyst that inspired a generation to think differently?

iPod

iPod, where it all began?

He didn’t create the Internet, he didn’t create the MP3, he did not invent the mobile phone, but does that lessen his impact or contribution to the digital revolution? Through his pathological commitment to a customer-centric approach, he took alien and complex concepts and brought them into the main-stream. He was the perfect foil to a software engineer, able to take “black magic” and make it simply magic.

His impact is significant; he challenged conventions and improved our lives. He didn’t look at what the competition did, he looked at what they didn’t do. He saw things differently. He knew what people wanted and he fulfilled the need, in terms of product, positioning and marketing.

His products were the best. He had the vision to challenge conventions and he had the obsession to shape every detail. His solutions weren’t defined by rules or existing boundaries, but by form, and experience. Whilst the design & integration of his products were flawless, product semantics were at the heart of their success, providing complete alignment with a user’s instincts. We didn’t have to learn how to work his products, they learnt how we work. Consumers may choose an Apple product because it is pioneering, it is desirable, it is premium – I choose Apple because of the experience. It is an extension of me. Every detail considered around my needs; from the physical interaction to the  seamless interface, driven by a deep rooted desire to exceed my expectations.

He defined product classes. Apple did not produce the first smart phone, or first MP3 player, but they did bring them to the public conscious. His product positioning was flawless, (unlike some). He could bridge the gap between technology and need. He would take an idea and make it relevant. There are those that can create technology, and there are those that know how to use it, Steve Jobs was the latter and his impact all the greater.

Was Steve Jobs a marketing expert? In 1983 he didn’t think so. In hiring John Sculley from Pepsi to become CEO of Apple, he highlighted the value he placed on marketing & communications, but an unusual lack of personal belief. Those in his presence, and the wider world would disagree, citing his “reality distortion field” – an ability to make the impossible, seam possible. Despite the economic challenges of the past decade, Apple has continued to succeed. Many wrongly believe that in austere times a cut in sales & marketing drives profit, Apple have baulked this trend and proven the wisdom of communications to maintain long-term success.

It is impossible to say where the world would be without Steve Jobs and Apple. However, I would speculate that whilst the technology would exist, the benefit it brings would only be enjoyed by engineers & technicians, the wider society would be oblivious to the benefits of “black magic”.

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble-makers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently…they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.”
– Steve Jobs

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Jobs

– Jobs [Movie, 2013]

– Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson

– Keep It Simple: The Early Design Years of Apple by Hartmut Esslinger

Sent from my iPad

 

 

Understanding who you are, And knowing where you are going

Merger; From the Inside, by David Hunt
Part I, Initial engagement 

June 2012 was huge, after 18 months of careful planning I married my beautiful wife, running to the same timeline Creative Lynx merged with Havas. Both life changing events, both spectacularly exciting, but whilst friends & family can offer advice & council on your marriage, a merger is an altogether more isolated experience.

Having completed an MBO in March 2008, just six months after the credit crunch had started, business was going exceptionally well. We’d experienced year-on-year double-digit growth, collected 16 wins at the PM Society Digital Awards in 3 years and continued to develop a number of industry firsts. At the heart of our success was an exceptionally talented multi-disciplinary team that combined insight, with creativity and innovation. A team that would be at the forefront of our thoughts, every step of the way.

Through sustained growth & success, we saw three opportunities;

  • We were a young agency with brilliant ideas and passion, but we were a young agency that could benefit from a global partner. We needed global experience and sophistication to transform raw talent into global communication experts
  • Inside and outside of healthcare, consolidation is an increasing trend. As a boutique agency it can be seen as a threat or opportunity. We saw this as an opportunity to combine our intimate service with a global footprint
  • We’re based in Manchester, which is brilliant for creative & digital talent. However, in global communications it can be viewed as a province and whilst this perception is changing, before Havas we were being overlooked for the best global briefs

We’ve always grown our business through referrals, recommendations and repeat business. Through experience & intuition we know how to run an agency, we know how to build teams & deliver results, we know our business. But a merger is not about today, it is about tomorrow. Suitors have a passing curiosity in where you have come from, they have a fascination in where you are going. Having previously been focused on the here & now, at the outset of the process we became smarter, more considered, strategic – by simple proximity to potential global partners we were setting out our long-term ambition, designing a roadmap and creating an infrastructure to deliver sustained success.

Following our deal with Havas we have;

Our vision & ideas, originally inspired through the merger process are now becoming reality as a result of the support, infrastructure & expertise that we can now harness.

Having committed to the process & having defined our vision, we engaged with a number of networks. As a result of our success, we had already been approached by nearly all of the global communication networks –  now on our terms, in our time, the courtship could begin. I first met Donna Murphy & Doug Burcin (Global CEOs of Havas Health) in 2011, they were brilliant, the perfect combination of drive & consideration. Someone that I wanted to both work with and learn from. Alongside them was Ed Stapor, with an absolute passion for us and for Havas. Ed was driven by people & relationships, as were we.

As the journey unfolded we met a number of brilliant & respected leaders from across the major networks. Every interaction was another opportunity to learn, engage and shape our plans – they were all worthwhile. Whilst similar in their achievements & proposition, it quickly became apparent that there were significant differences in their approach. I believe that Havas made their decision based on the people & our ideas, the others focused more on numbers & forecast.

Beyond the chemistry that would ultimately shape our decision, Havas also talked more about digital, more about social, more about the future. They didn’t just want to buy the answer, they wanted to help create it. It wasn’t just about our insight, our ideas, our technology, it was about shared expertise, shared resource, a shared vision. It was about creating something unique. It was about creating a global group that would shape & define digital communications in healthcare – HAVAS LYNX.

It has been a fantastic start. We have enjoyed the honeymoon period, it is new, exciting and fun. There will always be highs & lows, it’s a relationship and we are all passionate. However by following our instinct & choosing people over profit, I know that we’ll have an ally when times are tough and an advocate when moving forward.

Part II, Agreeing the finer details

Part III, Business as usual

Part IV, A year in & the lessons I learnt

An Agency’s Ultimate Priority – Experience, Their Customers & Their Customers’ Customer

Experience; Why it is everything, by David Hunt

For my wife’s Birthday we stayed at the Sanderson, in London. I had heard of its reputation, and the location was great. It was expensive, but I wanted the trip to be special. A month later we travelled back down to London, and without hesitation booked the Sanderson again. It was that good. Equally, I’ve stayed in a number of budget hotels and the experience has been just that.

Distinctive design

Distinctive design

As a business you must define your proposition and price point, you must then honour that commitment in everything you do, both in service & deliverable. Every detail of my stay at the Sanderson was considered; from the fresh fruit & water awaiting our return from a night out, through to every member of staff knowing our names & preferences. I am sure that there are exceptions, mistakes and the occasional frustrated client, we are human after all. However, I am also confident that the energy, courtesy and passion of the staff will ensure that the majority of experiences are exceptional.

When I selected the Sanderson I understood their rates. I recognised that it would be a premium experience, with an appropriate cost. As an agency, should we expect the same of our clients? Are they looking for an exceptional service, or something simply adequate? The Sanderson would not have expected me to challenge them with the rates of the local economy hotel, but equally I would not accept an economy service from the Sanderson.

If I book a flight with Virgin, I know it will be more expensive than the low-cost alternative but whilst both will get me to my destination, I know that it will be a better experience with Virgin. If a client briefs an agency on a website in the majority of instances the cost will be an indicator of quality, both in the experience with the agency and in the ultimate experience of their customers. No doubt both websites will function, but the superior expertise, insight and time associated with the premium offer, should shine through in the final solution and the experience of the users.

“Just because it is more expensive, doesn’t mean it is better!?!” A strange point of view, not one I would share with the Sanderson, but for completeness – with higher cost comes the opportunity to include more talented staff and motivate their performance. With higher cost comes more experienced personnel that understand your business and can discuss your opportunities. With higher cost more time to craft a solution around the user and deliver a premium experience. 

I was under little doubt that the staff at the Sanderson were experienced & expert, they were motivated & passionate, they took pride in their work & were rewarded for their endeavour.  

 

What Will Come First, The First Step or The First Swipe

The next digital generation, by David Hunt

Baby Hunt is 4 months old and he has mastered rolling. We watch with bated breath for the roll to become a crawl and then it can’t be too long before he is taking those first few steps. However, my money is on the swipe. He is already fascinated by the iPad and whilst he hasn’t worked out the gestures, he is interacting.

First swipe

I love Winnie the pooh

How do I feel about this? We are all inclined to look back at our youth with nostalgia. Summers spent running through fields, playing football with your friends, owning Mayfair & Park Lane – good honest fun. And before that, I fondly remember pop-up books, they were much more fun than the traditional types. They made the reading experience interactive & engaging, they maintained my interest (I’m told). Do I really mind if Baby H learns to read via an iPad as oppose to the traditional alternative? Whilst he will never posses the same fondness for physical books, it doesn’t guarantee he will love literature any less – perhaps the experience will enhance the stories, perhaps his love of literature will be greater?

But where does it stop; will his first drawings be with crayons or PaintPro? will he kick his first football virtually or in the park? will he learn to play the piano online or at school? I suspect it will be dictated by the experience. PaintPro will never be as much fun as the real thing, but perhaps it is easier for the parents – is the decision the parent’s rather than the child’s? Is this any different to when I was growing up? I could happily play FIFA on the NES, but would much rather be in the park with my Dad.

For me, the decisive factor is experience. I sincerely hope that human, real interactions will always have the competitive edge. But as with everything it comes down to time, energy and passion. It is our responsibility to ensure that Baby H enjoys reading rather than watching, that he prefers painting & craft to image manipulation, that he rather plays with his friends in the park than online.

Ultimately, as we are quickly learning as new parents, it is down to compromise. Maybe Baby H can use PaintPro to manipulate his own paintings and create something far better than we ever dreamed. Maybe the educational apps will enhance the learning experience with a more diverse approach. Maybe he’s on the first steps to harnessing the overwhelming information resource that is the Internet. Maybe with diversity, innovation and energy, it is simply a better experience.