Shifting strategic direction using human-centric design for O2

We were delighted to take to the stage with Virgin Media O2 at this year’s Quirks event, in association with AURA. ‘How to shift strategic direction in a commoditized category by using human-centric design’ was the title of our presentation and as David Watts, our VMO2 client, quipped as he took stage, it wasn’t the snappiest of headlines. It was, however, precisely what we collaborated to do.

Last year Incite and O2 teamed up to work on two flagship projects: Segmentation and Product Refresh, jointly conceived to create the foundation for O2’s three-year strategy development.

Segmentation was required to overcome the challenge of operating in a commoditized industry, where people have limited incentive to switch brands other than price. The segmentation had an explicit objective to unlock value through more effective targeting and messaging across O2’s product portfolio.

The Product Refresh workstream was required to overcome the challenge of operating in a category that has struggled to find meaningful differentiation. This project used a jobs-to-be-done methodology to understand the progress different segments are looking to make in underserved lifestyle areas, where O2’s products and services could potentially play a meaningful role.

Our presentation showcased how adopting a human-centric approach to consumers and stakeholders was critical to VMO2’s ability to formulate design targets across the whole of the business and determine what to target, at whom, across multiple categories. As Dan joked on stage, ‘human-centricity’ is a regular on the buzzword bingo quiz sheet, but it was precisely the reason why this project was such a success: inclusive of people with different perspectives and sensitive to the fact we are all just people with our own needs, experiences, priorities, circumstances, feelings, challenges, motivations, and biases.

"The outcome of both of these projects has surpassed what were already very ambitious objectives. Incite have without doubt changed the strategy of the business and determined who, where and how we deploy our resources to better satisfy customer needs and drive commercial growth."

Rob Reason, Director of Strategy at Virgin Media O2

Three key takeaways:

1 / Consumer context is king

People have needs and behavioural intent in a category only when they have a relevant struggle in their lives. People act in ways that are consistent with their “be goals” and how they self-identify. Work with stories – not statements – to design products, solutions and experiences that meet real-world needs.

2 / A great technical segmentation risks failure if it isn’t embedded properly

A successful segmentation both inspires and enables people to act differently. Bringing a segmentation to life is critical to inspiring a business but making it easy for colleagues to incorporate it into their daily lives is critical to it being actionable. Workshop with teams, bake segmentation into BAU processes, recruit champions, increase mental availability, build KPIs and reporting systems.

3 / Colleagues need to be treated as humans, too

Across two complex projects and amidst the VMO2 merger, it was particularly important to show empathy and allow people to speak and be heard. However, for overall project success, it was essential to engage the business in a way that created psychological safety, where people felt comfortable to speak their mind, specify their needs, be creative and be individual.

To learn about how we can help bring human understanding to your business challenges, get in touch.