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Mikael Eriksson Björling

Things that matters! About digital transformation, design, culture and lifestyle in the Networked Society

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Mikael Björling

Mikael is Senior Lead Designer at Ericsson UX Lab and an Ericsson Evangelist. He was previously Director at the Networked Society Lab. His specialty is in understanding how consumer behavior, emerging technologies and new industry logics are shaping the future society and in the intersection of these areas build great user experiences. Mikael believes that with the ongoing digital transformation we have a great opportunity to shape a better world. Mikael joined Ericsson in 1998 and is based in Stockholm. You can engage with him on Twitter at: @mikaeleb or at LinkedIn.

Ericsson Design System!

The Ericsson Design System was 2018 honored with a Red Dot award for its innovative approach to user experience, enabling agile software design and implementation. This video we created together with House of Radon.

Watch more videos at Ericsson.com

 

Design awards: What sets the new Ericsson interface design apart?

The new Ericsson Design System consists of everything a designer or developer needs to create iconic user experiences. From the design foundation with the visual hierarchy, themes, colors, typography, and iconography to components with ready to use code. The only thing you have to add to the drink is creativity! And the system is constantly evolving and is co-created together with its users.

Design has always been important for Ericsson. Creating smart solutions and aesthetics expressions that provide value in a perfect blend. When I think about classic Swedish industrial design, one of the first images that pops up in my head is the Ericofon designed by Ralph Lysell Ericsson in 1955.

01_Ericofon

Since 1955 the Red Dot Award has selected the best designs in different categories such as product design. This summer they selected Ericsson Design System as the winner in the category Interface Design for its innovative approach to user experience, enabling agile software design and implementation.

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What does the design system look like?

The design system supports both the designer and the developer. As a designer you have all design elements including layout templates and examples accessible in either Sketch or Adobe Illustrator formats. And for the developer the design system supports the most common platforms.

The typography used in the design system is the brand-new font Hilda, that is optimized for digital interfaces and to be perfectly rendered and readable on screens. The Hilda font comes in a light, regular, medium, and bold weights.

04_Typo

New iconography has been created following a minimalistic approach where each icon is crafted to offer high legibility in small resolutions.

06_Colors

The color palette is optimized to be readable in different contexts and special focus has been to make the colors as accessible as possible for people with low-vision or color blindness. The colors in the deign system is used to guide the users towards key messages rather that as decorative and esthetic elements. Every color in the system has a meaning and has been carefully selected and tested.

07_Components

The design system has a large and growing set of common components ready to be used, including usage guidelines, implementation guidelines as well as running example you can interact with. It also comes with code snippets in HTML Markup, LESS and JavaScript (Vanilla).
03_Assets

The design system supports all type of screens from the largest screens in a network operation center used by professionals to the smallest screens used by consumers it has an adaptive layout and it comes in two themes. One bright theme that is optimized for text readability and one dark theme that suits darker environment such as an operation center.

08_Adaptive

Let’s have look at how services and apps look like using Ericsson’s new Design System!

09_ExampleEnterprise communication administration dashboard.

 

10_Example
My phone plan app and smartwatch app for network analytics.

 

Want to know more about Ericsson Design system? Read more at Ericsson.com

Download EDS Infograph

Culture is a foundation of the new innovation game

Innovation, design, and creativity are stimulated by diversity. That’s one of the reasons I’m glad to be part of one of the most diverse teams in the whole company: Ericsson Experience Design (the team that created the award-winning Ericsson Design System)!experience-design-team01-111511crop50029151640resize1500844autoorientbackground23ffffffquality90stripextensionjpgid8

Culture is a foundation of the new innovation game

I recently wrote about innovation and what it takes to master the new innovation game, where I discussed that the most important areas to master are the following:

  1. insight (understanding people and the problem)
  2. outsight (keeping track of the world around us)
  3. innovation vision
  4. culture as fuel for innovation
  5. structure for creativity

I can say that success in all five areas is driven by a commitment to diversity.  But let’s focus on culture.  Here is a piece from my blog post:

“Innovation is as much a human story as it is a story about technology. Organizational culture, people and diversity are at the heart of any discussion on innovation – and the cultural aspect of innovation was highlighted by almost everyone interviewed in our study.

The argument is that companies that are able to create a certain kind of organizational culture will see innovation emerge from within the organization with much less effort than in other organizations.

An innovation friendly culture will be able to manage, value and prioritize ideas that show up in the organization rather than dropping them before they are even tested and tried. Some thinkers on innovation go as far as to claim that innovation equals culture.”

Driving innovative design on a diverse team

In the team, we represent 17 nationalities, we have a proper ratio between genders, we come from different backgrounds and cultures, and we have a good spread in different age groups, ranging from baby boomers to millennials.

We have different educational backgrounds, from engineers and anthropologists to interaction designers and architects; we have different approaches, perspectives, and ways of solving design problems and challenges; we think differently – together.

How does this help us in our daily work? Ericsson is a company with offices and staff in about 160 countries, and we serve customers in more than 180 countries. The products and services we deliver are intended for a market that is truly global – when we are designing, we design with a global outlook, keeping our worldwide, diverse target audience firmly in mind.

Designing for a global market

But how do you understand the various markets, the local contexts, and the differences within a global business? One way is to go to the customers and do research. To meet the people who are going to use our products and services and understand their contexts and challenges at work. This is a cornerstone in our design process.

But we can’t be hanging out with our customers all the time. On an ordinary workday in our studio, we make hundreds of different design decisions, generating ideas for new concepts and delivering designs to sprints.

In this process, diversity is the number one key! The designs we are working on today are aimed for a truly global market, and our strength as a team is that we are so diverse and have so many different perspectives within the team.

Sounds interesting, right? Don’t miss that we’re currently recruiting! If you are interested, ping us.

Read more about Ericsson at the Ericsson blog >>>

Adopting design thinking to embrace a changing business landscape

During the last few years many of the big traditional management consultancy companies have acquired creative and digital agencies. Why? I believe they want to ensure they have the right competence and the right toolbox to future proof their business in today’s increasingly digitally transformed business landscape.gui_design_2-90068crop013667083774resize1500844autoorientquality90stripbackground23ffffffextensionjpgid8

In my opinion, traditional management thinking will simply not be enough going forward in the new digital business landscape. The big consultancy companies have realized they need to add creativity and methodologies into their portfolios.
McKinsey, for example, has added a digital arm to its operations by acquiring VerydayLunar and Carbon 12. Accenture did the same by acquiring Fjord and Kaplan. Elsewhere, Deloitte has acquired Mobiento and Acne. These are just some examples from bigger players but there are many more examples.

How design thinking is related to business

At Ericsson, we believe that organizations need to leverage on connectivity to thrive. About five years ago, we also started to take bigger steps to develop more digital ways of working that are better suited for the business landscape of the future.

In our Future of Work report we explain how life is undergoing dramatic changes and organizations will have to rethink how they structure work. As described above, this is happening all around us – at your workplace and mine.

By creating a culture that focuses on individuals, organizations can build a reputation of being a progressive and talent friendly company.

When individuals get the opportunity to work on meaningful tasks, they embrace the organization, and they will also attract talent from their own network. Organizations that quickly learn how to manage talent will not only innovate faster than their competitors, they will also outperform them on the bottom line.

McKinsey recently published The Value of Design report in which they also conclude that “the best design performers increase their revenues and shareholder returns at nearly twice the rate of their industry counterparts.”
So, design – good design – and revenue are closely related. This means there is less space for bad design in todays connected and transparent market were users have such widespread access to all information. Back in the day, bad design had a bigger chance to survive in the analogue and physical world that no longer exists.
Good design meets the needs of the customer and user. Good design makes the complex easy to understand.

So, if we can agree that good design is a necessity in the emerging business landscape, how do you go about creating and fostering good design?
To create a good customer and user experience you need to get three areas correct. First your product or service needs to fill someone’s need for something. That’s what we call usefulness, i.e. we need to design the right product.

The next step is to design the product right, i.e. usability. Users and customers need to understand how to use and interact with your design.

The third area is brand or the aesthetics. The design has to reflect your brand and have an esthetic expression that matches the purpose of the design.

To get these three areas right there are processes that businesses can use and there are specific competences and craftmanship which they can employ – that is what the consultancy firm is paying these creative agencies for).

In future blog posts I will explore these processes, competences and what you can do to boost creativity in your business.

This blog post was originally posted on the Ericsson Blog >>>

Innovating the future workplace

A couple of weeks ago I published a new blogpost at Ericsson.com about the future workplace and how Kista is changing.

I’ve been at Ericsson for 20 years this year, spending almost as many of them in Kista Science City, which is one of the five largest information technology clusters in the world and also the place where we have our headquarters.

image-106445crop0040002251resize1500844autoorientquality90stripbackground23ffffffextensionjpgid8

In 1876, Lars Magnus Ericsson and his wife Hilda started their mechanical engineering workshop. The workshop was situated in a small kitchen in the courtyard building at Drottninggatan 15 in Stockholm.

From these humble beginnings a lot has happened in the world and at Ericsson. The age of industrialization is behind us and we’ve entered the digital age and witnessed the rise of a connected society. A few years back I was running a couple of studies about the future of working life. What challenges we saw ahead, what employees wanted, how new technologies were impacting the office space and how businesses have to optimize their physical spaces to support innovation and creativity. The office – as we use to know it – was proclaimed dead

Another finding from these studies was that people want flexible, modern workplaces with different types of rooms and areas for different types of work. The working environment should primarily be designed to optimize the quality of interpersonal exchange. Another important area is about serendipity. Businesses have to optimize their organization for the ever-changing market conditions. Organizations must plan for random encounters between people with different backgrounds and competences in order to increase the opportunities for innovative ideas.

ericsson-campus-glass-pavilion-evening-light-106547resize1498844crop001498843autoorientquality90stripbackground23ffffffextensionjpgid8The Glass Pavilion Isafjord in evening light seen from Grönlandsgatan.

At Ericsson, we now redefine our workspace to stay relevant as an employer of choice. We will be constructing a new Ericsson Campus at our headquarters in Kista, Stockholm including new and existing buildings and spaces. Looking at the construction plans, I’m excited!!

I see that the things we talked about in the reports are actually being implemented. Our ambition is to be a state of the art, agile and inspiring workplace. In line with our brand promise the quest for easy, the project aims to simplify and optimize how teams and organizations collaborate thinking of all aspects of what a modern workplace should include, such as the employees, the public areas, how the flow of people will be in the area as well as be inspiring, open, inviting and sustainable.

Read the rest of the post at Ericsson.com

Future Summit i Norrköping

Jag har rest runt och pratat på många konferenser, både stora och små runt om i världen. En av det roligaste och trevligaste jag varit på är Future Summit i Norrköping tidigare i höst. Vi talare fick tid att umgås och träffas redan dagen innan själva konferensen, där vi fick vara med om en resa ut i rymden i visualiseringscenter, vi besökte det fantastiska lilla biblioteket och observatoriet i De Geer Gymnasiet och vi fick en fin stadsvandring. Det hela avslutades med middag tillsammans med stad och näringsliv.fs_nkpg 16IMG_0170 2

När vi sedan stod på scenen under konferensen kände vi redan varandra och kunde leverera bra innehåll och interagera i varandras paneldiskussioner.

När vi gick till tåget, dagen efter konferensen fanns vi på förstasidan i NT!

IMG_0791IMG_7221

 

OCR World Championship 2018

För en vecka sedan var det OCR VM i Kelvedon Hatch ute på den engelska landsbygden norr om London. England bjöd på strålande fint höstväder. Kyliga morgnar, med dimma och solljus, lätt kyliga men soliga dagar och lågt stående eftermiddagssol. Perfekt tävlingsväder!

course mapIMG_8133

Vi kom till Brentwood och vårt hotell på torsdagseftermiddagen. Det första vi gjorde var att åka ut till tävlingsområdet och hämta våra race kit och spana in området.

Fredagen ägnades till att titta på 3K tävlingarna och titta på hindren. På lördagen var det dags för tävling. Jag startade 12:15 i gruppen 45-49 och 50+. Perfekta förhållande med strålande sol. Jag sprang in på en 21a plats i min ålderskategori med bandet i behåll (100 hinder klarade) på 2h 52min._DSC21123425281MEB_skullV1

På söndagen var det dags för teamtävlingar. Vi, The Happy Swedes startade i elitgruppen. Jag öppnade med 4k sprint och 14 hinder, Robin fortsatte med styrkedelen för att sedan växla med Henrik som körde den tekniska delen. Sedan avslutade vi med en gemensam fjärde etapp med fyra hinder att klara tillsammans. Vi slutade på en 71a plats utav 184 elitteam. Detta var tävlingshelgens höjdpunkt!

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User and experience design—expectations on service providers

UXOver the last 20 years, we have seen incredible changes in our society. Both in the ways we work and the type of jobs and professions that are available on the market. We have changed, and the way we interact with each other has changed. Almost every day we meet a completely new type of experience in our daily-life, like self-driving buses or Tesla’s self-driving taxis.

In fact, many of the situations we find ourselves in every day are designed with a special focus on creating a great experience for us. However, even though there is a much deeper understanding and focus on this today, many companies have a hard time delivering it.

Experience-design needs to be a key focus

20 years ago, the dotcom era was in full bloom. At that time, the shift from printed design towards digital design really started. The designers back then interacted with new digital tools both for designing print and digital products, with the introduction of tools like Quark Xpress, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Macromedia Dreamweaver, Director, and Flash.

A whole set of new possibilities came with the new tools in the early 1990’s. But at that time there was less focus on the holistic experience, the customer and user journeys and their wants and needs.

It is easy to find prime examples of good-looking designs (esthetics) from the dotcom era, but those designs didn’t work because of little focus on the customers, the users, their contexts and their business models. Lack of usefulness, usability issues, and market timing were common mistakes, if you are curious about epic failures you can read more here. Today many  companies are aware of these things and there is a whole new trade around design. The next focus is all about user-centric designs that focus on the experience of the end user.

Multi-disciplinary team of UX and CX designers

At Ericsson Digital Services, we have a multi-disciplinary team of UX (User Experience) and CX  (Customer Experience) designers bringing skills such as interaction designers, visual designers, user researchers, data analysts, front-end developers and service designers, with one common focus. However, we need many, many more!

Tune in to the podcast with Dez Blanchfield and Didier Chincholle to get a deeper insight into what consumers expect today from their service providers, and how Ericsson Digital Services is helping to create intuitive experiences: Ericsson Future Digital Blog >>>

5 ways to master the new innovation game

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Assuming your organization has a creative mindset, and beyond the possible implications of emerging technologies, a key challenge lies in pinning down what is required from an organizational perspective for innovation to take place. To a large extent, this is the key challenge in the business world today and something that many organizations, especially larger ones, struggle with. What are the prerequisites for making innovation happen?

As part of my work with Ericsson and a recent study we conducted, we identified 5 ways to master the new innovation game. These are:

  1. Insight: Understanding people and understanding the problem
  2. Outsight: Keeping track of the world around us
  3. Innovation vision
  4. Culture as fuel for innovation
  5. Structure for creativity

Let’s look at them one by one:

Insight: Understanding people and understanding the problem

A key viewpoint that most creative thinkers will agree upon is that innovation is essentially about understanding human beings. The problems that are supposed to be solved by a structured innovation approach are ultimately human, not corporate. To identify the real problems and pain-points requires an understanding of humans in their natural habitat. Some innovators and entrepreneurs have a natural eye for the world and people around them and make the problematization and analysis by default. But in most cases, innovation requires an explicit and structured research effort of going out in the real world to gain insights that become relevant platforms for innovation.

Innovation also requires fundamental understanding of the problem you want to solve – and innovate based upon this understanding. This perspective stems from the notion that innovation is about solving real-life problems for people and digging deep into what these problems actually mean. Prehype, a New York-based venture development firm, believes that a good long problematization phase is the heart of all innovation. Nicholas Thorne at Prehype says:

“We focus our time in problem space rather than in execution space. If you get the problem right the solution presents itself.”

Outsight: Keeping track of the world around us

Innovation not only requires a solid understanding of end users, it also requires keeping track of how the world at large is changing and which implications this will have on our culture in general, and your area of business specifically. To a great extent, innovation is a question of timing and being in sync with the world around.

People and companies that are in tune with their times and have a sense of what the next big thing is will likely time their innovations relevantly, while people and companies that don’t have that outsight will waste and spoil good ideas and inventions because they don’t understand the larger sociocultural and socioeconomic context.

Innovation vision

Frederic Laloux describes how we are entering an era where organizations are increasingly driven by missions, and employees are motivated by the unique user value that they can help provide. Successful innovation comes from coming up with ideas that fill real needs and serve a purpose. In other words, this emphasizes the importance of having a clear vision for why and what we want to innovate. There are many examples of leaders who embody a vision which sparks innovation by giving employees a strong sense of purpose.

Open, flat and decentralized organizations with a creative and playful organizational culture also require a more visionary leadership. These types of organizations are made up of talented, skilled, and independent people with their own drive, who usually respond best to visionary leadership. They work most efficiently when working towards a bigger idea – a vison or a mission – that brings meaning to their work and daily tasks.

As discussed in Ericsson’s 2013 Networked Society Lab Report: Moving Fast and Breaking Things – a tale of digital business transformation, the product organization is an answer to this. The product organization is made up of a number of product-focused teams that are allowed to operate very autonomously within the organization, as long as they work towards the overall vision or mission of the organization. The role of the leader is to promote, uphold and manage the vision rather than micromanage various projects.

Culture as fuel for innovation

Culture is a core focus for organizations that aim to be at the forefront in terms of creativity. The old maxim “culture beats strategy” could actually be rephrased as “culture is strategy”. Culture plays a key role in addressing the challenge of gluing teams together and making them committed to the company mission. Creating a strong community is prioritized as a strategic way of attracting the best employees and to motivate them to spend time in the office. But culture is equally as important as a strategic way of creating an environment where innovation will thrive. The idea is that innovation can occur at all times and at all levels of the organization, given the right cultural climate.

Innovation is as much a human story as it is a story about technology. Organizational culture, people and diversity are at the heart of any discussion on innovation – and the cultural aspect of innovation was highlighted by almost everyone interviewed in our study. The argument is that companies that are able to create a certain kind of organizational culture will see innovation emerge from within the organization with much less effort than in other organizations. An innovation friendly culture will be able to manage, value and prioritize ideas that show up in the organization rather than dropping them before they are even tested and tried. Some thinkers on innovation go as far as to claim that innovation equals culture.

Structure for creativity

For the longest time there was a bias towards viewing innovation as something that just happens in a “magical” way in a black box of creativity. But even if innovation can sometimes happen accidentally, the opposite is usually true for truly valuable innovation to happen. In the academic world, innovation is often described as a systematic management process and an organizational structure, rather than a black box of creativity that occasionally generates innovative ideas with real business potential.

Academic research on innovation in organizations suggests that innovation should be managed strategically from the top level of a company. Companies should have an organizational structure that enables innovation and allows people who work with innovation to pursue careers in innovation. Companies should have a defined process for how to drive innovation within the organization, and should be able to measure and follow up on their innovation efforts just like they do in any other department of their business.

There are many different ways of perceiving how a structure for creativity is best achieved from an organizational perspective, but a common theme is that there has to be a structured process for collecting, evaluating and implementing new ideas. Without the process in place, the understanding of end users and the world they live in, the visionary leadership and the culture of innovation will not succeed in creating strong and meaningful innovation. When ideas are not acted upon, the creative force will eventually fade and the culture or vision will not be enough to encourage continuous innovation.

Like this post? Don’t forget to check out the firstsecond and third at Ericsson Big Ideas Blog

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