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Public sector CIOs need to adopt design thinking: Ovum

Human-centered design thinking and approaches are now gaining mainstream credence among private sector decision-makers focused on innovation, according to Ovum, yet the analyst firm adds it is a concept that seems to be unfamiliar in most CIO...


April 25, 2013  


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Human-centered design thinking and approaches are now gaining mainstream credence among private sector decision-makers focused on innovation, according to Ovum, yet the analyst firm adds it is a concept that seems to be unfamiliar in most CIO offices in the public sector.

In its latest opinion piece, “three factors have been highlighted that set design thinking apart. The first being that it is highly collaborative; the second is it is well suited to helping create technology systems that are adaptable in uncertain environments; and thirdly it is mindful of both understood and hidden end-user needs.”

“Scaled back budgets have caused agencies to make a host of assumptions about user needs on ICT projects,” said Nishant Shah, government technology analyst at Ovum. “These assumptions have time and again been proven wrong when the systems are implemented, which only enhances cost from these failures. However, the strength of design thinking is that it revolves around empathy, defined as developing a nuanced understanding of user needs based on observation and not reliant on past analytical case studies which may be of limited availability.”

Ovum believes design thinking in government ICT is particularly applicable in changing workflow for shared services, in co-creation initiatives, and in efforts dealing with open data that involve citizens and multiple agencies.

Ovum recommends that agency CIOs begin to explore design thinking techniques and incorporate relevant elements into ICT projects characterized by “wicked problems” — those with significantly greater complexity and ambiguity than normal.

Familiarity with a variety of methodologies can help leaders improve outcomes via a focus on end-user needs, collaboration and iteration as well as creativity,  Shah said.