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Main Feature Technology Global

Weighing the ‘yays’ and ‘nays’ of outsourcing tech dev talents

Outsourcing for any imaginable type of business work or project has never been new: in fact, many large companies we know and love nowadays also thrive in the ever-growing industry of remote workers. For instance, you can imagine how a multinational company outsources some of its talents remotely from other places, such as in Asia or ANZ.

According to Statista, the global outsourcing market in 2019 has amounted to US$ 92.5B, despite the uncertainty of the market itself.

The very concept of outsourcing is now highlighted as the world battles around the restrictions brought by the global pandemic. As work has shifted from personal spaces to work-from-home, remote workers are given the spotlight and are trying their best to accentuate their portfolios amid the growing number of businesses, whether big or small, looking forward in finding the next talent outside of their workspace.

This is especially true in the sense of technology development, as more and more businesses are migrating their business online. With consumer demand shifted due to the pandemic, digital channels have become more relevant, hence businesses are in great need to strategize what technological migrations they should need, whether it could be coding their upcoming software, or migrating their old database into a new one.

Despite the growing trend of outsourcing technology development teams, businesses often find themselves at crossroads of whether outsourcing ‘tech dev’ teams is worth their investment and resources. 

Let’s weigh the options then:

The ‘yay’ things of ‘tech dev’ outsourcing

Diversity of Talent: Primarily, one could see the benefit of outsourcing tech dev teams would be the rich talent businesses could find upon hiring one. The majority of remote tech dev teams don’t just go themselves out in the wild to be a ‘random fish out of the water’ but rather have spent in self-learning and training to be a full-on go-to guy for tech development.

Saving Up Time and Resources: Businesses can save time and resources in hiring tech dev teams, since the team you’re hiring, albeit working for you, doesn’t have the same commitment and drive as those within the company’s space. Despite the initial thought, remote tech dev teams are committed to their projects and always look forward to diversifying their work experience across various industries.

Building Up Connections: Businesses who look forward to hiring remote tech dev teams can act as springboards to potentially aid them to grow their network of clients and at the same time creating more opportunities for them. As stated previously, tech dev teams dedicate their time in not only diversifying their knowledge but also their clientele base. In an age where businesses need the helping hand they can, remote tech dev teams can come in, and businesses do their favor of touching base to a larger network.

The ‘nays’ of ‘tech dev’ outsourcing

Potential ‘Ghost’ Teams: The paradoxical thing about remote tech devs is that there is a rising concern of teams who might not be able to do the job properly, or the skills presented don’t represent the output they deliver. Businesses should be wary of such instances, and always look forward in competitive pitches the reputation of such teams.

Communication Barriers: The concept of remote working itself poses a large issue in terms of communicating deliverables and the like. As not all locations are equal, there is room for loopholes in terms of the tech dev team and their clients. External factors such as internet bandwidth and remote locations of the team may affect the speed and outputs released by the team.

Cybersecurity Concerns: Lastly, as remote tech dev teams will deal with business clients online, cybersecurity concerns will be a thing of concern between the two parties. Attacks including phishing, malware attacks, identity theft, and SSL hacking are a major concern lately not just to large organizations but small businesses as well who are just recently starting online.

In response, businesses looking forward to outsourcing remote teams should create stringent measures in testing the skills of particular tech dev teams. Just like how agencies go under pitches to convince companies to pick them or contractors submitting proposals, tech dev teams can send their proposals to businesses on what they aim to bring value to the company. 

In regards to communication, businesses should resort to online tools that are both lightweight and accessible for remote teams. With an abundance of tools available, from GitHub to allow the creation of software in the platform and convene the team into one project, Stack Overflow for coding knowledge exchange, and Confluence for general project collaborations, businesses can convince their remote teams to convene to one common virtual workplace.

As work has shifted online, businesses would need to convince their remote tech dev teams to also amp up their security measures online. From using reputable password managers to practicing 2FA, businesses and tech dev teams must practice such measures in order to not being subjected to cyber hacks.

So, what’s in it for me as a business?

Looking back, there is a good amount of pros and cons on the concept of hiring remote tech dev teams. It might seem baffling at first but once you know the perfect fit, remote tech devs are worth it in enriching your business and improving your overall service.

Outsourcing tech dev teams may be a hitch, considering the diversity of rates and talents out there, but remote workers could be the next team the business really wants in touching new bases with their customers, maintaining a good relationship with them, and further releasing new services and developments.

Until then, keep at the back of one’s head the constraints remote working poses, and how tech dev teams aim to circumvent their way around it and build a healthy relationship with their clients.

After all, with the tides of business shifting online, it takes a matter of time when demand surges once again, and your business may be totally overwhelmed. Take some time to think about which remote tech dev team suits you.

Adam-Eastburn

The author is Adam Eastburn, CEO & Founder of Adaptis.

Adaptis is a global technology development company with presence in Europe and the Asia Pacific. The company offers experience design, digital development, and team solutions. Kempinski HotelsToyota, and Johnnie Walker are some of its global clients.

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Premium Main Feature Technology APAC

‘Add to home screen’: Is developing a Progressive Web App the right move for your platform?

We’re always finding ways to mesh the best of both worlds, and on the side of applications, there is such a thing called as Progressive Web App, or in short, PWA, which combines the benefits of web applications and native apps. 

First introduced by Google back in 2015, Progressive Web App is something you must have already gotten your hands on one way or another. If while browsing a mobile site, you have been briefly paused by a prompt that says ‘Add to home screen’, then that is exactly that. 

Progressive Web App uses web technology to deliver to users a native app-like experience. It’s the answer to the never-ending debate of whether to get a web app or a mobile app, but you’ll later find that it isn’t a black-and-white predicament and that PWAs enhance both rather than replace them. 

A PWA is developed using Javascript, and a major part of it is a service worker that enables features such as offline browsing and push notifications, experiences found in native apps. Right off the bat, the buy-in point is that PWAs need not be downloaded from an app store by users, while for developers, it is much cheaper to build and uses less sophisticated technology to implement. 

So a PWA sounds all good, right? But is it really the best move to go for your platform or brand? Let’s get to know more facts. 

Progressive Web App vs. native app

A native app is obviously platform-based, which means that its programming language is specifically built to work on either iOS or Android; so that would be Swift for the former, while Kotlin for the latter. And if one prefers to have the app run on all mobile platforms, then it further necessitates knowing all the different technologies, making its development meticulous and a much lengthier process. A progressive web app, on the other hand, simply runs on a browser and requires only common web technologies such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. PWAs are also responsive and are operational in different screen sizes. Compared to a straight-out web app, they are also able to work offline. 

When it comes to functionality though, PWAs are still half apps and therefore carry limited ability to deliver features. Such examples would be that it has no access to calendars and contacts. It also can’t access bluetooth, hence, the absence of indoor geolocation.  

The high cost of development for native apps, on the other hand, does reap its rewards as this exchanges for optimized performance. Since native apps are targeted at specific platforms, they are able to deliver a high level of performance. Native apps are also able to interact with other apps, and an easy example of this is when logging in to a certain platform, one is able to quickly connect credentials via Facebook or Gmail. 

Geofencing is also an advantage that comes with native apps. This enables the app to send alerts when a device enters a specific location. Those who opt for native apps are also able to enjoy the benefit of customizability, having more exploratory space when it comes to developing the interface and user experience. 

While native apps no doubt offer great performance, PWAs are still capable of serving many benefits, gaining higher engagement for one’s platform with a cheaper and faster development. They are discoverable through search engines, which have a larger audience than app stores and can still use push notifications to re-engage users. 

Each has its pros and cons, but being at a crossroads of which one to choose, or whether to add a PWA in the case that you’re already operating on a certain platform, there’s one thing that remains to be the most important factor–your users. 

What do your users want? 

In deciding what type of application to build, what the users and consumers of your platform want is a first-principle. In a number of ways, the more optimized experience that a native app offers weighs heavier, and users only veer off course from downloading an app for a common reason – reserving phone memory. Not everybody’s mobile device carries top-tier memory storage, and the usual workaround is to not install too many apps. 

With this in mind, rather than deciding between a PWA and a native app, in order to truly bring users a great experience, one can decide to have both, which could be said as an ideal strategy enabling the platform to be holistically available. This addresses the pain points of users, which can be segmented taking into account the continuous emergence of new digital channels and practices.

Being a fairly new type of application relative to others, early adopters of PWA use it ‘on top’ of their native app. Twitter for example has taken the user experience (UX) of its brand a notch higher through Twitter Lite, launched in 2017, where users are now able to add it to their home screens or even on ‘desktop’ on a PC. 

It definitely worked for Twitter, being obviously a highly text-based social media platform. The gratification point for Twitter users does not demand a bespoke native app, and a PWA, which is much smaller in storage size, is still able to deliver the same exact experience – a ready-to-use platform to publish and share bite-sized personal content. 

According to a case study by Google, the introduction of Twitter Lite has resulted in a 65% increase in pages per session, a 75% increase in Tweets sent, and a 20% decrease in bounce rate. However, what worked for Twitter does not mean entirely the same for your platform. 

An e-commerce platform, for example, has more pathways in its UX, and thus, majority of users might lean, in favor of a native app, or just go straight to the e-commerce site to browse and shop. 

However, mobile phone usage is tipped to, if it hasn’t yet, increase at a higher rate, where a Statista study forecasted that the year 2020 might clock in 2.87 billion users of smartphones worldwide. Such insight enlightens that with such a massive volume of users depending on mobile experience, it would gravely be a step behind not to consider the possible ways a user can land, and later on normalize your platform’s usage. Hence, even with the possibility of users giving higher preference to the holy grail native app, it wouldn’t hurt for brands and platforms to consider a PWA.

The makings of a good PWA 

So what makes a well-performing and converting progressive web app? As mentioned, the basic DNA of a PWA is that it combines both the operational maneuvers and features of a web and mobile app. Here’s a definitive list.

Easy to discover a PWA is by essence, a website, so it should be discovered by search engines, which is one of its one-ups over native apps, which still sometimes suffer in terms of searchability.
Linkable – taking after its parent application, a PWA must be shareable through a link.
Responsive – a PWA should be at all costs, responsive. It must be capable of being used on any device that has a screen and a browser such as of course mobile phones, and also tablets, laptops, and even TVs, and refrigerators that have in-built screens.
Network- and connectivity-independent – a PWA should have this characteristic so it works even in offline mode or amid a poor network connection.
Re-engages – a PWA to be re-engageable, can directly be achieved through push notifications – a feature that we borrow from native apps – to encourage users to reopen and reuse the app.
• Safe – it is vital that a PWA is hosted over HTTPS so that connections between the user, the app, and your server are secured against any man-in-the-middle attacks trying to intercept to obtain private data. 
App-like – we made this feature the last on the list to make a point –above all, it should feel and be navigated like an app. It may be a combo of a web and mobile app, but it is more of an extension of the latter and should look and operate like one.

Now that you are armed with a basic rundown of a PWA’s benefits, features, as well as its advantages, and shortcomings, it is best to always mind the ideal path that would appeal to and serve most of your users while adapting to what your platform and brand are able to afford at the moment when it comes to time and budget. This can be a challenging task but the fact that you are in the mid of assessment means that you are on the road to digitization–and that is already a beginning of bringing your brand one step further to better user reach and, eventually, leading the competition. 

The author is Adam Eastburn, CEO & Founder of Adaptis.

Adaptis is a global technology development company with presence in Europe and the Asia Pacific. The company offers experience design, digital development, and team solutions. Kempinski HotelsToyota, and Johnnie Walker are some of its global clients.

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Main Feature Marketing APAC

February’s Top 5 stories: A consumer brand’s campaign takes reign

Jumping off the icebreaker of the year, the list this February is another group of brands showcasing innovation and over-the-top creativity. Three out of five are marketing campaigns hailing from Malaysia, with one region-wide; while stories of new leadership appointments, with new hires tasked to take the helm of an Asia-wide team, continue to inspire this month. 

Based on Google Analytics from 16 January to15 February, here are the top 5 stories for February.  

Top 5: SUBPLACE’s ‘Founder Story’ campaign 

When SUBPLACE launched in December, it became the first-of-its-kind, offering an all-in-one marketplace for products on a subscription-based service. In order to encourage merchants to hop on the said business model, it rolled out its ‘Founder story’ campaign

The unique proposition that SUBPLACE offers pushed it to similarly offer innovative marketing strategies. In the ‘Founder story’ campaign, it roped in the founders and CEOs of five of its partner brands to talk about each of their brand stories and why they chose the subscription model. The brands featured were probiotic drink Yakult, health and wellness retail chain store, Ogawa, and intimate health and aesthetic clinic, Clinic Rui, among others. 

SUBPLACE CEO Mak WH shared to MARKETECH APAC, “We invited our biz partners to be storytellers, to talk about why they chose to adopt the subscription model in these challenging times, and what their inspiration for doing so was. Through these short features, we also introduce the subscription business model to viewers and convey how this model differs from other business models through first-hand accounts from business owners,” said Mak.

Top 4: dentsu announces new chief growth officer for CXM

Global media and marketing network dentsu international is continuously bolstering its leadership, unveiling veteran hires from time to time; and for its customer experience management business in APAC, it has appointed digital and tech veteran, Rachel Ooi, as its chief growth officer.

Prior to joining dentsu, Ooi has worked for professional services company Accenture as managing director for Industry X.0, the firms’ digital and tech solutions for businesses; and for multinational conglomerate General Electric (GE) as general manager for the ASEAN enterprise sales, as well as leading GE’s Ecosystem Alliance for the APAC region.

For her role, she will be responsible for bolstering dentsu’s CXM regional footprint through new business and organic growth, working closely with the leads of the network’s Media and Creative divisions on integrated opportunities. 

In an exclusive conversation with Ooi, she said that the pandemic has turned the CXM landscape around, where everyone is transiting to a ‘Digital Genesis’ era. 

“In the past, database marketing is the way to go, direct marketing is the way to go. [Right now], we’re talking about leveraging not just on technology, data, but also enhanced creativity, working closely with the ecosystem,” noted Ooi. 

“Here in dentsu, even Merkle, we aim to achieve [and differentiate] by giving competitive advantage to brands and clients. We do that by having a different perspective, no longer just advertising, marketing in siloes, sales, and commerce; we look at it as a full perspective [on] how we can be a strategic partner to clients.” 

Top 3: Creative tech development company Adaptis appoints seasoned business development executive Joven Barceñas as head of growth

Joven Barceñas, former head of advertising and sponsorship sales at Lighthouse Independent Media, the publisher of Singapore-based Marketing Magazine, has been named as head of growth at Adaptis

Adaptis is a collective of digital development studios strategically located in Europe and Southeast Asia, providing experience-led technical capabilities to global clients. 

With the role, Barceñas will be responsible for growing the business of the firm through business development and marketing, as well as improving processes within the function. 

Having almost a decade of experience in media, marketing, and technology, Barceñas shared that he chose to further focus on the latter as the industry of technology keeps on evolving and that he aims to be in an environment that presents consistent innovative offerings to improve results for clients.  

“In my current role at Adaptis, I was very fortunate to have been working with very talented people in technology development, and I’m learning a lot about UX, UI, and how machine learning or AI works,” he said. 

Top 2:Kingdom Digital delivers 300 personalized digital ‘thank you’ cards for its 2020 wrap up

Social and content agency Kingdom Digital in Malaysia exercised its expertise in social media and digital creatives when it went the extra mile for its 2020 year-ender special, delivering and publishing over 300 personalized ‘thank you’ cards, to clients, media partners, and employees.  

In the form of 8-second clips, the agency curated a sincere and unique message for each receiver, all posted and published on its Facebook and Instagram Stories. 

Its Head of Strategy Edmund Lou let us in on the agency’s conceptualization process for the initiative, sharing that the team decided to push through with it, knowing how digital cards increased in popularity during limited physical contact at the middle of the pandemic. 

Lou said the team had to appoint designated writers and make use of a proprietary system, Digital Creative Automation (DCA), in order to pull off the moving banners which required 170 varied visuals and copy. 

Top 1: Colgate’s ‘Made for Greatness campaign’

The top story for this month can be considered as a dark horse in its own right–Colgate’s ‘Made for greatness’ campaign which was first released a little while back – in November 2020 – and coming through the ranks, garnering the most views for the month. 

The campaign is for its hardworking formula, Colgate Total, where it featured professional climber and Academy Award-winning documentary director, Jimmy Chin. The spot shows Chin climbing an arduous mountain, but succeeding in the end, bringing the message of strength and ‘greatness’ in tandem with the Colgate brand. 

In an exclusive conversation, Lyndon Morant, Colgate-Palmolive’s regional marketing director, shared that the theme of greatness came about in answering the question “Why did we make Colgate Total?”

“The answer is that we designed [it] for those people, for whom the highest grade [and] the highest performance in everything that they use makes [a] difference,” he said. 

Watch the live report of the top stories for the month on our YouTube channel, where we give you exclusive appearances from the newsmakers themselves.

This is in collaboration with Malaysia-based media company The Full Frontal.

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Premium Main Feature Technology Southeast Asia

Engagement and reach: The potentials of augmented reality app development

The modern age has seen the rise of various strategies to maintain customer retention, whether through their services, or even marketing campaigns to create organic reach. From social media trend jacking to sophisticated software such as digital experience platforms (DXPs) or customer relationship management (CRM) platforms, every institution, every brand tries its best to retain relevancy if you will.

But there is one special platform that takes customer experience and retention to the next level: perhaps one could say one step closer to the customer if you will. 

Augmented reality, the interactive technological experience that makes consumer base reaction with respective brands more meaningful and realistic even to make them feel connected, intertwined like a large network.

What is augmented reality?

Generally, augmented reality is defined as an interactive experience that combines elements of the real world with digital elements embedded in the augmented reality (AR) to create an environment that is interactable with both movements digitally and physically.

One of the most profound successes brought by AR experience is the popular game Pokemon Go, developed by American game developer Niantic. The game’s premise truly embodies the essence of being a Pokemon trainer, as you have to walk in real life to ‘catch’ Pokemons, find the nearest ‘Pokemon Gym’ at the area to battle out, or even stumble across a legendary Pokemon for yourself.

Another popular example of AR technology is what is pioneered by the social media platform Snapchat: face filters. Through the help of AR technology, users can use filters such as the ‘floating heart’s filter’ or the well-known ‘dog filter’ to bring their wacky game on in their social media posts.

Over the years, the utilization of AR technology has been widely used by brands and organizations to bring at least a bit of tangible experience for their customer base. Whether it is a new product, a virtual product launch, or perhaps just another of those social media-based filters, AR has gone a long way from being an interactive experience to a globally-recognized industry.

Statistics from market research company IDC estimate that global spending on AR/VR in 2020 will be up to $18.8 billion, up 78.5% from 2019. From 2019-2023, the global VR/AR market will see a 77% compound annual growth rate.

With the constant growth of the AR industry, it’s no wonder that the technology itself has caught the interest of many businesses and brands who want to get their hands on this engaging technology. But before one could dip into utilizing AR into their next big campaign, one should first understand the development of AR mobile applications.

Augmented reality app development: from the ground-up

The development of augmented reality is based on a mix of traditional mobile app development and expertise in superimposing images and other 3D elements or multimedia within the platform which then responds to the real environment it is encoded with to develop a mixed experience of physical and digital elements, working hand in hand towards an interactive platform.

When developing an augmented reality experience for your business and brand, ask yourself: what are the premises of experience and reach I want to come out of this platform? While AR itself is engaging in its sense, the ulterior motive of the brand or the service and the business you’re providing must prevail.

Think of this: the interactive experience is just one of the objectives, as viewed from a marketer’s perspective. Whether you’re creating an online face filter for your brands’ online contest, a virtual launch perhaps, or even a ‘stay-at-home’ campaign to bring the service right at your fingertips, the AR experience, while uniformly carrying the same interaction, differs on the manner it is being delivered, and how it sells itself organically to the consumer base.

Regardless, most AR experiences are developed under common platforms, which include Unity3D, Unreal Engine, ARCore, among others. 

Brand/tech presence and renewed campaign platform: the whys of using the AR experience

Every brand wanting to take their hands onto the augmented reality experience may have different aspirations on wanting a custom-made AR experience for their services, but there is one common factor that draws them into these platforms: innovation.

The aspect of marketing itself is all about being in with the latest trends of today and keeping in touch with the wirings of technology. Humankind has long since evolved its marketing strategies from traditional media into something more engaging, a touch of the future if you will. And for most brands, AR is like a step into the future, the next generation and medium of upcoming campaigns they have. 

Of course, marketers off the top of their mindsets also think that AR is a unique platform to boost one’s brand presence, and it is truly a unique one. Psychologically, a customer could perceive that a company engaging in a next-generation platform like AR to be a business signal that things are going for the better, which is actually the company’s motive in advertising itself to others. Our progress throughout the course of humanity has been defined as jumping into a more developed concept we can work into, and augmented reality is changing that.

Coming under the umbrella of advertising, AR then gives brands an opportunity to potentially grow their sales organically since AR itself demands a more engaging and organic approach for it to take effect. And with better sales comes better customer engagement brought by greater reach AR has done to its clientele base.

Overall, AR gives brands a unique image that they can portray, an image that speaks of relevancy against the ongoing tide changes of today, a more openly accessible brand that majority of demographics can or actually relate to, and in the current state, a more ‘safer’ version to customers interact with their favorite brands while staying at the comfort of their homes and personal spaces.

So, should everyone try it?

An app developer may always get asked all the time if a particular next-generation platform like augmented reality is applicable for organic reach and customer engagement. The answer is…well the middle of the scales. It all boils down to how a marketing department decides how the campaign will utilize AR in a way that is relatable, accessible, and at the same time, manageable. After all, the general rule of the thumb of augmented reality is that it stays to its core objective: providing engagement and reach for customers and brands alike.

Humankind has evolved a long way in developing unique experiences for humans to appreciate and augmented reality is one of those digital channels. Should the opportunity and time arise, hop on to the trend.

The author is Adam Eastburn, CEO & Founder of Adaptis.

Adaptis is a global technology development company with presence in Europe and the Asia Pacific. The company offers experience design, digital development, and team solutions. Kempinski Hotels, Toyota, and Johnnie Walker are some of its global clients.

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Technology Featured Southeast Asia

Joven Barceñas joins creative tech development company Adaptis as head of growth

Manila, Philippines – Business development veteran Joven Barceñas has recently joined international-wide UX and digital development agency Adaptis as its head of growth.

Prior to Adaptis, Barceñas was most notably the regional head of advertising and sponsorship sales at Lighthouse Independent Media in 2018, the publisher of Singapore-based Marketing Magazine. 

For his new role at Adaptis, Barceñas will be responsible for the firm’s business growth through business development and marketing, and also to improve processes within the function. Adaptis is a collective of digital development studios strategically located in Europe and Southeast Asia, providing experience-led technical capabilities to global clients. 

On his appointment, Barceñas said, “With almost a decade of exposure to media, marketing, and technology, I always wanted to discover what I can do and learn more in the tech space. I am very excited to be a frontrunner in humanizing technology through the apps and websites we create.”

Barceñas also shared to MARKETECH APAC that while the role charges him to focus on the company’s Australia, Singapore, and Thailand markets, his role “has no boundaries,” and that whenever opportunities strike within Adaptis’ other markets, he is more than ready to grab them.

Since its inception, Adaptis has grown through word of mouth – a testament to excellent client satisfaction. [My] priorities [for the role] are looking into the process and communications improvements from every aspect of client journeys with us – from prospecting to onboarding to project deployment. Part of the role is to create marketing initiatives to boost brand awareness for Adaptis. While I am doing these, business development activities are in place concurrently

Joven Barceñas, Head of Growth, Adaptis

Meanwhile, on his personal insights on the changes in the business development landscape amid the pandemic, Barceñas commented, “The most positive thing with virtual selling is that you can do 2 to 3 business meetings in 2 hours as it saves you time to travel from one place to another.”

He continued, “This means the business developers should have been more productive during these times. I think the main challenge is to effectively use the first meeting as an opportunity to build a better foundation of trust and relationship with new clients.”

Adam Eastburn, CEO, and founder of Adaptis, shared that prior to Barceñas’ appointment, the role was open to reach out to more companies to partner with them and to guide firms through their adaptation to changing human behavior and technology trends. 

While the company has been successfully acquiring new businesses since its inception in 2013, it believes that it could contribute more to the industry by educating new clients on user experience and providing excellent work that users would love. 

“The direction is always finding opportunities wherever and whenever. With Joven’s extensive regional business development experience, I trust that he will contribute to Adaptis’ growth, either opening up new markets or growing existing ones for us,” he said.

Adaptis has a presence in Europe and the Asia Pacific. They have offices in Switzerland, Singapore, Vietnam, and the Philippines. Their global clients include Kempinski Hotels, Toyota, Johnnie Walker, and more.

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Technology Featured Southeast Asia

For UX designers: selling your product is about creating a perception, says Adaptis regional director

Vietnam – The current highs of digital have definitely pounded the people behind tech products with much pressure to grace the forefront – specifically to mold one into becoming an all-in-one man –  beyond making and designing products, that is, to become a marketer and a businessman as well. 

After all, we’ve seen model IT leaders early on, in the face of Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg, but product designers today are faced with a challenge to keep up with the bar of versatility.

With model IT leaders like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, UX designers are hit with the pressure to keep up with evolving skillsets including UX selling.

In the recently held UXVN Festival 2020, a virtual conference in Vietnam for user experience (UX) practitioners, regional director of creative technological agency Adaptis Binh Truong, laid out the process of how UX designers can make themselves ready to go beyond fulfilling UX requirements – learning how to be in sales, and effectively attracting buy-ins to their products. 

In his talk UX Selling, External and Internal Approach, Truong said that in selling their products, UX designers simply need to create a perception or bring about the ‘whole picture’ of where a product fits into clients’ own objectives. 

The sale is all about creating perception. When you talk with your peer or [with] your friend, it’s [easy] [for them] to know exactly what you’re talking about, but when you come to talk with [strangers], somebody in marketing [or] engineering from the client side, and [they say] we want to design this [app], and they have no idea what you have in mind, about the process.

Binh Truong, Regional Director, Adaptis

He further said that this is the time when designers must “ask the [questions]” because this is when you’re able to create the perception, where you arm yourself with the needed unified ‘pitch’ in order to justify and make clients understand your product.  

So what questions are these? Binh enumerated the important ones: 

  • Questions about the past
  • Questions to uncover the gap
  • Questions about their customer 
  • Questions about the company, org chart, culture
  • Questions about the decision-making criteria 
  • Questions of why
  • Questions about the competition and trend 

Truong said that while a lot avoid the activity of selling, being mostly a challenging undertaking, people, such as UX designers, must learn to embrace it, in order to “connect to people.”

UX selling is a skill. Design is a part of everything else. You need to know how to handle the people around you, not only the user.

With 18 years in the field of IT and digital, having earlier worked with Microsoft China e-commerce as a senior project manager, and also currently a regional manager at Interaction Design Foundation (IDF), a global online design school, Truong surely has mastered the nooks and crannies of UX selling. In the talk, he shares a number of pointers: 

UX project is an investment, either for an internal or external client – meaning you’re using someone’s money.

In laying out the ‘facts’ in managing sales, Truong stated, “An investment means you’re using someone’s money, [it means] you need to care about the return of investment, it means you need to deliver the value. [You’re asking] somebody to pay for this project, so [you] need to return it in some way.”

Sales is a journey 

Truong also stressed that one of the most important principles to remember in sales is that it isn’t a one-off engagement, but a process and a journey. 

“[Sales] is not only about signing a contract, [but it’s also a skill] you need all along, [bringing] the deal onwards,” he said. 

Truong even shared a crucial insight: “Sales process is lifetime, [the] same as your product lifecycle.” 

According to him, it starts with building that perception and trust, managing expectations, then communicating and providing the value; and once prospects have been converted, UX designers must guide clients through the process of onboarding the product, engaging users, and then eventually to the pot of gold – repeat purchase and referrals.   

“In order to convince people, you need to make sure that they like you, [and in order to do that], you need to bring in the value, so [that] they listen to you, and [that’s when] the obstacle and the barrier [between you and the client] go down, while you increase the mutual trust,” he said. 

You have enough UX skills to start doing sales, it’s only about doing it the right way. 

In the session, Truong said that right off the bat, UX designers’ expertise puts them in an advantageous position to sell their product. 

“You have the skill, you know a lot of UX technology, and [with] some mindset in [sales], you [just] need to do the right thing,” he said. 

In building that sales mindset, Truong offers the PACT framework. PACT stands for People, Activity, Context, and Technology.

“You have to know who you’re selling to (people), what activity they’re doing (activity), what context they’re in (context) – such as which period it is taking place, and how much money they have – and what technology is right for them (technology),” explained Truong.

UX is a framework you can tailor 

Contrary to Truong noting sales as a process, he believes that UX can be approached as a framework.

He said that in selling their product, UX designers have the tendency to talk about every little part of the product and technology, which could overwhelm a potential client. 

“It’s your job to make it easier [for your stakeholders],” he said.

Truong notes that designers can pick out any part of the UX ‘framework’, such as the prototype, the journey map maybe, the form design, or the user interface (UI) patterns, and start talking about and engaging that part of the design with stakeholders. 

“You don’t need to put everything in the same [conversation], it’s [frustrating for] your client [and] stakeholders, so just pick something,” he said. 

Concluding the session, Truong said, “Everything starts with you.

He further shared designers need to remember that every business or individual, has its own stage, age, and maturity level. A one-size-fits-all strategy won’t work as one may encounter a variety of prospects – companies –  that are either starting or full-grown, as well as individuals from different age groups, hence carrying different needs.

Ultimately, he said, “Long story short, you need to know the map before you enter the game.” 

Adaptis has a presence in Europe and the Asia Pacific. They have offices in Switzerland, Singapore, Vietnam, and the Philippines. Their global clients include Kempinski Hotels, Toyota, Johnnie Walker, and more.