Karen Lindop: we’re hiring! Plus our ‘Federation Presents’ events

(Transcript) Karen Lindop: Hello, and welcome to our update on what’s happening in the Digital team.

Firstly I want to welcome some new people to the team. Caroline Hatwell, Matthew Edwards, Lucy Bridges, Devon Gillespie, Lowri Davies, Kyle Welsby, Dominic Jefferson, Danny Wilson, Mark Pittam and of course Kim Morley who returns to cover Cara’s maternity cover. Welcome to you all, it’s great to have you here.

I also want to congratulate Carl Burton who won Disruptive Leader of the Year last week at the Tech Leaders Awards for his work on Guardian for our Funeralcare Business. It’s really well deserved, we’re all proud of you Carl as well as the whole team, past and present!

We host lots of different groups and organisations events in The Federation. Anyone can use our events space, and you can find details of all upcoming events on the website and we’ll add the link to our blog.

We’ve also been running a series of free events called Federation Presents which has been designed to explore ethics in the technology industry and society and using technology for good. We have collaborated with experts from around the world to talk about our industry’s big issues such as surveillance capitalism, racial and gender bias in machine learning, ethical business models and the future of work. This week we held one on Toxic Tech, and our next one will be in December – keep an eye open for more details.

Co-op’s interim results came out last week, I’d encourage you to have a look. There’s some great progress in 6 months by doing things #TheCoopWay.

Within the interim results we announced that we’ve acquired Dimec who are a healthcare technology start-up who have developed a platform which enables patients and their GPs to interact and better manage their prescription needs. Dimec will give us the online structure from which to build a new range of health and well-being services for our members. Excitingly, we’re looking for a Head of Product for this new business, if you’re interested the link to apply is on our blog.

We’re also looking for software and platform engineers, BA’s and front end developers, again the links to apply are on out blog.

That’s it for this week. Don’t forget to subscribe for all our updates on our blog and follow us on Twitter. See you soon.

Karen Lindop
Head of Digital Operations

Karen Lindop: our first ‘Federation presents’ event plus winning an award

(Transcript) Karen Lindop: Hello, and welcome to our update on what’s happening in the Digital team.

I’ll start with some brilliant news. On Tuesday our service team won the Special Innovations Award at the IT Service Management Foundation awards. A massive well done to Michaela and the entire team, past and present,including our partners BJSS.

At the Federation last week we hosted the first in the Federation Presents series. A massive well done to Emer and the Federation team, plus a thank you to Mary Mazzio. If you missed the event you can watch it again, we’ll add a link to the blog, plus you can always register for the next in the series which is next week on the 13th June. It’s on the very topical subject of responsibility with data.

We’re delighted that Aurelie Pols will join us to deliver the keynote, talking about how digitisation may be challenging our values as citizens and about our responsibility as data subjects, citizens and parents to assure technology works for the benefit of human beings. There are a few tickets left, so be quick and register. We also realise that not everyone can make evening events, which is why we’ll also be live streaming the event, and will make the recording available after as well.

Richard Sullivan and Cara Bermingham have been busy planning our next agile masterclass. It’s on 22nd June, and open to any of our colleagues across Co-op, so get in touch if you’d like to sign up.

Also this week, Katherine Vaughn and the user research team from Citizens Advice Bureau spent the day with our user research team sharing ways of working. It’s always so valuable to learn from others, so thank you to Katherine and the team for taking the time to come to see us.

Finally congratulations to Adam Warburton who completed his MBA this week – a fantastic achievement, well done Adam!

That’s it for this week. Don’t forget to subscribe for all our updates on our blog and follow us on Twitter. See you soon.

Karen Lindop
Head of Digital Operations

Karen Lindop: the AGM, user research training plus award nominations

(Transcript) Karen Lindop: Hello, and welcome to our update on what’s happening in the Digital team.

I’ll start with some brilliant news. We’ve had not one, but 3 award nominations this week. Shifts has been shortlisted for best user experience and Guardian for transformation at the Big Chip Awards. Plus our service team have been shortlisted for the ‘special innovations’ award at the IT Service Management Foundation awards. Well done everyone, it’s testament to all of your hard work. Fingers crossed for 3 wins!

Talking of Shifts, you may remember a few weeks ago we made Shifts available to all our Food store colleagues. In just 4 weeks we’ve onboarded over half of the user base with 90% of those users returning in the past week. Chris, Paul and the team aren’t done though – they’ll continue to listen to feedback from colleagues and work on making it even better.

Our user research community have been running a training session to help get more honest feedback from our colleagues. Last week they ran further sessions with people who will be doing user research throughout our Co-op. Great work from Simon Hurst who has designed the course and is taking a lead on this.

Saturday was our Co-op AGM. Well done to all the teams across Co-op who come together as one Co-op to deliver a brilliant day for our members. If you couldn’t make it on the day, or were watching the royal wedding or football – our live stream is available to view.

Finally a quick reminder that next week the first of The Federation presents series begins. On the 30th May we are hosting an evening were we talk about Modern Slavery in Tech with the incredible Mary Mazzio. There are a few tickets left, so be quick and register.

That’s it for this week. Don’t forget to subscribe for all our updates on our blog and follow us on Twitter. See you soon.

Karen Lindop
Head of Digital Operations

 

Designing the research studio at Federation House

In February, we announced that we’re building a user research lab in The Federation. We’ve now finished designing the space, confirmed our technical and furnishing suppliers, and we’re about to start building.

This post is about what we learnt about the needs of our users, and how our learnings informed the Federation Research Studio design.

Speaking to users

The studio will be available to Co-op teams including Digital, Brand and Marketing; Federation tenants and eventually, to external customers too. We spoke to a range of these people to find out about their current lab experiences and needs. We’ve also taken into account lessons learned from previous lab builds and we’ve asked for feedback from across industry too.

Two examples are:

Image of Kate's tweet that asks: Quick poll: in user research labs, what kind of sofa do you prefer? Results of the poll say 19% prefer regular 2-3 seat sofa, 56% prefer corner sofas, 25% say it doesn't make a difference

 

Identifying user needs

In the design, we considered the needs of participants, researchers and observers. Most of these needs weren’t out of the ordinary and match those documented in this post about how to build a great user research lab.

However, we also found a few needs not listed that are important to Co-op and other potential users too. These are:


1.Keeping data safe

User research labs have video and audio equipment to record users’ answers or interactions with what we’re testing. The recordings mean the responses can be shared with the rest of the team and viewed at a later date. In May, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – a regulation that’s designed to improve privacy around citizen’s data – comes into force, so making sure we keep recordings safe and secure will be a legal obligation.

We’re planning on integrating the lab’s audio visual (A/V) recorder with a media asset management solution. This will allow us to organise and securely store A/V content and, importantly, control and track who’s using it and how. Initially, the solution we choose may be simple, and we’ll iterate on it as we learn how the lab is used. We’ll share more about this in a future post.

2.A remote viewing capability

All good products and services are informed by research and making live user research easily accessible is important. Co-op is a national organisation and colleagues and stakeholders are scattered across the country, so there’s a real need for the lab to include equipment that allows for remote viewing. Having these capabilities will also help solve the ‘problem’ (a very good one to have) of an oversubscribed viewing room.

3.A flexible, multi-purpose space

Co-op teams, like Brand, often run sessions such as focus groups that are more space-needy than the one-on-one research sessions Co-op Digital researchers tend to do.

We need to use technology to make the most of the space we’ve got, so we’ll install cameras and microphones in both the viewing room and the user lounge. This way, the viewing room can be used for research activities that need more space (the tables can be folded way for even more space), and the research can either be viewed from the user lounge or from a remote meeting room. This also means that both rooms could simultaneously be used for research, with teams viewing from a meeting room, even in another building.

4.Suitable for tasks other than research

The Federation tenants expressed the need for a space to produce high-quality videos and podcasts. The lab will be a professionally soundproofed space with excellent A/V capabilities, so it’s not unimaginable that it could be used for this too.

Considering the interiors

Labs aren’t all about the technology. Getting the interior right is important too. Ideally, we want participants, user researchers and observers to feel relaxed and comfortable and the look and feel of the space is a big part of this.

The lab’s interiors will be plain and unbranded. This is to avoid distracting participants, and to ensure external brands can use the space without feeling defined by it. It’s also important that the space is neutral so that people taking part in internal research, ie, Co-op colleagues, don’t feel that they’re being tested by their employer, something that’s come up in previous research sessions.

A comfortable viewing room

Viewing rooms are often smaller and much less loved than user lounges. The more frequently team members and stakeholders watch research live, the better. Participants are generally in and out of the lab within 45 minutes, whereas observers can be in the lab for anything from 3-8 hours at a stretch. For this reason, we’re focusing on making the viewing room as comfortable as possible with dimmable warm-white lights, comfortable chairs, dark grey walls to reduce eye strain, and a large whiteboard wall for analysis and collaboration. It will be a working space.

We’ll use grey matt finishes on all flat surfaces to enhance contrast and avoid glare which will help make sure that the video image quality is the best it can be.

A lab made with users in mind

The building work will start soon and we’re confident we’ve designed the right thing for our various types of user. We’ll share more on the technology we’re using soon.

Kate Towsey
User research operations

We’re building a user research lab

Co-op Digital is building an in-house user research lab on the lower ground floor of The Federation. It will be available to all Co-op teams, the Federation community and, eventually, the wider world.

We’re calling it Fed Lab.

What’s a user research lab?

A user research lab is a physical space. It’s usually 2 rooms: one room that looks like a lounge but with cameras and microphones installed, and another that looks like a regular meeting room but with a very large TV. The ‘lounge’ is for researchers and participants to do research tasks, like co-designing something or doing a task on a website. And the ‘meeting room’, called a viewing room, is where the team sit and watch the research happening live.

Labs help whole teams see first-hand how their designs are working or not working. This way, a team can learn together and work on changing designs and interactions there and then. This fast response to live user research is what makes a lab such an important tool in agile delivery.

Why we’re building a lab now

Co-op Digital’s remit is to create new digital products, services and platforms; pioneer new ways to cooperate online; and help our existing businesses make the most of digital. To do this, we put users and their needs first, and help teams across the Co-op do the same.

Until now, we’ve been using external labs for lab-based user and market research, but we know from past experience that having a dedicated in-house research space significantly ups the ante on how much time teams and stakeholders spend with users.

And we believe the more time we spend with users, the better.

In the long run, the lab will help us offer teams across the Co-op a complete in-house research service. As a result, we’ll be able to build consistency in research across the business, maintain knowledge and build on it in-house, and be more financially efficient and even profitable.

But it’s not just about us. The Federation, is a fast-growing community of like-minded digital businesses and innovators. Fed Lab will give these organisations access to the tools they need to learn more about their users too.

Where we’re up to

We’ve completed the discovery and design phase of the lab, we’ve chosen the technology, and we expect to have the lab up and running in the summer. We’re pioneering a new solution, so everything needs more care and time.  

In building the lab, we’re planning on using cutting-edge, military-grade technology that will not only offer a top-end experience for people in (and out of) the lab, but also support us in maintaining our data privacy standards and help us conform to GDPR.

As the project takes shape, we’ll share much more about the technology and the design. To keep up to date with our progress, subscribe to the Co-op Digital blog. For more information, get in touch with Kate Towsey.

Kate Towsey
User research operations

Steve Foreshew-Cain: an app for members, training Funeralcare colleagues and an award win

(Transcript) Steve Foreshew-Cain: Hello, and welcome to this week’s Co-op Digital update.

The week started with the brilliant news that the team won the ‘Best Loyalty Initiative’ for Co-op Membership at the Retail Week Technology Awards. A massive well done to the team. Thanks to Danielle, Georgina, Anna and Dave who picked up the award on behalf of the team.

Our social media team have also been nominated for a number of awards at both The Drum’s DADIs and UK Social Media Awards in the last few weeks – so fingers crossed for them too.

On Wednesday we welcomed our Group Board to The Federation for their September board meeting. Whilst they were in the building we were able to give them a tour around and they were some of the first people to see the new Pioneer coffee shop – which is looking amazing.

It will be open for colleagues and tenants in the Federation shortly, and then open to the public after that – watch this space for more updates.

Also this week our Deputy CEO Pippa Wicks spent some time chatting openly and listening to some of our Digital colleagues. She then visited Adam Warburton and the team working on the membership app, heard about what they’ve learnt so far and even got to try it out for herself. Thanks Pippa.

Carl Burton, Helen Lawson, Michelle Monaghan and the rest of the Funeralcare digital service team have been busy this week. They’ve started to train colleagues in Funeralcare how to use the new system. If you’re a colleague and want to know more, you can at the next show and tell which is next Tuesday, 26 September at 2pm on 12th floor of Angel Square. But don’t worry if you’re not in Manchester, it will be filmed.

We’ve just said goodbye to Mark Brannigan one of our user researchers – but as they say, ‘user research is a team sport’ and thank you Mark for everything that you’ve done to really live this, and all the best for the future.

This week we it was great to say hello to some new faces. Alex Lynham joined us as a software engineer in our Data Services team and Amber Garland is our new apprentice software engineer, joining the Membership team. Welcome.

That’s it for this week. You’ll find our latest vacancies our blog. Don’t forget to subscribe for all our updates and follow us on Twitter. See you next week.

Steve Foreshew-Cain
Group Digital Director

Gail Lyon: events at Federation and £50 million in member rewards

(Transcript) Gail Lyon: Hello and welcome to this week’s Co-op Digital weekly update. As you can see, I’m definitely not Mike. I’m Gail Lyon and I’m responsible for digital engagement at Co-op Digital.

As is tradition with all our updates, I’ll start with a big number. £50 million has been earned by our Co-op members since the new membership scheme was launched on the 21st of September last year.

If you’re a Co-op member it’s really easy to see how much that you’ve earned. You can do it online or you can do it by simply checking your till receipt the next time you shop at one of our food stores. And you can spend it anytime as well, you can even spend it at Co-op Electrical.

We welcomed 2 events at Federation House this week. On Monday, Hacks Hackers has their first Manchester meet up, and on Wednesday, DotEveryone joined us to talk about how we can make digital fair for everyone. It’s an important question and only the start of this conversation. Thanks to Ian and Emer from the team for presenting.

And a big thanks to Steve Murrells, our CEO, for dropping in to take a look at our recently opened co-working floor in Federation House and adding to the signatures and the positive messages on the picnic benches.

And finally, subscribe to the blog for regular updates on what the team’s been working on. We really want to hear from you and if you’ve got any questions you can comment on the blog or please send us a tweet.

Thanks, and that’s it for this week.

Gail Lyon
Digital Engagement