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API Journey Planner


Service Design | Prototyping | Web Development

Background & Opportunity

Like many enterprise companies, the z/OS sales team have a huge list of products they need to know inside out. When there are over 50 software products available on the z platform as well as new products coming out each year, it is imperative to make their access to all the API Economy resources as easy as possible! I worked on this as the sole developer & designer, alongside my manager who was the project sponsor.


Discovery

The first step was to research the current ways the sales teams were learning about existing products and how they interact with their clients. I conducted interviews with new IBM graduates on the z Sales team as well as their education co-ordinators. From the interviews and trying the existing tools myself, it was clear that there was an opportunity to improve the resource discovery process. A pain point of the sellers was the time taken for them to find the best resources to share with their client, who come from different backgrounds (CEO, architect etc). They had to take time to find the most relevant events and decks to share with their client, depending on their background.

An interesting piece of information came up in the interviews was that the current tools were mostly desktop-only and that the sellers really wanted tools on-the-go. They were supplied with iPads during their induction and were also given work phones. How could we use this to improve the sellers’ experience?



Design and Iteration process

We decided to focus on a mobile-first application, optimised for tablets so sellers could access the new solution, wherever they were. During the design stage, I drew up multiple ways in which the information could be presented on the tool - from a simple list of all products in categories to a guided, ‘tutorial’ like website. I tested the prototypes of the various flows of information using inVision with the end-users, to see which elements worked and which did not.

Instead of categorising and classifying the products themselves, the solution would curate the output and products depending on the clients’ maturity and experience with APIs! This shift in how the products were presented was the key differentiator of this solution compared to the existing tools and websites.


Solution & Implementation

Tech stack: HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Node.js, IBM Bluemix

The final application had three main sections - education pages, tailored client journey product pages and a news section. The education section is where the seller can go to brush up their base understanding of what APIs are and their relevance in today’s technology landscape. In the news section,

After several design iterations for the second section, a ‘questionnaire’ style was chosen, which presents the seller with two simple questions -

  1. Who is your client? (e.g. CEO/architect/developer)
  2. What stage is your client at with APIs?
They are then presented with a curated list of relevant products, videos and events for the client to explore and discuss with the seller. This way, they can have a more valuable discussion about their API journey, tailored to the clients’ style and expertise.

I made the structure of the application flexible and simple so that different departments could re-use this application in the future. Also, I kept the future implementation in mind where this would be available for clients to self-serve this information online.

Analysing impact

After a few months after distribution and roll-out, it was really interesting to measure the impact and usage of the app. It was being reached globally, which was a nice surprise and I could see that many users would come back to the application, after the initial visit.

One of the most important findings was the fact that the majority of users were accessing the application on a desktop! My assumption that sellers would use this on their iPads was flawed. In the next iteration of the application, I will make sure that the visual design of the desktop version looks as good as the tablet-optimised design!