Digital Tim’s Blog


The UK Has a Productivity Problem. The Solution is here, It’s called the 4th Industrial Revolution

The UK has had a productivity issue for many years, but it experienced a dramatic downturn since the 2008 financial crash. The issue is significant as workers in the USA, France and Germany all generate almost 20% more income from each hour they work. Whilst workers in the UK have similar incomes to those in France, they need to work almost 20% more hours to earn them.

Lack of investment in technology has often been cited as one of the main reasons for Britain’s low productivity. I support that perspective and argue that to regain productivity the UK should rapidly aim to change that, with a focus on the advanced computing technologies such as artificial intelligence that make up industry 4.0. I also provide an overview of how I can help make this change happen. Increasing productivity is about changing business models and processes, not just applying new technologies. It should also be stressed, that these ideas are not just about manufacturing, they are relevant to every sector of the economy.

A Dysfunctional Passport Service – Part 3 – The Final Chapter

In two earlier blog posts I outlined the poor customer service I’d experienced from the UK passport service. I outlined how my application had been suspended following a lack of response to emails I’d not received, how I’d received misleading information and how staff were unable to resolve issues or to provide reliable misinformation. These all continue to manifest in the final part of this saga.

Designing a Dysfunctional Service Part 2. The Sage Continues

Back in April I wrote a blog post outlining my frustration with my experience of applying for a passport.  I outlined some of the poor customer service I experienced.  At that point I’d received a notification that my application had been withdrawn because I’d not replied to emails, I’d not received because they’d been sent to an incorrect email address.  Shortly afterwards I phoned the passport office again and was re-assured, I was told that once my PhD certificate was received my application would be reopened and I would have my new passport soon.  Unfortunately, this was not the case. 

My Background and How it Informs my Approach

Just to give a little bit of an overview about how my background gives me deep insight into issues with the adoption of contemporary digital technology. One of the digital concepts I am most interested in is smart cities. Understanding the potential of smart cities requires thinking from a multidisciplinary perspective, it is as a […]

Human Centred Design In Smart Cities

As should be apparent from the ideas outlined in this blog post, I see my interest in the ideas of design, systems thinking, community engagement and smart cities as very much interconneted. I have argued that I believe that effective design, especially design that is concerned with complex problems, requires community involvement. I have also argued that smart cities are an example of complex environments that require community involvement in design to achieve effective and impactful results.

Putting the Human into Human Centred Design

This blog post focuses on the relationships between power, user research and design. Consideration of power and empowerment was central to my PhD research, and my community sector roles as well as my user research work. Based on all of these I believe that it is impossible to achieve anything more than incremental change without challenging existing power structures. As such vested power interests and existing organisational structures and hierarchies are amongst the most significant barriers to improving user experience in most organisations.

How to Design a Perfectly Dysfunctional Service

Since starting to work in the field of user experience I have become increasingly aware of dysfunctional products and services. My tolerance for them has also decreased as I have become aware of how they could or perhaps even how they should be improved.

Over the last few months I have experienced one of the worst experiences of customer service I have every received. It was from the UK passport system, HM Passport Office. If they were deliberately trying to design a dysfunctional system, I’m not sure what else could be done to make it worse.

Addressing Complex Adaptive Problems with Design and Systems Thinking

In this post I briefly outline the evolution of design into how it is now being applied to address complex problems. I discuss how systems and design thinking are being combined in this space and consider some implications for skill requirements. I also reflect on my own background and what I may have to offer.

The shift in design from a process focussed purely on the aesthetics and functionality of products towards one that also includes services is now firmly established…..

The Gift of Poor Customer Experience

Today Argos and DHL gave me the gift of poor customer experience. It’s only a gift, for me, because I’ve been working as a user researcher / service designer and so it’s actually useful for me to see what poor customer service looks like. It provides me with insight into how services could be improved. […]


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