The recipe for successful digital services

Arttu Tolonen • Communications Specialist, Group

So we won! Kärkimedia Baari was recognized in two of the most prestigious marketing communications and service design competitions in Finland. Baari won the title of best B2B service in Grand One and silver in the service design category in Vuoden Huiput.

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Our mission is to make successful digital services. So what makes Baari so special? What factors contributed to making this service a success?

Direction from vision

From early on, Kärkimedia has been at the forefront of developing digital tools to support media planning and sales. The service vision that Kärkimedia had created for Baari was a critical starting point for the work. In addition, adequate investment of precious time and money from many people at Kärkimedia was critical for transforming the vision into reality.

Co-creating with users

Once the service vision was set, we focused on one specific user group - the account managers at media agencies – understanding their workflow and bringing something of unique value to them. We had about 30 user sessions during the development phase of the project including user interviews, co-creation events and usability evaluations. We showed very early and rough ideas to users to get their feedback (paper prototypes work well), prototyped with real data (for example, we used excel to draw graphs of ad data), and didn't shy away from redesigning concepts if they didn't seem to be working. Co-operation with users (the "Barflies") continues on a quarterly basis. The users that were involved in the service creation were valuable spokespersons for Baari within the agencies (see the previous post for comments from two active spokespersons).

Thinking holistically

We took a holistic view to the service early on making sure marketing and development are in sync. Development didn’t stop at launch and hand over something to marketing to promote; instead we have continuously followed service metrics from Google Analytics and improved the service to increase adoption and make sure we were delivering value to the users. This is the team keeping track of launch day take-up - we had a competition to see who predicted first day unique users correctly.


Modern tech gives you superpowers

Many of the tools that are currently in use in media planning are based on dated technology. In Baari we used modern technology and worked on achieving excellent usability so that all the tools that were provided were efficient and delightful to use. One specific area that we spent time on was coming up with innovative ways to visualize the rich data on news advertising that the service is built on.

Automated tests, continuous integration, extensive monitoring and deployment automation have ensured fast feedback (props to Jenkins' Wall Display plugin) with early detection of possible issues and made it possible to deliver quality software frequently at a sustainable pace.

Here's a screenshot of the Jenkins' wall display showing build progress (this was usually showing on the monitor in the pic above):

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Agile development practices set the drumbeat

Agile development practices set the drumbeat for service creation. Targets were clarified for the next few weeks (Google Spreadsheets turned out to be the best tool for product backlog management and post-its on the walls of the team room for the sprint backlog) and working software was delivered in frequent small increments. Having working software to show and get feedback on and incorporating learning into subsequent iterations meant that work could be re-prioritized on the fly and effort directed to the areas where most value could be created.

Teamwork above all else

This service would not have been possible without the hard effort put in by the great development team that contributed to it. This was a joint effort of many people from many companies, but we didn't let organization boundaries get in the way of doing what was needed to deliver a valuable service to the users. Thank you Kärkimedia and the Kärkimedia newspapers, Citat, Documill and Mediareaktori! Having such an experienced team of software professionals meant that we could have fun while we were working too!  But you don’t have to take my word for it. Here are a few comments from a few team members:

“Baari was and still is a great and interesting project to work in. It has been a pleasure to work with and learn from a team of great and skilled people (within all the organizations involved). It has been great to have a possibility to dig in and understand the needs of the real end users in order to maximize the value of the service for them. On technical side, it has been particularly interesting to work with building the underlying integrations, their monitoring etc., to make sure that the content shown in Baari is valid and up-to-date.“

– Touko Vainio-Kaila, Software Developer

“The best thing in the project was great and talented team. I felt that we all had a common goal: to build a unique, successful and useful service. Everybody worked hard to achieve this goal, which made the atmosphere great for working and learning. I also find the media and advertising business very interesting. It was a great pleasure to be able to take part in the revolution that the business is ongoing at the very moment.”

– Tiina Romu, Software Developer

Read how Baari was born.

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