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Identify the Habit Loop

By | Articles

Not so Rational People

Research over the past  10 years has increasingly shown that humans don’t behave rationally. Paying £2.95 for a Starbucks latte, when there are lower Habit Looppriced, higher quality alternatives available does not make sense. Understanding this behaviour in the physical and digital worlds is essential for creating successful digital products.

The work by Dan Ariely in his book “Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions“, explores this behaviour further. Daniel Kahneman in his 2011 book,  “Thinking, Fast and Slow” identifies 2 modes of thought  “System 1” is fast, instinctive and emotional; “System 2” is slower, more deliberative, and more logical.

Habits & Hooks

Over the past 2 years I’ve been following the work of Nir Eyal and applying some of his ideas on recent projects.  I  become aware of his work after the first Habit Summit in 2014. The Hook model that he writes about has been useful for evaluating and thinking deeper about the value of digital products.

Digital products have particular characteristics that are unlike anything we’ve experienced previously. The ability to profoundly influence the behaviour of the product consumer is a unique ability that digital products have. They become truly habit forming.

The comment made a few years ago by Nicolas Carr is very relevant today, “The Internet is an interruption system. It seizes our attention only to scramble it.”

Digital products that make use of the capabilities of the Internet can do harm as well as good. The Hook model provides a way to better understand the nature of digital product adoption.

Identifying the Habit Loop

The premise of the Hook model is to identify the components that will enable the digital product to become habit forming, in a positive way. From my experience so far, the Hook model can be applied to Apps, Websites, WebApps, Dashboards and similar digital products.The key components are:

  • The trigger
  • Action
  • Reward
  • Investment

If you are thinking of an App for example, the mistake many make is to dive straight into interface design and programming, before doing any research. The ability to provide information for each of the 4 components above allows you to identify the habit loop for your digital product. The following sections provide a set of questions that are useful to ask when doing the initial research.

The Trigger

Asking questions about what the internal and external triggers will be is a very useful starting point. If you can’t identify the triggers that will lead to your App becoming part of a customers daily actions, then the value of the App needs to be questioned. An external trigger is something the uses sees, hears, feels or smells. In the digital world, it’s usually an Email, Tweet, Facebook notification, YouTube video or similar that initiates a need. An internal trigger is caused by the way a person feels e.g.. I feel bored, so I turn to YouTube for a short burst of LOL cat watching. Ask yourself the following:

– For my App, what are the external and internal triggers?

– How would I create at least one internal and external trigger?

–  Can I measure the impact of a trigger? Is it working?

I found it useful to ask the questions about triggers when developing user personas. They are a very useful addition to the UX research stage.

Action

Once the trigger has caused a need  e.g. I see a Tweet about total immersion swimming on YouTube, I take action. This action needs to be as easy as possible i.e. have very low cognitive load and a fast path to a reward – in this case, satisfaction from learning via the video. I almost subconsciously click the link to be taken into my YouTube app, where I happily watch the video and related ones. The UX designer really comes to the fore here. It is their job to make the action step as smooth as possible. Questions to ask here:

– Is the design of the interface for your product as intuitive as possible?

– Can any more steps be eliminated when asking the user to complete a task?

– Is the path to the reward clear to the user?

The techniques from Interaction Design combined with Behavioural Psychology is a useful way to ensure the steps for action are effective.

Reward

Turns out that we humans are suckers for rewards and specifically something called variable rewards. Nir Eyal describes it very aptly using the fridge example. While the light going on when opening the fridge is interesting, imagine if every time you opened your fridge, a new item of food would magically appear. You’d be addicted to opening the fridge!

Our brains light up on the chemical dopamine, the feel good neurotransmitter. Providing a variable reward causes us to return to an action in seek of more. The infinite scrolling page is one example. Pinterest were the first to really capitalise on this. Providing endless content for us to visually feast on. Questions to ask relating to reward are:

– What reward are you offering after the action?

– Are there multiple reward types you can offer?

– Where is the variable reward element?

The subject of reward is steeped in psychology and it’s useful to refer to papers on reward mechanism to find a specific reward niche that makes sense for your product.

Not all products can offer variable reward, there are may examples of digital products that are hugely successful by decreasing variable rewards. They focus intensely on solving the users problem which in itself is reward enough.

Investment

The final step of the Hook model is investment. The user invests in the product by storing value e.g. capturing data, social sharing, contributing time and other similar activity. This increases the value of the product. It also helps make the product more rewarding by making future use faster through storing of preferences and past usage. Questions to ask are:

– What investment are you asking from your potential users? Time, data, money?

– How to users store value?

– What steps will they take to load the next trigger?

4 Steps to “Hook” Users

In summary the 4 steps are:

Step 1: Trigger a behaviour

Step 2: Perform an action

Step 3: Provide ideally a variable reward for the action

Step 4: Capture value in the product

Using the questions above will help to check the viability of each step and determine how habit forming your digital product truly is.

How Arqino’s IBM MQ Toolkit solves migration challenges

By | DevOps Arqino

On November 23rd, Arqino and Tech Data once again hosted a free workshop on the topic of IBM MQ Migration. This time though, it was done as a full day live webinar, as opposed to the traditional morning or afternoon segment. The day addressed various elements of IBM WebSphere Application Server (WAS). Specifically how Tech Data’s Talos works so well. But also Arqino’s MQ Toolkit so that together, Talos and the toolkit can tackle issues with IBM MQ migrations.

Arqino’s MQ Toolkit

More issues on WAS were addressed as the event progressed.  Though more importantly, how Arqino’s MQ toolkit significantly reduces the risk and complexity of migration within various versions of IBM MQ. The day then carried on with an overview of Talos. Highlighting its key features and benefits. These ranged from saving companies costs, saving resources and many more.

We then had the privilege of hearing two speakers from IBM: Tom Banks, Senior Offering Manager WebSphere Application Server & IBM Voice Gateway who spoke on what was new in WAS v9 and the migration challenges that came with it. Tim McCormick, IBM MQ Service Architect followed this on. He gave insight into updates on IBM MQ v9 and similarly, the challenges a company could face when going through migration.

The day finalised with a live demonstration with Richard Caldeira, our Digital Integration Engineer. Richard ran through the MQ migration, showing the benefits of the toolkit alongside leveraging Talos in front of the audience. Able to demonstrate the product physically was a breakthrough, as now we had concrete evidence of it success.

Sign up to our DevOps list to stay in the loop! Hear about our future free workshops alongside updates on Talos and our toolkits. Send studio@arqino.com an email for any immediate requirements.

2nd IBM WebSphere MQ Migration Workshop using Talos

By | DevOps Arqino

Having the ability to reduce the time to market for new products and services is the holy grail that many companies aim for. Dealing with old technologies is often an inhibitor to digital transformation.

IBM MQ is a messaging product that is widely used by financial institutions and other organisations that require guaranteed message delivery. It’s often used to integrate different systems using the enterprise service bus pattern. There are legacy installations of IBM MQ which need to be updated in order to support new digital projects as well as the move to the cloud. 

Arqino together with Tech Data (previously Avnet Technology Services) are hosting a free 1 day workshop on migrating to new technologies, specifically focusing on IBM MQ.

During the workshop we show how through using Talos and the Arqino MQ toolkit, you can easily migrate between different versions of IBM MQ. From v5.3 to v8 and V9 and also from versions 6 and 7.5  to v8. We will also show how Talos can be used to move middleware to the cloud e.g. IBM Softlayer or AWS.

Upgrading to a newer version of MQ and migrating to the cloud is usually fraught with issues and is a cost that any business wants to keep to a minimum. 

Talos is a DevOps automation tool which is used to manage middleware configurations. By using a data driven approach and treating the underlying infrastructure as code, Talos allows for configuration management of middleware to be abstracted out. This makes it easier to discover, template and version control middleware configurations on premise and in the cloud.

1st IBM WebSphere MQ 9.0 Migration Workshop

By | DevOps Arqino

IBM WebSphere MQ Migration Workshop

On the 20th September 2017, Arqino and Tech Data hosted a free workshop on the topic of Migrating to IBM WebSphere MQ v9.0. The workshop had a specific focus on using Talos (a middleware configuration management tool) together with the Arqino IBM Toolkit to address issues with IBM WebSphere MQ migrations.

Highlights

David Ware, Head of IBM WebSphere MQ Product Development gave a great talk on the state of IBM MQ. Of particular interest was his summary of the 2 types of releases IBM has for MQ 9.0 and future versions. Below is an extract from the IBM site:


From IBM MQ Version 9.0 there are two types of release; a Long Term Support (LTS) release and Continuous Delivery (CD) release. The aim of the two release types is to meet the requirement for delivery of new and enhanced IBM MQ functions as rapidly as possible in the next CD release, while at the same time maintaining a stable long term support release for systems that need a long term deployment of IBM MQ, and for customers who prefer this traditional option.


The CD release type means that having a DevOps tool like Talos is essential for managing the configuration of your IBM WebSphere MQ environments. During the workshop the following was covered:
  1. Discovering and IBM WebSphere MQ config on a single host.
  2. Creating templates from the above discovery and recreating the topology/config on a new host.
  3. Creating a config for a single host using the Talos UI and then creating it on the host.
  4. Creating aa MQ cluster in the UI and then creating it on the infrastructure by running it on one host at a time.
  5. Comparison of two IBM MQ topologies.

More on Talos and the IBM WebSphere MQ Toolkit

The MQ toolkit for Talos allows for the following:

  1. Reduced MQ Administration overhead
  2. Fast replication of MQ configurations to Dev, Test, Prod
  3. Support Continuous Configuration Deployments
  4. Easier migration from one version of MQ to another e.g. MQ 7.5 to version 8 or 9.
  5. Moving from On-Premise to Cloud environments e.g. On-Prem to Amazon (AWS).

An IBM MQ Migration in Your Future?

Sign up to our DevOps list and we’ll keep you posted about future workshops and updates on Talos and our toolkits.

Email studio@arqino.com if you have any immediate requirements.

Arqino’s IBM MQ Assessments and Health Check

By | DevOps Arqino

IBM MQ (WebSphere MQ) Assessment

Many businesses use IBM MQ (Previously WebSphere) software as the infrastructure messaging and message brokering components within their environment. Ensuring optimum efficiency and operation of your MQ environment, helps ensure your e-business infrastructure:

  • is operating at optimum efficiency
  • meets your current business requirements
  • provides a firm foundation for future enhancements

This service provides you with an assessment of your WebSphere MQ messaging environment, including WebSphere MQ, WebSphere MQ Integrator and MQ Series Workflow; and recommendations to address identified problems or issues. This service covers all aspects of your WebSphere MQ environment and will identify actions to help you obtain optimum efficiency and operation of your WebSphere MQ environment.

The MQ Assessment typically covers the following (This can be done onsite or remotely):

  • MQ Architecture review
  • Check for security gaps/issues
  • Analyse performance and throughput
  • Examine Queue Manager configurations and error logs/files
  • Review any outstanding PMR’s
  • Check version usage and upgrade options / effort required to migrate to latest version

Deliverables

A summary report outlining findings and high level recommendations on areas reviewed such as:

  • Overall technical architecture
  • Performance, Security, High Availability, Disaster Recovery
  • Monitoring, Scripts/Automation, Upgrades
  • PCI and Internal Compliance

This report is delivered and stepped through with you and our MQ architect.

Length of Engagement

1 days of analysis and reporting (Completed report will be delivered soon after)

Pre-Requisites

Access to MQ architect(s) familiar with MQ Infrastructure and implementation.

Get in touch to find out more or for us to answer any queries you may have!