O2 to create ‘design centre of excellence’

O2 is building a “user experience design centre of excellence”, inspired by brands such as Apple and BMW, as it looks to better integrate its array of products and services.

O2 Priority Sports
O2’s Priority apps.

The mobile operator is creating a central in-house team of about 25 user experience experts to create “world class” digital products and services to stand out and compete with apps and service companies, rather than just benchmarking itself against other mobile providers.

As part of this move it is looking to link products like Priority Moments, O2 Wallet, Priority Sport and Priority Ticketing in a better way than having separate apps for each offer. The team will also work to improve the way the interfaces on its products, services and apps look.

Simon Groves, head of brand strategy and customer experience, told Marketing Week that to make the case for creating the centre of excellence, O2 did research on what people think being a “design-led world class organisation” is.

It chose a diverse set of brands including BMW, Sky, Apple and Virgin Atlantic and looked at how the teams are set up.

Groves said: “There was a common set of principles, [including] building a strong in-house team that can be the experts [rather than just outsourcing to agencies]. Also, having designers empowered around the decision making table, rather than making decisions on marketing or financial or engineering grounds.”

O2 is currently recruiting a senior designer to lead the centre of excellence, who will report into the company’s director of marketing and consumer Sally Cowdry and receive board level “visibility and support”.

The new recruit will be required to “step change” its capability and transform O2 into a leader in user experience design, according to a job ad for the role.

Groves said: “The new person will become a senior role within the business. The decision to scale at this climate we are in is a significant one but we envision them working in a lead role to develop the vision for our future services.”

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