The best UX hotel balcony and SPRINT

Room with a view is what we hope for when we book hotels for vacation. A balcony makes that view a lot more attractive. Yet a balcony that makes you comfortable is a very very rare thing.

There are balconies with views of roof tops, construction sites or in some cases blind walls :). Let’s remove them from this discussion.

The ones with good views, have balconies that are mostly useless. What you will find:
– dilapidated chairs. Birds made it their toilet. Cannot sit on them.
– Small space. You don’t feel good to be there.
– No roof or the blacony is covered partially. It gets wet in rain and burn in sun.
– Next room people can see you directly, it is awkward to relax. So you go back in the room.

Then I experienced a balcony that can be best described as almost perfect. No, let me not be mean, it was ‘the perfect’. Here goes.

-Let’s get the ‘view’ part away. It was wonderful, though this picture does not justify the real thing.

-Very comfortable chairs. Spotless clean. A round table: not large, not small either . A compact towel rack ( if you can see on the wall) for wet swim clothes to dry in the sun.

-A bed recliner with a cushion. Once again clean. That designer sensed what a person coming on a vacation needs from a balcony. Absolute privacy and loads of comfort. As you can see, people next door has absolutely no view of me. I loved this recliner. I have never enjoyed a hotel stay like this one. I slept, meditated, read, and repeated.

-The roof ! Protects you from heavy rain. Sun cannot scorch you. A bit of sun trickles through, yes, but you can stay the whole day with no issues.

The hotel is Cinnamon Bey. This post is not paid content.

Most of digital transformation projects in organisations are like most of the balconies. People spend lot of time in defining the project, yet forget the ultimate users: the business user ( employee who will use the solution daily), and the customer. We tend to think we have both of them in our best interest. Unfortunately it is not, most of the time.

In my work at aucterra, building AI solutions for organisations and as a business consultant on digital transformation, I meet a lot of business users. Some of their experiences are horror stories. So much money and effort spent on mega projects that business users find hard to use. Sometimes the new technology have complicated their processes. A frustrated business user will hardly make a customer happy.

That’s why we at aucterra use SPRINT framework developed by Google Ventures, before starting any project. It is a process that has customer at the heart of innovation. It starts with customer and ends with customer. The process : Map the problem, Generate a lot of solutions, Select the best 3-4 solutions, Then select one critical part of the solution and build a prototype with in a quick time. Then finally test the prototype with 5 actual customers. Yes, all these with in just 5 days.

Will elaborate on this process in future posts.

First AI Summit in Sri Lanka

My life has changed 180 degrees, when I did the data science coursera course from Johns Hopkins University, . That new learning cannot be undone. My understanding of the new world has changed. I started conversations with few of my colleagues and mentors on how Data Science, Machine Learning and AI can make a real change for a country like Sri Lanka. How can it help the common man, Siripala and Sumanawathi who are left behind. It was a very limited niche conversation for me, until yesterday.

There were 350 people packed in to a hall in Kingsbury: developers, junior and senior Managers, CEOs, academics, and of course a fantastic lineup of speakers from across the world

Although it was a full day event, which most of us find impossible to commit in this age, I was glad to see most of the audience staying until 6 pm. Kudos to Jeevan and SLASSCOM team for making this happen.

I had a lively conversation with Yasantha Rajakarunanayake, who went viral in social media when Jeff Bezos introduced him to the world as the smartest guy at Princeton. Yasantha is back in the Sri Lanka after 30+ years and he’s excited to see the enthusiasm for AI , because he believes customised education is the only way forward for a sustainable world and that is only possible with AI.

It was good to catch up with Chrishantha Fernando, a Sri Lankan working as a Senior Research Scientist at Google Deepmind. Yes, you saw that right. I told him about the new digital aspirations of young people in Sri Lanka and also about the mental blocks that prevent rural Sri Lanka from reaping those opportunities. He listened carefully and said “Keep on doing what you guys are doing, because future waits for no one. It is here to be embraced. Do not be in the sidelines.”

Yep.