Design, strategy and user research at Sony

SONY  /  2016 - 2020


With 114,000 employees, annual revenues of $80 billion, and businesses across electronics, movies, music and more, my time working for the Japanese technology giant has been an exciting and often challenging experience. Working as part of Sony's UK design team, our focus tends to be working on early stage projects that drive innovation and push forward new products, services and ways of delivering value to the user. 
My work at Sony spans user research, strategy and design, and I’ve worked in areas such as consumer electronics, entertainment, fintech, automation and healthcare. During my time I have...
  • Explored applications and opportunities for new technologies, including robotics, AI and 5G
  • Created annual trend and insight reports that guide Sony's executive and R&D teams
  • Worked with planning and engineering teams to design products that have sold 100,000+ units
  • Run user research and discovery projects that kick start new projects and ideas
  • Identified potential markets and key users groups for future products
  • Revealed product concepts at major trade shows
  • Designed and run workshops that guide strategy, generate insights, or validate concepts
Outside of design, working at Sony has taught me a huge amount about company culture, corporate decision making, and the opportunities and challenges of being a company that size. Making change and having an impact can often be difficult, so when you get an opportunity to talk to the CEO you've got to make sure to take it 😉 (see below)

User research at Sony

The user research I'm involved with is often at the early stage of projects, and used to start pushing these projects forward. I'll run short discoveries to uncover emerging consumer attitudes and values, or longer research projects that explore a topic in more depth - for example to understand the attitudes, habits and needs of a certain segment of music creators. 
We also use user research as a chance to test, evaluate and validate first prototypes and early ideas. We'll do this through group workshops and 1:1 interviews, which I will often plan and facilitate. 
Primary and secondary research activities
User interviews
Value driven personas and user journey maps
Primary and secondary research activities

Strategy at Sony

One of the most crucial parts of any innovation process is turning an opportunity into a clear, definable strategy. Here I look to identify areas of opportunity that could work for Sony's strategy going forward, as well as defining potential markets and key users groups. These insights can come from many sources - user research, research trips, interviews, conferences, trend reports, newsletters, observations and analysis, etc…
I'm also part of a small team that creates a global research and insight report for the executive, strategy, and R&D teams at Sony. Through international research, detailed analysis and collaborative workshops, we produce a document that paints a picture of the future to come, and we aim to identify the insights that will be most important and actionable for Sony.
The report is designed to guide and inform future decisions and strategy, and it is available to all employees in the company.
Identifying key strategic areas for research
I have lead teams on research trips to France, Netherlands, UK, Finland and Estonia, and have joined trips in China and Japan
2019 research trips that informed the final report

Design at Sony

A part of my work I really enjoy is exploring how new technologies can be applied to innovative use cases and solutions. Sony is an engineering driven company that develops a lot of new and exciting technology internally, but it's not always clear how it translates into a product or service. One of my tasks is proposing ways of utilising our technology to create real value for the user.
An example of this is the Sony Xperia Eye, a concept for a lifestyle focused action camera, presented at Mobile World Congress 2016 in Barcelona. Ultra-compact and wide-lens, the camera makes use of intelligent features to capture the perfect moments automatically.
I work across a wide range of sectors
A strategic tool I developed that helps you ask the right questions to drive innovation
Understanding the market. In the case of 'action cams', they were primarily focused on extreme sports, and in 2016 advancements in machine learning were starting to make image recognition a far more useful and realistic feature.
The Xperia Eye, a concept for a lifestyle focussed action camera. Ultra-compact and wide-lens, the camera makes use of intelligent features to capture the perfect moment automatically.
Revealed at Mobile World Congress 2016 in Barcelona
Rather than being used for high impact activities such as mountain biking or skiing, we envisaged use cases like exploring a city by bike, or playing with your kids in the garden.