Five minutes with: Si Wilson, lead interaction and service designer

By Clare Reucroft | 28/04/2017

Simon Wilson

Si has worked in the digital and design industry for nearly 20 years, mostly in senior positions. In recent years, he has worked in-house. After spending a year working on HMRC's digital services, Si has spent the last twelve months working with the UK's public healthcare services.

He uses some of his spare time to teach at colleges and universities, and help run the CoderDojo in Bradford.

You have extensive experience in both the public and private sectors. What is the biggest digital transformation you’ve been part of throughout your career?

Aside from the acceptance and adoption of the powerful, portable pocket computer that mobile phones have become over the past couple of years, the biggest transformation has been witnessing the public and private sector coming closer together in ways of working – and working collaboratively towards a common goal.

In the past, there was less collaboration. If you worked at a design agency, you would do a big chunk of work and then send it to the client for review. Now better partnerships exist, meaning everyone works together and there is a reduced ‘master and servant’ mindset. As a result, this produces better outcomes for the organisations and people involved.

At Camp Digital, your talk is entitled ‘So you’re doing service design?’– what can audience members look forward to and why is this topic so important right now?

Shaping and improving service experiences through service design is a great thing, especially as it makes services simpler, clearer and better for people using them. My talk will delve into that.

At the moment there’s a lot of interest in service design thanks to the recent rise of digital transformation, making people think it’s a new concept. It’s not a new thing. Service design has been around for decades.

But because it’s in vogue at the moment, and many people claim to be doing service design when they aren’t, this can have detrimental effects.

Companies that offer service design need to be realistic about what they can provide. It needs to be done properly with a holistic view to create better services, not just focusing on a specific channel. Collaboration is key and it’s about bringing together different people into diverse teams for the good of the organisation and its end users.

You’re a guest lecturer in your spare time. Do you think the education system is doing enough to educate young people on careers in digital / teach them the right skills, or do you think more could be done? 

Education providers need to focus on teaching young people how to solve problems, rather than just teaching them the rules to pass the exams. This will help set them up better for working in the real world.

I’m trying to get students to think a lot more about what the problem is, how to solve it and the best way to go about it. Digital is all about curiosity: understanding problems and the different levels to understanding the problem so it’s important to keep asking the question why, and not just once.

The best way of teaching digital skills is for those working in digital to collaborate with universities and students to help them better understand what the sector expects and what the sector is currently doing. Courses and education providers need to be constantly kept up-to-date with insight from the industry because the sector is constantly changing.

What are you most looking forward to at Camp Digital?

As well as networking with like-minded people, I’m looking forward to meeting the great mix of fascinating speakers that are on the programme this year, such as Dominic Campbell from FutureGov. The variety and quality of the talks are what lure me to this event time and time again.

Why do you think events like Camp Digital are so important – for the Northern’s digital sector specifically?

In the past, there was a tendency for those working in the digital industry to move to London to further their careers, instead of looking for opportunities in the North. However, over the past five years that mindset has changed as companies in the North have proven they are worth staying around for. There is now a critical mass, with the likes of Co-op, Sky Bet, Sky, and smaller organisations, producing great, quality work in a way that engages their staff.

Events like Camp Digital help to promote this talent and all the fantastic work taking place and allow us to tap into insight and knowledge right on our doorstep.

Simon Wilson’s talk will take place on Wednesday, May 24 from 13.45pm to 14.30pm in the Conference Hall.

You can follow him on Twitter: @ermlikeyeah

For more information about the conference or to book tickets go to: