Q. What are your roles as a CXO?
Still today, the title CXO confuses people because it is an unusual position, even more in robotics where still today many companies do not have a person that is specialized in creating the best experience for the users but also for stakeholders and customers. That is my main role, as Chief Experience Officer, I’m responsible for the company’s overall experience and interactions with customers and users. Among my duties, I’m the one that creates external trustworthy relationships, and that tries to put our users and customers at ease.
Q. What interests you most about your job? / What do you enjoy most?
I love all kinds of communication. I love interacting with people and I’m used to break the ice in uncomfortable conversations. That is also one of the reasons I decided to shift my career and break into User Experience from market research. I have years of experience in customer service and research that helped me to become an expert listener, observer, and communicator. But UX is also much more, that I could continue for hours. What I enjoy most is the interaction and the never-ending learning process.
Q. Have you worked with UX in different fields? If yes, how does UX in robotics differ?
UX is mostly applied to software so when there is the need to apply to robotics, it gets a lot more complicated because you need to take into consideration also the interaction between the user and the robot and the interface is only a bridge between them. In our case, it’s even more complex as our robots operates in a crowded space as it is a supermarket. So, we need to consider not only the robot and the users but also the entire surroundings which consists of untrained people and a fast-moving environment. I personally think that UX applied to robotics is still a niche area. As I said before many robotics companies do not have a UX person in their team. Developing such a complex system without knowing if the market is ready, if there are users that need it and understanding the environment where the robot will operate, it is a shot in the dark. Unfortunately, the market is full of products that no one needs, and I hope that in the near future robotics companies will also understand how vital is having at least one UX expert in the team if not many.
Q. Are there any challenges regarding UX in robotics?
Definitely. When I started working at CMR I looked for best practices, to understand how I could apply UX to robots, and what I found was a lot of academic papers with tests made in labs, but almost nothing applied in the real world. The two environments are completely different, and in the real world anything can happen, even more in our case, where the robots operate in an unpredictable environment, such as supermarkets. So, I had to knuckle down and try to figure out how to apply UX to our case. After almost 3 years, I could write a book about it.
Q. What is the importance of UX in robotics?
In my opinion, the most important thing of UX in robotics, and this is also a message to other robotics companies, is to conduct research and get to know the environment where you want to introduce your robot. Research is vital for any company. It is fundamental to understand who will interact and operate the robot, and how are the surroundings. Understanding the environment will allow the development team to choose which sensors are better or which dynamic should be taken into consideration when testing the robot strength for example.
Q. You were at CMR from the inception of the company, how do you think it has developed and how do you see the future of it?
Since the beginning, I could see how brilliant the idea was, and after conducting exploratory research to better understand the environment and the market, I knew that there was a place in the market for our robots. This is my first experience working in a start-up, so I did not know what to expect, but I heard we did extremely well compared to other start-ups. I can only see a bright future in front of us, with new colleagues and new customers.
Q. Tell us a bit about your journey from Italy to Odense!
My journey was long and full of twists and turns since 2010! My arrival in Denmark was not planned at all: I decided in November of 2009 that in January I was going to study in Denmark and since then I travelled and lived around the world, but always ended up returning.
Q. What is your view on robots / robotics?
Before joining Coalescent Mobile Robotics, I had a very general and basic knowledge about robots. As I said, UX is a never-ending learning experience and in my case is the same with robotics, I learn something new every day, and I love it. I am a really curious person, so I never stop acquiring new data. At the moment, I can say that I can easily have a conversation about robotics and particularly about those which operate in the retail market. To be able to create recommendations for the development team and support them in the development of the robots, I need to know what is going on in the robotics world.
Q. How would you describe your team? Also a word to your team!
During my career I passed from being a team member, then the only member in the team, to being the team leader. I had to learn how to take decisions without having peer feedback and now I mentor others. It’s different when you plan something that you need to do yourself, and when you plan something for someone else. I have learned how to share tasks and how to trust other people’s work, and I believe I will never stop learning, because every person that comes in your team has a different way of working and I think it is my job and duty to help them to do a great job and trust that they will. For those who are in my current team and for those who have been, I would like to say that I enjoyed and enjoy every day working with you, and I hope I have been a good mentor and team member. My main objective is to create a team that enjoys every minute of their work, and that sees me as a person they can talk to because together we can solve issues and problems and because together with are a great asset.
Q. Would you recommend CMR to others?
Of course! If you are looking for a dynamic, international, and fast paced environment where there is not only work but also fun and great colleagues, Coalescent Mobile Robotics is the place!