In today’s competitive market, end users are expecting and demanding an optimal and transparent interaction experience in both consumer and enterprise applications. Some organizations are realizing the strategic value of User Experience (UX) in the success of their product design and innovation programs.
We see the headlines in the New York Times “Hearing Every Voice in the Room” (By Phil Gilbert, Head of IBM Design) Fast Co. like “Why User Experience is Critical to Customer Relationships” (By Brian Solis, author The End of Business as Usual) or the Harvard Business Review “The Rise of UX Leadership” (By Robert Fabricant, frog fellow). This change is disrupting the consumer product and technology world. However, this transformation journey in enterprise application companies is not smooth and goes at a much slower pace. UX Executives are recognizing the need to move away from selling UX into selling the business value to effectively promote the business impact they have and their role as a transformation agents in their organization, shaping product roadmaps and strategies.
C-Suite Executives want answers to the questions that matter most –
- What is the business value that you have to offer?
- How is it going to impact the bottom line or create new opportunities of growth for our organization in the marketplace?
- What are the key elements we need to watch for?
- What should we avoid?
These questions will have different focus depending on your organization, however, we should leverage some of the lessons I learned leading the transformation journey of Global 1000 companies through Enterprise UX with clear strategic impact.
The following are 10 Keys to success to develop a successful Enterprise UX Program:
Align the UX Strategy with the Corporate Strategy
People in your team need to clearly understand how their work is contributing to the overall business and corporate strategy. The leaders in the organization also need to see how your team’s work is contributing to achieve the organization’s goals. UX is rarely seen as a corporate objective, or part of the organization DNA, however it is your job to make sure every leader that interacts with you understands how the UX strategy is directly influencing the organization objectives.
Avoid the Seagulls and Secure Executive Support
You need to be aware of the “seagulls,” those executives who appear from time to time on project review meetings and “poop” all over the work. This situation may be unpredictable sometimes, however, collaboration with key leaders is extremely helpful in protecting the project from being derailed. Executive support is critical for ensuring that your success has strategic impact. You need to secure this support at the highest levels of the organization.
Define the Vision Blueprint and always Keep Focus on the Goal
Global programs and product roadmaps take time to design, validate and implement. However, it is critical that all areas of the organization understand the program vision and blueprint. The journey maybe long, but everyone needs to know where we are going as a product team and as an organization so they clearly see how their work contributes to the strategy.
Promote UX Success Stories
You will need to focus your effort and your energy in those areas of the organization that are receptive to UX and partner with the leaders that want to work with you and your team. You will leverage these successful partnerships and stories to promote your impact in quantifiable terms. For example, faster time to market, reduced defect rate or rework, increased productivity and higher end-user adoption. Your partners will become key advocates, help raise the awareness of the impact UX had in their projects. They will promote and recommend your involvement to other projects so they can derive the benefit of UX work.
Increase the Organization’s UX IQ
Several organizations, in the surface, get UX. However, when you look a little closer, you realize that many leaders view it as a tactical function. They see it as the function responsible for designing a feature, fixing a form or making a screen pretty. Other managers perceive it as a time consuming function that will delay their coding deliverables. In any of these cases, you will have a steeper climb to go through. To address this issue, you will need to create forums and facilitate executive roundtables, understand their pain points and demonstrate how UX helps alleviate them.
Leverage External Perspectives
There are many ways to leverage external perspectives. The easiest one is to highlight and share articles from leading industry analysts like Forrester or publications like Fast Co. You could also invite industry leaders to speak at executive roundtable events about business, innovation and UX. In addition, you could take key leaders with you to executive training in places like the D-School in Stanford or the Harvard i-lab.
Show Me the Money
UX leaders need to stop talking UX jargon and start talking the business language. We need to demonstrate how the organization increases revenue by leveraging UX as a competitive differentiator. Some organizations will want to demonstrate how UX contributes to decrease costs internally, building better experiences and solutions faster, reducing time to market and increasing profitability. We may need to articulate how UX could increase business from existing clients or consumers and also contribute to develop new business.
UX and Innovation are a Team Sport
Collaboration is essential. UX designers and researchers should not and cannot work on isolation. Whether you are implementing a global program or working on a new strategic product, the experience needs to be designed and validated with key functional areas of the organization, in addition to actual users. Leaders in those areas need to buy in and understand the characteristics of the program or the details of the solution so they can implement it or share the information with others.
UX leaders need to be Multilingual
It is important for UX Executives to speak the language of the business and the corporate strategy. We need to understand and clearly articulate the language of the economic impact of user experience in terms of increased revenue, reduced costs and increased shareholder value. We need to be in a clear position to speak with other business executives of the organization. In addition, we also need to understand the language of technology to effectively communicate with development.
If we leverage these key lessons and strategies, we will be bring unique strategic impact to the organization blending a perspective of business, product, technology and user experience strategy together, always identifying the business value and impact to the organization and more important, to the end users.
I would like to hear from you.
- What are your keys to success with Enterprise UX?
- What worked? What didn’t?
- What are the bigger barriers?
- What would you do different?
This article is also available in LinkedIn Pulse
Image Credit: SomeDriftwood – Wikimedia CC 3.0