One of the sessions I attended last week at CHI2007 I found useful was moderated by Richard Anderson on the increasing the role of User Expeirence teams within business. He was joined by the following on a panel: Jeremy Ashley (Oracle), Justin Miller (eBay), Secil Watson (Wells Fargo), Shauna Eves (Blue Sheild), Jim Nieters (Cisco), Manfred Tscheligi (CURE). Here were some of what was discussed:
- Documenting & Advocating User Experience — Yeah, not so much. Generic ROI arguments tend to be received as voodoo. Most agreed that sharing specific project successes was more successful, “The proof is in the pudding!” as Jeremy said. Only distention is early on to define the role of group in order to fit into the overall process. We should also avoid talking about work as a “black box” but work as a collaborative force within the org. I couldn’t agree more that we simply must deliver and the rest will take care of itself.
- UX Owning User Experience — Early on yes, but later no. Jeremy emphatically stated that everyone is responsible for quality of which UX is a part. Justin mentioned how now at eBay, the entire company is involved in defining what the customer experience should be. Richard referred to his thoughts on owning design and also referenced a quote from Forrester in Jan 07, “Treat customer experience as a competence, not a function. Delivering great customer experiences isn’t something that a small group of people can do on their own — everyone in the company needs to be fully engaged in the effort.“
- Organizational Design — More important to understand how you fit in and how to best maximize it. Executive sponsorship who can involve you in the right discussions and decisions. In my experience having an advocate on Exec Staff can make or break your org’s role–you’re either involved in the inital conversations, or not.
- Ethnographic Research — YES! Gets you executive access, builds credibility, and has a multi-year shelf life. Ridealongs and use of video is key as it gives the research credibility. We introduced these about 18 months ago at eBay and have seen it work quite effectively in focusing the organization more around customer issues and positioned our User Experience team to help solve it.
Richard also typed up some his thoughts on Moving UX into a Position of Corporate Influence [PDF].