Judging by the recent explosion of User Experience and User Interface design discussions and media coverage driven by acquisitions, mobility, the “Programmable Web” and the Internet of Things we are clearly entering an unprecedented era of innovation requiring a renewed focus on UX/UI never before seen. Or are we?
The placement of the customer at the heart of the enterprise is a wonderful philosophy, but is a dangerous one without considering the foundations required to power an elegant customer experience. Enterprises faced with the realities of constraints imposed by legacy systems are discovering that a demanding public can be very unforgiving, and that attempting to shoehorn systems designed to run off of batch processes and information latency into an on demand world is fraught with peril.
As a student of art I studied many fascinating things, among them environmental art and lithography. The contrast between the two is stark. Environmental art was typically grand in ambition, difficult and expensive to install, and temporary (like user experience driven prototypes built in a vacuum). Lithography involves etching and burning an image on a stone tablet, printing it, then grinding the image off and starting all over again (like apps and interfaces built on a solid Enterprise Architecture). As a matter of priority when designing a customer experience, organizations should first consider whether a lithography stone exists on which to etch it; if not, the focus should be clear (the story of Lloyds Banking Group’s investments in foundational digital infrastructure featured in the book Leading Digital is an excellent example). The gratification of designing a pleasing experience may be delayed, but in the end all parties involved from company to customer will benefit.