January 12, 2015

DotCom 2.0? The Perils of Our Focus on User Experience

BY :     January 12, 2015

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 DotCom days were defined by a frenzied hype cycle that fueled imaginations around the globe, followed by a precipitous let down (and some ideas that may not have been so bad after all). This era was also characterized by big investments in beautiful websites that could fit any screen resolution and support every browser (not so easy in those days), and a religious focus on personalized user experience (remember portals, image preloading and JavaScript mouseovers?)…Sound familiar?

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.

 

Joo Serk Lee

About

Joo Serk Lee is a Vice President in Sogeti USA and serves as Sogeti USA’s Digital Transformation service line leader. He in an Enterprise Architect by trade and has spent much of his 15 year career partnering with clients to craft major digital and technology transformation programs in sectors including Marketing and Insurance.

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*Opinions expressed on this blog reflect the writer’s views and not the position of the Sogeti Group