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August 09, 2007

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"a rather big challenge when we look at how the entrprise measures ROI and risk today"

Speaking as a software architect, the enterprise will be the last dark corner of the world to value design. For enterprise project managers and CIO's, UX and "emotional" design have to become more cost effective, with a collection of proven best practices, patterns, frameworks and technologies that have a more predictable ROI. Books like The Usability Engineering Lifecycle have helped us make better products but persuading managers to make investments in UX and creating emotional connections have been a much harder sell.

Does the enterprise need better software UX or emotional connections?

In regards to, "Does the enterprise need better software UX or emotional connections?" I'd say the answers is that it depends but that's not really my intent with that last statement. What I mean is that designers to understand is that businesses make decisions based on reliability, which typically mean observed performance or behaviors that have occured before or based on the knowledge that they've done something like the task at hand in the past and that it will work again in another instance. But design is often based on validity, building the frameworks and decisions that point one towards the correct course of action. But the problem is that this can't be proven in advance and that's was all organizations, not just IT are stuck on.

Now should IT care about this? Only about as much as other parts of the enterprise do or don't. The risk is that as companies move towards risk and decision models that can accomodate validity other companies, and IT groups that don't are going to be left behind.

Here's one real world example. There's currently a talent crunch in the world of IT for...cobol developers. Why? Because all the old farts that know it and the proprietary mainframe apps are dying off or moving into retirement. If some of these folks were to get hit buy a bus tomorrow on their lunch hour literally millions of dollars of intellectual capital and corporate knowledge would disappear in an instant. Why is this? Because many new computer science grads have no interest in learning, caring or feeding for these systems. In this case I think concepts like the need for better UX is important.

Time will tell on the corporate site if they truly belive emotional connections are important for consumers. For example the car industry and it's products are built purely on emotional connection. So are other products like motorcycles, folks that like a Harley aren't going to buy a Ducati for example. Do cellphone service providers and manufacturers feel threatened by the emotional connection that the first few hundred thousand users appear to have with their iPhones? The truth is we don't yet but I wouldn't be surprised that the enterprise and eventually IT will have to care about how the people that interact with those products and services 'feel' when they use them because if they don't what's really to stop a group from outsourcing to get what they want done?


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