Thanks to Ron and to the many of you that I’ve met in the past days.From graduate students to seasoned practitioners across a variety of disciplinesIappreciate the breadth of perspectives, experiences, and interests represented hereI feel like I found a new community – so it’s pleasure to get to share my thoughts with you today.At Ron’s request, I want to share a little bit about my journey from academia to industryWhat I learned along the way in the hopes that it will help you in your journeys as wellImage from:http://assets2.bigthink.com/system/idea_thumbnails/43720/series/michelangelo_bot.jpg?1334757305http://i1-news.softpedia-static.com/images/news2/Bing-and-Big-Think-Team-on-Humanizing-Technology-2.jpg
I studied Religion & Biblical Literature at Smith CollegeI did a non-traditional Masters in Whole Systems Design at Antioch University SeattleThrough that program I travelled to China (1991) and Bali (1993)Eventually found my way to Anthropology while I was working in Academic Computing at a college in CaliforniaYears later I moved back to the East coast and did a Masters and PhD in Anthropology at Temple UniversityThrough that time I was working in technical jobs, IT departments, and eventually in the software industry
More recently I took a job building and running a User Experience team For a software development group at a management consulting companyBut for nearly 15 years before that, I worked (and essentially grew up) at SAPWhich is one of the largest software companies in the world (60K employees)While I was there I worked in IT, in other technical jobs, and eventually ended up in Sales & Business OperationsSo, as a User Experience professional, I was ‘an innie’ – working as an insider to effectuate changeWhile at SAP I weathered some really significant changes in the industry and at the companyOne of the big inflection points in high tech was the dot-com crash in the early 90sPeople were learning what it meant to be market or customer-centric – technology for technology’s sake wasn’t going to workDuring that same period I was struggling to put my dissertation proposal together (as many of you are)I grew increasingly clear that my academic and professional life had to come togetherIf I was ever to finish - but I had no idea how!Before my comps, I read for over a year across a wide variety of disciplines, Anthropology faculty were limited in their ability to help.One of the things that I appreciate about this audience is that you are actively learning and seeking across disciplinesThis was something I had to do for myself at that time …
In 2002 I chaired a panel at the American Anthropology Association meetingsI had nothing to say, but I wanted to learn from those who were doing the work I wanted to do!The preparation for and discussion at the conference led to a small online communityIt’s now nearly 3000globallyNow it is one ofmany such forums - UX forum on LinkedIn 10K peopleBut it started with a group of social scientists committed to ethnographic methods as a way of understanding people, process, and technologyThings were still pretty grim in the software industry …But through these conversations I was becoming much more clear about what I wanted and where to go to learnI also learned a lot about METHODS – coming into a PhD program, that was not taught … (need Applied Masters)This idea about DESIGN and pairing it with ANTHROPOLOGY grew increasingly compellingFor me, the field of design solved many of the problems I had in connecting my research interests to my workDesigners are taught to build a portfolio, showcase their ability to solve business problems … Anthropologists often speak in a way not accessible to business, and have a hard time making their insights consumable …Explosion of User Experience, Design Thinking, and many others …
Thearea that I found most compelling was something called User-Centered Design (UCD)Disclaimer - I may use sloppy language in subsequent slides … User Experience, UCD, Usability, etc. interchangeablyThey are NOT really interchangeable, can explain more in the Q&A if you’re interestedVenn Diagram from IDEO, a three-legged stoolMaybe the single most powerful way to communicate the story in the 10+ years that I’ve been trying to do so - Desirability – Useful and elegant, the simple solution which helps the user complete their task - Viability – Does it make the user more productive, the company more profitable? - Feasibility - What is technically possible, easily supported, and compatible with current / planned technology?Especially in the technical environments, human side is often forgotten or neglectedAnd as I learned, I started to apply some of those learnings to my work2008 EPIC paper – applying approach to my work at SAPLots of experimentation, learning from network, from vendorsMaybe most importantly, I had a LOT of help from my executive team in telling the storyMaybe a quick comment on ‘user’ versus ‘customers’ versus ‘people’In the software industry, they are users … some backlash from social sciences that it is dehumanizingThe reality is that when you’re trying to change how engineers think about what they’re doingThe fact that they consider the end-user at all is an achievement sometimes!So I’m just happy if they end up in the Venn diagram … whatever you call themOthers might be more picky … but now that I am building my second team from scratchI’ll continue to take whatever I can get!
Over a multi-year period, I built a User Experience team that consulted to IT on internal projectsThe first person I hired was a designer and information architectwe worked together on many of those initial projectsIt’s a body of work that I am extremely proud ofWhen I left last year, customers were CPO, CIO, CMO, COO of various lines of businessBut in those seven years there was a lot of hard work, plenty of flailing, and many many lessons learned!I consciously built a very multi-disciplinary teamI hired Human Factors Engineers to tap into quantitative leanings of SAP, for exampleWe were humble and hungry – did all kinds of projects!I learned through trial and error that User Experience / Design Research can inform any and every part of a projectIf you identify a market with research, those insights can inform marketing and launch communications laterJust to share one story (top left)We were asked to look at the day-to-day work of salespeopleWe kept the questions VERY simple and broad: - What processes are they engaged in? - What tools are they using? - With whom are they engaged?All sort of great insights come out of being willing to ask such open-ended questionsAnd then manage the breadth and nuances of the insights that come out of that approachIn our case, we had executives who had no idea of the variety of tools their staff was using to get their work doneThis could lead to improvements: - In the enterprise / expected toolkit - To process simplification - To changing of executive expectations around how work gets done …
Which all begs the question of … where SHOULD you start?Or ideally where would you LIKE to start?A pretty typical diagram describing what a user-centered approach might look likeQuick walkthrough of the stages and the value that a researcher might add to each …The validation and iterations within and between phases are so criticalRealityis that you don’t always get to chooseBut as my team grew I needed to make the case for more staffHow to show the value of what I was doing in business terms?Over the years I learned instinctively The earlier my team was involved, the more strategic and impactful our role could beBut I needed to explain that in terms that made sense to business people
Those instincts were eventually corroborated with a study that came out in 2008Early involvement of users has the greatest impactHAVE to be relevant to business – refer back to VennIn an external study of 5325 end-users, 200 project sponsors & managers, Looked at 850 drivers, only 41 really matteredThe theme:Low-end user adoption was identified as the single most important factor for achieving project ROI For a 100M € investment with an expected 15% return, a full 36% (41M €) of that return was not realized19% (22M €) of which was due to low end-user adoption.More recently, controversial paper from Don Norman – Act First, Do the Research LaterHe argues that if you don’t earn a seat at the boardroom table, you’re researching a plan someone else has already defined – and after that, your ability to make an impact (or course-correct if needed) is an uphill battle.
Regardless environmentThere is always that oneHow people work …
User-Centered DesignUser ExperienceComputer-Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW)Task / Work Practice AnalysisDesign ThinkingCustomer ExperienceService DesignAVOID Experience Design … look for Experience ModelingNatalie (SAP / ZS)Charlotte Linde (NASA)Laura McNamara (National Labs)Christina Wasson (Yale, Sapient, UNT)
Humanizing Business Technology
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As-is versus the ideal processes Mental models for UI design Persona development… and the real tool landscape Lean Messaging w Cooper Design Directions for future research IA recommendations User requirements