Consumer vs. Corporate products

12 Nov 2003 - 6:42pm
10 years ago
12 replies
702 reads
sandeepblues
2003

It is well known that there is often more money in
selling tech products to corporates than to individual
consumers.

It is also often true that the buyers at corporations
are not the users. They are usually looking to buy a
product that satisfies a check-list of requirements.
The usable (but poorly designed) product that
satisfies this list will be given more or less equal
weight to a well-designed product. The poorly
designed product will win a deal, if marketed well
enough.

One may argue that productivity costs will make users
revolt. Not really. A usable product (but poorly
designed) will be accepted by such users, as it
fulfills the basic needs, plus a collective revolt is
hard to put together. Also, users don't know how
things could be improved.

Given that, high-tech companies are often likely to
give more importance to engineers than to interaction
designers. In such companies, it is more advisable to
combine the role of designer with product manager.
Such a designer is further strengthened if he/she has
a technical background.

Consumer products are a separate topic. Here,
interaction designers play a more important role.

In my opinion, a "pure" designer should stay clear of
non-consumer tech companies.

So...thoughts?...does a "pure" ID have a place in a
tech company that sells to the corporate market?

Sandeep

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Comments

12 Nov 2003 - 7:27pm
Brad Lauster
2003

Hi Sandeep,
You bring up an issue that a lot of people talk about, but one for
which I've never seen any real evidence. For that reason, I disagree
with several points in your premise.

First, I disagree that "It is well known that there is often more money
in
selling tech products to corporates than to individual consumers." In
my book, a statement that broad is automatically suspect. Are there any
specific markets that you're talking about?

Second, I disagree that corporate buyers don't care what their
customers (the users) have to say about the products they buy. Any
corporate buyer who wants to keep his job ought to be running product
pilots with actual users. If you have examples suggesting otherwise,
I'd like to hear about them.

Third, this statement is also suspect: "high-tech companies are often
likely to give more importance to engineers than to interaction
designers." This is completely determined by the culture of the
organization. I don't think it's valid as a blanket statement.

I also don't know of any companies that combine the role of designer
and product manager. Examples, please.

Finally, could you explain the following, please?
1. What do you mean by "A usable product (but poorly designed)" ?
2. What do you mean by "pure design?"
3. What do you mean by "pure ID?"

Given all my questions, I think I can still answer yours. Let's say all
the issues you mentioned are true. I still think there's a place for
Interaction Designers in high-tech companies that sell to corporate
buyers. Just because an Interaction Designer might not have as large an
impact on the final product in a company like those you described
doesn't mean there's no place for Interaction Design in those
organizations.

Cheers!
--Brad Lauster
< http://bradlauster.com/ >

On Nov 12, 2003, at 3:42 PM, Sandeep Jain wrote:
> It is well known that there is often more money in
> selling tech products to corporates than to individual
> consumers.
>
> It is also often true that the buyers at corporations
> are not the users. They are usually looking to buy a
> product that satisfies a check-list of requirements.
> The usable (but poorly designed) product that
> satisfies this list will be given more or less equal
> weight to a well-designed product. The poorly
> designed product will win a deal, if marketed well
> enough.
>
> One may argue that productivity costs will make users
> revolt. Not really. A usable product (but poorly
> designed) will be accepted by such users, as it
> fulfills the basic needs, plus a collective revolt is
> hard to put together. Also, users don't know how
> things could be improved.
>
> Given that, high-tech companies are often likely to
> give more importance to engineers than to interaction
> designers. In such companies, it is more advisable to
> combine the role of designer with product manager.
> Such a designer is further strengthened if he/she has
> a technical background.
>
> Consumer products are a separate topic. Here,
> interaction designers play a more important role.
>
> In my opinion, a "pure" designer should stay clear of
> non-consumer tech companies.
>
> So...thoughts?...does a "pure" ID have a place in a
> tech company that sells to the corporate market?
>
> Sandeep
** SNIP **

12 Nov 2003 - 8:12pm
sandeepblues
2003

Without a doubt, my email made broad strokes. There
are always exceptions.

Clearly, there are numerous consumer products-based,
high-tech companies that are doing well. Nevertheless,
a corporate buying decision usually involves a larger
order, than an individual's buying decision. Generally
speaking, a high-tech product that has a good
potential to be sold in the corporate world will have
a more lucrative market there, than in a consumer
market.
Specific markets...Microsoft's businesses such as its
IDEs, products sold to IT departments to manage
systems, asset management solutions, supply chain
solutions etc...

Second, I disagree that corporate buyers don't care
> what their
> customers (the users) have to say about the products
> they buy. Any
> corporate buyer who wants to keep his job ought to
> be running product
> pilots with actual users. If you have examples
> suggesting otherwise,
> I'd like to hear about them.
>

Can't give names. However, in my experience, though
lengthy product pilots are run, they are run to
determine that the features fulfill the list of
requirements, and are reasonably usable. The corporate
buyer is *not* going to be an ethnographer or a
usability expert, nor is he going to employ one to
evaluate the product in that light. User usage under
the corporate buyer's study, can bring up superficial
nits at best, or basic functionality flaws.

> Third, this statement is also suspect: "high-tech
> companies are often
> likely to give more importance to engineers than to
> interaction
> designers." This is completely determined by the
> culture of the
> organization. I don't think it's valid as a blanket
> statement.
>

A central value of any business is to maximize profit.
If functionally rich technology can sell as well as
very well-designed technology, with better marketing,
then why invest in interaction designers? (This is in
a corporate market alone). They *should*, but the
improvement in profit seems incremental. Companies
would prefer to design products that look like MS
outlook or IE etc. Hiding behind conventions seems
safer than finding out what really matters to the
users. Often, engineers are capable of copying
conventions of existing UIs, thereby reducing the need
for an interaction designer... (from the high-tech
company's point of view...not mine).

> I also don't know of any companies that combine the
> role of designer
> and product manager. Examples, please.

There are many companies where the Product Manager has
the last say on the UI of a product. Many small
companies don't employ UI designers at all. They'll
hire graphic designers, but the product manager
designs the UI. Even though they may not be trained
as designers, product managers certainly assume that
role. Won't give company names...sorry.

>
> Finally, could you explain the following, please?
> 1. What do you mean by "A usable product (but poorly
> designed)" ?

A product that one can make use of, though it could
have been designed to be much more useful.

> 2. What do you mean by "pure design?"

"pure designer" versus mixing roles with product
management or engineering.

> 3. What do you mean by "pure ID?"
>

ID ...short for interaction designer.

Thanks for your response, btw. Sorry, if I can't be
too specific above.

Sandeep

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13 Nov 2003 - 8:22am
Josh Seiden
2003

I think that this is an astute analysis of the role of
user experience in IT purchasing. I would add two
things:

1. Once a corporate purchase decision is made, the high
switching cost becomes a major factor. This contributes
to the difficulty of user revolt.

2. It is my experience too that corporate IT managers
don't understand and don't value user experience. Some
selected representative quotes: (IT managers actually
said these things to me.)

-- "I don't care about usability. People are paid to do
their job, and if they don't like it, they can find
another job."

-- "It's unpopular, true, but we just make it a
mandatory tool, and that solves the problem."

I do disagree with your conclusion, Sandeep. I don't
believe that designers should avoid the corporate
sphere. Rather, I believe that design organizations
should face this problem head on. This dynamic is an
opportunity for us, rather than an insurmountable
obstacle.

JS

> -----Original Message-----
> From:
>
discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interact
iondesi
> gners.com
>
[mailto:discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.
interac
> tiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Sandeep Jain
> Sent: Wednesday, November 12, 2003 6:43 PM
> To: discuss at interactiondesigners.com
> Subject: [ID Discuss] Consumer vs. Corporate products
>
>
> It is well known that there is often more money in
> selling tech products to corporates than to
individual consumers.
>
> It is also often true that the buyers at corporations
> are not the users. They are usually looking to buy a
> product that satisfies a check-list of requirements.
> The usable (but poorly designed) product that
> satisfies this list will be given more or less equal
> weight to a well-designed product. The poorly
> designed product will win a deal, if marketed well
> enough.

13 Nov 2003 - 8:56am
Dave Malouf
2005

I want to both concur w/ Sandeep and give a more broad perspective having
come from the holy mountain of Enterprise content management (anyone from
peoplesoft, sap, or siebl out here?) of Documentum.

I also have heard the statements that Josh quotes below, but I also have had
companies come to me and say, what ISO standard for usability testing and
reporting are you using, and can you send us your usability reports? There
is definitely a continuum here and I have noticed as I ran more and more
tests at our customer conferences for documentum that more and more people
were addressing user experience issues (not just usability) as much as they
were addressing functionality issues.

Another take on this to show that the enterprise is changing. Pharma
companies have a big stake in the use of eRoom at their departmental levels
(b4 they were bought by DCTM). eRoom was probably not bought for its UI
directly, but now eveyrone loves it. After DCTM bought eRoom, and I went to
one of these Pharma co's I was berated with "Can you make DCTM more like
eRoom?" and more importantly, "Don't break eRoom." Now we can argue aobut
how good this specific product is or not, but the point is that users and
their managers (buyers) got it and communicated it back.

The other major change in ux on the enterprise level is the growing (though
IMHO misguided) trend towards portals and portlets. They do this b/c there
is a perception of better usability and control and a big response to their
customer base.

Yes there are still many more conservative enterprises that aren't quite
getting it, but there are also many more that do. For those that don't,
they'll buy what they'll buy based on feature checklists; for those that do,
you will loose sales b/c you don't make the experience happen. So there is a
lot more to loose by ignoring experience these days even at the enterprise
level.

-- dave

Ps. Btw, notice I didn't say "corporate" as small corps and mid-sized corps
are a lot different than enterprises b/c the IT staff tend to be a lot more
responsive to their end-users b/c they are not shielded from them by
bureaucratic processes.

-----Original Message-----
From:
discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.
com] On Behalf Of Joshua Seiden
Sent: Thursday, November 13, 2003 8:23 AM
To: 'Sandeep Jain'; discuss at interactiondesigners.com
Subject: RE: [ID Discuss] Consumer vs. Corporate products

I think that this is an astute analysis of the role of user experience in IT
purchasing. I would add two
things:

1. Once a corporate purchase decision is made, the high switching cost
becomes a major factor. This contributes to the difficulty of user revolt.

2. It is my experience too that corporate IT managers don't understand and
don't value user experience. Some selected representative quotes: (IT
managers actually said these things to me.)

-- "I don't care about usability. People are paid to do their job, and if
they don't like it, they can find another job."

-- "It's unpopular, true, but we just make it a mandatory tool, and that
solves the problem."

I do disagree with your conclusion, Sandeep. I don't believe that designers
should avoid the corporate sphere. Rather, I believe that design
organizations should face this problem head on. This dynamic is an
opportunity for us, rather than an insurmountable obstacle.

JS

> -----Original Message-----
> From:
>
discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interact
iondesi
> gners.com
>
[mailto:discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.
interac
> tiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Sandeep Jain
> Sent: Wednesday, November 12, 2003 6:43 PM
> To: discuss at interactiondesigners.com
> Subject: [ID Discuss] Consumer vs. Corporate products
>
>
> It is well known that there is often more money in selling tech
> products to corporates than to
individual consumers.
>
> It is also often true that the buyers at corporations are not the
> users. They are usually looking to buy a product that satisfies a
> check-list of requirements.
> The usable (but poorly designed) product that satisfies this list will
> be given more or less equal weight to a well-designed product. The
> poorly designed product will win a deal, if marketed well enough.

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13 Nov 2003 - 12:05pm
Brad Lauster
2003

Thanks for your reply, Sandeep.

It's probably best that we agree to disagree. I think you and I have
simply had different experiences dealing, in particular, with IT
buyers. (I work in IT and none of the people I've worked with were as
ignorant as those described by Joshua Seiden.)

I was mainly concerned about us promulgating stories/situations that
aren't necessarily true because they paint a picture suggesting that
the situation for Interaction Designers isn't as positive as it
actually is.

I feel the same way about the "x designer doesn't care about y" story.
Where x is a colleagues discipline of expertise and y is yours. For
example: graphic designers don't care about usability. I hear this
story all the time and in my experience, it exists only to give people
something to complain about, not because it reflects the actual
situation.

Anyway, positivity in language is the theme here. I find that if you
tell stories from the perspective of the ideal situation, those
situations tend to become actual.

Cheers!
--Brad Lauster

On Nov 12, 2003, at 5:12 PM, Sandeep Jain wrote:
> Without a doubt, my email made broad strokes. There
> are always exceptions.
>
> Clearly, there are numerous consumer products-based,
> high-tech companies that are doing well. Nevertheless,
> a corporate buying decision usually involves a larger
> order, than an individual's buying decision. Generally
> speaking, a high-tech product that has a good
> potential to be sold in the corporate world will have
> a more lucrative market there, than in a consumer
> market.
> Specific markets...Microsoft's businesses such as its
> IDEs, products sold to IT departments to manage
> systems, asset management solutions, supply chain
> solutions etc...
>
> Second, I disagree that corporate buyers don't care
>> what their
>> customers (the users) have to say about the products
>> they buy. Any
>> corporate buyer who wants to keep his job ought to
>> be running product
>> pilots with actual users. If you have examples
>> suggesting otherwise,
>> I'd like to hear about them.
>>
>
> Can't give names. However, in my experience, though
> lengthy product pilots are run, they are run to
> determine that the features fulfill the list of
> requirements, and are reasonably usable. The corporate
> buyer is *not* going to be an ethnographer or a
> usability expert, nor is he going to employ one to
> evaluate the product in that light. User usage under
> the corporate buyer's study, can bring up superficial
> nits at best, or basic functionality flaws.
>
>> Third, this statement is also suspect: "high-tech
>> companies are often
>> likely to give more importance to engineers than to
>> interaction
>> designers." This is completely determined by the
>> culture of the
>> organization. I don't think it's valid as a blanket
>> statement.
>>
>
> A central value of any business is to maximize profit.
> If functionally rich technology can sell as well as
> very well-designed technology, with better marketing,
> then why invest in interaction designers? (This is in
> a corporate market alone). They *should*, but the
> improvement in profit seems incremental. Companies
> would prefer to design products that look like MS
> outlook or IE etc. Hiding behind conventions seems
> safer than finding out what really matters to the
> users. Often, engineers are capable of copying
> conventions of existing UIs, thereby reducing the need
> for an interaction designer... (from the high-tech
> company's point of view...not mine).
>
>
>> I also don't know of any companies that combine the
>> role of designer
>> and product manager. Examples, please.
>
> There are many companies where the Product Manager has
> the last say on the UI of a product. Many small
> companies don't employ UI designers at all. They'll
> hire graphic designers, but the product manager
> designs the UI. Even though they may not be trained
> as designers, product managers certainly assume that
> role. Won't give company names...sorry.
>
>>
>> Finally, could you explain the following, please?
>> 1. What do you mean by "A usable product (but poorly
>> designed)" ?
>
> A product that one can make use of, though it could
> have been designed to be much more useful.
>
>> 2. What do you mean by "pure design?"
>
> "pure designer" versus mixing roles with product
> management or engineering.
>
>> 3. What do you mean by "pure ID?"
>>
>
> ID ...short for interaction designer.
>
> Thanks for your response, btw. Sorry, if I can't be
> too specific above.
>
> Sandeep
>
>
> __________________________________
> Do you Yahoo!?
> Protect your identity with Yahoo! Mail AddressGuard
> http://antispam.yahoo.com/whatsnewfree

13 Nov 2003 - 12:16pm
Janet M. Six
2003

Hi,

I absolutely think that pure ID has a place in a tech company that
sells to the corporate market. But it has to cater to the needs of the
corporate market -- I think this means that we have to convince the
corporatation that the design will positively effect its bottom line.

Regards,
Janet Six
Lone Star Interface Design

Sandeep Jain wrote:

>It is well known that there is often more money in
>selling tech products to corporates than to individual
>consumers.
>
>...
>

>
>So...thoughts?...does a "pure" ID have a place in a
>tech company that sells to the corporate market?
>
>Sandeep
>
>__________________________________
>

13 Nov 2003 - 2:36pm
Robert Reimann
2003

Sandeep,

Like Josh and David, I have experienced the
situation you describe to varying degrees while
working with enterprise software companies as an
interaction design consultant.

It's true that IT managers often undervalue good
interaction design until it's too late:

* when the turnover of their workforce increases,
and morale decreases, resulting in lower productivity
and higher training costs
* when their own customers' satisfaction decreases due
to increased operators errors and slow turnaround times
that result from poor design

I once interviewed the Fortune 100 customer of one large
enterprise SW provider who claimed that installation
of a particular enterprise module caused a *five-fold increase
in document processing time*, due almost completely
to poor design.

Did the users revolt? No, not at this customer. But
the bottom line results of poor design made that
customer *very* unhappy. And nobody likes unhappy
customers. These are the kind of arguments that
need to be made to ensure design's place at the table.

That said, I think that when it comes to interaction
design, there can't really be "pure" design as you
seem to mean it. Interaction designers need to be able
to speak the language of engineers, at least a high
level, in order to be successful, and similarly, they
need to be able to understand and address the business
context. The behavior of systems falls at the intersection
of the user, the technology, and the business: there's
just no escaping it. This is probably something that
could be better taught in most interaction design (and
related) programs.

Robert.
---

Robert Reimann
Bose Design Center
Framingham, MA 01701
http://www.bose.com

-----Original Message-----
From: Sandeep Jain [mailto:sandeepblues at yahoo.com]
Sent: Wednesday, November 12, 2003 6:43 PM
To: discuss at interactiondesigners.com
Subject: [ID Discuss] Consumer vs. Corporate products

It is well known that there is often more money in
selling tech products to corporates than to individual consumers.

It is also often true that the buyers at corporations
are not the users. They are usually looking to buy a
product that satisfies a check-list of requirements.
The usable (but poorly designed) product that
satisfies this list will be given more or less equal
weight to a well-designed product. The poorly
designed product will win a deal, if marketed well
enough.

One may argue that productivity costs will make users
revolt. Not really. A usable product (but poorly
designed) will be accepted by such users, as it
fulfills the basic needs, plus a collective revolt is
hard to put together. Also, users don't know how
things could be improved.

Given that, high-tech companies are often likely to
give more importance to engineers than to interaction designers. In such
companies, it is more advisable to combine the role of designer with product
manager.
Such a designer is further strengthened if he/she has
a technical background.

Consumer products are a separate topic. Here,
interaction designers play a more important role.

In my opinion, a "pure" designer should stay clear of non-consumer tech
companies.

So...thoughts?...does a "pure" ID have a place in a
tech company that sells to the corporate market?

Sandeep

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13 Nov 2003 - 3:13pm
Dave Malouf
2005

I've also had customers come to meetings w/ presentations filled with their
own usability tests (especially from Europe) where they show me download
time (or screen draw) time charts and what their requirements are.

I think you also need to look at the industry as a hole when it comes to
enterprise level software. Poor historical expectations, and sometimes even
conflicting requirement from users and product implementors.

But I do think that the big enterprise software companies have shown
tremendous support for UX even to the pont of evangelizing its import to
their customers as a big selling point for their products: SAP, Oracle,
PeopleSoft, DCTM, etc have all change their engineering culture to include a
growing staff of designers over the last decade (yup, we are talking snails
pace, but we have to think that way.)

I think an organization like our will only help these orgs push their own
customers into better and better requirements for their enterprise needs and
we'll be at the forefront to make it happen.

A big success we had at DCTM when I was there, was tailcoating onto the push
towards a customer centered model of sales and customer support. User
experience was one of many other key contributors to our growing customer
success program and tailcoating on that program got us more and more noticed
as a team.

Lastly, the skills here are hard core interaction design w/ a good sense of
business and technology to better communicate with both sides of the app.

Lastly, the best way to work in an enterprise software environment is to
create team efforts. The best successes I had was when I was teamed up with
an engineer specialist directly.

-- dave

-----Original Message-----
From:
discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.
com] On Behalf Of Reimann, Robert
Sent: Thursday, November 13, 2003 2:37 PM
To: discuss at interactiondesigners.com
Subject: RE: [ID Discuss] Consumer vs. Corporate products

Sandeep,

Like Josh and David, I have experienced the situation you describe to
varying degrees while working with enterprise software companies as an
interaction design consultant.

It's true that IT managers often undervalue good interaction design until
it's too late:

* when the turnover of their workforce increases,
and morale decreases, resulting in lower productivity
and higher training costs
* when their own customers' satisfaction decreases due
to increased operators errors and slow turnaround times
that result from poor design

I once interviewed the Fortune 100 customer of one large enterprise SW
provider who claimed that installation of a particular enterprise module
caused a *five-fold increase in document processing time*, due almost
completely to poor design.

Did the users revolt? No, not at this customer. But the bottom line results
of poor design made that customer *very* unhappy. And nobody likes unhappy
customers. These are the kind of arguments that need to be made to ensure
design's place at the table.

That said, I think that when it comes to interaction design, there can't
really be "pure" design as you seem to mean it. Interaction designers need
to be able to speak the language of engineers, at least a high level, in
order to be successful, and similarly, they need to be able to understand
and address the business context. The behavior of systems falls at the
intersection of the user, the technology, and the business: there's just no
escaping it. This is probably something that could be better taught in most
interaction design (and
related) programs.

Robert.
---

Robert Reimann
Bose Design Center
Framingham, MA 01701
http://www.bose.com

-----Original Message-----
From: Sandeep Jain [mailto:sandeepblues at yahoo.com]
Sent: Wednesday, November 12, 2003 6:43 PM
To: discuss at interactiondesigners.com
Subject: [ID Discuss] Consumer vs. Corporate products

It is well known that there is often more money in
selling tech products to corporates than to individual consumers.

It is also often true that the buyers at corporations
are not the users. They are usually looking to buy a
product that satisfies a check-list of requirements.
The usable (but poorly designed) product that
satisfies this list will be given more or less equal
weight to a well-designed product. The poorly
designed product will win a deal, if marketed well
enough.

One may argue that productivity costs will make users
revolt. Not really. A usable product (but poorly
designed) will be accepted by such users, as it
fulfills the basic needs, plus a collective revolt is
hard to put together. Also, users don't know how
things could be improved.

Given that, high-tech companies are often likely to
give more importance to engineers than to interaction designers. In such
companies, it is more advisable to combine the role of designer with product
manager.
Such a designer is further strengthened if he/she has
a technical background.

Consumer products are a separate topic. Here,
interaction designers play a more important role.

In my opinion, a "pure" designer should stay clear of non-consumer tech
companies.

So...thoughts?...does a "pure" ID have a place in a
tech company that sells to the corporate market?

Sandeep

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Protect your identity with Yahoo! Mail AddressGuard
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13 Nov 2003 - 5:51pm
Robert Reimann
2003

Dave Heller said:

> But I do think that the big enterprise software companies have shown
> tremendous support for UX even to the point of evangelizing its import to
> their customers as a big selling point for their products: SAP, Oracle,
> PeopleSoft, DCTM, etc have all change their engineering culture to include
> a growing staff of designers over the last decade (yup, we are talking
> snails pace, but we have to think that way.)

I absolutely agree, but I believe this may largely be the result
of the feedback loop I initially described. When customers
begin to experience real bottom-line pain in the enterprise,
the importance of UX starts to become very apparent to their
vendors.

To the credit of these vendors, many have taken a proactive
approach to taming the complexity of their products through investment
in interaction design, one small step at a time.

Enterprise software in general has a very difficult interaction
and architectural problem: the software provides a generalized
structure that must be customized for specific customer contexts.
Thus the software, on the surface of it, must be designed to
take into account many possibilities, and yet present itself
as seamless and coherent in its customized state. Add to this
the fact that usually someone other than the designer (or the developer)
needs to gather the requirements for the specific customization-- and
execute on it in the field, and you can see where problems arise.

I think that to really solve this problem, a significant amount of
research needs to go into the design of such systems. I know of
at least one place where that is actually happening, but I suspect
it's on the short list of topics at most of the big enterprise
software firms.

Robert.

-----Original Message-----
From: David Heller [mailto:dave at interactiondesigners.com]
Sent: Thursday, November 13, 2003 3:13 PM
To: discuss at interactiondesigners.com
Subject: RE: [ID Discuss] Consumer vs. Corporate products

I've also had customers come to meetings w/ presentations filled with their
own usability tests (especially from Europe) where they show me download
time (or screen draw) time charts and what their requirements are.

I think you also need to look at the industry as a hole when it comes to
enterprise level software. Poor historical expectations, and sometimes even
conflicting requirement from users and product implementors.

But I do think that the big enterprise software companies have shown
tremendous support for UX even to the pont of evangelizing its import to
their customers as a big selling point for their products: SAP, Oracle,
PeopleSoft, DCTM, etc have all change their engineering culture to include a
growing staff of designers over the last decade (yup, we are talking snails
pace, but we have to think that way.)

I think an organization like our will only help these orgs push their own
customers into better and better requirements for their enterprise needs and
we'll be at the forefront to make it happen.

A big success we had at DCTM when I was there, was tailcoating onto the push
towards a customer centered model of sales and customer support. User
experience was one of many other key contributors to our growing customer
success program and tailcoating on that program got us more and more noticed
as a team.

Lastly, the skills here are hard core interaction design w/ a good sense of
business and technology to better communicate with both sides of the app.

Lastly, the best way to work in an enterprise software environment is to
create team efforts. The best successes I had was when I was teamed up with
an engineer specialist directly.

-- dave

-----Original Message-----
From:
discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.
com] On Behalf Of Reimann, Robert
Sent: Thursday, November 13, 2003 2:37 PM
To: discuss at interactiondesigners.com
Subject: RE: [ID Discuss] Consumer vs. Corporate products

Sandeep,

Like Josh and David, I have experienced the situation you describe to
varying degrees while working with enterprise software companies as an
interaction design consultant.

It's true that IT managers often undervalue good interaction design until
it's too late:

* when the turnover of their workforce increases,
and morale decreases, resulting in lower productivity
and higher training costs
* when their own customers' satisfaction decreases due
to increased operators errors and slow turnaround times
that result from poor design

I once interviewed the Fortune 100 customer of one large enterprise SW
provider who claimed that installation of a particular enterprise module
caused a *five-fold increase in document processing time*, due almost
completely to poor design.

Did the users revolt? No, not at this customer. But the bottom line results
of poor design made that customer *very* unhappy. And nobody likes unhappy
customers. These are the kind of arguments that need to be made to ensure
design's place at the table.

That said, I think that when it comes to interaction design, there can't
really be "pure" design as you seem to mean it. Interaction designers need
to be able to speak the language of engineers, at least a high level, in
order to be successful, and similarly, they need to be able to understand
and address the business context. The behavior of systems falls at the
intersection of the user, the technology, and the business: there's just no
escaping it. This is probably something that could be better taught in most
interaction design (and
related) programs.

Robert.
---

Robert Reimann
Bose Design Center
Framingham, MA 01701
http://www.bose.com

13 Nov 2003 - 5:59pm
Dave Malouf
2005

And now to tie it back to the other thread re: patterns.

I totally agree w/ everything that Robert says below. The technology and the
"platform" aspects of the tools are tremendous barriers (see the DUX case
study at http://aiga.org/resources/content/9/7/8/documents/heller.pdf).

I think that using patterns is a possible future solution to the problems of
enterprise apps and it was something we were trying to do at DCTM .(they
probably, hopefully still are) are you out there?

When you develop a web-based platform its even harder though b/c you have to
build all of your own widgets and create a library from scratch. What is
good about richer GUI development is that you can fall on convention if you
choose. But developing these repeatable patterns ended up being a guide to
system integrators and in-house teams who would do the customizations they
needed. Many would build on our existing language sets so in the ends we
"gained control" over the user experience even in a post-customization
environment, sorta like what MS did w/ VB and VC++ and what they are doing
again with Avalon/Sparkle?

-- dave
Ps. I swear that is my last bit of self-promotion (today). ;)

-----Original Message-----
From:
discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.
com] On Behalf Of Reimann, Robert
Sent: Thursday, November 13, 2003 5:51 PM
To: discuss at interactiondesigners.com
Subject: RE: [ID Discuss] Consumer vs. Corporate products

Dave Heller said:

> But I do think that the big enterprise software companies have shown
> tremendous support for UX even to the point of evangelizing its import
> to their customers as a big selling point for their products: SAP,
> Oracle, PeopleSoft, DCTM, etc have all change their engineering
> culture to include a growing staff of designers over the last decade
> (yup, we are talking snails pace, but we have to think that way.)

I absolutely agree, but I believe this may largely be the result of the
feedback loop I initially described. When customers begin to experience
real bottom-line pain in the enterprise, the importance of UX starts to
become very apparent to their vendors.

To the credit of these vendors, many have taken a proactive approach to
taming the complexity of their products through investment in interaction
design, one small step at a time.

Enterprise software in general has a very difficult interaction and
architectural problem: the software provides a generalized structure that
must be customized for specific customer contexts.
Thus the software, on the surface of it, must be designed to take into
account many possibilities, and yet present itself as seamless and coherent
in its customized state. Add to this the fact that usually someone other
than the designer (or the developer) needs to gather the requirements for
the specific customization-- and execute on it in the field, and you can see
where problems arise.

I think that to really solve this problem, a significant amount of research
needs to go into the design of such systems. I know of at least one place
where that is actually happening, but I suspect it's on the short list of
topics at most of the big enterprise software firms.

Robert.

-----Original Message-----
From: David Heller [mailto:dave at interactiondesigners.com]
Sent: Thursday, November 13, 2003 3:13 PM
To: discuss at interactiondesigners.com
Subject: RE: [ID Discuss] Consumer vs. Corporate products

I've also had customers come to meetings w/ presentations filled with their
own usability tests (especially from Europe) where they show me download
time (or screen draw) time charts and what their requirements are.

I think you also need to look at the industry as a hole when it comes to
enterprise level software. Poor historical expectations, and sometimes even
conflicting requirement from users and product implementors.

But I do think that the big enterprise software companies have shown
tremendous support for UX even to the pont of evangelizing its import to
their customers as a big selling point for their products: SAP, Oracle,
PeopleSoft, DCTM, etc have all change their engineering culture to include a
growing staff of designers over the last decade (yup, we are talking snails
pace, but we have to think that way.)

I think an organization like our will only help these orgs push their own
customers into better and better requirements for their enterprise needs and
we'll be at the forefront to make it happen.

A big success we had at DCTM when I was there, was tailcoating onto the push
towards a customer centered model of sales and customer support. User
experience was one of many other key contributors to our growing customer
success program and tailcoating on that program got us more and more noticed
as a team.

Lastly, the skills here are hard core interaction design w/ a good sense of
business and technology to better communicate with both sides of the app.

Lastly, the best way to work in an enterprise software environment is to
create team efforts. The best successes I had was when I was teamed up with
an engineer specialist directly.

-- dave

-----Original Message-----
From:
discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.
com] On Behalf Of Reimann, Robert
Sent: Thursday, November 13, 2003 2:37 PM
To: discuss at interactiondesigners.com
Subject: RE: [ID Discuss] Consumer vs. Corporate products

Sandeep,

Like Josh and David, I have experienced the situation you describe to
varying degrees while working with enterprise software companies as an
interaction design consultant.

It's true that IT managers often undervalue good interaction design until
it's too late:

* when the turnover of their workforce increases,
and morale decreases, resulting in lower productivity
and higher training costs
* when their own customers' satisfaction decreases due
to increased operators errors and slow turnaround times
that result from poor design

I once interviewed the Fortune 100 customer of one large enterprise SW
provider who claimed that installation of a particular enterprise module
caused a *five-fold increase in document processing time*, due almost
completely to poor design.

Did the users revolt? No, not at this customer. But the bottom line results
of poor design made that customer *very* unhappy. And nobody likes unhappy
customers. These are the kind of arguments that need to be made to ensure
design's place at the table.

That said, I think that when it comes to interaction design, there can't
really be "pure" design as you seem to mean it. Interaction designers need
to be able to speak the language of engineers, at least a high level, in
order to be successful, and similarly, they need to be able to understand
and address the business context. The behavior of systems falls at the
intersection of the user, the technology, and the business: there's just no
escaping it. This is probably something that could be better taught in most
interaction design (and
related) programs.

Robert.
---

Robert Reimann
Bose Design Center
Framingham, MA 01701
http://www.bose.com

_______________________________________________
Interaction Design Discussion List
discuss at interactiondesigners.com
--
to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest):
http://discuss.interactiondesigners.com
--
Questions: lists at interactiondesigners.com
--
Announcement Online List (discussion list members get announcements already)
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13 Nov 2003 - 8:29pm
Andy Watson
2004

I think primarily there are two parts to a business application. There are
those that are developed for an existing customer and those that are
developed as part of an R&D exercise.

The former from my experience tends to be developed using function over
form. In basic terms, get it working, get it out, then fix it up. The
latter tends to be form over function. i.e.. make something we can sell, get
a customer, then add the functionality per their requirements.

Consumer product development generally follows a similar development curve
as does corporate R&D. In both of these fields there is a pressing need to
develop a usable product in order to get customers. Additional functionality
can be added once a viable customer base has been achieved.

While the nature of web based applications can take either approach of
development, I think that the split between the UI component and the back
end functionality tends to give more focus on usability than it otherwise
would need to. Typically, most industrial web type development tends to take
the consumer/R&D approach, even when it really does not have to.

I don't believe there will be a trend for pattern usage or widget
development in the web space for some time (out side of the tool vendors
that is). This is simply because of the current trend of US companies to
patent everything possible. In my country, not only are we not allowed to
make forms simple to use (sans one click shopping and similar techniques),
but we are also under attack in the way we lay out the forms or present data
to the user. Many US companies are charging royalties far in excess of a
local web companies annual revenue. Also, the cost of researching patents
often prevents many companies from even trying to develop some kinds of
applications.

Until this trend dies its natural death as it has in the bespoke application
development field, things like patterns, widget sets, and standardised
layouts will probably never get developed to the extent that they should.

-----Original Message-----
From:
discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesign
ers.com]On Behalf Of David Heller
Sent: Friday, 14 November 2003 12:00 p.m.
To: discuss at interactiondesigners.com
Subject: RE: [ID Discuss] Consumer vs. Corporate products

And now to tie it back to the other thread re: patterns.

I totally agree w/ everything that Robert says below. The technology and the
"platform" aspects of the tools are tremendous barriers (see the DUX case
study at http://aiga.org/resources/content/9/7/8/documents/heller.pdf).

I think that using patterns is a possible future solution to the problems of
enterprise apps and it was something we were trying to do at DCTM .(they
probably, hopefully still are) are you out there?

When you develop a web-based platform its even harder though b/c you have to
build all of your own widgets and create a library from scratch. What is
good about richer GUI development is that you can fall on convention if you
choose. But developing these repeatable patterns ended up being a guide to
system integrators and in-house teams who would do the customizations they
needed. Many would build on our existing language sets so in the ends we
"gained control" over the user experience even in a post-customization
environment, sorta like what MS did w/ VB and VC++ and what they are doing
again with Avalon/Sparkle?

-- dave
Ps. I swear that is my last bit of self-promotion (today). ;)

-----Original Message-----
From:
discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.
com] On Behalf Of Reimann, Robert
Sent: Thursday, November 13, 2003 5:51 PM
To: discuss at interactiondesigners.com
Subject: RE: [ID Discuss] Consumer vs. Corporate products

Dave Heller said:

> But I do think that the big enterprise software companies have shown
> tremendous support for UX even to the point of evangelizing its import
> to their customers as a big selling point for their products: SAP,
> Oracle, PeopleSoft, DCTM, etc have all change their engineering
> culture to include a growing staff of designers over the last decade
> (yup, we are talking snails pace, but we have to think that way.)

I absolutely agree, but I believe this may largely be the result of the
feedback loop I initially described. When customers begin to experience
real bottom-line pain in the enterprise, the importance of UX starts to
become very apparent to their vendors.

To the credit of these vendors, many have taken a proactive approach to
taming the complexity of their products through investment in interaction
design, one small step at a time.

Enterprise software in general has a very difficult interaction and
architectural problem: the software provides a generalized structure that
must be customized for specific customer contexts.
Thus the software, on the surface of it, must be designed to take into
account many possibilities, and yet present itself as seamless and coherent
in its customized state. Add to this the fact that usually someone other
than the designer (or the developer) needs to gather the requirements for
the specific customization-- and execute on it in the field, and you can see
where problems arise.

I think that to really solve this problem, a significant amount of research
needs to go into the design of such systems. I know of at least one place
where that is actually happening, but I suspect it's on the short list of
topics at most of the big enterprise software firms.

Robert.

-----Original Message-----
From: David Heller [mailto:dave at interactiondesigners.com]
Sent: Thursday, November 13, 2003 3:13 PM
To: discuss at interactiondesigners.com
Subject: RE: [ID Discuss] Consumer vs. Corporate products

I've also had customers come to meetings w/ presentations filled with their
own usability tests (especially from Europe) where they show me download
time (or screen draw) time charts and what their requirements are.

I think you also need to look at the industry as a hole when it comes to
enterprise level software. Poor historical expectations, and sometimes even
conflicting requirement from users and product implementors.

But I do think that the big enterprise software companies have shown
tremendous support for UX even to the pont of evangelizing its import to
their customers as a big selling point for their products: SAP, Oracle,
PeopleSoft, DCTM, etc have all change their engineering culture to include a
growing staff of designers over the last decade (yup, we are talking snails
pace, but we have to think that way.)

I think an organization like our will only help these orgs push their own
customers into better and better requirements for their enterprise needs and
we'll be at the forefront to make it happen.

A big success we had at DCTM when I was there, was tailcoating onto the push
towards a customer centered model of sales and customer support. User
experience was one of many other key contributors to our growing customer
success program and tailcoating on that program got us more and more noticed
as a team.

Lastly, the skills here are hard core interaction design w/ a good sense of
business and technology to better communicate with both sides of the app.

Lastly, the best way to work in an enterprise software environment is to
create team efforts. The best successes I had was when I was teamed up with
an engineer specialist directly.

-- dave

-----Original Message-----
From:
discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.
com] On Behalf Of Reimann, Robert
Sent: Thursday, November 13, 2003 2:37 PM
To: discuss at interactiondesigners.com
Subject: RE: [ID Discuss] Consumer vs. Corporate products

Sandeep,

Like Josh and David, I have experienced the situation you describe to
varying degrees while working with enterprise software companies as an
interaction design consultant.

It's true that IT managers often undervalue good interaction design until
it's too late:

* when the turnover of their workforce increases,
and morale decreases, resulting in lower productivity
and higher training costs
* when their own customers' satisfaction decreases due
to increased operators errors and slow turnaround times
that result from poor design

I once interviewed the Fortune 100 customer of one large enterprise SW
provider who claimed that installation of a particular enterprise module
caused a *five-fold increase in document processing time*, due almost
completely to poor design.

Did the users revolt? No, not at this customer. But the bottom line results
of poor design made that customer *very* unhappy. And nobody likes unhappy
customers. These are the kind of arguments that need to be made to ensure
design's place at the table.

That said, I think that when it comes to interaction design, there can't
really be "pure" design as you seem to mean it. Interaction designers need
to be able to speak the language of engineers, at least a high level, in
order to be successful, and similarly, they need to be able to understand
and address the business context. The behavior of systems falls at the
intersection of the user, the technology, and the business: there's just no
escaping it. This is probably something that could be better taught in most
interaction design (and
related) programs.

Robert.
---

Robert Reimann
Bose Design Center
Framingham, MA 01701
http://www.bose.com

_______________________________________________
Interaction Design Discussion List
discuss at interactiondesigners.com
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to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest):
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--
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--
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13 Nov 2003 - 9:09pm
Marci Ikeler
2003

I recently had an experience that illustrates this
point rather well. The company I work for (large and
bureacratic, and not at all focused on technology)
recently completed an application that allows some
very high profile assistants to enter and record the
senior partners' interactions with the CEOs of various
client companies.

Due to a short time line and a lack of funds, this
group of users opted to forgo usability testing and
interaction design, which are the services that I
provide. On the very first day the product was
released, the manager of my division recieved a series
of irate calls from this team.

It turns out that throughout the business requirements
gather process no one had actually recorded how these
assistants work -- they record the information as they
listen to it on a voice mail message. Thus they have
about one minute to locate the appropriate company in
our system and enter all the details of the message.
Doing all of this with the delivered product within
such a short time frame was simply impossible.

These users had seen the business requirement
documents, the project proposal, the functional
prototypes, and had even undergone training on what
came to be the released application. They signed-off
on each of these milestones and never once raised any
concerns about the product.

Now we have reinitiated the project with a full round
of interaction design and usability testing.

In this case the matter of "convinc[ing]the
corporatation that the design will positively effect
its bottom line", as Janet mentioned below, cost a
good deal of time and money.

The good news is that this antedote will help me pitch
the value of ID/usability, so that hopefully we can
avoid this problem in the future.

Marci Ikeler
http://www.pasttherules.com/

--- "Janet M. Six" <jsix at lonestarinterfacedesign.com>
wrote:
> Hi,
>
> I absolutely think that pure ID has a place in a
> tech company that
> sells to the corporate market. But it has to cater
> to the needs of the
> corporate market -- I think this means that we have
> to convince the
> corporatation that the design will positively effect
> its bottom line.
>
>
> Regards,
> Janet Six
> Lone Star Interface Design
>
>
> Sandeep Jain wrote:
>
> >It is well known that there is often more money in
> >selling tech products to corporates than to
> individual
> >consumers.
> >
> >...
> >
>
> >
> >So...thoughts?...does a "pure" ID have a place in a
> >tech company that sells to the corporate market?
> >
> >Sandeep
> >
> >__________________________________
> >
>
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> Interaction Design Discussion List
> discuss at interactiondesigners.com
> --
> to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest):
> http://discuss.interactiondesigners.com
> --
> Questions: lists at interactiondesigners.com
> --
> Announcement Online List (discussion list members
> get announcements already)
> http://interactiondesigners.com/announceList/
> --
> http://interactiondesigners.com/

=====

Marci Ikeler
marciikeler at yahoo.com

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