Rise of the head of UX: management fad or foundation?

For the many businesses that continue to have a “just get it done” attitude to their technology investments, the results are clear: 70% of enterprise products deployed are deemed unsuccessful because of poor user adoption.

Organisations must change how they approach the user experience or they will continue to witness poor financial returns and discontented staff. The new generation of mobile-enabled millennials has little patience for archaic user experiences.

C-level response

The divide between end-users and business stakeholders is sometimes vast and budget responsibility is moving away from IT and towards specific lines of business.

The operations director might commission an inventory system for warehouse management or marketing could wish to invest in CRM.

The C-suite has begun to acknowledge the gap between technology specification and usability by reconsidering how the user experience is managed, maintained and measured.

>See also: User experience: the mobile multiplier effect

As a consequence, a new corporate role is appearing in organisations: the head of user experience (UX).

Blending together traditional IT and facilities management to ensure technology projects deliver long-term business value, heads of UX are rising in popularity because businesses are abandoning hierarchical corporate structures.

Individuals now have more varied careers working across different departments, which means they have a broader understanding of general management and technology.

The business outcomes from this change are well documented – increased employee productivity, faster decision-making, greater compliance and accountability, and ultimately improved communication and collaboration between colleagues, customers and partners.

The financial results are equally compelling. For example, visualise the impact improved solution design or faster network access can have on employee workflows.

A task that once took ten minutes might now take five, equaling a rise in productivity of 100%. Extrapolate these time savings across one year for a global workforce of 20,000 and the numbers quickly add up.

This applies to every business. Relatively minor improvements to the user experience can deliver impressive business results, but only if someone is dedicated to the cause.

When hundreds of thousands of pounds in savings are possible, it is unsurprising that large corporations have begun dedicating time and budgets towards improving how technology is designed and consumed.

Silo breaker

Furthermore, the head of UX can break down silos across different business departments. Integrating end-user reporting, measurement and analysis into systems helps create a culture of accountability.

This corporate intelligence can be leveraged to further improve collaboration and operational efficiency.

Forward-thinking CIOs are embracing the role, as one of the position’s main objectives is to align IT with end-user objectives and corporate strategy.

The head of UX can become an advocate at board level by supporting IT as an enabler for a more productive workforce. 

>See also: The great UX differentiator – how retailers can create the digital user experience customers demand

Organisations that have implemented the head of UX position are already realising the business benefits.

With a substantial percentage of the workforce expected to retire in the next five years, organisations need to provide a workplace equipped for the new wave of workers. Central to this are business applications that operate flawlessly.

After all, when a consumer application is poorly designed, the user can and will delete it. When an enterprise app is ineffective, its users have no choice and the business cannot recover its wasted investment.


Sourced from Graham Fry, avsnet

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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