At IBM Design people are at the center of every problem we solve. We start this process by empathizing with customers, users, or employees depending on the challenge. This unrelenting focus on people has yielded an organizational transformation that goes far beyond our design team. is a toolset for any organization to improve team alignment and vision setting, all with the iterative mantra of observe, reflect, make. Collaborating across functional areas and designing “people first” directly aligns to what Gartner, in its , coined the “Total Experience”.
However, in reviewing the framework under the lens of enterprise software solutions, there are some terms and concepts that is worth clarifying.
Distinction between customers and users
When a business sells directly to a consumer for example a hotel stay or a four topping pizza the customer and the user are typically the same (unless the purchase is a gift). This person experiences the end to end journey with the company, at each touchpoint evaluates if they will complete the initial purchase or make a purchase again in the future. A subset of the latter being customer advocates that promote your organization in their networks. Growing customer advocates is a primary customer experience goal.
In contrast, the purchaser of enterprise software solutions are often not the end-users. End-users might have influence over the purchasing decision, however the purchaser will have other considerations to weight during the procurement process. Throughout the end to end journey, different people with different needs are interacting at different times with different employees of the vendor.
At IBM, we have taken the approach to carefully design the nine Universal Experiences, our single shared language for delivering excellent experiences. Cross functional teams work together to review, provide feedback, and action improvements all with the goal of bringing one cohesive IBM to our customers, users, and prospects.
A difference in kind: multiexperience
In 2020, multiexperience (MX) made Gartner’s the top 10 of strategic technology trends list. It is an important trend to watch carefully given the growing number of digital touchpoints, device types, and interaction modalities. MX, and more specifically a is essential to ensure interoperability and interconnectivity between the digital touchpoints, the variety of devices types, and interaction modalities. However we need to start with people centered improvements.
A designer has a definitive person in mind when they are crafting improvements to Customer Experience, User Experience, or Employee Experience. Multiexperience relates more to the underlying technologies to work seamlessly and consistently for the customers, users, and employees. Therefore, a decision to add virtual reality (VR), a smart watch, or gesture interactions should only be made if it is justified by a deliberate CX, UX, or EX improvement. If not, we risk an even more fractured and confusing experience by adding another touchpoint that is not aligned to the TX strategy.
Design and “People“ Research are key to experience excellence
The practice of Design and “People” Research are critical to improving our customers, users, and employees experiences. Making purposeful human-centered decisions is a prerequisite for building a coherent Total Experience. IBM Design and Enterprise Design Thinking are leveraged across CX, UX, and EX in order to improve the TX for customers, employees, users, and business partners.
As Thomas J. Watson said “good design is good business”, which is why our design team contributes to more than product design. During our rigorous design review process, an area of major focus is the digital Discovery, Learn, Try, and Buy experience. Our teams have been working closely with our Marketing, Product Management, Sales, and Development colleagues to identify blockers and iterate.
When the IBM Documentation team was looking to revamp the customer documentation experience they started with an Enterprise Design Thinking workshop. They continued to leverage various EDT activities throughout the iterative process. The reimagined was built on a foundation of empathy and has led to a streamlined process to get the right content to users as soon as possible.
Moving towards a coherent Total Experience
Bringing a Total Experience that best serves customers, users, and employees will be the key to competitive advantage for organizations regardless of industry. As companies embark on this transformational journey, it is incumbent on teams to put into practice the of “A focus on user outcomes”, “Restless reinvention”, and “Diverse empowered teams”. Deep empathy for customers, users, and employees is on the road to designing your organization’s Total Experience.
Interested in learning more about human-centered design? Immerse yourself by applying to the User Experience Program where users work with researchers and designers to improve their experience with IBM products.
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