How to Make User Experience Count

Understanding your consumer is key to IT

I would argue that understanding these and other consumer footprints is the place to start. They are not after-thoughts or bolt-ons. And, if understanding these consumer profiles doesn’t belong in the “business of IT, “then where does it belong?

This seemingly radical approach to the business of IT is actually nothing new. If you ran a restaurant, you’d want to know the habits, preferences, and impacts on your clientele; whether it’s a great night out, or a fast but healthy chance to eat on the road.

If you sold vacuum cleaners, you’d be very interested in your various buyers, and how they used your device with other devices and how effective that made them in caring for the home.

But IT has been historically introverted — with the classic Dilbert cartoon still holding sway. The introversion has created a cultural focus on details and processes that often become obsolete, as new technologies, new options such as cloud or new business environments such as Web and Web 2.0 ecosystems emerge.

IT executives wedded to that past introversion are not likely to stay afloat too much longer, especially as lines of business owners (erroneously or not) feel that they can just as easily go shopping in that great shopping mall in the sky called “cloud.”

UEM is probably the single strongest beacon out of this mess. Instrumentation that can support performance and triage, user interactions and efficiencies, consumer preferences and priorities in using IT services, competitive industry insights. Even reverse-engineered business outcomes can be of incredible value in navigating the real pressures technology imposes and the opportunities it presents. UEM can both help to identify user “classes” and inform on pre-established and often erroneous myths about what the consumers of IT services like or don’t like.

EMA is about to embark on some research to update our work from three years ago in this arena. We will be looking at technologies, organizational owners, processes, obstacles, drivers and achieved benefits for UEM deployments in 2012. In my next column, I look forward to providing some best practice recommendations based on these very fresh and tangible results.

Dennis Drogseth is VP of Boulder, Colo.-based Enterprise Management Associates, an industry research firm focused on IT management. Dennis can be reached at [email protected].