UX As A Key Factor in Digital Transformation

This is a summary of our May Meetup written by the speaker Amir Shiloh. His journey was very inspiring . Amir has shared with us Key insights he has learned along the way. He’s currently living in Cork, Ireland and has expanded his UX business : uxes.ie

Digital Transformation has been, for a few years now, one of the most frequently heard buzz words in the business world. In a nutshell, this term describes the process companies go through in order to stay relevant in a world that’s becoming more and more digital, by integrating elements of digital technology (such as: cloud computing, IoT, AI and omni-channel interfaces) into all areas of a business, fundamentally changing how they operate and deliver value to customers.

As a great source of disruption in many sectors, digital transformation is now a matter of survival for enterprises. If they succeed in it, they can elevate their business by offering a seamless customer experience; but If they fail – they are more than likely to lose their customers and stay out of business.

One of the main things enterprises are learning while going through digital transformation, is the importance of user experience as a key element in this process. An ideal process of digital transformation would not just apply UX practices as a means to design a digital product’s interface, but rather involve a UX specialist much more early on in the process, as a compass to guide strategic product decisions and help clear the great ambiguity surrounding digital transformation, especially if it involves a business model change or expansion to new business domains.

This is done by applying various methods of User Centered Design (UCD) – the concept of studying the product’s users and then basing the planned features on their needs, rather than the older methodology of planning the features based on the capabilities, and then finding ways to adapt them to the users.

UX offers three distinct ways in which it can guide this process:

  1. User Research – the power of asking “why”. This is the foundation of all UX practices. By conducting interviews with users, focusing on their core motivations and pains, one can reach a refined understanding of what are the most important aspects of a product, and help in achieving a clear prioritisation.
  2. Ideation and Design Thinking – these methods, such as Design Sprints, used to process and analyze all factors going into a product development, are often applied through ideation workshops involving various stakeholders who can all contribute to the design process. They enable the integration of insights from various points of view, making sure that no important factor is neglected. 
  3. Agile Methodologies – the common UX process of maintaining a lean cycle – researching and ideating for a narrow business solution, prototyping it, testing and then repeating – rather than working on an entire system as a whole, brings in important feedback early on in the process, and helps in identifying mistakes quickly and steering the process in the right direction.

While leaning on these noble ideals, in reality, this endeavor is usually far from being smooth. Even if UX is integrated from the beginning of a digital transformation, it is never the sole or even the main consideration. The user’s needs are just one factor in a prism consisting also of technological constraints (hardware, back-end and front-end) and above all – the business needs: budget and ROI, time-to-market, compliance and regulation and organizational politics.

All of these can affect the design process in many ways, making the work of the UX specialist not just a research and design process, but also a constant effort to maintain a balance between the different and often conflicting interests (such as simplicity vs. flexibility, or innovation vs. legacy), resolving conflicts and acting as an “owner” of the product’s interface. Overcoming these obstacles while  keeping all stakeholders satisfied can be extremely difficult, but also extremely rewarding for everyone involved, and can contribute a great deal to the success of the process.

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