The products and services that are now so much a part of our lives no longer exist in isolation. Today’s connected world is filled with product and service ecosystems – from smartphones and tablets to entertainment, healthcare and financial services – that interact and share data in an increasingly complex relationship.

Connectivity creates powerful new ways to build customer relationships, but the added complexity also makes it harder to perfect the user experience. Customers now expect the same high-quality design whether they are at a resort or operating a power plant. Consumer brands were the first to grapple with this shift; now business-to-business (B2B) brands are in the hot seat as well.

Look at any customer experience in sectors like telecommunications, entertainment, health and travel, and you’ll see a dense web of people, technologies and products. Like a dance recital, individual pieces must be carefully and loosely choreographed into a cohesive whole.

User Experience, or “UX” in designer parlance, is the sum of all interactions with a brand’s products and services. It is the sequence of interactions your customers need to take to complete basic tasks. That’s why the quality and nature of the UX is one of the most valuable differentiating assets on the market. A strong UX is a natural complement to a strong brand.

We come in contact with these UX ecosystems at many points. From our smartphones, tablets and apps to our cars and mobile banking transactions, we want those interactions to be fast, seamless and intuitive. For any brand today, the UX must stand out in a crowd – much like the impact of a striking design once did on the store shelf. These digital tools must be exciting and easy to navigate, whether you are buying shoes, booking a flight, or filing your tax returns.

That’s quite clear for consumer-oriented brands and increasingly so for B2B firms. Financial-services software must be as intuitive and elegant as the likes of Zappos and Netflix, especially for the digital-savvy generation entering the workforce.

Just a few years ago UX was the obsession of designers alone. Today more and more CEOs know they need to invest in a good UX. A well-designed UX not only sells but also makes the difference between a “just OK” product and one that is coveted by customers.

In a series of blog posts, leading voices from the Forum’s Technology Pioneers and Global Growth Companies share their views on innovation and growth. The series is part of the Technology Pioneers and Global Growth Companies Communities’ Workshops in Palo Alto, California, 27-29 June 2013.


Global Growth Companies Community

 

Author: Doreen Lorenzo is President of frog, USA

Image: A man uses his smart phone and computer in New York City REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

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