Several years ago, I was one of the early adopters of Rich Internet Applications as an opportunity, and would spend a tremendous amount of time in front of prospective customers, evangelizing the need for greater richness, expressiveness and simplicity in the experiences we deliver. Macromedia coined a tremendous phrase that, “Experience Matters”, but the dialogue I would find myself in with enterprise customers was very much what Geoffrey Moore would call “Provocation Based Selling”. Provocation-based selling helps customers see their competitive challenges in a new light that makes addressing specific painful problems unmistakably urgent – in the case of Rich Internet Applications, the unmistakably urgent problem was that we were failing to deliver on the promise of the Internet, and that application experiences took a step back from client-server to desktop to web. I’d say over the last 3 or 4 years, evidence that the provocation towards early adopters is no longer necessary, and that there is now mass market acceptance of the need for richer user-experiences, could be qualitatively measured by the fact that I no longer have to provoke, I no longer have to say why.
Fast forward a little, and the dialogue in the enterprise boardroom was less about Why? and increasingly about Why Adobe? And so in this phase of our enterprise maturity around more effective digital experiences, the conversation would move more towards “Flex versus Laszlo”, “Flex versus AJAX”, “Flash versus Silverlight”. As executives understood the present problem posed by the provocation, they sought to understood the technology to anaesthetise their pain.
But if I’m honest, I rarely engage in that dialogue anymore. Whether I visit a customer, or whether a customer visits me in our Customer Briefing Center, it is much less common for me to be engaged in discussion of technology versus technology. However, there is a new provocation today, and it’s the most enjoyable one yet and it’s an incredible differentiator for success. Technology is necessary but not sufficient…irrespective of the vendor selection to deliver a richer experience, the delivery of a compelling experience, one that resolves the dynamic tension between the ROI the business seeks, and the tasks and goals their users wish to achieve, is not a technology problem.
It is a Design problem.
I am incredibly excited at the opportunity to play a role in this provocation, and to observe in front of Adobe’s customers how the provocation is also moving the importance of experience design in the enterprise from an opportunity for the early adopters, to a necessity for the emerging mass market. Though customers like Morgan Stanley may have had the courage, the insight and the balance sheet drivers through which they understood the opportunity behind the provocation, they have created a bar that their competitors and peers now either choose to bang their head on, or also take a new approach to clear.
The approach is Design-thinking, and the approach demands that software engineers, business analysts and organizational behavior embrace and absorb designers, and Design thinking.
I’m very much looking forward to a 2-day event in New York next week, where Adobe is bringing together it’s enterprise customers and developers with it’s community of design talent and design customers. As Design and Technology collides in the Enterprise, we are incredibly fortunate and excited to have both of those communities available to us. Consider joining us, by signing up at http://www.engagewithadobe.com/
I would also encourage you to read Rob Tarkoff’s post here. Rob is the Senior Vice President of our Digital Enterprise Solutions business unit, and is really driving this collision of Design Thinking and Technology Innovation in our enterprise offering.
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again. Experience Matters. Business has never looked Better.