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I've been waiting for ten years or more. And after all that time of so many of us pushing, and praying, and writing, and teaching, it has finally happened. We should probably have a party. But I for one don't have time.

It's 4am in Dubai airport. I'm headed home to India for a week. Then a month in Bombay, Africa, and then Germany. At each stop there is a new phenomena - clients who have hired us for guidance in the Institutionalization of Usability. About time!

I started work on my book,Institutionalization of Usability, in 2001. I wrote it because I realized that our field had to mature. We were clearly proving our worth. By showing the ROI of usability, companies would want to have it built in as a routine part of their development process. And they would want a process-driven process.

I blame piecemeal usability as the source of the oscillating UX group. The group gets hired. Then they run around frantically because they are perhaps 2% of the staff strength needed to operate properly, and they are operating without the infrastructure and acceptance that makes us efficient. Pretty soon the question comes; "Are they worthwhile? What do THEY do?" And of course there has been no time to prepare contrast studies and documentation of the value of the work. The team is disbanded at the first budget reduction. Then there are slowly growing complaints and a team is put in place. Then repeat. It's awful.

So we need to be built in as a organized part of the SDLC.And we need to be "PROCESS DRIVEN". That means that we don't depend on a couple of brilliant craftspeople to do magic (and train a few apprentices). It means we accomplish UX work based on normal, systematic engineering processes. Jared Spool and I debated about 5 years ago and he asserted that UX was only ready to be done by craftsmanship. It was a bitter if very friendly debate (and I think he was really on my side). But now we have proven the possibility, and companies are jumping to make UX work routine.

Worldwide we see companies who understand that it makes sense to do UX work right the first time. We are seeing the end of fixing train wrecks. We are seeing a transition away from emergency and chaotic UX. We are seeing more clients then we can manage ask for help setting up those organizations. They understand that it requires executive sponsorship. they understand that there must be a roadmap to setup the organizations, communication channels, staff resources, culture, methods, standards... etc. They understand that panic is not efficient.

So, I'm willing to bounce around the world for awhile as I see a dream come true. When I started in 1976 it was truly unimaginable. The level of executive support we have today is fantastic. In fact the biggest problem is often that there is LOTS of support in a massive pileup of cross control and confusion.

But...the plane is boarding. I promise to write more later.

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Comment by Eric Schaffer on March 12, 2010 at 1:51am
We have lots of answers in India as well!
Comment by Anindita Paul on March 11, 2010 at 6:35pm
Hi Eric, I am a User Experience Specialist at the University of Missouri in the US. My interest in usability has been a result of my years of working in india and I am very much inspired to see "the wave." It is so good to see the role that HFI has played in India specially when I came hunting to the US for searching answers to the questions I had. It feels good to see the change is happening now. True, we still have work to do..
Comment by Abhijit Thosar on February 6, 2010 at 9:43am
Interesting post Eric…

I would like to quote a recent industry research which analyzed spent on Customer Experience Management in economic downturn. Here are some interesting findings:

- Smart companies increased investment in customers strategies during tough economic times to build competitive advantage
- Commitment to customer experience remained high 79%: 47% of companies increased investment in customer experience by 10% or more
- Close to 50% of executives claim they do not deserve customer loyalty
- 86% of companies do not know the cost of new customer
- 89% of companies do not know the cost of a complaint
- Only 40% claimed employees have tools to service customers

Companies that invest 10% or more of revenues in customer experience:
- Have significantly lower customer attrition rate
- Enjoy referral rates that are twice as high
- Are twice as likely to have customer satisfaction score of 81% or more

(Ref: Strativity Group)

In my mind, there are two sides to it

A. Delivery - where UX should be integral part of how “IT” gets done
B. Strategy - where UX needs to be seen as a strategic investment by CXOs

I think the decade of 2010 will see a major thrust to deliver “BUSINESS” solutions than just building “IT SYSTEMS”. And we should be selective about our target audience for UX.

We are getting there, but there is still a lot that needs to be done and shown. So don’t unpack your bags yet :)


Comment by Eric Schaffer on February 5, 2010 at 2:42pm
Growth of UX is SO satisfying after all these years. BUT, I don't think we should rest until our field is MATURE. That transition is the step that is ahead of us. Piecemeal usability is useful. But it can't beat industrial strength processes!
Comment by Nikos Sourmelakis on February 5, 2010 at 12:34pm
Eric, I agree with you. I work in a European’s Union institution and I was trying to promote UX internally for the last 5-6 years.
From the skepticism at the beginning we passed to positiveness about UX and now to enthusiasm about it.
The value of UX is undoubted now and has the executive’s sponsorship that was required. Awareness has spread throughout the EU’s institutions even at senior managers.
Each office and institution is proud to present the results achieved by UX methodologies and techniques.
Civil servants of the EU offices send to conferences, seminars or have internal training by UX experts throughout Europe.
Even the internal printed newsletter of the European Union is promoting UX very often now and many external companies are involved in many projects that request UX specialists.
But still these UX teams are somehow isolated and not completely integrated with the management, development and quality processes already in use.
There are discussions and ideas on how we can possible integrate UX but with no results yet. Now is more obvious than never the need of a User Experience Process (UXP).
As you said, the wave is finally here and I am confident that soon will become a tsunami.
Comment by Yolanda on February 5, 2010 at 11:47am
There is a fair amount of lacking in awareness of senior managers regarding of the importance of UX - we need to get motivation to bubble to the top. Most think it just happens as part of the development process, but what they miss is that their is this whole "separate" discipline called UX. It would help to get them on board by delivering a presentation on the disciplines of UX so that they can understand why they need to invest in our skills, what we can do for the bottom line: drive loyalty, drive repeat business, and attract new business.
Comment by Senthil Kumar S Kugalur on February 5, 2010 at 8:41am
Eric, I can't agree to this more. Yes, we need to be part of SDLC, UX should be business as usual and not a specialized set of team working in isolation. I'm sure we are not far from the days where UX team will have the same place as how a testing team or a solution architecture team works together in an typical mid/large scale software projects.
Comment by Sharad on February 3, 2010 at 8:39am
... Hey eric this post really gave me The Wave is Finally Here and motivating feeling, as we are working with mid-scale companies in India and passing through the hardest translation for building confidence about importance of usability to our clients as well as authorities...



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