Launch Like Steve Jobs

5 december 2017

By Marco Gianotten

Apple’s product launches have become epic in many ways: from sales records to emotional desirability. These introductions are all about touch, not tech. In Enterprise IT it’s quite the opposite: roll-outs are managed with a technical perspective in mind and not from a desired emotional state. The outcome? Users are overmastered, left in the dark and stressed-out. That negative vibe impacts their confidence and trust in their IT organization. 

Enterprise IT Goes Experience-Style

Designing and executing user-impacting changes as ‘grand openings’ will boost user experience. Satisfaction is doing what you’re supposed to do, like a helpdesk solving incidents in time and the promptness of service delivery. Experience goes beyond satisfaction: doing what really matters. Experience is about the small moments of truth, but also about the big moments like the launch of a new or changed IT service. 

 There are launch rules virtually any IT organization and service provider can employ to launch major user-impacting changes successfully: 

 I) Focus on users, not features. IT professionals are excited by technical specs, but users don’t really care.You should think differently: how will it affect users and fit into their (work) lives? What’s in it for them? Easiness, simplicity, elegance, productivity, and fun excites users. Show empathy and sell change with the user’s perspective in mind. Otherwise you overshoot the emotional landing zone. 

 II) On-board opinion leaders at an early stage. Months or weeks before the launch you can ‘test’ new IT services by talking to and involving key-users and other ‘ambassadors of change’. This is not like traditional user-acceptance testing, but getting everyone talking about the new IT service before the launch. Opinion leaders set the stage for a positive vibe and a pull from the user-community. 

 III) Turn launches into events. Plan and budget for a launch. It’s not just a party, but the litmus test in user-acceptance in the age of IT commercialization. Acceptance 2.0 isn’t just about functionality and performance, but also look-and-feel, simplicity and desirability. It’s the gut-feel of users that makes or breaks the behavioral experience further down the road. A primary goal of a launch is to appeal to the intuitive experience. 

 IV) Get other stakeholders involved. Enterprise IT is not consumer IT: the enterprise-stuff is complicated. There are rules, procedures and legacy systems to deal with. Sure, but that is no excuse to stuff change down the user’s throat. Users (aka employees) have to catch up constantly; learning curves are challenging. A digital-savvy and engaged workforce is key for the success of every organization. Whose responsibility is that? HR leaders and business executives must have a stake in digital competencies. Focus on the desired outcome: a happy and productive workforce. 

Forget inside-out project management resulting in ‘operation successful, patient died’; the technical roll-out went ‘perfect’, but users hate it and can’t manage the steep learning curve to adopt. When IT organizations want to be successful from a user experience perspective, they must rethink and redesign the success of big-ticket, user-impacting projects. In workplace services, cloud transformation and application management, there are plenty of projects that should be delivered launch-style. What’s holding you back?