Humanizing technology

Humanizing technology

Technology, connectivity, and data processing capabilities are developing and breaking new ground at a dizzying rate. Even so, raw performance is only half the story. The greatest breakthroughs are of little value if humans cannot use them to their potential. At ABB, user experience (UX) and customer experience (CX) are an integral part of the design cycle.

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Marjukka Mäkelä UX design ABB Digital Helsinki, Finland, marjukka.makela@fi.abb.com

Computers are intended to be an extension of the human brain. The transfer of thoughts, information and commands must be as seamless and effortless as possible. In other words, an interface must be intuitive and natural to use. Users should be able to access and master new tools and functions with as little learning curve as possible.

In the past few years ABB has increased the number of dedicated UX experts across all parts of the company to support and revolutionize digital product design processes. The ambitions and targets are high: By 2025 all ABB digital products will have undergone a redesign with emphasis on alignment and coherence.

Good UX design is not just a method or discipline but also a mindset. Emphasis is placed on “outside-in” thinking – meaning the designer perceives the requirements from the customer’s perspective. This approach is often labeled “design thinking” [1] and involves a holistic, highly-creative and iterative methodology →01.

01 Human-centered design is an ISO standardized process. The essence of it to work in a highly collaborative, holistic and iterative manner, have customer focus in all activities, and to apply multidisciplinary skills.
01 Human-centered design is an ISO standardized process. The essence of it to work in a highly collaborative, holistic and iterative manner, have customer focus in all activities, and to apply multidisciplinary skills.

ABB combines expertise in human-centered design with its long-standing knowledge of the industries it serves. In doing so, ABB advances the capabilities of automation and tackles sustainability challenges – areas that are key for customer effectiveness and profitability in the digitally transformed landscape.

The quality of UX is commonly viewed as a competitíve advantage, and will continue to develop as a cross-functional discipline. In 2020, Google announced that UX is about to become an important ranking factor¹ for all websites, while a recent Linkedin report [2] indicates that UX design is one of the top five in-demand skills.

The focus of product and service creation will be on meaningful features and user-friendly interfaces. The goal is to humanize the technologies ABB delivers to customers and users.

Articles in upcoming issues of ABB Review will present and expand on different aspects of the company’s UX approach and philosophy. 

References
[1] Brown, T. (2011). “Change by Design”. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 28(3), 381 – 383.
[2] Evaluating page experience for a better web. http://developers.google.com/search/blog/2020/05/evaluating-page-experience [Accessed March 9, 2021].

Further reading
Johansson­ Sköldberg, U., & Woodilla, J. (2013). “Design Thinking: Past, Present and Possible Futures”. Creativity and Innovation Management, 22(2), 121 – 146.https://doi.org/10.1111/caim.l2023
Kolko, J. (2015). “Design Thinking Comes of Age”. Harvard Business Review (September).

Footnote
1) Ranking factor describes the criteria applied by a search engine when evaluating web pages in order to compile the rankings of the search results.

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