The “do we or don’t we” courtship of two essential disciplines of technology

Are the concepts of engineering, design and customer experience separate strands that intertwine to weave the fabric of technology? Or are they concepts that are so interdependent that none can stand alone by themselves? Interesting question and even more layered when posed to the creative minds at organizations spanning the glitterati of Silicon Valley that include Citrix, LinkedIn, Google, MINE, Salesforce and GlobalLogic.

Recently, we had the opportunity to listen, ideate and gain insight with these minds at the Churchill Club’s open forum event entitled, “Engineering Great Products & Customer Experience: Trends & Strategies 2014.” The conversation took us on a meandering ride.

A look at the past, which noted that 20 years ago any event with the mention of ‘engineering’ would only draw a geeky (stress the double E—electrical engineering, that is) crowd. Introspection into what challenges we face today—the stark differences between the engineering and design disciplines. Add to that scintillating hints at what the future holds—cross-disciplines and a melding of art, science and communication all with the customer experience in mind, nestled in with your latest wearable technology and realize that we only have had a small peek at the great ideas waiting to hatch.

The overarching themes had a life-defining gravitas to them:

  • View things through the lens of features vs. experiences (you and your audience probably want experiences);
  • Set up experiments to learn something quickly and if it’s not working—Stop! Now.
  • Critically examine whether your confidence in knowing your audience/users is justified—do you know your customers as well as you think you do?

Whether engineering and design will ever be complementary disciplines is a question up for debate. But the questions and precepts lay clear evidence that the concepts have been co-habitating for quite some time. Whether it’s the makings of a happy marriage will be a decision for consumers to decide, but I’m eagerly awaiting the marriage with feelings of giddy anticipation.