IBM CIO: Prioritize user experience, not shiny new features, when developing internal IT systems

Organizations can incorporate as many high-tech bells and whistles as they want into their internal IT services, but if the software does not offer an efficient user experience, no amount of flashy features will retain employees, according to Fletcher Previn, chief information officer of IBM.

"Today's best user experience is tomorrow's minimum expectation," Mr. Previn told The Wall Street Journal in a recent interview. To achieve the best possible user experience, he directs his global team of 12,000 employees developing internal IT to focus on user-oriented design thinking, rather than implementing high-tech but ultimately extraneous features.

IBM's internal IT services are developed with account user research, workflow and other metrics in mind. For example, to reduce the time and cost spent assigning employees devices loaded with encryption software and individual email and other accounts, Mr. Previn's team automated much of the process and moved it to the cloud.

In another case, rather than bothering employees with oft-ignored emails about ordering a replacement laptop every four years, the IT team created a new system powered by IBM Watson artificial intelligence that predicts when devices will need hardware upgrades. The tool therefore solved the issue of hardware failures that arose when an employee's computer did not need replacing after just four years, but could not quite make it to the eight-year mark.

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