Customer Boards as Vehicles of Change in Enterprise Software User Experience

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Traditional user-centered design processes do not leverage long-term customer-vendor relationships as a means of improving product usability. While designing a next-generation applications software suite, Oracle reached out to its most-involved customers for creative solutions to common user-experience issues. The mission of the Oracle Usability Advisory Board was to take enterprise software to a whole new level in usability. The board consisted of executives and senior managers primarily in information technology positions in different types of organizations. The board identified three major areas where it wanted to improve usability: consistency and design, integration and performance, and Web 2.0. Through various working groups, the board has developed tools for obtaining customer feedback on product usability, online seminars on technical topics, and outreach mechanisms to other customers. The board has effectively become Oracle’s partner in ensuring product understanding and use, thus setting the stage for improved usability in the next-generation product.