Why you need to change your UX research focus from outputs to outcomes
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Why you need to build a future-ready strategic insight and foresight team
Dr. Ari Zelmanow believes UX researchers need to evolve from data deliverers to strategic consultants.
“I think the problem is that researchers have historically delivered data,” Ari said in a recent episode of the Insights Unlocked podcast. “And I believe that researchers shouldn't just deliver data. They shouldn't just deliver insights. They should deliver counsel. They should be the consiglieri to the business, like Tom Hagen in The Godfather. Or in Game of Thrones, the right hand, the person that gives advice."
Instead, he said, researchers have a hard time explaining what they are or what they do. “I would bet if you asked 100 different stakeholders what research was or what research did you get 100 different answers,” he said. “How can we expect businesses to understand and articulate our value if we can't do it ourselves?
UserTesting’s CMO Michelle Huff interviewed Ari, Twilio’s Head of Experience Research for the Communications Business Unit, about why organizations should be turning their UX research function into future-ready strategic insight and foresight teams (SIFT).
"Ari’s perspective challenges the status quo and encourages us to rethink how we approach UX research," Michelle said. "By transforming research teams into strategic insight and foresight teams, businesses can make informed decisions that align with both customer needs and business goals."
Key themes and ideas presented in the episode include:
- The challenges UX researchers often face, such as achieving buy-in from stakeholders and demonstrating the value of qualitative research
- Exploring the role of AI and machine learning in enhancing UX research capabilities
- Transforming research teams into strategic insight and foresight teams
Ari envisions SIFT teams as independent entities, reporting directly to the C-suite and ensuring unbiased, data-driven decision-making. By transforming research teams into strategic insight powerhouses businesses can unlock a new level of decision-making informed by both customer needs and business objectives.
"Researchers should be the McKinsey consultant, not Bob the bagel guy," Ari said. "The problem is that researchers have historically relegated themselves to being service providers. We need to shift to a model where researchers serve as central sources of truth, accountable to all but beholden to no one."