Business Today

Idea engineers, anyone?

Technology product and services companies seek out creators of user experience.

Saumya Bhattacharya        Print Edition: July 11, 2010

A few months ago, a United States-based global financial services firm was facing a sticky situation with its structured products. Its products were positioned as something that could be consumed only by high net worth individuals while the firm was keen to expand into the wider retail market.

Problem: Its stiff image was scaring away small-time investors. So, it decided to rope in SapientNitro, touted as a customer experience specialist, to attract retail consumers. The firm's brief: Take abstract values and make them look like tangible products in a digital environment.

At SapientNitro, a group of user-experience professionals, copy writers and art directors headed by Jyothish Nair, the Associate Creative Director, set an online design strategy that helped the financial services firm get retail customers.

Think next generation of creative teams. When an American shoemaker decided to roll out an application that would enable its buyers to customise shoes on their iPhones, who did it turn to? Or when a beverages giant decided to roll out themebased cans from its vending machines, who did it approach?

The answer to both these questions is customer experience creators, or idea engineers, as Sapient, an IT services firm that SapientNitro is a division of, calls them. And with a lot of this work being done out of India, talent is in demand.

Explains Prashant Bhatnagar, Director (Hiring) at Sapient India: "Digital is at the core of business. Companies in any sector require digital channels to engage customers." These technology platforms vary: it could be a website, social media, smartphones and even a mobile application.

Companies like Adobe Systems India, which has an experience design group, see big demand for this profile. "It's a growing tribe and getting talent is very difficult," says Jaleel Abdul, Director (Human Resources).

The line between creative and technology profiles seems to have blurred. Adobe looks at non-technology companies to hire from and visits campuses like that of the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad. "We are looking for left-right brain combinations," says Abdul.

These teams include brand strategists, creative experts, technologists and programme managers. Explains Gita Dang, technology hiring expert and Founder-Director of Talent Advisory Services, a boutique executive search firm: "These roles could vary, but almost always involve converting technology into a product offering for the user."

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