Paul Strike, VP, Head of Design, Prudential Financial, is a recognized design and people leader who has a seasoned depth and breadth of industry experience across Experience Strategy, Human-Centered Design, Digital Technology, and Corporate Anthropology. In an exclusive interview with CIO Applications for a special edition of Web Design and Development, Paul explains that, " Designing for just websites will not be enough. Designers need to think about experiences across ecosystems of products, channels and domains.
What are some of the challenges prevailing in the Web Design and Development space?
In recent times, practitioners who work in the design and development space are experiencing many challenges. In terms of skills and experience, the most significant challenge we have noticed is the desire for a stronger marriage between a designer’s business and design acumen in order to further balance operational efficiency with customer-centricity. Businesses are also facing a considerable challenge to continuously adapt to emerging technologies as well as the growing demands and expectations of customers.
Could you talk about the approach to identifying the right partnership providers?
Deciding the right partnerships is incredibly important as it relies on crucial aspects of cultural and process alignment from both parties. Primarily, partners need to introduce the proper perspective in terms of industry trends, patterns, movements, and best practices by acknowledging the challenges of the organization. Challenges not just being faced to today but are also likely to be faced in the future. Partnerships tend to fail where early alignment and expectation management are not set in concrete from the very beginning. In addition, if the co-ordination & communication falls short between the organization and the partner, problems tend to surface very quickly. So, as every organization has its own challenges to work through, newly formed partnerships must bring a level of flexibility and empathy for a good business relationship to grow and evolve. Each partner needs to understand what will deliver maximum value for the organization as well as the customer. Sounds like a logical statement, but sometimes briefs and SoW’s miss this and the engagement gets caught up in costs, features and dates instead of value, relevance, context, & learnings.
I have made it an absolute priority to bring the most mature design and business acumen to the table so I can support the business on their future growth strategy
Could you elaborate on some exciting and impactful project/initiatives that you’re currently overseeing?
Currently, we are looking into a front-end development framework called Progressive Web Application or PWA, which has been growing in popularity for some time. This framework has gained its popularity over the last two years from Google as it promotes a faster, more optimized, native-like user experience within the mobile browser. The adoption of this framework is going to be very exciting for designers and developers as it will help them harness the full power of the web as well as provide better experiences for our customers beyond the common scaled responsive solution.
What are the strategic points that you adhere to while steering the company forward?
It’s fundamental to always support, guide and lead your core business partners on their own journey as well as the journey of the customer. The trust and autonomy must be continuous and should never be taken for granted. I have made it an absolute priority to bring the most mature design and business acumen to the table so I can support the business on their future growth strategy. In addition to that, I also make sure my leadership team has a firm handle on the soft skills that make up our competency skill sets revolving around participation, inclusion, and diversity. The other important thing is to build great business relationships with those who support us through these journeys of change and transformation, because business goes through many peaks and troughs in terms of growth and maturity, so when things get tough, it’s important they trust in our ability to nurture and support as well as deliver.
Where do you see Web Design and Development evolving in the next few years?
There will be a growing demand for voice-based user interfaces as well as natural language-based user interfaces beyond the traditional form field data capture patterns we’ve seen for years. The web will become far more accessible and performance rich that will force designers and developers to be more in-tune with customer expectations and technology use. Desktop is not going away as many predicted, only reinforced as an evolving platform that still must be designed for as consumers continue to jump between device for research, all forms of purchasing and advice. Designing for just websites will not be enough. Designers need to think about experiences across ecosystems of products, channels and domains. Mapping holistic, connected customer journeys to integrated product strategies will determine ultimate, long term success.
What would be the single piece of advice that you could impart to a fellow or aspiring professionals in the field, wanting to embark on a similar venture or professional journey along the lines of your service and area of expertise?
Be incredibly open, listen and observe not only to customer problems but the problems your business partners are facing every day. Showing this type of empathy will grow the trust and value of your own brand throughout the organization.