Krigsman: Infor and "No Fugly Software" – Design as a competitive weapon

InsightaaS: Michael Krigsman — well-known IT expert and author of the widely-read Beyond IT Failure blog on ZDNet — has published an intriguing piece that examines the importance of interface design to enterprise software success. The focus of his analysis is Infor, the $3 billion software firm that invests in substantiating the motto “No Fugly Software.” Krigsman states that “the extent to which Infor is retooling both products and corporate culture around design appears unrivaled among companies of its size…design transformation is a strategic priority for its senior executives,” and wonders aloud how this focus will translate into “concrete improvements in user adoption or other financial measures.”

Located in a prominent position on the wall of Infor’s New York headquarters, is a large graphic that says, “No Fugly Software.” It is a summary statement of the company’s ongoing effort to define a unique cultural identity that links design to improved outcomes and experiences for customers.

In public presentations and private conversations with executives such as CEO, Charles Phillips; President, Duncan Angove; and Chief Creative Officer, Marc Scibelli, the clear picture emerges of a company rethinking design as the center of basic activities such as product planning and development.

In this case, however, the term “design” is somewhat misleading because it implies simplistic focus on the layout of graphical elements such as font, color, and other visual components of a page.

For Infor, design has a much broader meaning that includes engaging intensively with customers to understand their business goals, at a strategic level, but also diving down to specific tasks that employees, workers, and other stakeholders perform…

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