11 October 2014

Reflections on Capital One’s acquisition of Adaptive Path

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This week Toronto-based UX strategist Rami Tabbah and I discussed Capital One’s acquisition of Adaptive Path. We were both a bit surprised by the lack of real reflection on the pros and cons of this development (with a few exceptions), so Rami, who has worked a lot with banks, wrote one himself.

His post is excellent and I encourage you all to read it in full, as he is not afraid to point out the potential pitfalls for Adaptive Path:

I am sure that the good intentions exist at Capital One. However, my experience with big enterprises tells me that Adaptive Path designers are up for a rough ride. Working from within will limit Adaptive Path designers’ influence on the bank. Being thought leaders and running conferences gave them not only visibility but influence that made it easier for clients to follow their recommendations. Inside the organization, they report to a senior person and everyone has to respect the hierarchy, not exceed limits and play by the rules. In this environment strategy and priorities change. Even AP’s management style will change and adapt and there is no guarantee the ideal conditions will last, even with a VP of design from Google. Adaptive Path designers risk loosing their mojo and may slowly become followers instead of leaders.”

and also the huge challenges for Capital One:

“For this “integration” to succeed, Capital One needs to absorb Adaptive Path’s philosophy. They need to put users first even as they design for new technology. Here I am referring to Garrett’s definition of users. It takes an organizational design strategy that also focuses on call centers, internal applications and every touch point with internal and external users. This cultural shift needs to change development frameworks. Capital One will also need to hire a savvy VP of Information Technology possibly from Google as well to build an entrepreneurial spirit that can allow great design ideas to be transformed into new products. They will need advanced project management skills able to develop and launch projects fast without compromising quality. They will need strong product managers to manage lines of products from a technical perspective and not just from a banking perspective as we see in many banks. They will need to have highly skilled architects to select appropriate infrastructures that adapt to future changes and have skilled developers and analysts able to understand and integrate new technologies. Ultimately, to make this transformation a success, Capital One needs to become a software company and excel at the game Google and Apple are playing.”

Rami Tabbah is a user experience strategist and with a focus on efficiency at Ergonaute Consulting in Toronto – Canada. He uses quantitative and qualitative research techniques and conceptual design to help companies better understand their users and how to shape their websites, applications, products and services to better match users’ expectations. He also focuses on innovation and inclusive design.

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