The Role of User Experience in a Business-to-Business Context

Hanna-Riikka Sundberg

    Research output: Book/ReportDoctoral thesisMonograph

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    As industrial companies strive to discover new ways to provide value for their customers, their focus has shifted from offering products and services to creating superior experiences for customers and users. This study focuses on the role of user experience (UX) in a business-to-business (B2B) context. The main objective is to increase the understanding of how UX is perceived and utilized in the suppliers’ and customers’ activities within a B2B context. From the suppliers’ view, the focus is on the role of UX in research and development (R&D) and also in sales and marketing (S&M). In the customer companies, the aim is to create knowledge about whether UX has an impact on technology investment decisions. In addition, a comparison is made between the users and designers of specific products considering the importance of UX-related attributes. A case study research strategy was adopted in order to better understand complex phenomena and the dynamics present within single settings. An embedded case study design included three cases, all of which consisted of one supplier company and two customer companies. As the study follows the research paradigm of pragmatism, both qualitative and quantitative methods are employed to address the research questions. The results suggest that although UX was seen as an important aspect, some challenges occurred in utilizing UX-related knowledge. Although supplier companies focused on designing better experiences for the users, methods for utilizing UX in new product development (NPD) were not internalized yet in all cases and other stakeholders working outside of R&D were not actively involved in the design process. Considering UX in sales activities, it was found challenging to transfer the benefits of UX into sales argumentation or to find suitable methods for disseminating UX-related knowledge effectively for potential customers. From the customers’ point of view, UX can have an indirect impact on supplier selection as previous experiences of the supplier and their products affect decision making. The products’ market superiority and technical details, as well as the supplier company’s reliability, were considered the most important aspects in choosing a supplier. The results also suggest that R&D mostly agrees on which UX-related attributes are important for users. The results indicate that the pragmatic aspects (e.g. reliability, ease-of-use) of technological products are more important than the hedonic aspects (e.g. attractiveness, visual aesthetics). The study’s findings contribute to both prior research and managerial practices. The research provides new knowledge to the research streams of UX as well as customer value in the B2B context. First, a framework is presented in order to combine these theories and illustrate the benefits of UX for different stakeholders. The findings of the empirical part of the study contribute especially in the research on user-centered de-sign and value-based UX selling, as well as the value of UX in technology investment decisions. Based on previous studies on UX measurement, this research also offers a systematically constructed tool for measuring the importance of UX in different contexts. The study also provides practical implications for managers striving to incorporate UX into everyday practices in their company.
    Translated title of the contributionThe Role of User Experience in a Business-to-Business Context
    Original languageEnglish
    PublisherTampere University of Technology
    Number of pages190
    ISBN (Electronic)978-952-15-3450-8
    ISBN (Print)978-952-15-3445-4
    Publication statusPublished - 30 Jan 2015
    Publication typeG4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)

    Publication series

    NameTampere University of Technology. Publication
    PublisherTampere University of Technology
    ISSN (Print)1459-2045

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