The people at Cisco are smart enough to know that a key factor in the company’s future success will be the user experience. Specifically, if consumers can’t easily get its devices to do what they want them to do, they’re not going to be worth very much.
The idea is that while those graduating today may not have the depth of work experience tech companies often look for, they’ve been plugged in for as long as they can remember. So, they bring an urgency to the need for simple interface design. As users themselves, they won’t tolerate experiences that don’t work. As The Wall Street Journal’s Rachael King points out, this generation, “never having experienced the indignities of DOS, for example, expects an intuitive user experience.”
In tech-centric organizations, “user experience is not the first thing we think about,” Cisco’s CIO, Rebecca Jacoby, told CIO Journal. She believes that has to change for Cisco as it moves toward offering more software and services. If the experience isn’t right, she said, customers will just go somewhere else.
Cisco’s being smart here, though it’s not necessarily breaking new ground: Google and Facebook, for example, have younger staffs who would be engaged in technology whether they worked there or not. Today’s generation tends to be entrepreneurial, a trait that an increasing number of companies look for in job candidates. It’s enough to make many companies — like Cisco — eschew the idea of hiring based on technical experience first, at least in some cases. For newcomers to tech, experience as an end user counts, as long as you have enthusiasm and smarts.