to evolve and change to create value for
both them and us.”
In this instance, the alliance between
the two roles (CTO James Markarian
and UX leader Liam Friedland) changed
the culture and the product portfolio
of their company, Informatica. At the
outset, there had been competitive
concerns around smaller, more agile
companies placing a lot of emphasis on
innovation in the user experience of
their products. In response, Informatica
needed to reinforce its competitive
thought leadership in the marketplace. It
had pioneered the original graphical user
interface for ETL (extract, transform,
load) products and thus had defined the
reference UX in this market area.
Give me a lever long enough and
a fulcrum on which to place it,
and I shall move the world.
Building on Archimedes’ famous quote, we can metaphorically view strategic alliances as levers that can be used to move an organization toward its desired state.
An alliance consists of two or more
leaders pursuing a shared strategic
goal within an organization. In this
article we tell two stories of alliances
involving UX leaders and their partners,
focusing on the impact they had on real
A STRATEGIC ALLIANCE
AND UX LEADERS
Here is a story of how a UX leader
formed a long-lasting alliance with
a chief technology officer (CTO) at a
data-management software company.
Before diving into this alliance
narrative, let us outline the roles of
the two leaders involved.
The UX leader managed a small
team of UX professionals. The CTO
was part of executive management.
Interestingly, the CTO role has
both inward- and outward-facing
aspects. Looking outward, the CTO
communicates to the customers
and trade press: “Here is what our
technology can do for your business
and the ways in which it can positively
impact your strategy.” They then listen
carefully to the feedback on current
and planned product initiatives.
Looking inward, they strategize with
engineering leaders, the CEO, and
other executives. They communicate to
these fellow leaders: “Here is where our
customers’ businesses are going, so this
is how our technology strategy needs
Gregorio Convertino, Google LLC, Nancy Frishberg, consultant
Impact Through Alliances:
→ Cross-functional alliances
are key to UX leader success.
→ Successful alliances are built
by understanding the business
factors that influence your
→ These factors vary by
organization, culture, and
UX maturity level.
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