Category: Engagement Across Disciplines
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Accreditation Status: Accredited
Drexel LeBow Solutions Center and SEI Investments
In conjunction with LeBow’s Behavioral Science Laboratory and Neuro-Business Solutions Center, Drexel applied a use-inspired cross-disciplinary approach to conduct a neuro-ergonomics and usability analysis of a new website for SEI Investments.
Call to Action
As businesses look for ways to increase the pace of innovation and universities look to better align academic programs with market needs, corporate-academic partnerships will become much more prevalent. With this guiding principle, Drexel LeBow has envisioned an interdisciplinary Business Solutions Center to serve such partnerships with the industry and identify real problems for students, faculty, and industry to work together and solve through interdisciplinary collaborations.
Capitalizing on faculty research expertise and student talent, LeBow provides solutions that help companies become more efficient. Businesses benefit from working with faculty and students on such research projects that apply latest theoretical frameworks to tackle some of the biggest challenges facing today’s business. This approach helps not only advance knowledge but also provide students with optimal preparation for their future careers, maximizing the return on their educational investment.
Drexel’s use-inspired research approach followed by the Solutions Center provides a significant two-way learning through industry-academic collaboration that is possible when a university operates at the intersection of research, teaching, and industry. As such, they are a natural step toward the advancement of the college’s and university’s mission.
SEI Investments is a global leader that provides investment accounting services and processes over 70 trillion USD of investment transactions annually. In 2006, SEI created an end-client website as a component of its “Wealth Platform” to enable its clients to have access to their investment information. However, after the financial crisis (2008), a technological revolution in the industry (“fintech”), and a heightened competition in this industry, prompted SEI to design a new website from the ground up.
SEI endeavored to provide a website that was engaging and delightful while also being interactive and immersive. SEI also wanted this new client experience to build competitive advantage while ensuring the best end-user experience. Beginning in fall 2015, SEI partnered with LeBow to conduct a path-breaking neuro-ergonomics usability for this new end-client website that was to launch in late fall 2016. The study was conducted in LeBow’s Behavioral Science laboratory and involved neuroimaging, eye tracking, and neuro-behavior indices to assess effectiveness of the website prototype.
Unlike traditional usability studies conducted by most research vendors, Drexel’s approach was more scientific and rigorous. The Drexel process involved triangulation using behavioral, self-reported responses (and narratives), and neuro-physiological research methodologies (neuro-ergonomics approach). Six graduate students under the direction of two faculty (Marketing and Biomedical Engineering) worked on answering the questions posed by the firm.
This project not only trained Drexel students but also SEI employees and managers about neuro-ergonomics, a novel approach to examining the usability of a website. In addition to students learning how to design and execute such a study, Drexel faculty were able to empirically assess the effectiveness of neuro-ergonomics (using fNIR-functional near infrared spectroscopy and eye trackers) to assess the usability of a website. Following recommendations from the LeBow team, SEI has since launched the new system to great success and also invited the LeBow team to present on the methodology and outcomes to its banking clients prior to officially launching the website.