Before you can even lift a finger to start designing and developing a UX product/system, you must know your user. There’s no way to get around it.
If you don’t utilize user research before designing, then you run the risk of creating something that the users don’t need or like. And then you’ve just wasted time and resources and have to start over again.
Then ask yourself, and more importantly the users, these three questions:
What is the user currently doing?
What pains and issues do they have with the current process?
How would they solve these pains and issues?
These are pretty straightforward questions, but you’d be surprised how many companies get them wrong. They ask themselves these questions, but they don’t ask the actual users.
Companies like to think they know their users, and I’m sure they do, to a certain extent. But making assumptions about users is not the same as getting answers directly from the users. Users might not always know exactly what they want or need, but a good UX researcher will know how to piece the puzzle together from their research.