Wednesday Oct 09, 2013

Meet the Apps UX team at UKOUG Apps13 in London, UK, in October

By Gozel Aamoth, Oracle Applications User Experience


This year, the UK Oracle User Group (UKOUG) has created separate conferences for the applications and technology communities. UKOUG Apps13 is the must-attend event for users of Oracle Applications in the United Kingdom.

The Oracle Applications User Experience team is preparing to hit the road in the next few weeks and fly from Oracle headquarters to the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. We will be at UKOUG Apps13 in London, UK, from October 14-16.

Onsite Usability Lab: Get involved, and give us your feedback
Our team has been hosting an onsite usability lab at the UKOUG conference in Birmingham, UK, since 2007. We are extremely excited about the conference changes and looking forward to collaborating with Oracle applications users and experts. Oracle customers and partners who plan to attend this conference or who are local to the London area are invited to participate in a usability feedback session. By participating in this activity, you will gain knowledge about new functionality directly from the source and ultimately influence the direction of the Oracle products.

UKOUG APPS 13
Angela Johnston, from left, Teena Singh and Tejas Peesapati from the Oracle Applications User Experience Team host the UX Lab at one of the Oracle User Group Conferences.    

When & Where: Usability feedback sessions will be conducted during the UKOUG Apps13 Conference in London on Monday, October 14th, and Tuesday, October 15th, at The Brewery in the Cardington conference room.


Who can participate? What will we test?

  • Oracle Fusion Application’s simplified user interface with social media features: We are looking for feedback on how well social media features can be used in the context of Oracle’s Fusion HCM applications. Social media features allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content.
    • Participants: any type of manager with at least 2 direct reports who use any Oracle enterprise applications and who are savvy users of social networking sites and/or collaboration tools.

  • PeopleSoft Mobile Time & Labor: We will test features such as reporting and updating punch time and holiday time using a mobile version of PeopleSoft Time and Labor flow. This research will be conducted on a smartphone.
    • Participants: anyone who uses PeopleSoft Time and Labor or another  third-party time reporting application as well as a smartphone.

  • HCM Manager/Executive Dashboard (Infolets View): We will collect feedback on interactivity, animation, visualization, and content organization on Manager Dashboard.
    • Participants: managers who manage at least 3 direct reports and use one Oracle HR product such as Fusion, E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft or Taleo.
  • Next-Generation UI Concepts: Provide early feedback on new design ideas for the next generation of Oracle Fusion Applications.
    • Participants: anyone who is familiar with Oracle Applications such as HCM, CRM, SCM, Financials, Procurement, etc.
  • New contest management capabilities in Oracle’s HCM offering: If you are interested in being able to run contests to help engage and motivate your employees, you must check out this activity.
    • Participants: individuals who run contests or competitions at their company. This can include things like: hackathons, best-ideas contests, sales contests, incident ”burn-downs” contests, ride-share/commuter contests, etc.
  • Data visualization, eye-tracking and emotional valence: We will use mobile eye-tracking equipment and facial recognition software to record participants’ physical responses during a feedback session. We will also collect verbal feedback on various design concepts on data visualizations for future versions of Oracle applications.
    • Participants: any enterprise software users who have to review reports and occasionally use Excel to generate charts based on data.


Contact Us
This event fills up quickly, and seats are limited. Advance registration is required. In order to reserve a spot for yourself and your colleagues, complete this Sign Up registration form. Contact jeannette.chadwick@oracle.com for additional questions.

Attend these presentations to learn about the Oracle User Experience strategy
The Oracle Applications User Experience team will give several presentations at Apps13 that offer a look at the strategy behind the Oracle user experience. Come to these sessions to get a look ahead at where the user experience is going.

Presentation: Applications Transformation Community Keynote
Presenter: Jeremy Ashley

Presentation: Update on PeopleSoft User Experience Enhancements
Presenter: Harris Kravatz

Presentation: Tailoring Your Applications User Experiences in the Cloud

Presenter: Kristin Desmond and Ultan O'Broin


You can also visit the Usable Apps Events page to see where these presentations at Apps13 will be held.


Sunday Sep 29, 2013

Apps UX likes to share! Evolving outreach effort continues with Oracle partners

By Kathy Miedema, Oracle Applications User Experience

As an experiment, the Oracle Applications User Experience (UX) team recently combined forces with the Oracle PartnerNetwork for a pilot event that lays the foundation for certification as an Oracle Fusion Applications User Experience Specialist.

Misha Vaughan -- who directed this event, leads the Applications UX Communications & Outreach team, and owns the Voice of User Experience (VoX) blog -- said workshops like these help both partners and customers understand the investment Oracle has made in the user experience of its cloud applications. We featured Oracle Fusion Applications in this pilot event because that’s what our partners were looking for, but many of the user experience concepts and resources through this workshop apply to all of Oracle’s cloud applications. This particular pilot, however, was intended to be an overview for anyone starting on a Fusion Applications pre-sales project. 

Presentations throughout the day were wide-ranging. The day began with a look at Oracle’s process for researching and designing the applications user experience, and included an hour on how to demo the Oracle Fusion Applications user experience.

Immediate Access: What you need to know
One of the user experience main messages for our cloud user experience

Participants also got a look at what’s ahead in the Fusion user experience, and were introduced to several projects that lay between the concept and development stages. The Apps UX team also gave partners a taste of how Oracle designs got where they are with a look at the labs, where we do much of our research work in customer feedback activities, and a chance to see what a customer feedback session looks like.


The day ended with presentations on tailoring the Fusion Applications user experience, for both the business analyst using composers, and for the developer using UX design patterns.

Feedback on the day

This first workshop was attended by members of the Hitachi Consulting team, who implement Oracle solutions in the United States. Here’s a sample of their comments after the workshop: 

Sona Manzo, Vice President, U.S. Oracle Solutions – HCM, Hitachi Consulting 

You mentioned that you would use some of the tailoring content for global training.  What, in particular, did you find useful? 

“Regarding the tailoring content, this will be a particular focus for our HCM and CXM teams, both in terms of the capabilities now available as well as the extensibility options through use of the design patterns Oracle has made available. 

“As part of Hitachi, we are partnering with our sister companies to deliver on Hitachi’s vision - Inspiring the Next.  We are continually looking for innovative ways to enable social innovation through technology, so we will be looking for potential applications in that arena.”

After the lab tour, you noted that it's one thing to get feedback as you try to finalize the product; it's another to get it as you're building the project. How does this change your perception of the Oracle user experience?

“Seeing the usability lab firsthand and hearing about the science behind the testing was eye-opening! I was very impressed with the level of investment Oracle has made to understanding all aspects of the user experience; not just the utilization and usability of the Oracle applications,  but indeed how individuals are doing their job. This included understanding the true workflow required across multiple applications/systems, and the frequency and tools used in non-Oracle application tasking and communication. The analysis done on the data and the resulting utilization in the design has led to a much more intuitive and powerful user experience. This foundational work and usability feedback loops built in the development process are in some cases readily apparent, and in others transparent to the user.  Eye-tracking, for example, provides invaluable input on where to place functions on the screen for maximum efficiency. I absolutely gained a new appreciation for the innovations that have been delivered and are on the horizon.”

David T. Ball, Senior Manager, U.S. Oracle Solutions, Hitachi Consulting 

How did your perception of Oracle change after this workshop?

“I was literally blown away!  

“Some people may think of Oracle as a ‘big box company’, maybe like Microsoft; slow to change and stuck in their roots. At the UX class last week, I was overwhelmed by the energy and talent at Oracle.  Oracle is very in-tune with their customer base and has some cutting-edge ideas, such as the new Fusion mobile interface. The new interface that comes in the newly released version 7 looks very progressive, something Apple would be proud of, compared to the typical Oracle light-blue screens.  

“I was also very impressed with the private tour of the UX testing lab. I had no idea of the time and energy spent on bringing test subjects in to see how they react to the software.  From eye scans that see where on the screen people look first, to cameras that track people’s expressions, this technology and due diligence that Oracle is doing for Fusion knocked my socks off.  There is pure science behind this, which is very cutting-edge and very ‘non-Oracle’.”

Nathaniel Pease, Consulting Manager, Hitachi Consulting 

You called watching the customer feedback session in the usability lab “motivating.” What did you take away from that experience? 

“First, I was very impressed with the tools and technology used to observe, record and learn from the feedback sessions. More importantly, I was overwhelmed with how enthusiastic, engaged, and excited the Oracle team leading the effort was. It was immediately evident that the team has a passion for what they do, are highly qualified, and they want to develop a tool that exceeds all expectations. Witnessing the feedback session and meeting the Oracle team leading the effort confirmed that opportunities for improvement are being exposed and creative solutions are being designed for today and the future.”

We love to share 

We love to share our vision for the Oracle User Experience. We hope we’ll be able to continue our work with Oracle’s partners, and enable those who are interested to earn certification as an Oracle Fusion Applications User Experience Specialist. If you’d like more information about attending a workshop like this, leave a comment here or contact Misha.Vaughan@oracle.com.




Saturday Sep 07, 2013

OpenWorld 2013: What Applications User Experience Has in Store for Partners

By Misha Vaughan, Director, Applications User Experience


In a previous post on the VoX blog, we wrote about what the Applications User Experience team is doing for customers at OpenWorld 2013 this year. So now I thought I would write about what the team is doing for partners.


This year we have made a special effort to create and shape content targeted for Oracle applications partners as well as Fusion Middleware partners. This content is delivered in partnership with the Oracle Worldwide Alliances & Channels team of Jonthan Vinoskey and Tom Barrett.


As a partner at OpenWorld this year, you will hear about the focus of the Applications User Experience team on simplicity, mobility, and extensibility for the evolving Oracle user experience.


We will spell out for partners how Oracle is investing in the future of cloud applications user experiences, and we’ll provide examples of what that looks like. You can find that in this session:


Oracle Partner Network Exchange: Applications User Experiences In the Cloud: Tailoring, Trends and Strategy

Presenters: Jeremy Ashley, Vice President, Applications User Experience, Oracle; Debra Lilley, Fujitsu, Oracle Applications UX Advocate and Oracle ACE Director



Jeremy Ashley, left, and Debra Lilley chat during an interview for UKOUG.

Session ID: CON9817
Date: Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2013
Time: 3:45 p.m.-4:45 p.m.
Location: Marriott Marquis, Atrium Level - Club Room

This will be a lively conversation about the priorities of the Applications User Experience team, and you’ll also hear from a partner about hitting user experience issues head-on in deals, and customizing and extending.


We know roadmap sessions are always helpful, but we also like to talk tools with Oracle partners. This year, mobile tools are a hot topic. So, we will deliver a session on what Oracle is doing in the mobile applications space in a presentation that is equal parts strategy and tooling. This presentation will also dive into UX mobile design patterns – what they are, how they can help you, and where to get them.



This wireframe is based on Mobile ADF UX design patterns from the Oracle Applications User Experience team.

Oracle Partner Network Exchange: Oracle's UI Strategy for Mobile Devices
Presenters: Jeremy Ashley, Vice President, Applications User Experience, Oracle; Lynn Rampoldi-Hnilo, Senior Manager, Mobile User Experience, Oracle

Session ID: CON9840
Date: Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013
Time: 11:45 a.m. - 12:45 p.m.
Location: Marriott Marquis - Foothill F

This is not part of the Oracle PartnerNetwork, or OPN, track, but we think it will be interesting to the partner community, as well as the following session on cloud applications, which are primarily Oracle Fusion Applications, and tailoring with a partner success story.


Oracle Fusion Applications: Tailoring Your User Experience in the Cloud

Presenters: Killian Evers, Senior Director, Applications User Experience, Oracle; Timothy Dubois, User Experience Architect, Oracle; Ultan O'Broin, Director of User Experience, Oracle; Floyd Teter, EIS Technologies Inc., Fusion UX Advocate and Oracle ACE Director


Session ID: CON8493
Date: Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013
Time: 11:45 a.m. - 12:45 p.m.
Location: Moscone West - 3001


Finally, if you’re an Oracle PartnerNetwork Exchange, or OPNX, attendee, I must extend an invitation to the Apps UX Expo. The Applications User Experience (Apps UX) team is co-hosting a top-secret event. You must have signed nondisclosure paperwork on file, but it will be worth the extra step – this is a unique opportunity to see what is cooking in the research and development kitchen of the user expeirence team. You will get a chance to see innovations ranging from current technologies to future user experiences, and you’ll be able to talk to the people behind the technology and creative experiences.


For more information and to register for the Apps UX Expo, check out the OPN Blog.


Until then, the Apps UX Communications & Outreach team (OAUX) is getting ready to meet you and put our best foot forward. So the VoX blog is going be a bit quiet for the next few weeks. However, our pals Ultan and Jake always have something to say. Look for new partner-oriented posts on building great-looking usable apps on our UsableApps blog as well.


And if you see me at OpenWorld, please take a minute to say hi!



Saturday Aug 24, 2013

What’s Coming for Oracle’s Applications User Experience Customers at OpenWorld 2013

By Misha Vaughan, Director, Oracle Applications User Experience

We are literally just a few weeks away from Oracle’s biggest annual event for meeting with customers and partners from around the world. This year, the Oracle Applications User Experience (Apps UX) team is unveiling some pretty exciting things that we are very pleased to share with you.

First among our projects is an update from last year’s presentation around simplicity. We are still talking about simplicity, but we’ve added mobility and extensibility into the mix – which you can read more about in an article on UsableApps.


Simplicity: The Essential Information to Complete Your Work


OpenWorld 2013 Sessions


Apps UX Vice President Jeremy Ashley will be talking about what simplicity, mobility, and extensibility mean for Oracle’s cloud applications user experiences at his OpenWorld presentations. You can catch him here:  

CON8029: Oracle Applications User Experiences In the Cloud: Trends and Strategy

Learn how simplicity, consistency, and emerging trends are driving the applications user experience strategy at Oracle. We will talk about trends in mobile workers and their devices in the cloud, gamification, new ways to visualize information, consumer-like experiences, and how to create applications that require a light touch and zero training. See the first demos of what’s new in the pipeline for Oracle Applications user experiences here.

Date: Monday Sept 23rd
, 2013
Time: 4:45-5:45 pm

Location: Moscone West 2006/2008

If you are a customer and interested in the deeper story about tailoring technologies and tools that are available for Oracle’s cloud applications user experiences, you can find a lot more detail in this panel, which will be chaired by Killian Evers, Senior Director, and will include Tim Dubois, Architect, talking about our composer tool set. Ultan O’Broin (@ultan), Director, will talk about Apps UX design patterns and ADF tooling, and Floyd Teter (@fteter), Executive Vice President, EiS Technologies, will share a success story.

CON8493: Tailoring Your Applications User Experiences in the Cloud

Date:  Weds Sept 25th, 2013
Time: 11:45am-12:45 pm
Location: Moscone West 3001


On-Site Usability Labs

There are a few more things available for customers, including access to the Apps UX on-site Oracle Usability Labs. If you sign up to participate, you can find out what Oracle thinks the future will look like and give us your feedback about what the future should look like.  Gozel Aamoth, Manager, Applications User Experience, said that this year attendees will get a preview of products designs for:

  • Oracle Fusion HCM and SCM
  • Fusion Applications Help
  • Oracle Social Relationship Management
  • Mobile Design Patterns
  • My Oracle Support
  • Oracle Social Network
  • Oracle E-Business Suite, that's right. E-Business Suite (thank you Steven Chan & Sara Woodhull!)
  • WebCenter Portal and more

The on-site usability labs at Oracle OpenWorld

Regardless of your job title, we can offer you a session that might interest you. Here are just a few job profiles we are looking for:

  • Employees
  • Business Analysts
  • Functional Subject Matter Experts
  • Marketing professionals
  • IT professionals
  • Developers, System Administrators
  • Product Managers
  • Managers of all levels more


If you want in on one of these sessions, reach out now to angela.johnston@oracle.com. Advance registration is required, and the slots are filling up.  

Cloud Applications User Experiences: The Future of What Your Employees Will Touch, See, & Hear

Check out our demopod this year at OpenWorld and take the chance to try out the new simplified user experience first-hand. You will also have an opportunity to chat about what’s happening with mobile design. 

Get on the Bus!

If you're staying through Thursday, Sept. 26, sign up for one of Oracle’s exclusive tours at Oracle Headquarters in Redwood Shores, California.  Customers and partners are invited to hop on 
one of our chartered buses to Oracle Headquarters to see where Oracle brings together best practices to create innovative, next-generation user experiences.


The Oracle Usability Lab Tour Bus

Our usability experts will demonstrate an eye-tracking device, how Oracle’s usability experts use an interactive SMART board, and show the latest design concepts for mobile enterprise applications on different mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets.

Round-trip transportation will be provided from the InterContinental Hotel in San Francisco to Oracle Headquarters.  Return times are estimated, depending on traffic.  Advanced sign-up is recommended, and spaces will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

To join a tour, register here.  For additional questions, email gozel.aamoth@oracle.com.

Friday Aug 16, 2013

Emerging Design Principles for End User Consumption of Big Data

By Misha Vaughan, Oracle Applications User Experience

Editor’s Note: This is part 3 in a three-part series on the user experiences of working with big data. In the last post on this topic, John Fuller, Consulting User Experience Designer for Endeca, wrote about some of his team’s key requirements for designing usability into the user interfaces for Endeca Information Discovery. In this post, the emerging thinking on design principles for delivering all this power to regular end users is the topic. Thank you to peers John Fuller, Julia Blyumen, Edward Roske (@eroske), and Aylin Uysal for the inspiration of these themes.

Information visualization is a whole field unto itself, and education is now widely available on this topic, notably Edward Tufte’s work on Information Visualization.

When information visualization was discussed at a recent summit on user experience for big data summit, a specific new insight for me was that I saw a set of information visualization guidelines emerging for end users. I don’t mean data analysts or business analysts who are doing deep, big data analysis.  I mean the end user, for whom the analyst is preparing data.  

How do you present big data to an executive or a decision-maker in a way that is digestible? How do you take them from the big picture insight, down into the supporting details? Do you show them the trellis charts and say “see here?” Or do you take a more narrative approach?

In no particular order, these were my lessons learned about end user design principles for big data visualizations:

1.    Make the invisible visible.

The entry into a big data analysis can be through seemingly simple information visualizations. Take a strategy from the newspaper industry’s use of infographics, such as the Huffington Post or USA Today.  Through visualization, you can help the user better connect and interact with the data.  Information visualization and infographics are a core part of making the results of big data accessible.

2. Show the forest, then the trees. This is also known as progressive disclosure.

With more and more data available in larger amounts, end users now need, more than ever, attention to how to cleverly and conveniently discover what they need to know. Then they need to be given the ability to explore that data.

3.  It’s all about me, or staying in context of my task.

Making big data relevant to end users means considering how to display large quantities of data in the context of different enterprise use cases, such as human resources processes, financial processes, or sales processes.  This can be any kind of data, whether it's pulling in transactional data, analytics, or social feeds.

4. Tell me a story.

Big data is, well, a lot of data. Providing narrative sources can add context and clarity to complex data. Doing this in a systematized way has even more interesting implications for enterprise use cases.

5. Make it mobile.

This one is kind of a no-brainer.  This is about giving end users the ability to make this kind of data available on tablet-sized devices.

6.  I can trust this, by you showing me how you got here.

Because of the complexity of the data, and the possible multiplicity of data sources, the ability to create confidence in the quality and the timeliness of the data are key to the experience.  It also means showing the path or way an analyst arrived at a particular conclusion.

7. Make it fun to play with.

One of the delightful characteristics of big data is that there really is a lot of data you can play with.  There is a sweet spot for the developer or designer who invents clever components that allow for the creative display and manipulation of complex levels of data.

8. One UI to rule them all.

End users don’t really care how many data sources you are bringing together. They just want the result. The best experiences will unify many data sources, transparently --  whether it’s Endeca, a data warehouse, or social feeds -- into one representation.

Again, I can’t claim credit for the concepts. I’m just summarizing what I learned on that day. If you want to see what this all means for Oracle Applications User Experiences, stay tuned and see what’s coming at OpenWorld 2013 this year.

Tuesday Jul 30, 2013

Key User Experience Design Principles for working with Big Data

By John Fuller, Consulting User Experience Designer, Oracle

Editor’s Note: This is part 2  in a three-part blog series on the user experiences of working with big data. In my last blog on this topic, I summarized the conversation from a one-day summit with a few key partners on the user experience landscape with big data.  In this blog, John Fuller, full time interaction designer for Endeca, shares some of his team’s key requirements for designing usability into the user interfaces for Endeca Information Discovery.

John Fuller
John Fuller, Consulting User Experience Designer for Endeca

About two years ago, we took look at the product we had and felt that there was a lot of opportunity that was, in many ways, fairly unique in the marketplace. It was at that point that we developed a set of core design principles to guide us in our work going forward.

We crystalized the things we thought were working well and sought to maintain that focus going forward. I wouldn't say that they were designed specifically with "big data" as the main focus; the principles are much more broadly applicable. We're focusing on helping people bring together a variety of data types in a fast and flexible way with lower cost, so from that perspective, we're targeting a really interesting part of the big data story.


Endeca healthcare demo
Screen shot from an Oracle Endeca Healthcare Demo showing how big data can guide the detection of healthcare problems.

We came up with 6 core design principles and details about what each one meant. One of the really interesting outcomes of this has been that the principles have really held up over time.

Here are the six core principles:
  1. Enhance Insight - The value of discovery tools lies in the insights they help discovery workers realize, by enhancing the natural ability of people to understand the answers that are in the data.
  2. Encourage Exploration - Discovery applications encourage exploration.  Users will want to ask new questions, pursue new avenues of exploration, and consider new connections and relationships across the diverse types of information presented by discovery applications.
  3. Coherence and Clarity - All elements of the experience should work together in a coordinated fashion. The way the system works is clear at all levels, making the results and implications of actions easy to understand.
  4. Readily Composable and Manageable - Creating, configuring, and managing discovery applications is straightforward and efficient. The product provides useful defaults, intelligent starting points, and encourages application builders to make good choices when composing discovery applications.
  5. Engaging and Compelling - Working with the tool is enjoyable, engaging, and satisfying, for new and veteran users. Endeca Information Discovery embodies and personifies the values and principles identified herein.
  6. Offer a Modern Application Experience - Discovery solutions “walk and “talk” like modern applications.
With every new project that comes up, the principles still seem new and fresh -- with new takeaways to guide the process. We're planning on adding more detail about the principles -- and several other topics -- on our blog, so if you'd like to hear more, check it out.


Tuesday Jul 23, 2013

The User Experience of Big Data in Oracle Enterprise Applications: Part 1 of 3

By Misha Vaughan, Oracle Applications User Experience

Editor’s Note: This is the first part of a three-part series on lessons we have learned about the user experience of big data, and trends in Oracle’s approach to the challenges of working with big data.

Misha Vaughan
Misha Vaughan, Director, Communications & Outreach, Applications User Expeirence
by Martin Taylor

I recently hosted a partner summit on the user experiences of big data at Oracle headquarters in Redwood Shores, Calif. The title of the summit was: “So You Have Big Data, Now What?”

The goals of the exchange were three-fold:
  • Assess where some key Oracle user experience partners -- Floyd Teter of EiS Technologies (@fteter), Edward Roske of interRel (@eroske), Mike Rulf of Core Services, and Ron Batra of AT&T (@ronbatra)-- were at in their conversations around the user experience needs of big data with their customers.
  • Discuss and sharpen our common understanding of the UX value propositions of some Oracle applications for big data. My particular interest was with OBIEE’s new information visualizations and Endeca Information Discovery’s UX.
  • Get feedback on a selection of forward-looking applications user experience innovation projects that intersect with big data. 
Below are my lessons learned from the conversation. Part 2, the next post in this series, is an email conversation with John Fuller, User Experience Designer for Endeca, on the key elements of designing user experiences for data analysts working with big data tools. Part 3 is a summary of what I see as the key UX design principles emerging in Oracle for a new class of design problems - making big data accessible to non-data analysts.

My Lessons Learned

Lesson 1: What customers are asking about “big data” and how they defining “big data”.

The general consensus was that some customers have already defined their strategy and are moving forward.  However, many customers are still trying to wrap their heads around what big data means for their institutions.  Our key partners see their customers’ understandings ranging across the following:
•    Big data is a massively large volume of structured data.
•    Big data is making sense of unstructured data, like Twitter feeds and Google search results (e.g., monitoring potential flu outbreaks).
•    Big data is about consolidating multiple sources of data, structured and unstructured, into one representation.
•    Big data is about solving wicked problems, for example, how to optimize something as complex as thinning a forest against needed output, aesthetics, and uncertain markets.
•    It is about discovering unlikely relationships in a large volume of data.

Lesson 2:  The big-data analyst is a highly specialized user role, and really needs the right user experience to be able to deliver the results companies are looking for.

Companies like Oracle are building the tools necessary for data analysts, such as Endeca's Information Discovery Tool.  Color me "wow" after seeing a demo by John Fuller.  Important tools in the toolkit are also OBIEE's "big data" visual analysis tools (thank you, Edward Roske).

This was a jam-packed conversation, and had so much in it that I decided to follow up with John and see if he would unpack the user experience requirements in more detail in a follow-up post. So stay tuned for that.

Lesson 3: It seems that there are really two user profiles we need to be concerned with in big data: the data analyst and the downstream producer, or possibly business analyst.

A recent study in the Wall Street Journal states that one of the biggest challenges of big data is finding professionals actually trained in the domain to help companies take advantage of this space. We know that the big business schools with IT programs will take the bait, but even that will not produce them fast enough. The rate of information is growing faster than our ability to sift it.

To take advantage of the sizeable investment required for a Big Data Project, a data analyst needs to enable a larger set of producers to leverage their data and share it with a larger audience. This may be a business analyst, or some other job title - but essentially this is a person who works with a lead data analyst to create the stories, visualizations, and associated analyses needed to communicate findings to a larger audience, which allows that lead analyst to get onto the next problem.

In my next post, I’ll write about Endeca, and the key elements of designing user experiences for data analysts working with big data tools.





Saturday Jun 15, 2013

Hands-On Workshop with Fusion Applications and ADF UX Desktop Design Patterns

By Misha Vaughan, Applications User Experience

Oracle Fusion Applications

I hosted a team of internal Oracle Fusion Apps Sales leaders and a few select Oracle partners on May 14-16, 2013, at Oracle HQ in Redwood Shores. This was the second version of the Applications User Experience team’s "How to Build Great-Looking Usable Apps" workshop.  

This was a revised version of an event we piloted a few months before in the UK. This time around, we added:
  • A couple of bridge-building pieces to help attendees move from wireframe to design patterns to ADF components more clearly.
  • A day on mobile UX design patterns and mobile ADF.
Attendees want to attend this workshop for one of two reasons: 1) They need to extend Fusion Apps, and they want to understand what the UX best practices are for doing this, 2) they want to build a custom application, or even just a page, with ADF, and they don't want to start from scratch on the user experience.

To give you an idea of the agenda, here are the key speakers and their areas of focus:
  • Ultan O'Broin (@ultan, @usableapps): Focusing on the enterprise applications UX design principles, defining what "UX design patterns" are, and explaining why wireframing is such a key part of Oracle’s UX design pattern strategy.
  • Misha Vaughan: I was standing in for my team member Katy Massucco on a presentation she calls "art school in a box," or the 8 things any developer needs to know about the visual design of enterprise UIs.
  • Scott Robinson: On how we move step-by-step from wireframes to UX desktop design patterns, as well as the design guidance we are developing for identifying "simplified" use cases for enterprise apps.
  • Lynn Munsinger: On all of the hands-on content. She is really walking attendees through two very thorough exercises, on Procurement and on a trouble-ticket flow, as well as a great presentation on how to move from screenshots to ADF components.  
  • Richard Bingham (@richardbingham): Detailing how we make use of composers as part of the Fusion Apps tailoring story, as well as covering his new role in Fusion Apps Developer relations.
  • Floyd Teter (@fteter) : On how he used UX design patterns and ADF Essentials to bootstrap his UX and deliver a well-designed product ridiculously fast.
  • Mark Vilrokx: He is exploring use cases and technology for integrating with Fusion apps in the cloud.
  • Kristin Desmond: On the new simplified UI's tailoring strategy for Fusion Apps and where we are with UX design patterns for simplified UIs.
  • Lynn Rampoldi-Hnilo: Covering a great set of "top 10" things you need to know for designing mobile applications as well as shepherding attendees through wireframing a mobile application.
  • Brent White: On the visual design guidance for mobile UIs, as well as teaming up with Lynn on wireframing.
  • Joe Huang: On how ADF Mobile is built to support UX design patterns and deliver a great mobile user experience.
  • Teena Singh and Lulit Bezuayehu: On how a developer can write a user profile and learn to run his or her own usability test using resources from UX Direct.
I think you know why I felt so tired by the end of the week. We hit a lot. Most of this agenda came from the combined brain power of Ultan O'Broin and Lynn Munsinger. So it's ironic that Ultan could not even attend. He managed to take a very nasty nose-dive over his bicycle handle bars the Sunday before the event.

Thanks very much to Jeremy Ashley, my boss, for stepping in to present as well as Scott Robinson for biting off more than he expected in this portion of the workshop.

So, how did we do?
See for yourself:

Floyd Teter, EiS Technologies: "Great workshop. Covered stuff I can take back to the job and use."  


Sten Vesterli, Scott/Tiger: He clearly got the value of design patterns. "I was just watching my son play the Neverwinter MMORPG beta. The user interface looks just like other MMORPGs and he could jump right in and start playing.

That’s not because the people at Cryptic Studios lack imagination - it’s because their users already have an expectation of how an MMORPG should look. It would be stupid to risk turning people away by inventing a brand new user experience (UX). Instead, they are using a User Experience Design Pattern that their users recognize."


Floyd Teter, Sten Vesterli, Mick McGee
Floyd Teter, EiS Technologies; Sten Vesterli, Scott/Tiger; and Mick McGee, EchoUser.

How do you get access to this?
We were fortunate enough to have Tom Barrett and Jonathan Vinoskey from Oracle Alliances & Channels (A&C) representing Oracle Applications partner interests.  They stayed the full 3 days!  Talk about troupers.

Jonathan Vinoskey, Tom Barrett
Jonathan Vinoskey & Tom Barrett, Oracle, creating a wireframe for a trouble-ticket application.

I have been working with our key speakers and A&C on the best ways to re-deliver this content.  Right now, we are looking at a series of in-person training events that we are planning to offer globally -- not a huge number of them, as the guidance has been that attendees get the most out of having access to the seasoned UX pros, but hopefully enough for the really eager to get started with design patterns and ADF.  We will also be offering a series of these sessions as recordings, as an OPN learning path.

You can also expect to see excerpts from the workshop on the UsableApps blog in the months ahead.



Tuesday May 28, 2013

100 Partners Later

By Kathy Miedema, Oracle Applications User Experience

The Oracle Applications User Experience team just did something new, and it was very cool.

The customer outreach arm of the Applications User Experience, or Apps UX, team held its first demo reception.

The team has done demos before. And new stuff. After all, this is a research and development organization within Oracle. It’s our job to be ahead of the market and in the midst of designing new user experiences with equal parts cutting-edge technology and creative innovation. So why was this different?

You may have read in a previous post here about simplicity, and how that idea is driving the Oracle applications user experience forward. In May, we showed that idea in action, with demos of several special user experiences actually undergoing development right now. Only previously vetted partners were allowed to see this – as a rule, Oracle does not share much before an application becomes generally available. So being able to share something that was actually in development just for the sake of showing it, well, that was quite exciting.

Aylin Uysal
Photographs by Martin Taylor, Oracle Applications User Experience

Aylin Uysal, Director, Applications User Experience, demonstrates the new simplified UI.


Gathering feedback on iterations of the next generation of an application is part of the Apps UX mission. The team tests and measures and re-tests next-generation designs for enterprise software, gathers up the comments and reactions of specifically recruited users, and figures out how to solve problems with each iteration of the next use experience design. This often happens in one-on-one customer feedback sessions, or occasionally, a focus group.

But in May, about 100 partners were invited to a special reception, just to see what we’re working on.

Mark Vilrokx
Mark Vilrokx, Architect, Applications User Experience, shows how Oracle Voice works.


Sten Vesterli, a
Senior Principal Consultant with Scott/Tiger and Oracle ACE Director, posted in his blog that he had seen the future of ERP. Vesterli wrote: “Yesterday, the Oracle UX team hosted a confidential (strictly no photography!) event demoing some of the new stuff they are working on. If I told you the details I’d have to kill you, but what I can say is this: The future of ERP is as a platform, not an application.”

Floyd Teter, Executive Vice-President, Strategy and Products, EiS Technologies, Inc., also posted in his blog that he "had the opportunity to see plenty of new product prototypes ... none of which I can talk about (inserted frustrated sigh here) other than to say that there is some extremely cool stuff in the pipeline from the Oracle UX team.  Seems like this team's innovation engine is really taking their game up another notch."

This is an adventurous time for the Apps UX team. We’re always looking forward, but with the addition of new developers to our team in the last year, we’re moving forward at a spectacular pace. We’ll keep writing about it here on VoX, so check back frequently.

For a broad view of some of the areas the team is exploring, read this recent post about the road ahead.
To find out where members of the Apps UX team will be speaking next, check the Usable Apps Events page.

Wednesday May 15, 2013

Oracle Apps UX Team on the Road: What Are We Offering at OHUG Global Conference 2013?

By Gozel Aamoth, Oracle Applications User Experience 

If you have read previous “On The Road” blog posts, you may know that the Applications User Experience (Apps UX) team has been travelling all over the world in the last few months. Team members have attended and presented at Alliance 2013 in Indianapolis, IN; OBUG Benelux Connect 2013 in Antwerp, Belgium; and COLLABORATE 2013 in Denver, CO. Our team had a colossal experience at these Oracle User Group conferences: We met Oracle customers and partners who were eager to collaborate with Oracle usability experts and provide feedback on future design trends, participate in an interactive eye-tracking demo, discover the new simplified user interface (UI) for Oracle Fusion Applications, and learn more about enterprise and mobile design patterns.

While some team members are working on incorporating valuable feedback that Oracle usability experts received at these conferences, others are preparing to present and demo new designs at the upcoming OHUG Global Conference 2013 in Dallas, Texas, on June 10-14.  Oracle HCM User Group (OHUG) is an organization devoted to providing HCM, or human capital management, users with valuable insight into Oracle, E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft, Fusion HCM, and Taleo applications.

If you or your colleagues plan to attend the OHUG conference this year, you might be interested to learn what the Apps UX team will offer at this event. There are several ways to meet face-to-face with members of the Applications User Experience team: participate in one of the user feedback sessions; visit our demo pod to learn more about the new simplified user experience for Oracle Fusion Applications; or attend an Apps UX presentation, which you can read about on the Usable Apps Events page.

Onsite Usability Lab: Give us your feedback, and get involved

Oracle customers and partners who plan to attend OHUG or are local to the Dallas area are invited to participate in a usability feedback session. By participating in this activity, you will gain knowledge about new functionality directly from the source and ultimately influence the direction of the Oracle HCM products. 
  • Give us your feedback: We are looking for Employees and Managers of all levels to provide feedback on Fusion HCM Time Entry, Online Employee Directory, Manager Dashboard; and PeopleSoft Mobile Absence Management, PeopleSoft Mobile Approvals, Voice Interactions and Gamification in Enterprise applications.
  • When and where: Sessions will be scheduled on Tuesday, June 11, and Wednesday, June 12, at the Sheraton Downtown Dallas Hotel in Dallas, Texas. You may sign up to participate in a one-on-one session or a brainstorming group activity.
  • Get involved: This event fills up quickly, and seats are limited. Advance registration is required. RSVP now by sending an email to Jeannette Chadwick at jeannette.chadwick@oracle.com.

Jeanette Chadwick
Jeannette Chadwick from the Oracle Applications User Experience team welcomes participants as they arrive to participate in user feedback sessions.

Demo Station: The new entry experience for Oracle Fusion Applications, mobile, design patterns, and more

Are you looking for a simple, current, and productive way for your users to perform key, quick-entry tasks while still having direct access to the full Oracle Fusion Applications functionality? Stop by the Oracle Applications User Experience demo station at OHUG 2013 and discover the new entry experience for Oracle Fusion Applications.

The Applications User Experience team will also show the latest design concepts for mobile enterprise applications on different mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Having the right mobile applications for your workforce enhances productivity, efficiency, and employee morale and satisfaction. Discuss the similarities, differences, advantages, and challenges of the mobile platform. Chat with us about how these applications and prototypes meet your needs. 

Topics:

  • Experience the new simplified UI for Oracle Fusion Applications
  • Discover the latest mobile design concepts
  • See how Oracle uses design patterns and guidelines to promote standardization and consistency in applications

eye tracker
John Roger, from the Oracle Applications User Experience team, right, conducts an eye-tracking study with a demopod visitor at COLLABORATE 2013.

Attend this presentation to learn about the Oracle User Experience strategy

The Oracle Applications User Experience team will be offering a presentation session at OHUG 2013 that offers a look at the strategy behind the Oracle user experience, and provides a look ahead at where the user experience is going. Visit the Usable Apps Events page to find out when and where this presentation will be held.

Topic: Oracle’s Roadmap to a Simple, Modern User Experience in Fusion Applications

Presenter: Aylin Uysal, Director, Human Capital Management User Experience


Wednesday Apr 17, 2013

Stay on Top of the Latest Trends in Enterprise User Experiences


By Misha Vaughan, Oracle Applications User Experiences

Find your local expert in:

Dubai | Cyprus | Athens | Johannesburg  | Jordan | Prague | Moscow | Doha | Bucharest | Abu Dhabi | Munich | London | Gothenburg | Brussels | Copenhagen | Utrecht | Chicago | San Francisco | Washington DC


Photographs by Misha Vaughan, Oracle Applications User Experience
Amsterdam canals, above, were outside the location for a recent workshop on enterprise applications user experience. 

In the fall of last year, the Apps UX team met with and updated the Apps UX Sales Ambassador (SAMBA) team in North America with a reprise of last year’s sales training event.

The SAMBA team is a global group of senior-level application solution consultants and applications technologists who provide front-line feedback on the Oracle applications user experience strategy and roadmap. We now officially welcome to the fold representation from Oracle’s Partner team, Alliances and Channels, as well.

Their brethren in Europe, Middle East, and Africa also wanted a chance to see and give feedback on what's new, what's coming, and what is officially "wow" in applications user experiences.  So we took our workshop on the road to create more regional user experience experts.


The new Oracle University training facility in Dubai, near where more UX training was conducted. Highly recommended!

What did they learn?
There was a significant focus on the Oracle Fusion Applications next-generation user experiences, with an in-depth discussion of the new simplified user interface, updates to the desktop user interface, as well as the role of Fusion's native applications.  There was also an extended conversation about how this frames Oracle's overall cloud user experience strategy.

Attendees also got a much more detailed view into how these innovations are spread across the Applications Unlimited product lines, such as E-Business Suite, Siebel, JD Edwards, and PeopleSoft. We offered specific examples of how Oracle invests in codifying proven, tested solutions to usability problems, known as user experience design patterns,  that any existing product can family leverage.



Ultan O'Broin, Director, Applications User Experiences, discusses how user experience design patterns allow developers to leverage Oracle innovations across applications products.


Finally, the main event: The applications user experience roadmap with Jeremy Ashley, Vice President of the Apps UX team. What are the next set of big ideas that we are paying attention to and doing research and development around? 

You can get an inkling of the conversation here. Both presenters and attendees debated the merits and risks of simplification, gamification, voice technology, and how to create frameworks for extending these platforms to tailor a user experience to the way a customer's business really needs to function.


Lynn Rampoldi-Hnilo, Director, Mobile User Experience, talks about voice integration for end users of enterprise applications.

Special Thanks
Special thanks to Kevin Li, Edward Dewolf and Julian Peters from Europe, and Anand Subramanian from Middle East and Africa, for serving as our spirit guides, and teaching us what you need for your customers and partners. 


Julian Peters, Master Principal Sales Consultant, UK


Anand Subramanian, Middle East and Africa Fusion Apps Leader, Dubai


Edward Dewolf, Principal Sales Consultant, Belgium

A last thank you to Andrew Gilmour for staying calm under pressure to help execute an awesome series of workshops.


Andrew Gilmour, Fusion User Experience Advocates and Apps UX Sales Ambassador Programs

For customers and partners
If you are interested in a briefing and want to stay on top of what's coming in applications user experiences, connect with your local solution consultant or alliances and channels representative -- they will reach out to our Apps UX Sales Ambassadors and can deliver an update for you. 

If you are fortunate enough to find your way to a local user group event, we try to make sure we have a representative from our team on the ground.  Check out our events pages on the UsableApps Web site.

Thursday Apr 11, 2013

The Cloud User Experience: Changing Everything for Users

By Misha Vaughan, Oracle Applications User Experience

Cloud-delivered applications are one of those things you watch to see how the  phenomenon is going to fully express itself.  It’s one of those industry-wide happenings, perhaps even more compelling than tablet computers, that is making the world a better place for users.

Consumers have already seen the benefit of a cloud approach with tailored, consumer-driven experiences on sites like eBay.  



Whether it’s using a desktop user interface (UI) with powerful features such as a merchant user interface for uploading 100 long and short descriptions and photos, or a simplified UI on a tablet for browsing through items from the comfort of your couch, or monitoring an auction on your smart phone using a native application, these custom, tailored experiences are really enabled by cloud computing.  

Think about that. These user interfaces are tailored for what you are doing, on specific devices, and considering specific contexts of use. Add to that a consumer-level design aesthetic, and industrial-grade security, and you have the makings of a pleasant little revolution for enterprise users.


Enterprise Apps in the Cloud Should Work the Way You Do

Marry ease-of-use, device-savvy design, custom-fit experiences, role-based access, international compliance, and security -- that’s a heady combination. It means that users can and should expect their cloud-delivered solutions to work the way they need.

Let me give you some examples.  If I am a VP of sales, I am likely very mobile and use a simplified UI on a tablet quite a bit to browse and analyze my pipeline on the road.  But if I need to sit down and crank out a deeper level of analysis for territory modeling, I am only going to do that from the comfort of a delightfully wide screen on a desktop UI.  If I am dashing from a customer meeting to the airport, I want a quick user interface via a native application on my smartphone to capture only essential information.



If I am a general ledger clerk, I probably need access to a large-screen user interface.  In fact, if you try to make me do my day-to-day work on a tablet, I would likely smack you with it.  But I may be perfectly happy submitting my vacation schedule from a tablet-kiosk in the lunchroom.

It’s a pretty exciting time of change in enterprise software right now, and I am a big fan of these kinds of changes.  It means that our end users will only benefit.  Stay tuned to the Voice of User Experience (VoX) blog to hear more about some of the new stuff coming from Oracle.  


Tuesday Apr 02, 2013

Introduce Design Thinking Into Your Enterprise Implementations

By Madhuri Kolhatkar, Oracle Applications User Experience

Enterprise applications are often critiqued for being too complex and difficult to use. But if one can understand the customer journey that post-sales enterprise implementations go through, such as configuration, customizations, and extensions, then it is not hard to understand how the design focus is lost. Enterprise implementations are typically technology-focused. Consultants and IT professionals deliver what is required by the business, but end users often experience an application that does not meet their needs in terms of user experience.

Oracle’s Applications User Experience team incorporates user-centered design process into our shipped products. Our customers often tailor these enterprise solutions to fit their needs. If our customers used our user-centered design thinking in the implementation, the result of their tailored implementation is far more likely to result in more productive users, and deliver the efficiency everyone wants with a new enterprise solution.

To meet this goal, the Oracle Applications User Experience team has created a program called Oracle UX Direct to provide customers, partners, and consultants in the enterprise industry with design best-practices and tools that they can leverage to make their enterprise implementations more successful. By introducing design thinking during the implementation stage, our customers have the opportunity to create a solution that best fits the needs of their users from the beginning.

UX Direct Home Page
Visit the UX Direct website to learn how to make your implementation more usable and productive for your users.

Just to illustrate the benefits of introducing design thinking into an implementation, I want to share a story from one of my experiences working with customers. An international organization had implemented Oracle’s recruitment application for Human Capital Management to increase their global workforce. They converted their 50-page, paper-based, new-hire application to an online form collecting detailed personal information. However, no one was using the application, and there were no submissions from applicants, even in a downturn economy. The customer requested our support to investigate why the product was not successful.

After conducting some user research with both internal and external employees, we found that a lot of questions asked in the online form were not applicable to an applicant. We went through an exercise with the users to prioritize and define the key fields they used and we redesigned the user experience based on what the users actually wanted. The result was astonishing. Resumes flooded the human resources department. This was the result of following a user-centered design process.

Madhuri Kolhatkar
Madhuri Kolhatkar, Senior Director

Our program, UX Direct, tells you how to introduce a user-centered design approach into your implementation. You can use our step-by-step design process to add design thinking into your development process. We also provide a useful tool kit and showcase best practices to inform your designs. 

We plan to extend and refine this repository of information and create a community that will change the way enterprise applications are implemented. Check out what our partners and consultants are already saying about UX Direct in VoX, where you will also see new additions to the UX Direct website.

Friday Mar 15, 2013

Oracle Apps UX Team on the Road: What Are We Offering at COLLABORATE 2013?

By Gozel Aamoth, Oracle Applications User Experience

The Oracle Applications User Experience team (Apps UX) will be at the Alliance Higher Education User Group (HEUG) conference in Indianapolis, Indiana, and OBUG Benelux Connect in Antwerp, Belgium, in the month of March. Team members meet and collaborate with Oracle customers and partners at these events, as well as expand existing relationships. If you’re not planning to attend either of these user group conferences, in April you can meet us at the COLLABORATE 2013 conference in Denver, Colorado.

APPS UX AT COLLABORATE

Photograph by the Oracle Applications User Experience team

Angela Johnston, from left, Teena Singh and Tejas Peesapati from the Oracle Applications User Experience Team host the UX Lab at Collaborate 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The COLLABORATE conference is an event where thousands of Oracle professionals spend days learning about new Oracle products and offerings. There is a lot to choose from, but the Apps UX team always brings something innovative and new to the table. Depending on what you’d like to see or how you’d like to get involved, there are several ways to meet face-to-face with members of the Applications User Experience team: sign up for a user feedback session, where you get the opportunity to explore new ideas and see early designs of future products by test-driving the product before it goes to market; visit our demo pod to learn more about the new entry experience for Oracle Fusion Applications and participate in our very cool interactive eye-tracking demo; or attend one of the Apps UX presentations, which you can read about on the Usable Apps Events page.

Onsite Usability Lab: Participate in a user feedback session

Oracle customers and partners are invited to participate in a usability feedback session, where we will test new interfaces and features for the Oracle Fusion Applications HCM entry experience and work flows that have been gamified; Fusion Applications Help; the entry experience for Fusion Applications Financial Reporting; Oracle Social Network; and Oracle E-Business Suite user experience and interactions. Get a peek at Oracle’s next-generation enterprise application designs and learn about Oracle’s pioneering user-centered design process. Your feedback will help Oracle develop unbeatable products and solutions.

  • Who can participate? Employees, functional subject matter experts, managers, directors, VPs, Fusion Early Adopters, Fusion Applications implementers, IT consultants, partners and more.
  • When and where: Sessions will be scheduled on Tuesday, April 9th,  and Wednesday, April 10th, at the Hyatt Regency Denver Hotel  in Denver, Colorado. You may sign up to participate in a one-on-one session or a brainstorming group activity.
  • How do I sign up? If you are interested in participating or would like to recommend your colleagues, send an email to gozel.aamoth@oracle.com

Demo Station: The new entry experience for Oracle Fusion Applications, mobile, design patterns, and eye-tracking

Are you looking for a simple, current, and productive way for your users to perform key, quick-entry tasks while still having direct access to the full Oracle Fusion Applications functionality? Stop by the Oracle Applications User Experience demo station at COLLABORATE 2013 and discover the new entry experience for Oracle Fusion Applications. 

The Applications User Experience team will also show the latest design concepts for mobile enterprise applications on different mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Having the right mobile applications for your workforce enhances productivity, efficiency, and employee morale and satisfaction. Discuss the similarities, differences, advantages, and challenges of the mobile platform. Chat with us about how these applications and prototypes meet your needs. 

Our team also wants to show you how using both enterprise and mobile design patterns in your customizations can extend the value of your applications, while also promoting standardization and consistency. 

And, get a look at the cutting-edge tools in Oracle’s arsenal of usability evaluation methods, such as eye-tracking. Recording users’ visual attention with eye-tracking methods can help inform the visibility, understandability, and navigation of page elements. Discuss with us how metrics are defined, and how design implications are made.

Attend our presentations to learn about the Oracle User Experience strategy

The Oracle Applications User Experience team will be offering several sessions at COLLABORATE 2013 that offer a look at the strategy behind the Oracle user experience, and provide a look ahead at where the user experience is going. Visit the Usable Apps COLLABORATE 2013 page to find out when and where these presentations will be held.

  • Oracle’s Roadmap to a Simple, Modern User Experience In Fusion Apps
  • Fusion User Experience for Today's Enterprise User
  • Oracle Fusion Applications: Customizing and Extending Using Oracle Composers


Wednesday Mar 06, 2013

Oracle Executive Spends Four Weeks with Just a Mini

By Misha Vaughan, Oracle Applications User Experience

Steven Chan
Steven Chan, Senior Director, Oracle E-business Suite Applications Technology, holds his iPad mini.

As Oracle continues to develop its strategy in the mobile space, it’s always interesting to hear what Oracle executives are doing and thinking around available mobile devices.  

Steven Chan, Oracle Senior Director of E-Business Suite Technology and a regular blogger, recently traveled around the world in about 30 days with only an iPad mini. He went from the U.K. to Hyderabad, India, to Hong Kong and Shenzhen in China, all in about four weeks.  

Why bring just a mini? His number one concern: security.  How could he keep his computing device physically safe, given such a wide range of locales and conditions? “I could slip it in my suit pocket. This was my primary reason to take my mini instead of my regular iPad,” Chan said. “I could keep it with me at all times.”

He said he thought that he would miss his laptop. “I expected it be painful,” Chan said. “I expected the smaller form factor to be difficult to adjust to, but it was surprisingly easy. I was worried about the ‘squint factor,’ but that turned out not to be an issue.”

In contrast to an iPad mini,  “You have to make a deliberate choice to carry an iPad around with you. This is tricky for guys, and I personally don’t like to carry a murse or briefcase all day.”

He said the smaller size made a big difference when reading books or using it for extended periods.  “I read a couple of books a week, and you really feel the extra weight [of the larger iPad] after a while. When I picked up a mini the first time, my reaction was, ‘This is the device I’ve been waiting for!’” 




Photograph by Martin Taylor, Oracle Applications User Experience

What surprises were there with this device?

“The unexpected business benefits,” Chan said. “In the middle of a conversation with a customer, I could show them a technical road map. They didn’t know I was carrying it. All of a sudden, we can have a different conversation at a deeper level because I have more detailed information with me.”

He also found that having easy access to email was helpful. “Our lives are in email,” he said. “You can keep an email stored on the mini, which is really something. I have a terrible memory; that’s why I write my blog. But not everything makes it to the blog. There is lots of internal stuff: technical debates, contents of new release patch sets. So having my email handy offline allowed me to have certain conversations straight away, instead of saying, ‘Let me get back to you later after I return to my office.’”

Having the iPad mini with him at all times also helped him to be more efficient. “At the UKOUG conference, I had a standing-room-only session,” he said. “At the end, someone came up and asked me if the slides were going to be available. I said, ‘Hang on’ and sent it to him right there. One less thing to do later.” Chan also remarked on the difference between an iPhone and an iPad mini. “Sending a business-caliber e-mail on an iPhone is tedious. The mini is just easier to use for that level of written communication.”

Chan said he’s also been using features he hasn’t tried before. “I’m using the ‘voice dictation’ button with everything now,” he said, “composing emails, sending texts, searches in Safari, creating new calendar entries. I hadn’t used that before.” He tried it because the iPad mini’s portrait-mode keyboard is smaller. “The requirement for greater precision while typing on it is just enough of a disincentive that I now prefer to simply talk instead of type,” he said. “I talk faster than I type, so I’m finding that my data-input rate has increased instead of decreased.” 

That surprised him: “This is completely counter-intuitive. Am I the only one?” he said. “If others are doing the same, then it makes me wonder whether our use of natural language voice input will increase as form factors shrink further.”

How could the iPad mini change things for enterprise users?

When Chan was on the road, he found that he spent his time approving requisitions and handling other administrative transactions -- basically a lot of approvals. He wanted some specific capabilities on the road.  “I would love a nice native app for expense reports,” he said. Oracle ACE Director and Fusion Applications UX Advocate Debra Lilley showed him the Fusion mobile expenses application.  “I want this!” he said.

“An Accounts Payables clerk isn’t going to use a mobile device to enter transactions. Executive users are the ones who use these devices on the road. Fit and finish matter to executives,” Chan said. “We need beautifully-designed mobile apps. Mobile apps have to look dazzling; they need a certain polish. You can immediately tell the difference between an app designed for iOS and one that’s been ported.”

What does this mean for Oracle E-Business Suite? Chan said, “You can bet that this means we are looking at mobile computing beyond just running EBS in a tablet browser. We are looking at how work is changing because of these devices. We have some exciting things in the EBS labs right now.” 

If you are interested in seeing where Oracle Applications are trending, check out the Applications sessions at Alliance, Benelux, and Collaborate, and sign up for a usability testing session at Alliance, Benelux, or Collaborate to help guide the design of our mobile applications.

About

Check here for opinions, updates, and events from Oracle's Applications User Experience team: Applications Cloud, E-Business Suite, JD Edwards, Siebel, PeopleSoft, and more.

Misha Vaughan
Misha Vaughan, Director, Applications User Experience
@mishavaughan on Twitter

Learn more about us at
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