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.

Wednesday Aug 22, 2012

User Experience Highlights in Oracle E-Business Suite: Direct from Nadia Bendjedou

By Misha Vaughan, Oracle Applications User Experience

This is the fourth in a series of blog posts on the user experience (UX) highlights in various Oracle product families. The last posted interview was with Jeremy Ashley, Vice President, Applications User Experience, on simplifying Oracle’s applications experiences. In these posts, you’ll see themes around productivity and efficiency, and get an early look at the latest mobile offerings coming through these product lines.

Today’s post is on Oracle E-Business Suite. To learn more about what’s ahead, attend Oracle E-Business Suite OpenWorld presentations.

This interview is with Nadia Bendjedou, Senior Director, Product Strategy.

Nadia Bendjedou
Nadia Bendjedou

Q: How would you describe the vision you have for the user experience of E-Business Suite, for both the application and the framework?

A: Our vision for the EBS user experience is to be productive, personalizable, modern, and feature-rich. The things we have done which resonate with customers include improving our productivity. We have done that by reducing the number of clicks, and reducing redundant windows and pop-ups.

We have streamlined our workflows and business processes. Instead of having four to five screens to do a particular transaction, we have reduced that to two screens, for example.

Moving the navigator to the global header solved a number of issues.  Customers have more real estate on the home screen -- which now allows them to personalize the home screen to include relevant information for them.  Also, users can get back to the global header no matter where they are.  This is accessible from everywhere; you don’t need to go back to the home page.  This is an incredible improvement.

Another feature is the "look-ahead" search and inline list of values.  In the past, you would need at least three screens to choose a value from a list of values, and this involves two round trips to the server. Now, with the inline list of values, you type the first letter and the list filters, a second letter and the list reduces. This is a great user experience feature that our customers really appreciate. 

All these features are part of the productivity vision that we have -- streamlined work flows, the navigator, and the inline list of values.

Personalization capabilities are a part of making the product easy to use by the end users, not necessarily by the administrator.  For example, we want to give end users the ability to personalize the screen so that users can re-order columns and fields on the screen.  These are just some of the things we are doing on personalization. We are adding a lot more in the next releases, and you will see that highlighted at OpenWorld as part of 12.2.

Modern and cutting edge: We are revamping what the user interface will look like in the next release.  This would include improving the productivity of components like the table, the search, the h-grid.  This is part of an overall revamping, bringing a modern sensibility to the visual style.  We are getting it closer to Fusion because customers will be using Fusion, and we want that experience to be seamless.  Whether they are in Fusion Talent Management or E-Business Suite self-service HR, they should not see that much difference in the user interface.  This is much better for our existing customers.

The new E-Business Suite Navigator

Q: Are any UX highlights more popular than you expected them to be?  

A: The list of values (LOV) and the global header.  I didn’t think customers would be so impressed by this, but they really are.  An end user doesn’t want to have to leave their context to navigate, and the global header is accessible everywhere. The LOV is hugely popular. The inline popups where you have a person's name and you can see the person's detail instantly. Customers love how we have paid attention to the smallest details.

The new inline LOV for EBS

Q: How are you approaching mobile user experiences in Oracle E-Business Suite?

A: We are addressing mobile in EBS in two ways.  One, we are certifying all of the Oracle Application Framework (OAF) capabilities on the iPad.  This means that we are running OAF with Safari.  Once we do this, customers can use our OAF screens on an iPad. Of course, an iPad has limitations like no file system, and no scroll bar.  However, we are giving customers the opportunity to run OAF pages with an iPad.  All of the self-service applications will now be able to run on an iPad.  Customers can run their self-service HR on an iPad, or self-service procurement.

The second thing we are doing is building native tablet functionality that could be for iPhone, iPad, Android, or other devices. We have selected where it makes sense to do this, for example, field service products.  You have field service going on the road somewhere to fix an asset.  Mobile functionality makes a lot of sense here. We will be highlighting this as well at OpenWorld.

Q: What else are you working on now that you think is going to be exciting to customers at OOW?

A: The biggest thing we are doing at OpenWorld is Endeca integration with Oracle E-Business Suite. Endeca is really going to take the user experience to another level – it will be about changing the way we use the apps. If you have booked a hotel online or shopped online, you will see the same guided navigation and filtering. That is going to be the landing page for most of our products and modules.  So users will have an intelligent home page.  It is a delightful combination of search, performance, scalability, and business intelligence on structured and unstructured data.  This is something we don’t have today in any application.

This screenshot shows an example of Endeca integration with Oracle E-Business Suite.

Q: What else do you want customers to know?

A: There are a couple of things that we are working on, online patching and moving to Fusion Middleware 11g, that will impact the user experience.

Online patching will be a signature feature of 12.2.  This will allow customers to patch their system while their system is operational. The user will be able to carry on with their work and the system will not be down.  If the system is down, your workers are unproductive.

In 12.2, we are moving to the latest Fusion Middleware 11g, and we will be running on the weblogic server.  We are redefining our technology stack in 12.2; it is a technology shift.

Editor’s note: For more on Oracle E-Business Suite user experience highlights, visit the Usable Apps web site.

To find out more about these enhancements at OpenWorld, check out these sessions:

CON9027 Personalize and Extend Oracle E-Business Suite Applications with Rich Mashups
CON9026 Oracle E-Business User Interface: Rich and Mobile OA Framework Applications
CON9118 Mobile Solutions for Oracle E-Business Suite Applications: Technical Insight
CON9116 Extending the Use of Oracle E-Business Suite Endeca In-Memory Accelerator

For more information on Nadia Bendjedou, see her story.

Friday Feb 10, 2012

E-Business Suite 12.1: Get the Most UX Out of Your Investment

Misha Vaughan, Applications User Experience

The development team behind E-Business Suite (EBS) has been hard at work with Madhuri Kolhatkar, our Director of Applications User Experiences to enhance the usability of the product suite.

The focus of their effort is a webinar to communicate some of the hidden gems of EBS usability. It’s easy for EBS customers to lose sight of the need for a continued commitment to usability and simply focus on implementation, so Madhuri and Sara Woodhull, Principal Product Manager for EBS, put together some key best practices that you can benefit from, including:

  • Top Three Ways to Improve EBS Usability
  • Why Upgrading Improves Usability
  • Personalize Oracle E-Business Suite for Maximum Usability

This is a live webcast: Usability Best Practices for Oracle E-Business Suite

Date:             Thursday, February 16, 2012
Time:             8:00 AM - 9:00 AM Pacific Standard Time
Presenter:     Sara Woodhull, Principal Product Manager

Webcast Registration Link (Preregistration is optional but encouraged)

To hear the audio feed:
    Domestic Participant Dial-In Number:           877-697-8128
    International Participant Dial-In Number:      706-634-9568
    Dial-In Passcode:                                              99332

To see the presentation:
    The Direct Access Web Conference details are:
    Website URL:
    Meeting Number: 

For more information about some of the latest E-Business Suite enhancements, check out this story.


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

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