By Annie Kwong-Oracle on May 06, 2016
But first, we need to make a distinction between the underlying technology, and the way we interact with it. The combination of machine learning – where computers can learn without being explicitly programmed, and Big Data – massively large datasets that can be analyzed to reveal subtle but significant patterns and trends, has dramatically enhanced our ability to build systems that recognize, classify, and analyze the world around us. This approach is currently being used for everything from facial recognition to online shopping recommendation systems.
As interesting as this advancement is, its potential can only be truly leveraged through an intuitive, contextual user experience that anticipates a user’s needs and goals – something we are calling smart user experiences. A smart user experience is not tied to any particular underlying technology, but rather uses whatever technology is appropriate, regardless of whether it is the tech du jour, to create a user experience that just works.
Focusing on the technology alone misses a critical point that is often overlooked – no matter how ”cool” or cutting edge a particular technology is, its ultimate utility comes from how easily we can integrate it into our daily routines. In fact, many of the technologies that have transformed our lives have done so because they have made access to technology easier. For example, while advances in mobile technology have provided the technical foundation, it is the simple, intuitive, gesture-based user experience that has allowed smart phones to transform how we work.
Examples include everything from auto-filling forms to speeding navigation to sending automatic notifications to prioritizing and performing tasks, all day-to-day tasks where smart user experiences can leverage context and require minimal oversight.
Recommendations from online retailers are an obvious example of advice, but this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
Smart user experiences also can help us discover new opportunities and make connections that we would have otherwise missed. Machine intelligence can analyze thousands of variables across terabytes of data, potentially uncovering subtle but significant relationships. Yet this complexity quickly becomes overwhelming, risking paralysis by analysis. Smart user experiences are designed to offer information to users in a way that is both digestible and actionable while simultaneously inviting exploration – something that we humans enjoy and are very good at.
Fostering the Human Machine Dialog
Far from being marginalized, the advent of intelligent systems has made the user experience all the more important. No longer just “dumb” tools, the technology with which we interact will soon be able to help save time by speeding up repetitive tasks, enhance our competitive edge by supporting our decision- making, and in some cases, autonomously carry out tasks. Our flint arrowheads and stone hammers have grown into virtual personal assistants and advisers.
User experience in this context means first understanding which approach will best support what a user needs to do, providing the user with equal parts control and automation while acknowledging that different users expect different levels of oversight. Smart user experiences recognize this, building environments that foster a nuanced dialog between the two complementary but highly interdependent forms of intelligence: human and machine.
In the movie 'The Usual Suspects,” Kevin Spacey's character has the memorable line: ”The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist." Similarly, the best user experiences are those that are so natural, so intuitive, so seamless, that they are all but transparent.
Smart user experiences provide the means to achieve this, and they are a natural extension of the Glance, Scan, Commit design philosophy that has transformed the Oracle Applications Cloud user experience. It is about understanding how we interact with machine intelligence in a way that is comfortable to us, leveraging context and computational resources to enhance our knowledge and enterprise situational awareness.
In a nutshell, smart user experiences offer a more human way of working.
Stay tuned as we explore the topic of smart user experiences and how Oracle is incorporating them in upcoming posts on the VoX blog.