Thursday Jun 21, 2012

Tailoring the Oracle Fusion Applications User Interface with Oracle Composer

By Killian Evers, Oracle Applications User Experience

Changing the user interface (UI) is one of the most common modifications customers perform to Oracle Fusion Applications. Typically, customers add or remove a field based on their needs. Oracle makes the process of tailoring easier for customers, and reduces the burden for their IT staff, which you can read about on the Usable Apps website or in an earlier VoX post.

This is the first in a series of posts that will talk about the tools that Oracle has provided for tailoring with its family of composers. These tools are designed for business systems analysts, and they allow employees other than IT staff to make changes in an upgrade-safe and patch-friendly manner.

Let’s take a deep dive into one of these composers, the Oracle Composer.

Oracle Composer allows business users to modify existing UIs after they have been deployed and are in use. It is an integral component of our SaaS offering. Using Oracle Composer, users can control:
    •    Who sees the changes
    •    When the changes are made
    •    What changes are made

Change for me, change for you, change for all of you

One of the most powerful aspects of Oracle Composer is its flexibility. Oracle uses Oracle Composer to make changes for a user or group of users – those who see the changes. A user of Oracle Fusion Applications can make changes to the user interface at runtime via Oracle Composer, and these changes will remain every time they log into the system. For example, they can rearrange certain objects on a page, add and remove designated content, and save queries.

Business systems analysts can make changes to Oracle Fusion Application UIs for groups of users or all users. Oracle’s Fusion Middleware Metadata Services (MDS) stores these changes and retrieves them at runtime, merging customizations with the base metadata and revealing the final experience to the end user.

A tailored application can have multiple customization layers, and some layers can be specific to certain Fusion Applications. Some examples of customization layers are: site, organization, country, or role.

Customization layers are applied in a specific order of precedence on top of the base application metadata.


This image illustrates how customization layers are applied.

What time is it?

Users make changes to UIs at design time, runtime, and design time at runtime. Design time changes are typically made by application developers using an integrated development environment, or IDE, such as Oracle JDeveloper. Once made, these changes are then deployed to managed servers by application administrators.

Oracle Composer covers the other two areas: Runtime changes and design time at runtime changes. When we say users are making changes at runtime, we mean that the changes are made within the running application and take effect immediately in the running application. A prime example of this ability is users who make changes to their running application that only affect the UIs they see.

What is new with Oracle Composer is the last area: Design time at runtime.  A business systems analyst can make changes to the UIs at runtime but does not have to make those changes immediately to the application. These changes are stored as metadata, separate from the base application definitions. Customizations made at runtime can be saved in a sandbox so that the changes can be isolated and validated before being published into an environment, without the need to redeploy the application.

What can I do?

Oracle Composer can be run in one of two modes. Depending on which mode is chosen, you may have different capabilities available for changing the UIs. The first mode is view mode, the most common default mode for most pages. This is the mode that is used for personalizations or user customizations. Users can access this mode via the Personalization link (see below) in the global region on Oracle Fusion Applications pages. In this mode, you can rearrange components on a page with drag-and-drop, collapse or expand components, add approved external content, and change the overall layout of a page. However, all of the changes made this way are exclusive to that particular user.



The second mode, edit mode, is typically made available to select users with access privileges to edit page content. We call these folks business systems analysts. This mode is used to make UI changes for groups of users. Users with appropriate privileges can access the edit mode of Oracle Composer via the Administration menu (see below) in the global region on Oracle Fusion Applications pages. In edit mode, users can also add components, delete components, and edit component properties.



While in edit mode in Oracle Composer, there are two views that assist the business systems analyst with making UI changes: Design View and Source View (see below).



Design View, the default view, is a WYSIWYG rendering of the page and its content. The business systems analyst can perform these actions:

  • Add content – including custom content like a portlet displaying news or stock quotes, or predefined content delivered from Oracle Fusion Applications (including ADF components and task flows)
  • Rearrange content – performed via drag-and-drop on the page or by using the actions menu of a component or portlet to move content around
  • Edit component properties and parameters – for specific components, control the visual properties such as text or display labels, or parameters such as RSS feeds
  • Hide or show components – hidden components can be re-shown
  • Delete components
  • Change page layout – users can select from eight pre-defined layouts
  • Edit page properties – create or edit a page’s parameters and display properties
  • Reset page customizations – remove edits made to the page in the current layer and/or reset the page to a previous state.

Detailed information on each of these capabilities and the additional actions not covered in the list above can be found in the Oracle® Fusion Middleware Developer's Guide for Oracle WebCenter.


This image shows what the screen looks like in Design View.

Source View, the second option in the edit mode of Oracle Composer, provides a WYSIWYG and a hierarchical rendering of page components in a component navigator. In Source View, users can access and modify properties of components that are not otherwise selectable in Design View. For example, many ADF Faces components can be edited only in Source View. Users can also edit components within a task flow.


This image shows what the screen looks like in Source View.

Detailed information on Source View can be found in the Oracle® Fusion Middleware Developer's Guide for Oracle WebCenter.
Oracle Composer enables any application or portal to be customized or personalized after it has been deployed and is in use. It is designed to be extremely easy to use so that both business systems analysts and users can edit Oracle Fusion Applications pages with a few clicks of the mouse. Oracle Composer runs in all modern browsers and provides a rich, dynamic way to edit JSF application and portal pages.

From the editor: The next post in this series about composers will be on Data Composer. You can also catch Killian speaking about extensibility at OpenWorld 2012 and in her Faces of Fusion video.

Wednesday Jun 06, 2012

Partner outreach on the Oracle Fusion Applications user experience begins

by Misha Vaughan, Architect, Applications User Experience

I have been asked the question repeatedly since about December of last year: “What is the Applications User Experience group doing about partner outreach?”  My answer, at the time, was: “We are thinking about it.”  

My colleagues and I were really thinking about the content or tools that the Applications UX group should be developing. What would be valuable to our partners? What will actually help grow their applications business, and fits within the applications user experience charter?

In the video above, you’ll hear Jeremy Ashley, vice president of the Applications User Experience team, talk about two fundamental initiatives that our group is working on now that speaks straight to partners.  

Special thanks to Joel Borellis, Kelley Greenly, and Steve Hoodmaker for helping to make this video happen so flawlessly. Steve was responsible for pulling together a day of Oracle Fusion Applications-oriented content, including David Bowin, Director, Fusion Applications Strategy, on some of the basic benefits of Oracle Fusion Applications.  

Joel Borellis and David Bowin
Joel Borellis, Group Vice President, Partner Enablement, and David Bowin in the Oracle Studios.

Nigel King, Vice President Applications Functional Architecture, was also on the list, talking about co-existence opportunities with Oracle Fusion Applications.

Misha Vaughan and Nigel King
Me and Nigel King, just before his interview with Joel.

Fusion Applications User Experience 101: Basic education 


Oracle has invested an enormous amount of intellectual and developmental effort in the Oracle Fusion Applications user experience. Find out more about that at the Oracle Partner Network Fusion Learning Center (Oracle ID required).

What you’ll learn will help you uncover how, exactly, Oracle made Fusion General Ledger “sexy,” and that’s a direct quote from Oracle Ace Director Debra Lilley, of Fujitsu.

In addition, select Applications User Experience staff members, as well as our own Fusion User Experience Advocates,  can provide a briefing to our partners on Oracle’s investment in the Oracle Fusion Applications user experience.

Looking forward: Taking the best of the Fusion Applications UX to your customers

Beyond a basic orientation to one of the key differentiators for Oracle Fusion Applications, we are also working on partner-oriented training.

A question we are often getting right now is: “How do I help customers build applications that look like Fusion?” We also hear: “How do I help customers build applications that take advantage of the next-generation design work done in Fusion?”

Our answer to this is training and a tool – our user experience design patterns – these are a set of user experience best-practices. Design patterns are re-usable, usability-tested, user experience components that make creating Fusion Applications-like experiences straightforward.  

It means partners can leverage Oracle’s investment, but also gain an advantage by not wasting time solving a problem we’ve already solved. Their developers can focus on helping customers tackle the harder development challenges.

Ultan O’Broin, an Apps UX team member,  and I are working with Kevin Li and Chris Venezia of the Oracle Platform Technology Services team, as well as Grant Ronald in Oracle ADF, to bring you some of the best “how-to” UX training, customized for your local area. Our first workshop will be in EMEA. Stay tuned for an assessment and feedback from the event.

Wednesday May 23, 2012

VIDEO: Fusion Mobile Expenses

By Misha Vaughan, Architect, Oracle Applications User Experience

Oracle Applications Fusion Mobile Expenses

Want to see something that clearly demonstrates that Oracle gets mobile?

Check out this video crafted by the Oracle Applications User Experience team and the Oracle Financials Product Strategy team. The video is for Oracle Fusion Applications Mobile Expenses, and it integrates with Fusion Expenses.



EVERYone hates entering expenses. This application, and the video, show how Oracle takes that pain away.

This application really showcases how mobile devices, and their new onboard technologies like voice input and cameras, are making completely new user experiences possible for enterprise users.

I had a chance to ask Diana Gray, Senior Manager for Financials Product Strategy what users were saying.  According to Gray, "Based on the feedback we've received, the users are delighted about the voice integration that creates expense lines based on your recording details as well as scanning receipts to create expense lines. Being able to capture expenses 'on the go' and submit them for online report creation makes the business traveler's life so much simpler. No more lost receipts. No need to remember how much you paid out of pocket for taxis and tips."

For more information, go to Oracle.com under Financial Management. Or you can get more details in this data sheet.

Want to find out more about Diana and her vision for mobile expenses?  Check out her Faces of Fusion Video

Friday May 04, 2012

COLLABORATE 12 Wrap-Up: Applications User Experience in Las Vegas

By Misha Vaughan, Oracle Applications User Experience



Getting the word out about Oracle’s investment in user experience

We had our best year yet at COLLABORATE 12, especially in terms of getting the word out about Oracle’s investment in user experience across the product lines. If you are a reader of this blog, you know that this message in particular is a big item for me.

Our Fusion Applications User Experience session with Jeremy Ashley, Katie Candland, and ACE Director Bex Huff of Bezzotech (a Fusion User Experience Advocate), helped kick off COLLABORATE 12 with great attendance and great questions, as well as a sneak-peek at where we are going with user experience in applications.

This was the first time we brought the Oracle User Experience demopod to COLLABORATE, and it, too, was a smashing success.   We had non-stop traffic, with a guest appearance by Mark Sunday, Oracle CIO ("Like" the Oracle Applications Facebook page to see the photo op).  The pod provides a great way for customers to get a quick feel for what user experience is all about with our eye-tracking demo.

We also had a great opportunity to contribute to the Faces of Fusion stories appearing on Oracle.com.  It was a chance for our Fusion UX Advocates, our Sales Ambassadors, and our usability engineers to talk about their role in helping to bring Fusion Applications to full bloom.


That’s me, Misha Vaughan, delivering a few words for the Faces of Fusion stories.

We also got some nice coverage from Aaron Lazenby of Profit Magazine.  Profit has just gone through a major re-design, and the Oracle usability labs will be covered in the August issue. 

Lessons learned from our speakers

I always like to check in with our team after an event and gauge customer reactions as well as gather a few key lessons learned. Here are some thoughts from Killian Evers, Senior Director, and Laurie Pattison, Senior Director, both of the Oracle Applications User Experience team.

Killian Evers:  “I was completely surprised and overwhelmed with the response Sten Vesterli [Scott/Tiger] and I received to our presentation. First of all, we received a generous round of applause. Second, and more importantly, customers responded that they had heard about extensibility preserving changes, but our session was the first time they had heard the details and seen the proof.”

Laurie Pattison: “Enthusiasm was high.  We were at capacity for the session Floyd Teter [Innowave] and I ran: 100.  My biggest takeaway is that people are eager for information from those that have already installed and implemented and are running Fusion for their businesses.  My biggest takeaways from Floyd were to stop doing requirements "must-haves" and just bring up a Fusion instance and let users at it.  It was a huge plug for how Fusion apps were designed to support users' business processes, as well as how intuitive they are.”

See you next year at COLLABORATE!

If we didn’t get a chance to say hello, we’ll look for you next year at COLLABORATE.


Me and Matt Munyan, Principal Solution Consultant, demonstrating real commitment to COLLABORATE and OAUG.

Tuesday Apr 10, 2012

Nucleus Research Note: Oracle's Focus on Usability in Fusion Applications

By Misha Vaughan, Applications User Experience

I recently noticed that Nucleus Research Inc. released a research note summarizing their findings on Oracle Fusion Applications.

It's always nice when an outside firm is savvy enough to acknowledge the value of a user experience strategy. When it is applied to what Oracle has done with Fusion Applications,  it's even more satisfying. 

In the note, Nucleus states:

"Based on the demos and testimonials from early adopters Nucleus has reviewed, Oracle has clearly focused on usability with in-application analytics and other smart application features.

 "In Oracle Fusion Applications, Oracle has built not just transactional corporate applications where users enter and extract data, but smarter applications that driver user productivity."

Read it for yourself here.

Read more about the story behind Oracle's Fusion Applications User Experience here.

Thursday Mar 22, 2012

Delving into design patterns, and what that means for the Oracle user experience

By Kathy Miedema, Oracle Applications User Experience

George Hackman

George Hackman, Senior Director, Applications User Experiences

The Oracle Applications User Experience team has some exciting things happening around Fusion Applications design patterns. Because we’re hoping to have some new offerings soon (stay tuned with VoX to see what’s in the pipeline around Fusion Applications design patterns), now is a good time to talk more about what design patterns can do for the individual user as well as the entire company.

George Hackman, Senior Director of Operations User Experience, says the first thing to note is that user experience is not just about the user interface. It’s about understanding how people do things, observing them, and then finding the patterns that emerge.

The Applications UX team develops those patterns and then builds them into Oracle applications. What emerges, Hackman says, is a consistent, efficient user experience that promotes a productive workplace.

Creating design patterns

What is a design pattern in the context of enterprise software?

“Every day, people use technology to get things done,” Hackman says. “They navigate a virtual world that reaches from enterprise to consumer apps, and from desktop to mobile. This virtual world is constantly under construction. New areas are being developed and old areas are being redone. As this world is being built and remodeled, efficient pathways and practices emerge.

“Oracle's user experience team watches users navigate this world. We measure their productivity and ask them about their satisfaction. We take the most efficient, most productive pathways from the enterprise and consumer world and turn them into Oracle's user experience patterns.”

Hackman describes the process as combining all of the best practices from every part of a user’s world. Members of the user experience team observe, analyze, design, prototype, and measure each work task to find the best possible pattern for a particular work flow.

As the team builds the patterns, “we make sure they are fully buildable using Oracle technology,” Hackman said. “So customers know they can use these patterns. There’s no need to make something up from scratch, not knowing whether you can even build it.”

Hackman says that creating something on a computer is a good example of a user experience pattern. “People are creating things all the time,” he says. “On the consumer side, they are creating documents. On the enterprise side, they are creating expense reports. On a mobile phone, they are creating contacts. They are using different apps like iPhone or Facebook or Gmail or Oracle software, all doing this creation process.”

The Applications UX team starts their process by observing how people might create something. “We observe people creating things. We see the patterns, we analyze and document, then we apply them to our products. It might be different from phone to web browser, but we have these design patterns that create a consistent experience across platforms, and across products, too.

The result for customers

Oracle constantly improves its part of the virtual world, Hackman said. New products are created and existing products are upgraded. Because Oracle builds user experience design patterns, Oracle's virtual world becomes both more powerful and more familiar at the same time.

Because of design patterns, users can navigate with ease as they embrace the latest technology – because it behaves the way they expect it to. This means less training and faster adoption for individual users, and more productivity for the business as a whole.

Hackman said Oracle gives customers and partners access to design patterns so that they can build in the virtual world using the same best practices. Customers and partners can extend applications with a user experience that is comfortable and familiar to their users.

For businesses that are integrating different Oracle applications, design patterns are key. The user experience created in E-Business Suite should be similar to the user experience in Fusion Applications, Hackman said. If a user is transitioning from one application to the other, it shouldn’t be difficult for them to do their work. With design patterns, it isn’t.

“Oracle user experience patterns are the building blocks for the virtual world that ensure productivity, consistency and user satisfaction,” Hackman said. “They are built for the enterprise, but incorporate the best practices from across the virtual world. They empower productivity and facilitate social interaction. When you build with patterns, you get all the end-user benefits of less training / retraining from the finished product. You also get faster / cheaper development.”

What’s coming?

You can already access design patterns to help you build Dashboards with OBIEE here.

And we promised you at the beginning that we had something in the pipeline on Fusion Applications design patterns. Look for the announcement about when they are available here on VoX.

Thursday Mar 15, 2012

Fusion Applications Outreach Continues: Europe

By Misha Vaughan, Applications User Experience

The Oracle Applications User Experience team recently completed training in Europe for a select group of Oracle application solution consultants. The goal was to educate them about Oracle's investment in the Fusion User Experience.

This group of newly trained Applications User Experience Sales Ambassadors (SAMBA), continues a program of educational outreach about Oracle's investment in usability across the suites.


Katie Candland, Director, Applications User Experience, talks about the Fusion User Experience in Munich, Germany, recently.

If you would like to hear more about the Fusion User Experience, Oracle's deep investment in this space, and how it extends to our existing product lines including JD Edwards, Siebel, E-Business Suite, and more, feel free to contact us. We can point you to a resource local to your area, including specially trained speakers 

Friday Jan 27, 2012

Fusion User Experience Advocates : 1 Year Later

By Misha Vaughan & Kathy Miedema, Applications User Experience

I've mentioned a group that we call FXA before. Members of this group, the Fusion User Experience Advocates, are ACE Directors  who have been trained on the Oracle Fusion Applications User Experience by the Oracle Applications User Experience team.

floyd teter
Floyd Teter, Innowave & Oracle ACE Director

As part of their training, they’ve agreed to present at Oracle user groups around the world on a variety of topics that relate to the Fusion Applications user experience. They have unprecedented access to demos and presentations that only members of the Oracle Applications User Experience team have ever given, and they are trained on how to present that user experience to customers.

Debra Lilley
Debra Lilley, Fujitsu & Oracle ACE Director

Here are a few comments from our Fusion UX Advocates about the most recent training on the Fusion Applications user experience that they received, which happened this week.

Floyd Teter, Innowave Technology: “Most of the world is still waiting to see this for the first time.”

Debra Lilley, Fujitsu: “It helps to dissect a presentation” to really understand what you are going to talk about.

Karen Brownfield, Rolta: “It was wonderful.”

Most appreciated having a group learning event, so that they could bring their own expertise to the table during the dissection and delivery of presentations. They learned from our team as well as each other because the training event really promoted a collaborative learning atmosphere.

Misha Vaughan
Misha Vaughan, Oracle Applications User Experience

Why would you want to learn more about the Fusion Applications user experience?

Oracle Fusion Applications is Oracle’s answer to the next generation of enterprise software. Not only has it set a new standard for the way you work, it’s already changing the face of enterprise applications.

User experience features in Fusion Applications are already present in PeopleSoft, E-Business Suite, JD Edwards, and more Oracle applications. We talk about that a lot, here and at Usable Apps, our Web site devoted to the usability improvements in the Oracle applications user experience.

What you may not know is that these user experience features, and the features in Fusion, came from the same research. Extensive customer observation, an exhaustive look at the best practices in all Oracle existing applications and our acquisitions, modern trends in the consumer world, and a careful assessment of users ever-changing needs that could be met with Oracle technology -- have contributed to the new user experience features that are available today.

And when you see them in Fusion Applications, you will get an idea of what is available in your current Oracle application, if you haven’t upgraded lately. You might even want to think about developing a co-existence strategy with your current applications.

Why should the FXA team matter to you?

YOU can tap into the knowledge and training of the FXA team. You have access to them through Oracle user groups. Hearing them speak, and learning more about the Oracle Fusion Applications user experience tools and features, is as simple as attending one of their presentations. 

If you’re interested in seeing more, contact shannon.whiteman @ oracle.com to see where our FXA presenters will be next.

Tuesday Dec 20, 2011

The Oracle Applications User Experience team at UKOUG 2011

By Misha Vaughan, Oracle Applications User Experience

This was my first time attending the UK Oracle User Group conference, or UKOUG, and I was thrilled, frankly, to meet a whole new constituency for Oracle.

Attending the conference presented a chance to meet with a whole new raft of customers face-to-face, hear their issues, and connect with a bevy of Oracle folks I otherwise would only know as voices on the phone.

Circus near Birmingham International Convention Center

ADF and Fusion Apps

Special thanks goes to Debra Lilley, UKOUG president, for being such an awesome host and inviting the UX team to attend the ACE Directors dinner. As luck would have it, I met Grant Ronald, Senior Group Product Manager for ADF (Application Development Framework) at Oracle, at this same dinner. He told me that customers were starting to tell him: “I want to build an application, and I want it to look like Fusion.”

As a user experience professional who has labored under secrecy around Oracle Fusion Applications for many long years, it was outstanding to hear. Fusion Applications was just announced as generally available at Oracle OpenWorld 2011 in October. Now, suddenly, our work is going before everyone.

I learned about Grant’s Oracle Technology Network Channel on Application Development Framework, as well as his new book, “Quick Start Guide to Fusion Development: Oracle JDeveloper and Oracle ADF.”


Grant Ronald signs his book for me.

Fusion Learning Paths

Debra Lilley and Sten Vesterli, who are both ACE Directors and Fusion UX Advocates for the Oracle Applications User Experience team, announced the release of the Oracle user groups’ collective effort to help provide customers with a third-party perspective on Oracle Fusion Applications – called Fusion Learning Paths. Oracle can’t cover all of the nuances and every question customers will have, so having an organization that partners with us to provide another avenue of information is a good thing.

Their information is pretty thorough already.

If you want to stay abreast of updates, register at: http://www.tinyurl.com/fusionapps.

Another hidden gem was the Oracle support story, as told by Richard Bingham, Senior Principal Support Engineer for Oracle Fusion Applications at Oracle. In choosing to redesign what it means to deliver an “enterprise user experience,” I did not realize how even the support experience was transformed for customers. He was kind enough to point me to his new book, “Managing Oracle Fusion Applications. Look for more to come on this.

Applications Sessions

Once again, Oracle brought its usability labs to UKOUG. Special thanks go to Teena Singh, Angela Johnston, and Gozel Aamoth from the Oracle Applications User Experience team for their consistently hard work at pulling this off. If you were not able to make it, this team has a LinkedIn Group you might want to subscribe to in order to find out about future opportunities.

Other members of the Applications User Experience team did a stand-out job, in a presentation by user experience architect Patanjali Venkatacharya on what was coming next in the E-business Suite user experiences, as well as a session on Fusion Middleware and the Oracle Fusion Applications User Experience. Applications User Experience vice president Jeremy Ashley, Fusion User Experience Director Katie Candland, and Debra Lilley also delivered a presentation on the Fusion Applications User Experience; and Director of Global User Experience, Ultan O’Broin gave an unorthodox presentation on applications messaging as well.

Tuesday Aug 23, 2011

User Experience Summit: Intel & Oracle - Lift Off!

Intel and Oracle are coming together for a day-long exchange of user experience best practices. This is the first in a two-part exchange. This effort is being lead by myself and Delia Grenville, User Experience Program Manager, Corporate Platform Office, Intel.

Delia Grenville, Photo

Delia Grenville, Intel

Intel will be engaging with Oracle's Applications User Experience team to understand how they've been able build a mature, multidisciplinary UX organization. As a co-owner of the event, I asked Delia if she could put into words for me what she hopes to get out of the day.


MV: What was your motivation for contacting Oracle about running an event on user experience best practices?

DG: I was looking for organizations that had well-established best practices in user experience. Oracle is in its third generation of user experience evolution and is a mature user experience organization. We saw that Oracle had a lot to offer.

MV: What is the benefit of talking to Oracle, isn't Intel just a hardware company?


DG: Actually, at Intel we understand that developing compelling computing experiences require a host of elements including hardware and software.

Oracle as a software company has valuable user experience expertise. We are interested in how Oracle delivered user experience across platforms, and how Oracle integrates user experience across the product development lifecycle.


MV:
How did you convince Intel this was a good idea?


DG
: We have a lot of progressive thought leaders in our business groups who value and understand the importance of user experience. Our business leaders are looking to gain every user experience advantage while building Intel products. They were excited by a cross-company conversation that would allow us to exchange ideas with other thought leaders just as committed the importance of user experience. This is a unique opportunity.

Thanks very much Delia!

More to come…

Tuesday Aug 16, 2011

A Direct Line to UX: Answering Your Questions About UX Tools, Methods, and Fusion HCM

In April, Oracle sponsored a webcast called “Putting the User First – Moving Beyond the User Interface to a User Experience.” Listeners learned how the Oracle Applications User Experience team worked closely with customers around the globe to build a deep user experience in Oracle’s next generation of Human Capital Management (HCM) applications: Oracle Fusion Applications HCM.

The webcast was delivered by Jeremy Ashley, Vice President of Oracle Applications User Experience (UX); Aylin Uysal, Senior Manager, HCM UX; Jay Richey, Director, Oracle HCM Applications Marketing; and Beth Correa, founder and CEO of Official Payroll Advisor.

The webcast, which had more than 200 attendees registered, is now posted on the HR.com site and available.

Picture of Jeremy Ashley, VP of Applications User Experience

Photo by Martin Taylor - Oracle Applications User Experience

Jeremy Ashley, Vice President of the Oracle Applications User Experience team, sits at an eye-tracking station in the Redwood Shores, Calif., usability labs.

Attendees had several questions, and we’d like to answer them here on the Usable Apps blog. We invite you to take the opportunity to add a comment or question at the bottom of this blog.

From Todd Grubbs, an analyst at WellPoint, Inc.:

Q: I've visited the Oracle Usability Labs, and I’ve done the eye-tracking demo. I'm very interested in learning how you guys apply the eye-tracking data you gather to influence changes in your design.

A: Oracle’s eye-tracking tools help members of the Applications User Experience team record the flow of a user’s visual attention during enterprise tasks. Based upon both qualitative and quantitative methods, researchers can tell whether users clearly understand icons, whether page navigation is intuitive, and whether page layout is confusing. This information helps product teams to make specific decisions that are targeted to visual and/or navigation features of pages. Eye-tracking methods are a complement, and not a substitute, for more traditional usability testing. The interface designer can be informed about unclear or distracting features on an interface, and can help determine why certain errors are made while completing tasks.

For more in how the Oracle Apps UX team uses eye-tracking, visit Usable Apps, or look for our demopod at OpenWorld 2011 in San Francisco, Oct. 2-6.

From Narayan Moni, a director at Aeroxchange, Ltd.:

Q: What software did you use to study the eye-tracking?

A: There are several steps, each with associated software, required to analyze the results from an eye-tracking study. First, detailed samples of gaze-points are translated into strings of behavioral fixations using software made by the manufacturer of the eye tracker, Tobii. Metrics from these scanpaths are then exported to Excel. Data may also be loaded into our own prototype analysis software, which finds matching clusters of similar scanning strategies. Metrics from both of these are then put into SPSS for further statistical analysis. We are also conducting trial studies with software by Noldus, called FaceReader, that can record several dimensions of emotion (e.g., happy, surprised, angry) based upon automated facial gesture analysis.

Q: Also, what was the size of the team that worked on soliciting user feedback? The reason I ask is that my company is a small company, and I am trying to understand the most effective and cost-efficient method to solicit user feedback. I understand that face-to-face is best, but it is also the most expensive and resource-hungry.

A: When Oracle began developing Fusion Applications, its next-generation enterprise software, Oracle had the advantage of being able to incorporate user experience teams from several recent acquisitions. To read more about how the teams came together and what that meant for Fusion, as well as for current application releases that have benefited from this user experience work such as PeopleTools 8.50 and E-Business Suite 12.1.3, please visit Usable Apps. We understand, however, that our work with Fusion Applications was done on a grand scale with a large investment from Oracle, and few businesses could replicate such an effort -- even with substantial resources. So we’ve been talking with Oracle customers and capturing their best practices in the field of user experience. You can read more about the type of research other Oracle customers have done to improve their own user experience – whether it was on a portal or their entire Web site – at Usable Apps as well.

Q: Could you speak about the organizational structure of the team that worked on Fusion and the responsibilities of each team? I am trying to understand how you were able to outline clear roles for each team without having teams step all over each other.

A: Our teams are responsible for certain product areas such as HCM, FIN, or CRM, or certain tool feature sets, such as collaboration (Web 2.0) tools or user assistance. But you have an excellent point, and it’s something we’ve been able to take advantage of: All of our research behind Fusion has been used to improve other Oracle applications as well as develop Fusion, and designs from one area may well serve a task flow in another area. So, because the Oracle Applications UX team enjoys a very collaborative atmosphere, we’ve taken many designs for Fusion HCM and incorporated them into recent releases of PeopleSoft, Agile, and JD Edwards, among other product lines. In addition, you will find collaboration tools and user assistance resources, for example, across the entire product suite of Fusion Applications. Because Fusion is a suite of applications that crosses many pillars smoothly and without interruption to the user, our UX team is designed somewhat the same way.

Kathleen Noble, NM DESIGN:

Q: Are there visuals?

A: Yes, and once again, we invite you to visit Usable Apps to read our growing series of articles on Fusion Applications. Here, you will find several articles on certain areas of the Fusion user experience with screenshots showing the highlights. Articles on Fusion Applications HCM, Fusion Mobile Portrait Gallery, Fusion Financials, and Fusion User Assistance are scheduled for publication before OpenWorld 2011.

Marsha Oremland, a director with ADP, Inc.:

Q: Can social networking be opened to individuals outside of the company?

A: Social networking in Fusion Applications is powered by the WebCenter Framework within Fusion Middleware (FMW). Fusion Middleware provides the ability to offer its services within an organization or outside a secure firewall -- the choice is up to the customer. However, in Fusion Applications, out-of-the-box social networking capabilities have been enabled for internal behind-the-firewall usage across global enterprises. But since Fusion Application runs 100% on Fusion Middleware, this capability can be extended outside of the enterprise through customization. Specific capabilities in FMW that could be opened to individuals outside of the company include discussion forums, wikis, and blogs. Read more about our collaboration tool set on Usable Apps.

Sue Wood, an analyst with Peopleclick Authoria:

Q: How many people work on the UX team?

A: Our team is a conglomeration of existing and acquired UX teams. The Oracle Applications UX team consists of dozens of micro-teams who all research, design, and test specific areas of the user experience of software applications.

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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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