By Sarah Smart, Oracle Applications User Experience
Editor’s note: This is the second in a three-part series on the current strategy behind the Oracle user experience and the ideas that drive that strategy forward. Find the first post here.
You’ve seen how Oracle has deepened simplicity in the Oracle Applications Cloud with the simplified UI across Releases 7, 8, and 9, and you’ve heard us talk on this blog about the “Glance, Scan, Commit” design philosophy that guides the Oracle Applications User Experience (OAUX) team.
You also may have heard us talk about developing this persistent user experience across all devices, setting the theme of mobility alongside the theme of simplicity. We’ve seen success with these approaches, and user experience is now widely recognized as a differentiator for Oracle. But these themes are only one part of the story.
What inspires us? How do we move the evolution of the Oracle user experience along? We get there through innovation and the study of emerging technology.
Our studies recently have focused on wearables, and developing ways they can evolve the Oracle user experience.
What is innovation?
In its purest form, innovation is to make something better than it was before, said OAUX Group Vice President Jeremy Ashley (@jrwashley). He calls innovation a process of constant refinement, not a single killer idea from one visionary. Finding a better way to do something takes time and effort, he adds: “It takes work -- observation, understanding, the ability to see what is important about something. The simplified approach is how we attack that.”
The OAUX team approaches innovation from two sources, Ashley said:
- new technology or materials that we can use to see opportunities for enterprise potential
- research to identify a pattern or trend that gives us insight
UX designers on the team then leverage the information from these sources to build something interesting and useful for the enterprise world.
It’s just as important to understand when you don’t need innovation, Ashley said. The pencil, for example, would be hard to improve. It’s tried and true and has been around for 500 years (even the mechanical version has existed for almost 200).
But what about the purpose of the pencil -- namely, to capture information? Ashley points out that the biggest competition for the user experience of enterprise applications is the pencil and the notebook. The latest designs of the simplified UI in Release 9 aim to replace the pencil and the notebook. If the designs show good innovation, capturing the right information will be easier, more elegant, maybe even more beautiful and more enjoyable to use.
An example of innovation
People have long used clocks to tell time. The Swiss, seeing a need for innovation to make the clock portable and accessible, created the pocket watch in the 16th century. But even the pocket watch was not up to the task in World War I, the first mechanized war where large-scale coordination of human forces was necessary. As time became less flexible and soldiers did not have the luxury of being able to fish a pocket watch out of a jacket, the wristwatch was born.
Jeremy Ashley demonstrates “the real estate of the wrist.”
Today, we have even more options for making good use of “the real estate of the wrist,” as Ashley calls it. The smartwatch, for example, helps us get what’s relevant directly and conveniently. Innovation has taken us from one level (the need to know the time) to another (the ability to wear the time on our wrists). Innovation has brought the visualization of the time and the ability to know it more quickly and conveniently.
How Oracle innovates
Innovation plays an important role on the OAUX team. We have to understand our changing environment to know how to adapt, and we put a lot of passion into understanding what is right, Ashley said. “Just because we can do something, doesn’t mean we should.” We need to ask ourselves, is this applicable, and does it make sense?
One example of research for the OAUX team encompasses beacons and the Internet of Things (IoT). Beacons capture information more easily than a pencil and notebook. They fill in forms for you -- no need to go in and do it yourself. We research IoT similarly to find ways to get beacons to talk about themselves and interact with each other.
From Google beacons to Raspberry Pis, we've already evolved from a user experience of “walk up and use.” Now, the experience should only require walking up, Ashley said. The OAUX team is looking for -- and designing -- that walk-up interface in researching and developing other emerging technologies that could help drive the next generation of the Oracle user experience.
The goal of our research is not just being able to get notifications from an app designed for the mobile user on a wearable device. Oracle is pursuing an all-encompassing approach of increasing participation. We want our applications to be so intuitive and easy to use that you don’t even notice the system behind your system.
From a notification in the “Glance” phase to a series of translators (Apple Watch, Android phone, etc.), which filter to your device and offer a way to scan your work, all of Oracle’s user experience projects are based on innovation and understanding what is important about something and how it can help improve your efficiency and ability to get your work done.