The Applications User Experience (UX) Mobile team has been extending its ethnographic research to even more countries. Recently, the team conducted research in Sweden, and I am pleased to say I made the connection for the UX team with the Oracle's Worldwide Product Translation Group (WPTG) local (that is, in-country) language specialists.
It struck me that WPTG's local market knowledge and insight that we heard about at an Oracle Usability Advisory Board meeting in the UK in 2011 would be very valuable to the UX efforts while, at the same time, UX could afford WPTG an opportunity to understand our design and development direction so that linguistic resources (terminology, style guides, translatability guidelines, and so on) for any translation of our mobile solutions could be prepared in advance.
Brent White of the Mobile UX team takes notes as ethnography participant Capri Norrman uses mobile technology to work in Stockholm. Pic credit: Oracle Applications UX. The UX team acknowledges Capri's kind permission to use this image.
I'm told by Brent White of the Mobile UX team that the co-operation was a big success. A WPTG Swedish language specialist joined a couple of ethnographic sessions, taking
great notes and turning them around very fast for the UX team. And of course, a great
local insight into Swedish culture and ways of working was provided too, along with some very convivial socializing!
More research in more countries is planned. Watch out for future blog posts and other communications about this super worldwide co-operation.
Yes, voice-based user experience has been around for a while. HCI freshmen grappling with Molich and Nielsen's seminal 1990 CHI paper on usability heuristics for the past two decades would have come across such user interfaces - twice. Even on mobile phones voice assistance is not new. I've used voice-based Google search on my iPhone and Google Translate Conversation Mode on my Nexus S for a long while now, for example. But now the inclusion of Siri as a native feature on the iPhone 4S has really caught the attention of the consumer market and UX professionals alike.
What are the enterprise applications user experience (UX) implications of Siri?
What are the global UX aspects to the Siri potential?
As a UX professional I can see Siri use cases for mobile workers, sure, for simple input and creation tasks, but also for finding and manipulating more complex business transactions by taking direct action on data, contacts, locations, analytics, you name it, from one small device. Richard Bingham has some great points about Siri's potential in the enterprise customer service space.
Siri offers a logical means of interacting with devices that are essentially phones while on the move-your voice-and takes the natural user interface experience currently dominated by gestures to a new level. Obviously personalization and alternative interaction options will still always be needed as not everyone will want to use voice-based assistance all the time. Fine for telling Siri to approve an purchase requisition in your worklist or to map a route to the next service request within a 5 mile radius while you're driving (using a headset mind), but nobody is going to intone, Stephen Hawking-fashion, into their iPhone "Tell me who won't make quota in my sales territory this quarter" while waiting in line in Starbucks. For enterprise use, a more scalable service will also be required. An ability for Siri to handle domain-specific terms and jargon that a now comprehensive range of enterprise applications user profiles use in their conversations is a requirement too. With the mass uptake of iPhones and the fact that Siri learns from input means that shouldn't be a huge problem.
As far as I can tell in terms of international language support, Siri supports English sure, especially well if you like to speak like a real android, but also French and German. Additional languages will be needed to penetrate lucrative Asian, Japanese and South American markets. It will need to handle the more, shall we say, nuanced accents of non-native English speakers too. All this is very doable. Siri uses Nuance Communications technology acquired from the infamous Lernout and Hauspie, so global capability is in the DNA. As for usage in the field worldwide, will mobile workers in every culture take to Siri the same way, or at all? Looks like a fine ethnographic study on mobile voice assistance use in the making.
Can we expect Google and Android to react? You bet. With all that mobile Google Translate and search expertise expect something spectacular before the iPhone 5 appears. Of course, Siri is currently beta anyway, so by then, Apple will have moved it along significantly too.
A shout out to the usableapps.oracle.com blog article Going Native to Understand Mobile Workers.
Oracle is a global company and with all that revenue coming from outside the US, international usability research is essential.
So, read up about how the Applications User Experience team went about this important user-centered ethnographic research.
Personalization is king in the mobile space. Going native is a great way to uncover exactly what users want as they work and use their mobile devices, but you need to do it worldwide!
Oracle applications global user experience (UX): Culture, localization, internationalization, language, personalization, more. For globally-savvy UX people, so that it all fits together for Oracle's worldwide customers.
Audience: Enterprise applications translation and localization topics for the user experience professional (designers, engineers, developers, researchers)!
Ultan Ó Broin. Director, Global Applications User Experience, Oracle Corporation. On Twitter: @localization