Doors to manual! The Oracle Usability Advisory Board (OUAB) Europe met in the Oracle Thames Valley Park, UK and Oracle Geneva offices on the 17th and 19th of April 2012, respectively. These were the biggest and best European meetings yet (with nearly 30 people present); a testament to the importance of, and customer and partner interest, in applications user experience (UX) not just in the EMEA region, but worldwide.
Sten Vesterli of Scott/Tiger Explaining about usability (and other) superheroes. Picture by Ultan O'Broin.
There was a top-notch agenda for both meetings, with rich, engaging content, demos of Oracle Fusion Applications UX innovations and concepts, opportunities to input into new designs and features, data gathering exercises, updates from new Board members and from Oracle too on UX and strategic activities. With networking and communication strengthened on personal and professional levels, I have to say, it was fun too, and all conducted in a spirit of candid openness and good humor!
Particular highlights for me were the sessions on designing usable icons for international applications, delivered by Applications User Experience colleagues Lulit Bezuayehu and Eric Stilan, and the gobsmackingly-brilliant keynote in Geneva by Fusion User Experience Advocate and Oracle Ace Director Sten Vesterli (@stenvesterli) of Scott/Tiger called Superhero Usability.
Lulit Bezuayehu and Eric Stilan of Oracle talking in TVP about usable icon design. Picture by Anna Wichansky.
In the globalization working group space, my main activities were to elicit feedback from OUAB members on language preferences and search of translated content in the Oracle Fusion Applications Help (see this great white paper for more information). I delivered an update on the Fusion apps translation releases, and explained what was translated and the strategy behind such decisions. I also gathered data about international interest in mobile applications UX, about gamification, and about browser usage by bi-di language-speaking apps users.
My main observations from the globalization-related side of the Board interactions are:
- Customers on existing apps are still reporting insufficient space for expansion of names and issues with cross-cultural requirements for apps users. I will take a personal action to follow up.
- Deployment of mobile solutions and interest in tablet devices in the enterprise in particular is increasing, big time. A hot topic in EMEA for sure, and as you can ascertain from Oracle's new Oracle Fusion Tap for Oracle Fusion Applications web site, a strategic one too.
- There is emerging interest in enterprise apps gamification, particularly in CRM and HCM space. However, more outreach on the potential and what it actually means in the apps space is needed. Not as strong as in the US at present, but definitely there.
- Generally, there appears to be no requirement for apps customers to search in the same place for help translated into multiple languages beyond two at most perhaps. However, research continues on this, so no real conclusion there yet.
- Customers are adopting enterprise apps cloud solutions, and other deployments too naturally, that require language versions on UX grounds, which is great! Cloud-based translated versions for SMEs in EMEA too, are, surprise, surprise, a requirement for success.
- Machine translated (MT) apps help content. Oh dear! WTF has happened here with user expectations? Mentioned at the Board, the reaction from members about MT told me much about the issue of translations quality but also about the prescience of what is happening in the personal and consumer space influencing enterprise applications UX expectations (a good thing). Oracle MT is not like Google Translate, but is domain specific and
quality oriented with human input and verification before release. It is very encouraging that OUAB members continue to care about the quality of the translated content. But, we (OUAB) need to communicate in plain language (duh) about what improvements in enterprise applications translation technology really means for customers and partners in terms of their user experience. Context of use, and all that. My action item.
Watch out for other blogs covering the non-globalization side of events. In all, the OUAB Europe events were a very valuable exercise, and here's to more OUAB events outside of the US! If your organization would like to participate, then check out the OUAB section of the usableapps web site.
Again, thanks to all the OUAB members for participating, and a big shout out to colleagues Anna Wichansky and Alisa Hamai for their hard work in making this program so successful worldwide.