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Thought Oracle Usability Advisory Board Was Stuffy? Wrong. Justification for Attending? Your Business

Looking for reasons to tell your boss why your organization needs to join the Oracle Usability Advisory Board (OUAB)? Or why you need to attend one of its meetings (see the customer and partner requirements)? Well, try phrases such as "UX matters for our apps return on investment (ROI)", "That announcement from the <your company's name> AGM about increased productivity", "Happy Workers going home early" or even "Oracle, the Apple of the Enterprise, er, why don't you come along, too?" Or show your boss this meeting report.

OUAB Logo in Badge Format

With OUAB your participation is about realizing and sustaining ROI across the entire applications life-cycle: from early input to designs and beta access to implementation choices that makes for great usage and task completion on the road or office, sure.  Then, there's stakeholder involvement that goes beyond end users, including integration and performance, as well as measuring improved onboarding, adoption and support experience to show your decision makers and investors. It's all going on at OUAB...

If you think OUAB is a boring meeting of old people sitting around moaning about the grief of desktop order entry forms, shaking their heads when somebody mentions "Facebook" as they scroll through texts from the accounts department on their BlackBerries, well think again! Read about about the latest meeting's rich agenda: all designed to engage the audience in a thought-provoking and feedback-eliciting day of swirling interactions, contextual usage, cultural relevance, mobility, consumerization, gamification, and the tailoring your apps implementation to reflect real users doing real work in real environments in your country or region. 

Rollable ereader technology: A way to improve UX or just wrap silicon chips?

Foldable, rollable e-reader technology provides a newspaper-like UX for electronic reading (e-reader) devices. Electronic reading devices and technology featured at OUAB Europe meeting in December 2012, but not as a way to wrap silicon chips! Nom! (Photograph from Terrace Restaurant in Oracle TVP by Ultan O'Broin)

At the 7 December 2012 OUAB Europe meeting in Oracle Thames Valley Park (TVP), in the United Kingdom, Oracle partners and customers from all over Europe and Oracle staff from worldwide locations, stepped up to the mic and Microsoft PowerPoint decks with a range of facts and examples to astound any C-level UX skeptic.

Over the day we explored how to deliver great UX in the enterprise (mobile or desktop workers, too natch); it was all part of a theme of a new contextual, flexible, simplified, never too fast or too usable, yet inherently personal way of engaging with users worldwide to enable them to deliver results for business: that means design stops only when the business problem is gone (so it's iterative then!).  OUAB is about customers and partners knowing more about Oracle UX but also their own users and their tasks so that design and ICT can together transform work into a productive activity that users and bean counters will all be excited by.

The sessions together really gelled for me into a value-packed, engaging, cohesive event. For example:

1. Mobile design patterns: A powerful proposition for customers and partners already on entering the mobile UX space is now offered by using our design resources, implemented with Oracle ADF Mobile. Customers' and partners' developers existing Oracle Application Development Framework (ADF) developers are now productive, efficient mobile developers too, applying proven UX guidance using Oracle ADF Mobile components and other Oracle Fusion Middleware in the development toolkit. You can find the Mobile UX Design Patterns and guidance on building mobile apps on the Oracle Technology Network (OTN).

2. Oracle Voice and apps: Now, this medium offers so much potential in the enterprise and offers a window in Oracle Fusion  cloud web services, Oracle RightNow and Nuance technology. Exciting science now stuff, customizable for your UX, and demoed live on a mobile phone. Stay tuned for more Oracle Voice features and modalities and how you can tailor your own apps user experience for your workers. 

Oracle Voice Demoed Live using iPhone

Oracle Voice demo. Voice makes perfect sense in the enterprise. Maybe more than in the personal world only: how many times can you ask Siri about the weather! See the Usable Apps YouTube channel for an Oracle Voice demo too. (Photograph by Ultan O'Broin)

3. Oracle RightNow Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology: Wow! Discover how contextual intervention and learning from users sessions delivers a great personalized UX for users interacting with Ella, a fifth generation VA that uses real conversations to solve problems and prevent others.

Ella, RightNow VA

Meet Ella. Demoing contextual NLP-based customer experience, an example of great Oracle RightNow technology solving real business problems in real-time using real context and learning from the user, ready for the next interaction too. (Photograph by Ultan O'Broin)

4. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) keynote: A balanced keynote address contrasting Fujitsu's explaining of the concept, challenges, and trends and setting the expectation that BYOD must be embraced in a flexible way,  with the resolute, crafted high security enterprise requirements that nuancing the BYOD concept and proposals with the realities of their world of water tight information and device sharing policies. Fascinating stuff, as well providing anecdotes to make us thing about our own BYOD deployments. One size does not fit all.

Bring You Own Device

BYOD is a hot topic in UX and the enterprise: whether to embrace or tolerate though?
A keynote delivery at OUAB, you can download your own killer artwork poster here, explaining the concept and exploring the challenges, solutions, and emerging best practices.

5. Icon cross-cultural research and design insights: Ever wondered about the cultural appropriateness of icons used in software UIs and how these icons assessed for global use? Or considered that social media "Like" icons might be  unacceptable hand gestures in culture or enterprise? Or do old world icons like Save floppy disk icons still make sense to users, worldwide?

Well the survey results told you. Challenges must be tested, over time, and context of use is critical now, including external factors such as the internet and social media adoption. Indeed the fears about global rejection of the face and hand icons was not borne out, and some of the more anachronistic icons (checkbooks, microphones, real-to-real tape decks, those famous 3.5" floppies for Save) have become accepted metaphors for current actions. Importantly, the findings brought into focus the reason for OUAB: to engage with customers and partners and understand their needs and issues so we can make great usable apps for them. We must obtain feedback though working groups and Board members, and others, before we build anything.

Best icon for Save? Possibilities

The Save icon is accepted now, despite its original inspiration no longer being in use.
But what would you replace that icon with? Or do you even need to? OUAB discussed!

6. E-Readers and Oracle iBook: What is the uptake and trends of e-readers? And how about a demo of an iBook with enterprise apps content?  Well received by the audience, this session included a live running poll of e-reader usage and revealed a lot about enterprise adoption of the technologies on offer and customer and partner plans for same.

7. Gamification design session: Fun, hands on event for teams of Oracle staff, partners and customers, actually building gamified flows, a practice that can be applied right away by customers and partners. 

8. UX Direct: A new offering of usability best practices, coming to an external website for you in 2013. Find a real user, observe their tasks, design and approve, build and measure. Simple stuff to improve apps implications, no end. You can do it with our investment in UX Science turned over to you in plain language. No special tools, resources, or PhDs needed (we have those so you don't need to).

9. Simplified and Modern UX (FUSE): FUSE is an internal Oracle term really, but since it's out there it means Fusion Simplified Experience). Learn about, and see for real, the new Face of Fusion Applications:  lightweight, simple to use, social, personalizable and fast. We saw three great live demos from HCM, CRM and ICT use cases on how these flexible, thoughtful UX designs brought to life in 100% Oracle ADF can be used in different ways to excite and delight users on different devices and deliver productivity to benefit your entire business.

The new Face of Fusion Applications

The New Face of Fusion Applications (HCM). Demoed live at OUAB.

So, a powerful breadth and depth of UX solutions and opportunities for customers and partners to engage with and explore how they can make their users happy and benefit their business reaping continued ROI from those apps investments. And what a fun day too. Catering provided, superb TVP conference facilities, and a wonderful meeting host (me!). What more could you want as reasons to joining OUAB and attending!

Find out more about the OUAB and how to get involved here ... 

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