Saturday Dec 21, 2013

Heads Up on Displays: Exploring Google Glass Globally

As a global Google Glass Explorer, I was drawn to the HuffPo's "Google Glass: Qué Guay!" article about reactions to Google Glass in Spain. I wondered about that Urban Dictionary entry (not safe for résumés) too, as I haven’t experienced such feedback. We have Explorers in Oracle, I thought it would be interesting to hear from some about what reactions they’d encountered the around the world.

London #throughglass

London pictured through Google Glass (pic: Ultan O'Broin) 

I’m indebted to co-workers Anthony Lai (@anthonyslai), Marta Rauch (@martarauch) and Noel Portugal (@noelportugal) for sharing their experiences. Not scientific in any way, this is 'after-the-fact' guerilla-style Glass user experience (UX) ethnography, is purely qualitative, and for fun, as we move towards the creation of Heads-Up Display (HUD) UX guidance.

Out and About with Glass

@noelportugal

Noel Portugal demos Fusion CRM App on Glass

Noel Portugal demos Oracle CRM app on Glass (pic: Ultan O'Broin)

Mexico

Most people do a quick stare but are hesitant to ask about Glass. Questions came from everyone, from taxi drivers to airport gate staff. They always include, "How much do they cost?" When showing someone how Glass works, others always gathered around to catch our conversation.

United Kingdom

Again, people were hesitant to ask. On the London train I immediately felt the gaze of passengers and overheard some guys saying, "It’s Google Glass!” Finally, one approached and I demoed Glass.

In Mexico, and the UK, I was asked if Glass was going to "take off”. My response was classic UX - “it depends” - especially, if the price comes down. If Google enhances it further, I see a future with a lot of Glass around me.

@anthonyslai

Anthony S Lai

Anthony Lai (pic: Misha Vaughan)

San Francisco Bay Area

Most people know about Glass, but not a lot of details. They’re genuinely interested, and this is increasing as more Explorers appear. There’s a small amount of negative reaction to Glass (I had one bad experience), but I’d say this is because others haven’t had personal experience of Glass (yet) and privacy concerns.

China

In Beijing, people were interested when they saw Glass, but very few knew about its existence. On the street, people would gaze at you for a second, but then look away to avoid embarrassment (a cultural thing). One man in his 60s knew about Glass and asked me if I liked it or not. There was only one other occasion when I was asked on the street.

I had similar experiences in Hong Kong as in Beijing.

@martarauch

Marta Rauch

Marta Rauch (pic courtesy: Marta Rauch) 

California

Everyone who tried on Glass thought it amazing. The most common response was “Cool!”, asking when and where they could get their own, and of course, how much it cost. The current high price is an issue for many.

At live events and conferences, the audience wants to try Glass and to be photographed wearing it. People are impressed by the Glassware apps available already (including the Oracle apps). They like the features and enjoy exploring by themselves. Typically, they’ll try a Google search and take pictures and videos. Some will even try a “Google Glass-bomb” by asking Glass something they think it won’t be able to answer, but Glass does pretty well with correct responses.

I am also asked when prescription lenses will be available, and if Glass is compatible with iPhones.

At Yosemite National Park, I wore Glass to take videos of the mountains, and tourists and rangers noticed and asked to try it. I also wore Glass to a NASA moon launch at NASA Ames Research Center to get some Glass images of the event. I was so surrounded by inquisitive geeks that I had to take Glass off and get the video with my mobile phone!

@ultan

Ultan O'Broin Selfie

Ultan O'Broin (pic: Selfie) 

Ireland

In Dublin stores, staff all wanted to try my Glass. They would first ask what it was and when I offered if they wanted to try, all accepted. Shopping therefore took a while, but everyone was knocked out by the experience. They wanted their own - until they heard about the price. Everyone got the hang of using the Glass gestures, but a few were confused and wondered why Glass needed gestures as well as voice input. Nobody had any privacy concerns. Many were quick to take pictures without asking the subjects (making me very nervous). Again, the prescription lenses questions came up.

Few adults knew the name Glass. They had a vague awareness of its existence, but they’d call it Google Glasses or even The Google Eye. However, kids all knew the correct name, and what Glass could do. I didn’t allow kids to try it, nervous about getting parental consent. I had a hard enough time getting Glass back off my nine-year old to continue “digital native” research, he loved it! College students knew what Glass was, approached me, trying it out with a “wow!” reaction.

I showed Glass in my local computer store and the owner identified a use case for working remotely on a service request (for hands-free location and directions to a site and knowledge lookup). In another store, someone said it would be ideal for hyper local ads about special offers nearby.

UK

Similar experiences in London as Dublin, even in big departmental stores. Sales assistants were ready with questions and eager to try Glass. I breezed into one famous store normally very leery of camera-toting tourists, but without problems. More questions came about prescription lenses, availability, and price.

I wore Glass on the Tube. In the close quarters of a packed train, I overheard passengers whispering “Google Glass”, but nobody asked me anything. I did hear that using Glass must be a cool way to watch music videos when stuck on the Underground!

In Manchester, I didn’t turn a single head.

San Francisco Bay Area

Lots of people identified Glass and asked questions. My favorite approach was “Excuse me, Sir, but I'm from Louisiana, and I have never seen a thing before like that on your head….”.  

In San Francisco, on Black Friday, I saw the twinkle of about a dozen Glass displays on Explorers as darkness fell. In a sunglasses store, I was their third Explorer that day. The staff was ready with “no, we don’t make lenses for it!”(They tried on my Glass anyway).

General Tips on Sharing the Glass Goodness

Our Explorers all liked and used the Android-only (at time of writing) MyGlass app’s screencast features for demoing Glass to others. Screen casting saves on passing Glass around to everyone and encourages participation as the crowd gathers. If someone asks about your Glass, then it’s polite and professional to answer, and offer if they’d like to try, when possible. Get their views, and thank them. Check with guardians first if kids approach and ask about trying Glass.

Cultural and Language Dimensions

Analysis of cultural dimensions to information and communications technology usually draws on the work of Geert Hofstede and Edward T Hall. That’s for later, and perhaps we can even construct new models. In addition to the ways our Explorers noticed how people approached around the world, here’s a few other global considerations.

In China and Mexico, we noticed that the Glass English-accented voice could present issues for non-native English speakers when communicating using voice commands. Also, anyone speaking in softer tones, Chinese women for example, may not be heard that easily by Glass. Ambient or background noise doesn’t help.

When demoing, Explorers were also asked whether you could change the Glass UI language to Spanish or another language (not right now).

The voice-to-text audio seemed to mangle non-English names (in Irish for example), but impressively, Glass learned how to get them right after repeated attempts. Acronyms could also confuse Glass initially, especially domain-specific ones (Saying UX first being shown as “You X”, but then pronounced correctly).

Keep an Eye  on the Enterprise

The word is out about Glass. HUDs will take off in a bigger way in 2014, and although Glass is the most well-known HUD in the U.S., and becoming so in Europe, there are others out there. Consumer expectations will influence the enterprise UX of HUDs longer term, but enterprise use cases have been identified that make sense to build now.

More Explorers Immiment

More Glass Explorers are coming, so expect more interest and use cases (Pic: Ultan O'Broin) 

Enterprise UX is all about context and stakeholders, so exploring reactions of more than just end users is valuable. Although this was a “fun” exercise, our Explorers’ insights will help inform methodologies for more scientific UX research and practical guidance to enable enterprise users to work more efficiently with HUDs.

So, Oracle customers and partners, stay tuned to the VOX blog and Twitter (@usableapps) for UX information and outreach about the HUD trend. You can participate in the building of wearable solutions to make businesses more productive.

More Information

Thursday Dec 19, 2013

Oracle Social Network: Collaboration and Productivity Enabled with Oracle Cloud Services

Julien Laforêt (@julienlaforet), Procurement and Financials Sales Consultant, Oracle Social Network Business Leader, and User Experience Sales Ambassador, tells us why social network integration with enterprise applications is revolutionizing business communications and how Oracle customers and partners can collaborate efficiently using Oracle Social Network Cloud Service.

Millions of people (about one in seven worldwide) today are connecting using social media. The world of business has joined the trend and is now taking advantage of these same collaborative technologies. Enterprises now use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media applications externally to share knowledge about their products and services; to create user or customer communities; to communicate about events; to inform the market of product offerings; to respond to customer requests and issues; to find opportunities, influencers, new employees; and much more...

But what about social collaboration inside the enterprise?

Prior to the advent of social media, enterprises have been limited to email and meetings as a means of collaboration—tools that some have found are not always the most efficient means of communication. Take for instance this YouTube video that shows an actual collaboration business case that an enterprise “managed” using email. I had to laugh at the complexity and frustration that resulted! But such inefficiency—an email tree that involved 61 exchanges to arrive at a single decision—is no laughing matter for businesses whose priority is to increase productivity.

More and more companies are exploring enterprise social networks as an alternative and more productive means of collaboration. And the enterprise applications market is responding to this interest by delivering modern technology solutions that users are already familiar with from the consumer world.

But to bring about a return on investment, when we talk collaboration inside the enterprise, we must link it to enterprise requirements and goals. That means not just connecting people in the enterprise, but also connecting them in a secure environment with all of their business transactions, data objects, and daily tasks. For example, we might use social media to enable collaboration when working to resolve invoice discrepancies that require justifications, when negotiating or awarding contracts, when collecting information on suppliers, or when involving multiple stakeholders at different levels of authority or expertise in an approval process or transactions of common interest.

Oracle Cloud Services recognizes the value of social networking collaboration applications in the enterprise environment and has introduced Oracle Social Network—a powerful, yet intuitive application. Whether your employees use Oracle Human Capital Management, Sales, Marketing, Financials, Procurement, Projects, or other applications, Oracle Social Network provides a means of collaboration that seamlessly integrates business task flows and objects.

Oracle Social Network also provides users with the flexibility to match their preferred way of working: they can collaborate from anywhere at any time and on any device—from tablet to smart phone—using any modern web browser, or Microsoft Outlook. The result is optimal business efficiency through employee participation, sharing, and streamlined communication around tasks and objects.

Collaboration in action with Oracle Social Network: auction creation

In this example, we see how, directly from an auction, a buyer, Calvin Roth, has started a conversation so that the key stakeholders can review the contract terms and propose any amendments. See how Roger Bolton, responsible for final execution of the contract, is kept informed centrally, while other employees without access to the auction itself can still see important information about it and can collaborate on establishing a new contract template.

Shared auction in Oracle Social Network

Auction collaboration in Oracle Social Network.

Stakeholders securely collaborate on the auction document using Oracle Social Network

Stakeholders securely collaborate on the auction document using Oracle Social Network.

Directly in the document, employees can collaborate on and annotate any part of the document with their review comments:

Annotating a document with review comments.

Annotating a document with review comments. Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Adobe PDF, and so on formats can be attached to the conversation.

The document remains attached to the auction using an Oracle Social Network conversation, which conversation members can access securely and contribute to at any time. The beauty of Oracle Social Network is if newcomers are added as contributors to the conversation, they will see all the historical conversations and work already completed by their peers.

And your company? 

Think about how your company might manage this kind of negotiation today. Visualize the number of email exchanges, the effort required to orient everyone involved in the process, and the challenges of tracking transaction progress and history.

If thinking about that makes you feel anxious about lost productivity today, then imagine how frustrated you will feel tomorrow, learning that your competitors are using collaboration tools to effectively link their employees, transactions, and business data in one seamless, productive user experience!

But don’t lose heart. Oracle Social Network Cloud Services provides a solution that enables collaboration inside your company. So those using this application can sleep better tonight knowing that their businesses are communicating efficiently—bringing the right people together to collaborate on tasks and to provide the right answers at the right time.☺

Julien is one of our latest User Experience Sales Ambassadors. You can find out more about the SAMBA program on the Oracle Applications Blog

Monday Dec 16, 2013

Designing the Oracle Voice User Experience: Oracle Shares the Lessons

Brent White, User Experience Architect in the Oracle Mobile Applications User Experience team, explains how voice technology has become popular for mobile users and how Oracle has met this opportunity to make enterprise users more productive too. By combining user experience insight and technologies, Oracle Voice has come to life for Oracle Sales Cloud customers. Brent now shares the lessons of designing voice-based task flows in the enterprise.

Voice technologies have now gained steam for mobile users, and growing numbers of consumers are becoming comfortable talking to machines. Some of us already regularly dictate a note, execute a call, or make a search by voice, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Voice has become a hands-free interface that goes well beyond a simple input mechanism and offers solutions to real design problems in the enterprise, as well as the consumer space.

Oracle’s Mobile User Experience (UX) team has been exploring voice technologies as they evolved. Our interest intensified with the release of Siri intelligent voice assistant on the Apple iPhone in 2011. By converging several technologies, Oracle has designed a mobile voice solution for our Oracle Sales Cloud customers, Oracle Voice.  And, more is to come!


Oracle Voice enables users to talk to the Oracle Sales Cloud; speaking naturally to view, edit, and add notes to customer opportunities. Whereas Siri enables users to interact with personal data on their phones such as contacts, settings and calendar, the focus of Oracle Voice is to enable users to interact with their enterprise sales data as part of an overall task flow.

Oracle Voice UI

Oracle Voice user interface. A clear UI and underlying technology that recognizes the names of important objects in the task flow are some of Oracle's shared UX design insights.

The UX team invested in technology and user research over the last two years to refine the product, testing it internally with the Oracle salesforce, and externally too with sales reps as they perform real tasks in real situations. Along the way, the team identified key guidelines for the optimal usage of voice in the enterprise. Here are some of the things learned:
  1. More and more sales reps are using voice technologies to get their work done productively. Expect enterprise use cases to increase.
  2. Voice to text is only part of the technical solution. Natural language processing (or NLP) and understanding users’ context are important related technologies that we had to develop in order to provide a voice solution. 
  3. Understand what enterprise users do, the when and the where, of being mobile. Support only such users most frequent and basic tasks. Voice is not for everything. 
  4. Make voice usage a hands-free operation. And don’t forget any legal requirements, for example when driving.
  5. Voice recognition must understand user data, such as the names of important objects in their task flows and the relationships between the objects. For example, voice must recognize the input of proper names, such as customer names, that are part of the sales cloud. 
  6. Users will want to use voice-based search to find key information. For instance, users will want to just say the name of a customer in order to see opportunity details returned. Provide for fast search and a way to integrate the results.
  7. Make the UI clear so that users know what task flow is being completed. Misrecognitions of voice inputs do happen, so provide an ability to correct misrecognitions easily and to continue. 
  8. Keep voice interaction flows short. Remember, a human is talking to a machine that understands enterprise data but hardly anything else, until it learns it. It is not a normal human conversation (yet!) so flows must be as succinct and efficient as possible. 
  9. Although some users may have had only basic experiences with voice recognition in the past, most users that we bring into our usability labs are now surprised at how well the current-state of the-art technology works and helps them to complete simple activities much more quickly (such as when dictating by voice rather than typing a note). With voice recognition accuracy improving steadily, be positioned to respond to more new scenarios of use by having your voice UX roadmap ready.
  10. Add some personality to the voice interaction. Experiment with sounds for the microphone interaction and the opportunities offered by the many natural-to-machine type voice outputs now available. You can even ask Oracle Voice to tell you a joke! 
We’re sharing these insights so that partners and customers can further appreciate and also explore further how Oracle Voice can make their users more productive and how it can be integrated across enterprise applications and data in the cloud. 

We’d like to hear your voice on the use of Oracle Voice and related technology and its usage in the enterprise. Please send us your comments, because we’re listening

Tailoring the Tailoring Through Listening: Simplified UI Outreach

The Oracle Applications user Experience (UX) Communications and Outreach team held a pilot workshop in the UK for Oracle partners, independent software vendors (ISVs) and Oracle's own solution consultants (SCs) to test drive the enablement guidance for the tailoring of the Simplified User Interfaces (UIs) for our cloud applications in forthcoming releases.

We wanted to get feedback on what content is required, its structure, and the optimal delivery formats for guidance on customizing and extending the simplified UIs for our cloud applications, Oracle Human Capital Management (HCM) Cloud and Oracle Sales Cloud. Showing examples of what guidance we might deliver, getting feedback on it, and then listening to what partners, ISVs and SCs needed to meet their all-important use cases across a range of categories is part of getting the right toolkit of resources into the right hands at the right time.

At the pilot event, we first explained the simplified UI design philosophy, demonstrated the HCM and Sales applications themselves, explained how and which flows might be chosen to fit that paradigm and what UX design patterns, component guidelines and page templates Oracle uses to build such flows. Then we explored jointly the best way to share the Oracle insight and toolkit with external stakeholders (partners, customers, and the Oracle Application Development Framework development community) in an easily consumable way to enable their productive tailoring of such simplified UIs.

Simplified UI Guidance: Feedback Collected using StickyNotes and Colored Dots

Attendees watched and listened, and as well as providing verbal feedback, recorded more on large-scale posters of existing outreach and proposed guidance for tailoring of our simplified UIs. 

We covered common use cases and requested more from the field, showed off how composers can support such scenarios for the Oracle HCM Cloud and Sales Cloud, and what Oracle ADF components and templates are used to build, customize and extend the user experience. We entered a discussion with attendees on the best formats for consuming our shared guidance and how we can work together keep that guidance fresh as the frequency of releases increases and more use cases emerge. 

A valuable exercise, we are now analysing the feedback from the event, we'll hone the resources and home in on those targets! Exciting workshop, lots of energy, and exciting times coming too we can all participate in. So, stay tuned to the Voice of User Experience blog and to @usableapps on Twitter for the latest and greatest UX team announcements about tailoring the simplified UI.

Finally, if you're a partner or developer interested in contributing use cases or thoughts on our enablement, then find the comments!

Sunday Dec 15, 2013

PeopleSoft User Experience: Jeff Robbins and Jim Marion Customer Update at OOW13

What is Oracle doing for PeopleSoft customers to make their users even more productive and satisfied in work? Listening to their needs and investing in user experience is what!

For example, a new user interface is on the way, more usable than ever. Based on a user experience (UX) that is the essence of context and easy configuration for different business processes, the PeopleSoft UX  enables users to be flexible by personalizing their applications to suit how they work, and providing users with fast entry and a streamlined experience along the way to easy task completion.

In this Oracle OpenWorld 2013 video, introduced by Oracle Sales Consultant Jim Marion, hear about the UX strategy update from Jeff Robbins of PeopleTools about delivering the new UI and more. You'll also hear Jeff explain how PeopleTools provides solutions for desktop, tablets and smart phones while taking advantage of opportunities for simplification, too.

It's all there, and more, taking our PeopleSoft customers applications investment even further.

Building on Open UI: UX Strategy for Siebel: Tablets, Pharma, Field Service, and More

Check out this great video of Oracle Sales Consultant and UX Sales Ambassador Michael Klein interviewing Uma Welingkar of the Siebel product team. Usable Apps previously chatted with Uma about the Siebel Open UI and the free resources available to implementors and builders to make the UX go further, so we were keen to know more...

This video update, made at Oracle OpenWorld 2013, explains new Siebel functionality for different roles and devices, enabling customers to offer an optimal UX for their users, one that's demanded by today's CRM users, and providing even more return on investment for Siebel customers.

Special mention is made of disconnected offering for pharma sales reps and field service engineers, citizen self-service, revamp of customer dashboards, and lots more. Whether its sales or service, as Uma says, UX is about listening to customers's stories at events like OOW13 and through customer panels and presentations and then responding with specific applications to their needs. A nice shout out for how wireframes as part of this process is there too. Customers and partners take note!

Saturday Dec 07, 2013

Simple to Use. Simple to Build. Simple to Sell: Apps UX Enables Oracle Partners in the UK

Just back from Manchester, in the UK, where the Oracle Applications User Experience (UX) team (with Oracle Worldwide Alliances and Channels) held an outreach and communications event for Oracle PartnerNetwork members, this one aimed at applications pre-sale teams.

These events are all about sharing the UX message, partner learning, and an opportunity for networking and relationship building. But, they're a two-way exercise. Applications UX get to understand local market requirements and to respond with the right message and resources for customers and partners. Attendees tell it to us straight about how to make sales deals happen, and the insight we get from pitch-back sessions where attendees use those UX messages as part of their own sales stories is invaluable.

Julien Laforêt of Oracle France delivers a sales pitch based on OSN integration with Oracle Cloud Applications

Our latest UX Sales Ambassador Julien Laforêt (@julienlaforet) of Oracle France pitches a compelling social integration message to an engaged audience. Sold!

Learning and Listening

In Manchester, attendees learned the UX fundamentals of our Cloud applications, how to communicate the business benefits of our UX science, and identify enduring return on investment for customers. For example, one big win is the simplicity with which our Oracle Sales Cloud and Oracle HCM Cloud simplified UI applications (available now in Release 7) can not only be used out of the box without training, but easily customized and extended using composers to meet customer business requirements, too. It’s simple to build on that great UX, without needing a major IT project.

The Applications UX team were listening. We heard how important social network integration is to applications customers, the must-haves for ease of use and tailoring, how regional customers must have those  localizations to do business, PaaS partner applications integration drivers, the enablement of continued ROI for coexisting applications, the need to address productivity needs of heads-down workers, getting that UX message out to Oracle Forms customers, meeting public sector procurement requirements, and more. Mobile apps were a very hot topic too, and our demoing of two Oracle apps (Oracle E-Business Suite and Oracle Cloud Applications) live and showing off the latest mobile toolkit wiki of Oracle Mobile Application Development Framework (ADF) components and UX design patterns hit the target.

Ultan O'Broin demos Oracle EBS Mobile Field Service

Live demo of the Oracle E-Business Suite Mobile Field Service app by Ultan O’Broin (@ultan) (Springboard UX design pattern shown on screen).

Applications UX showed and shared demos for applications desktop and mobile UIs, all built using UX design patterns and Oracle ADF, and delivered the latest info on the Simplified UI Release 7 applications and how to use composers to extend those applications. We also revealed emerging innovations and business cases, demoing wearables, for example. The CRM Google Glass app was a big hit!

Noel Portugal demos Fusion CRM app on Google Glass

Noel Portugal (@noelportugal) demonstrates a CRM app live on Google Glass.

Getting Involved 

So, customers, developers, customers, are you preparing to join us in 2014? Watch out for more enablement events coming to your country or region next year. Stay tuned to the Voice of User Experience (VOX) blog and to @usableapps on Twitter for the latest details.

See you signed up for one of our communications and outreach events in 2014!

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