Thursday Feb 20, 2014

Taking Steps to Innovate: Walking Meetings at Oracle

User experience (UX) is about more than pixels on the screen. UX covers all the areas that workers crisscross on their way to getting their jobs done. It’s an appreciation that what happens offline can be as important as what happens online. It’s about exploring the established ways of working and emerging trends, and understanding how people connect and communicate. Even the smallest, stickiest job aid offers an opportunity for UX innovation in the workplace. Sometimes inspiration is right under your nose. 

Watching my Oracle co-workers, a diverse crowd that spans a wide range of ages and cultures and with a myriad of skills and experiences to share, gives me a window into modern ways of working that others have to pay to observe. Sure, we don’t have a beach volleyball court on the Oracle HQ campus (works for me, as I don’t do shorts). But we do have a beautiful lake.

Plain Sailin' at Oracle's Lake Larry. Where shorts are not needed to be cool.

Oracle’s Redwood Shores HQ campus is clustered around a spectacular lake, affectionately referred to as 'Lake Larry' by the locals.

It’s around that lake that David Haimes, a Senior Director in Oracle Financials Applications Product Development, changed the way he manages his team by introducing walking meetings. I caught up with him to learn more. 

A reasonably active chap to start (by U.S. standards), David was already swimming in the evenings and running at weekends. Then, his wife gave him a FitBit. With that little sensor on the wrist recording his daily activity stats, one glance at the FitBit dashboard analytics revealed those workdays when his activity levels were flatlining. Now, there was an opportunity to put some peaks back into those charts if he could figure out a way to merge work and play.

David recalled hearing about walking meetings on NPR and being impressed with the health and work benefits delivered. He read the good things Kaiser Permanente  (disclosure: an Oracle customer) shared about the practice, and saw the YouTube video about it too. 

So, come January 2014, David introduced walking meetings for his directs, walking around Lake Larry for their one-on-ones. The results are pretty impressive. 

Keepin' it simple on Doctor's (Pepper's) Orders. David Haimes and Floyd Teter.


Keepin' it simple. David Haimes (@dhaimes), and Oracle partner UX champ Floyd Teter (@fteter) of IO Consulting, walk the walk and talk the talk of today’s applications at Oracle HQ.

David’s blogged about his experiences to an eager audience, explaining how walking meetings enabled higher rates of problem solving and creativity in the team. Freed from the confined atmosphere of a building or office and out in the (usually) sunny Silicon Valley environment, he’s found that “meetings are more productive…we can actually talk through those issues we need to discuss, think about them clearly and agree on actions”.  And, those ‘let’s-take-a-walk’ moments are also a perfect way to broach tricky subjects that might be harder to bring up across a desk or on email.

Not only that. His daily mileage has gone from 2 to 3 miles a day to 4 to 6 miles a day!

Inspired by David’s initiative, co-workers in Oracle are starting their own walking meetings, too. Fans of this new “mobile” approach to workforce management name check Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg as early adopters, and there’s even a walking meetings hashtag. But, walking meetings are not just a cool thing to do. They come with business benefits.

So, what could this mean for applications UX?

David records ideas and actions during his walking meetings using iPhone apps and voice technology. Plenty of mobile tools are out there already to choose from, and we will surely see new wearables emerge for unobtrusively capturing notes and ideas as people move about. 

However, I don’t think it’s the technology foot that we need to put forward first. It’s the context—people at work connecting with each other across traditional boundaries to creatively solve shared challenges. That is the opportunity—how to enable people to connect and collaborate even more effectively—that we might look to enhance. The best wearable technology fits the user, and not the other way around. That’s the step we need to take to start innovating from how we observe how, such as taking walking meetings.

FitBit Dashboard
FitBit dashboard: Work-based opportunities for such data are emerging.

Then, there’s that FitBit (and similar devices). There are rich possibilities for what we might do with such data gathered seamlessly by sensors and then served up as dashboard analytics on a smart phone for immediate action or on a desktop for more in-depth analysis. Think about what this sort of aggregated data might mean for how we measure and manage corporate healthcare, wellness programs, employee availability, productivity, and so on.

Walk this way!

Thursday Feb 13, 2014

Learning to Build a Wearables User Experience from Mickey Mouse

Using wearable technology in work is a hot topic, offering possibilities of increased productivity for businesses by augmenting and automating the tasks of the wearer. 

The Oracle Applications User Experience (OAUX) team recently ran a wearables design jam at Oracle’s HQ in Redwood Shores. This pilot event was for Oracle employees to learn how to design wearables for the enterprise and to develop an outreach program for customers and partners to share in the lessons learned in building such solutions.

Wearables at Work: Pebble Ideas Fuel Innovation at Oracle

Wearables at work: Use cases are emerging that add real business value 


Design jam teams were given an overview of the latest on wearables technologies and uses in the consumer and enterprise space. Cool apps already developed by OUAX for Google Glass heads-up display and the Pebble smart watch where demoed, live.

To power the teams understanding of wearables fundamentals and to inspire quick results, teams watched videos about the Disney Glow with the Show technology (yes, that's the Mickey Mouse angle) and about how rapid prototyping using household items lead to a game-changing, heads-up display device.

Currently popular wearables are built using different technologies, but use design concepts that work well across devices and make for productive building, such as the small screen card paradigm for information display.  Design jam teams were provided with UX guidelines that reflected enterprise build methodologies and usage requirements, a reminder that UX is now not just about how you wink; it’s about how you work. So, with this wearables learning in mind, the hands-on design began!


DIY Wearables Design Kit

You wear it well—design jam DIY toolkits being put to good use

The design jam was a non-coding event. Instead, teams were equipped with DIY toolboxes and given free reign to design a wearable that was as innovative or as “out there” as they wish with just two caveats. Firstly, it had to solve an identified enterprise problem and secondly, it had to be buildable with, or integrated with, Oracle technology. The result was amazing creativity quickly shown by teams, reflecting the diversity and talent of Oracle employees worldwide.

Team Air Glove Design Jam Wearable Creativity!

Oracle design jam team Air Glove solution featured heads-up display glasses, sensory gloves, and a special “Skunk Works” sensor (indicated by a WiFi-enabled skunk stencil). 

The design jam approach is a great way to learn about wearables and for newly hired employees to connect socially and professionally with co-workers in a fun way. And, there was a business focus too. Teams nuanced their wearable designs for the enterprise world, exploring how to integrate solutions with other applications and data in the cloud, for example. 

All designs were outstanding. After OAUX VP Jeremy Ashley gave an update on the latest wearables technology and opportunities, the team with the most promising design was rewarded by each member receiving an inexpensive, yet tasteful, wearable technology prize. 

The lessons from the wearables design jam and other user experience insight will be used refine our wearables enablement and expertise. That knowledge will be shared with our customers and partners to build wearables solutions too.

So, watch out for wearables enablement events coming your way! Stay tuned to the Usable Apps website and VOX blog, and follow @usableapps on Twitter.

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!

Tuesday Aug 13, 2013

Building Great Looking Usable Apps Productively in Brazil

If you’re following the Usable Apps blog you’ll know that the Applications User Experience team has a great outreach program to enable Oracle customers and partners to build great looking usable apps by applying shared UX expertise from Oracle Fusion Applications with the Oracle Application Development Framework toolkit. This enablement happens worldwide, and recently the Applications UX team, together with the Oracle ADF team and Oracle PartnerNetwork held a Building Great-Looking Usable Apps workshop in São Paulo, Brazil.

Great Looking Usable Apps, São Paulo, Brazil Workshop

Some 20 partner attendees first learned about the UX principles for enterprise applications, why UX is important in business, and about visual design for enterprise UIs. Partner developers then got to try out this knowledge though fun, participatory wireframing exercises for desktop and mobile UIs, followed by bringing wireframes to life in code with collaborative hands-on building sessions using Oracle ADF with Oracle JDeveloper and UX design patterns, component guidelines, and other resources. A showcase of up-to-the-minute user experience innovations by the Applications UX team ended two days of a great return on investment for the partners' developers, consultants, analysts and leads who attended the event.

Brazil partners invitation

The event was facilitated by the local Oracle Brasil team who recruited participants, set up location by coordinating closely with the Applications UX team in Oracle HQ, and even contributed local UX insights over the two days to bring the UX message home to participants and visitors alike! Everyone learned something new, valuable, practical and most important of all, how to solve real business problems using enterprise methodology to deliver results that mean productive and satisfied users of enterprise apps and more ROI for licensers of Oracle applications.

Wireframing a service request task flow. With Oracle JDeveloper on standby, Brazil's Oracle partners get the idea!

Wireframing a service request task flow. With Oracle JDeveloper on standby, Brazil's Oracle partners get the idea!

All the makings of a great developer relations outreach program were there: delivery of technical insight, common sense approach to a new domain (UX), fun, challenge, revelations into new techniques and different ways of doing things, respect for each other's abilities, open and candid exchange of ideas, the triumph of giving over taking, and most of all a display of enthusiasm across all levels of ability and experience.

So, watch out for more UX enablement workshops coming to your region soon. And don’t forget there's other forms of UX outreach to suit your needs too: blogs, webinars, websites, online seminars, advocacy programs, and more; the Applications User Experience is all about sharing research, design, and implementation insights enabling Oracle ADF and Java enterprise developers, customers and partners to build great looking usable apps productively, worldwide.

Wednesday Jul 24, 2013

Resources for Building Oracle ADF Applications

Interested in building a compelling, consistent, and flexible user experience with a user interface to support simple, intuitive interactions but not sure where to start? 

This entry lists the best resources to use to get started building great applications using the Oracle Applications Development Framework (ADF) technology. However, if you’re already an ADF developer, you can fast-track your learning curve by checking out our top 10 reads: Top 10 Things to Read If You’re a Fusion Applications Developer.

List of Oracle Fusion Applications resources

List of Oracle Fusion Applications resources 

The following table highlights the four key resources that we use when building ADF components and pages for Oracle Fusion Applications and offers examples for when to apply the information in each of these resources.

I’m building an ADF table, and I need to . . . Resource Use when . . .
Identify components and guidelines that I will need Oracle ADF Component Specifications You want to see examples and demonstrations of components, validators, converters, and miscellaneous tags, along with a property editor to see how attribute values affect a component.
Determine information design and  elements Oracle ADF Rich Client User Interface Guidelines

Your focus is data visualization, rich web user experience, visual development.

For example, if you were building a table, you would find guidelines for table design and table elements. Specific design and element guidelines include:

  • Layout
  • Row banding
  • Column formatting
  • Row height
  • Vertical and horizontal scrolling
  • Read-only or editable data

Add specific core and task-dependent features and interactions Oracle Fusion Applications Usage Guidelines

You’re looking for Oracle Fusion Applications-specific features and interactions that enable a cohesive user experience through the consistent placement and behavior of user interface elements.

Examples include:

  • Common and special icon types
  • Tasks pane
  • UI Shell

Apply  common and proven design and interaction patterns that align with industry best practices Oracle Fusion Applications Design Patterns  You want to apply common design patterns. Design patterns comprise common page designs that are built to accommodate common requirements that have been identified by the industry as best practices and have been proven by real users in our usability labs. Generally, our design patterns are delivered through JDeveloper as composite components, or they offer instructions on how to use ADF components.

Interested in learning more? 

See:

Monday Jul 01, 2013

Applications User Experience Fundamentals

Understanding what user experience means in the modern work environment is central to building great-looking usable applications on the desktop or mobile devices. What better place to start a series of blog posts on Oracle Applications User Experience enablement of customers and partners than by sharing what the term really means, writes UX team member Karen Scipi.

Applications UX have gained valuable insights into developing a user experience that reflects the experience of today’s worker. We have observed real workers performing real tasks in real work environments, and we have developed a set of new standards of application design that have been scientifically proven to be beneficial to enable today’s workers. We share this expertise to enable our customers and partners to benefit from our insights and to further their return on investment when building Oracle applications.

So, What is User Experience?


The user interface (UI) is about the appearance afforded to users by the layout of widgets (such as icons, fields, buttons, and more) and by visual aspects such as colors, typographic choices, and so on. The UI presents the “look and feel” of the application that conveys a particular message and information to users to make decisions. It reflects, in essence, the most immediate aspects of usability we can now all relate to. 

User experience, on the other hand, is about understanding the whole context of the world of work, about how workers go about completing tasks, crossing all sorts of boundaries along the way. It is a study of how business processes and workers goals coincide, how users work with technology or other tools to get their jobs done, their interactions with other users, and their responses to the technical, physical, and cultural environment around them.

Applications user experience is about completing tasks in context, crossing traditional boundaries

User experience is all about how users work—their work environments, office layouts, desk tools, types of devices, their working day, and more. Even their job aids, such as sticky notes, offer insight for UX innovation.

User experience matters because businesses need to be efficient, work must be productive, and users now demand to be satisfied by the applications they work with. In simple terms, tasks finished quickly and accurately means  organizational effectiveness, efficiency and worker satisfaction. Workers are more than willing to use the application again, the next day.

Design Principles for the Enterprise Worker

The consumerization of information technology has raised the bar for enterprise applications. Applications must be consistent, simple, intuitive, but above all contextual, reflecting how and when workers work, in the office or on the go. For example, the Google search experience with its type-ahead keyword-prompting feature is how workers expect to be able to discover enterprise information, too.
Type-ahead in PeopleSoft 9.1. Consumer expectation realized in Enterprise Apps
Type-ahead in PeopleSoft 9.1

To build software that enables workers to be productive, our design principles meet modern work requirements about consistency, with well-organized, context-driven information, geared for a working world of discovery and collaboration. Our applications behave in a simple, web and app-like personalized way just like the Amazon, Google, and Apple versions that workers use at home or on the go. We must also reflect workers’ needs for application flexibility and well-loved enterprise practices such as using popular desktop tools like Microsoft Excel or Outlook as the job requires.

Building User Experience Productively

The building blocks of Oracle Fusion Applications are the user experience design patterns. Based on Oracle Fusion Middleware technology used to build Oracle Fusion Applications, the patterns are reusable solutions to common usability challenges that Oracle Application Development Framework developers typically face as they build applications, extensions, and integrations. Developers use the patterns as part of their Oracle toolkits to realize great usability consistently in a productive way.

Steve Miranda Quote: Apps must be fast, usable, and code is always on. Developers take note!

Our design pattern creation process is informed by user experience research and science, an understanding of our technology’s capabilities, the demands for simplification and intuitiveness from users, and the best of Oracle’s acquisitions strategy (an injection of smart people and smart innovation). The patterns are supported by usage guidelines and are tested in our labs and assembled into a library of proven resources we used to build own Oracle Fusion Applications and other Oracle applications user experiences. The design patterns library is now available to the Oracle ADF community and to our partners and customers, for free.

Developers with Oracle ADF skills and other technology skills can now offer more than just coding and functionality and still use the best in enterprise methodologies to ensure that a great user experience is easily applied, scaled, and maintained, whether it be for SaaS or on-premise deployments for Oracle Fusion Applications, for applications coexistence, or for partner integration scenarios. 

Floyd Teter on using Design Patterns and ADF Essentials

Oracle partners and customers already using our design patterns to build solutions and win business in smart and productive ways are now sharing their experiences and insights on pattern use to benefit your entire business.

Applications UX is going global with the message and the means. Our hands-on user experience enablement through Oracle ADF  is expanding. So, stay tuned to Misha Vaughan's Voice of User Experience (VOX) blog and follow along on Twitter at @usableapps for news of outreach events and other learning opportunities.

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