Sunday Apr 19, 2015

Oracle HCM Cloud and the iGeneration: Not Your Parents’ Applications

Harder Than You Think” is one awesome rap anthem by Public Enemy (I’ve always suspected Flavor Flav was a wearable technology innovator with that clock).

There’s a particular line in the song that resonates soundly with the Oracle Applications User Experience (OAUX) capacity for empathy: to "bear witness". Witness to real people doing real tasks in real places. I used the line to open my session on Future User Experience (UX) at the Oracle HCM Day 2015 at Oracle Nederland in Utrecht.

Public Enemy: Harder Than You Think (Click to play)

Public Enemy: Harder Than You Think 

UX is harder than you think too, but our job is to make things easy for Oracle Applications Cloud users by simplifying things; hiding the complexity of technology and making convoluted business processes fade away.

The theme of HCM Day was the iGeneration: those technology-versed young adults about to enter the workforce with expectations and attitudes about job permanence and how talent is recruited and managed that have shattered the employment model status quo. So, to explain the OAUX fit with their world, I jumped right into Oracle co-CEO Mark Hurd’s “Welcome to Nobody Cares” HCM World keynote, research and insights into younger generations' use of technology, how work apps are more than a pretty face; and then in to Oracle HCM Cloud, stealing a line from U2 about everything you know (about enterprise software) being wrong, along the way.

The Oracle Applications Cloud UX message for the iGeneration can be summed up as:

  1. We care. Winning in HCM is strategic for Oracle.
  2. This is not your parent’s software (Not that they wanted crapplications, either).
  3. Tech-savvy people need tech-savvy workplaces.
  4. User experience is a competitive must-have.
  5. The cloud has changed everything. Vendor and partner complacency about how people and business use software is dead. 
  6. Making things "Apple Easy" (h/t Richard Twelvetrees [@rg12t]) is no longer merely a dream for enterprise applications users thanks to simplicity and a design philosophy of Glance, Scan, Commit.
Tech-savvy people need tech-savvy workplaces: UX Apple Easy

The Message 

To keep the performance real I offered a glimpse of what UX might come the iGeneration's way too. I shared some innovative concepts from the OAUX AppsLab team (@theappslab), our mobile Cloud apps, and the Oracle HCM Cloud, Oracle Sales Cloud and Oracle ERP Cloud designs for the forthcoming Apple Watch. I then showed live proof-of-concept demos of a glanceable UI for time entry microtransactions (using a Motorola Moto 360 smartwatch and location detection for mega convenience) and of Oracle Taleo interview evaluations and phone screener text (SMS) messaging built using Oracle partner Twilio's cloud API.

Glance UI on Smartwatch

Glance UI time entry on Motorola Moto 360

Oracle Taleo Texting (SMS)

Oracle Taleo Texting (SMS)

HCM Day was a great event, with over 130 attendees (including some 90 customers). It was a cool, fun, fast-paced learning event and an opportunity to build more relationships across the Benelux area. I was really wowed by the heads-up displays and 3D printing by main partner Deloitte too!

Glance UX 3D Print by Deloitte

3D Print by Deloitte 

Special thanks to Conny Groen in 't Woud (Marketing Manager Applications, HCM Benelux) and Henry Barenholz (Senior Director, HCM Leader Benelux and Nordics) for asking me to share our insight and innovation at a brilliantly organized and orchestrated happening.

You can see more of the cool stuff I showed off at HCM Day in the free Oracle Applications Cloud User Experience Trends and Strategy eBook.

Remember, it’s not how you swipe or click. It’s how you work. Tell your parents.

The iGeneration already knows.

A Werken.FM podcast of the day is now available (in Dutch). 

Friday Nov 14, 2014

Today, We Are All Partners: Oracle UX Design Lab for PaaS

To ideate with our partners to create user experience (UX) enablement that delivers, we first empathize with how partner development teams go about their business. By understanding their world, we can rock it.

The Oracle Applications User Experience (OAUX) Communications and Outreach team has just executed on a very successful internal event called the UX Design Lab for PaaS. The event's attendees adopted the role of partners delivering typical simplified UI (SUI) SaaS solutions using PaaS.

PaaS4SaaS event banner

This new kind of event used a new visual style agenda designed by the team.

We’ve got that partner message cloud and clear: SUI and PaaS are differentiators. And, we know how the cloud has changed everything, including user experience (UX). Partners need to build UX solutions in the cloud, quickly and easily, to meet those ever-demanding customer expectations.

Sticky notes to UX science: Baked-in developer enablement

User experience is baked into the simplicity of our enablement for busy partner developers.

So, a group of our own software architects, UX designers, Oracle ADF developers, platform experts, and other partner enablers, took typical PaaS and SaaS use cases and designed and built solutions using our Simplified UI Rapid Development Kit (based on Oracle ADF). They then deployed their applications using the Oracle Java Cloud platform services.

PaaS4SaaS use cases from paper to cloud explored

From paper to cloud. The event tested the PaaS4SaaS process from “All I want to do is... ” use cases to more complex solutions for Oracle Sales, HCM, ERP Cloud, and more.

This was a strategic event with Jeremy Ashley (@jrwashley), Vice President of OAUX as executive sponsor. Furthermore, 20% of attendees had “Vice President” (or higher) in their titles reflecting the importance that Oracle puts on this kind of partner enablement. What’s more, they got down to business with the design and the development tools too.

Karen Scipi, Jeremy Ashley, and Anthony S Lai explore the Ring

Jeremy Ashley (center) explores gesture-based interactions with Karen Scipi (@karenscipi) (left) and Anthony Lai (@anthonyslai) (right) during the event.

Our next step is to evaluate our experience and validate the outcome of the event with partners themselves. We're fine-tuning our partner communications and outreach with more awesome PaaS4SaaS resources, already proven for developers and ready to win business.

The occasion was an opportunity to try out ways of organizing partner events, so we added fitness and wellness breaks, fun activities, and tailored the event to reflect the diversity of the tech community.

David Haimes and Misha Vaughan in the minutetowinit challenge facilitated by Brandon of Reach Fitness

Minute-To-Win-It. Attendee wellness and engagement was one focus of the event. David Haimes (@dhaimes) and Misha Vaughan (@mishavaughan) display their dexterity with all matters cloud, facilitated by the Oracle HQ Reach Fitness team.

We also looked at ways of communicating UX in a simple, effective way, one that resonates with busy developers, such as using a Jobs To Be Done framework applied to agile simplified UI user requirements gathering and wireframing.

Julian Orr and Ultan O'Broin and the Jobs To Be Done Approach

Julian Orr (left) and Ultan Ó Broin (@ultan) fronting the #JTBD approach.

As this was an internal event, I can’t disclose use case details, of course. But, I will reveal that we are soon hosting one partner onsite for high-touch simplified UI design and development best practices to add to their existing Oracle ADF and Oracle Fusion Middleware knowledge. We'll fast-track that partner to rapidly build a solution that will grow their cloud business and add real value to the Oracle Applications Cloud partner ecosystem.

You could be the next partner. So, if you are an eager partner in North America or EMEA and have compelling simplified UI Oracle Applications Cloud use cases that fit the PaaS model, reach out to us through the usual channels.

More pictures of the event are available on the Usable Apps Instagram account and Twitter account timeline.

Saturday Aug 30, 2014

Simplified UI Rapid Development Kit Sends Oracle Partners Soaring in the Oracle Applications Cloud

A glimpse into the action at the Oracle HCM Cloud Building Simplified UIs workshop with Hitachi Consulting by Georgia Price (@writeprecise

Building stylish, modern, and simplified UIs just got a whole lot easier. That’s thanks to a new kit developed by the Oracle Applications User Experience (OAUX) team that’s now available for all from the Usable Apps website.

The Oracle Applications Cloud Simplified User Interface Rapid Development Kit is a collection of code samples from the Oracle Platform Technology Solutions (PTS) Code Accelerator Kit, coded page templates and Oracle ADF components, wireframe stencils and examples, coding best practices, and user experience design patterns and guidance. It’s designed to help Oracle partners and developers quickly build—in a matter of hours—simplified UIs for their Oracle Applications Cloud use cases using Oracle ADF page types and components.

Simplified UI eBook

A key component of the simplified UI Rapid Development Kit—the Simplified User Experience Design Patterns for the Oracle Applications Cloud Service eBook—in use. Pic: Sasha Boyko

The kit was put to the test last week by a group of Hitachi Consulting Services team members at an inaugural workshop on building simplified UIs for the Oracle HCM Cloud that was hosted by the OAUX team in the Oracle headquarters usability labs.

The results: impressive.

During the workshop, a broad range of participants—Hitachi Consulting VPs, senior managers, developers, designers, and architects—learned about the simplified UI design basics of glance, scan, commit and how to identify use cases for their business. Then, they collaboratively designed and built—from wireframe to actual code—three lightweight, tablet-first, intuitive solutions that simplify common, every day HCM tasks.

Sona Manzo (@sonajmanzo), Hitachi Consulting VP leading the company’s Oracle HCM Cloud practice, said, “This workshop was a fantastic opportunity for our team to come together and use the new Rapid Development Kit’s tool s and techniques to build actual solutions that meet specific customer use cases. We were able to take what was conceptual to a whole different level.”

Sona Manzo of Hitachi Consulting

Great leadership. Hitachi Consulting's Sona Manzo gets the whole team into the spirit of building simplified UIs. Pic: Martin Taylor

Workshop organizer and host Ultan O’Broin (@ultan), Director, OAUX, was pleased with the outcome as well: “That a key Oracle HCM Cloud solution partner came away with three wireframed or built simplified UIs and now understands what remains to be done to take that work to completion as a polished, deployed solution is a big win for all.”

Anna and Ultan Facilitate at the Workshop

OAUX Principal Interaction Designer Anna Budovsky (left) and Ultan O'Broin (right) facilitate Hitachi Consulting team members in working out solutions for customer use cases. Pics: Martin Taylor

Equally importantly, said Ultan, is what the OAUX team learned about “what such an Oracle partner needs to do or be able to do next to be successful.”

According to Misha Vaughan (@mishavaughan), Director of the OAUX Communications and Outreach team, folks are lining up to attend other building simplified UI workshops.

“The Oracle Applications Cloud partner community is catching wind of the new simplified UI rapid development kit. I'm delighted by the enthusiasm for the kit. If a partner is designing a cloud UI, they should be building with this kit,” said Misha.

Ultan isn’t surprised by the response. “The workshop and kit respond to a world that’s demanding easy ways to build superior, flexible, and yet simple enterprise user experiences using data in the cloud.”

The Oracle Applications Cloud Simplified User Interface Rapid Development Kit will now be featured at Oracle OpenWorld 2014 OAUX events and in OAUX communications and outreach worldwide. 

Monday Jul 14, 2014

Oracle Social Network: Enabling Employee Engagement with Oracle Cloud Services

Julien Laforêt (@julienlaforet), Procurement Sales Consultant, Oracle Social Network Business Leader, and User Experience Sales Ambassador tells us how the Oracle Social Network Cloud Service enables employee engagement and helps attract and maintain talent.

A recent Gallup poll revealed that 70% of employees surveyed disliked their jobs or were so completely disengaged that even incentives and extras were not sufficient to improve how they felt about work.

Disengaged employees means trouble for businesses in many areas

Can't contribute, won't contribute. Disengaged employees means the entire business suffers.

This statistic is important because we know that employees who are disengaged:

  • Do not exceed growth goals 
  • Rarely contribute to innovation  
  • Frequently limit their productivity 
  • Often share their thoughts and feelings on social media internally and externally, which contributes to negative publicity about the company 
  • Sometimes, they leave the company, meaning a loss of investment, incurred cost of replacement, and so on 

But, engaged and happy employees participate in ways that often yields more opportunities for the company itself to be successful, and opens the door to other talented people who are attracted to similar  high levels of work satisfaction.

Social media is a key that may help improve employee satisfaction and engagement. In this blog, we look at how to use it to enable positive employee engagement and results.

Communicating Internally

For any employee, growing their skills and knowledge, promoting their expertise and their successes, and collaborating across teams and networks in the company are important activities. These foster community and collaboration, a feeling of belonging to something larger than their current projects.

Most of the time, these kinds of growth opportunities and acknowledgements have only been possible in small social circles, for example, direct-line managers and immediate colleagues. How do you promote your employees to people in other regions or services?

Oracle Social Network allows people to connect and share in scalable, effective ways. It allows employees to create networks and:

  • Showcase their value and share their successes and expertise  
  • Participate in the life of the company: create, innovate, participate, share, improve  
  • Reduce the time spent managing emails and performing administrative tasks

Oracle Social Network Cloud Service

Showcasing Value and Sharing Successes

With public conversations on Oracle Social Network, an employee can create knowledge communities where all employees can contribute. Participating is easier than ever as employees uses the Oracle Social Network global search to quickly find people and conversations that align with their areas of interest, and then follow those people or join those conversations at any time.

Creating and Innovating

Oracle Social Network makes collaboration easy, reinforcing employees, their knowledge, and contributions as assets to a company. With employees creating, innovating, or proposing ideas, companies are more successful, employees feel valued, and unique talents of contributors are showcased in teams engaged in product innovation and competitor-killing ideas.

Nike, Inc. follows a similar model for their customers. Customers can propose designs for shoes, and the best “liked” designs might be awarded and launched in production, encourages customer engagement. Applied to employees, the model reveals that creative thinking and innovation is not limited to the R&D department in your company. Developing better products and refining processes and innovation through collaboration social process is game changer in a competitive business world.

Reducing Time Spent Managing Administrative Tasks

Oracle Social Network allows contributors to publish information to their walls and in conversations dedicated to a topic, where only followers and conversation members interested in the conversation participate. Unlike email notes distributed widely, using Oracle Social Network to publish information on walls instead allows employees to manage information overload and flooded inboxes. Information is published in dedicated identifiable conversations, easily located by employees who are empowered to join in. The conversation history is accessible to newcomers so that they can find everything that has been said earlier, a practice that prevents knowledge from being lost when employees leave a company, and it enables new employees to ramp up quickly.

Only Oracle Social Network allows private, secure conversations to be initiated directly from business applications and enables two-way tracking: from Oracle Social Network conversations to the original transaction and data in the application, and from the application to conversations related to a transaction or related data.

Initiating an OSN Conversation from an Application task flow

Initiating an OSN Conversation from inside an Oracle Applications Cloud task flow 

This practice removes the administrative overhead of exchanging information outside of the application's transactions, which occurs in disconnected silos, such as conversations between the requester and the buyer, project or transaction summary emails, reminders, and so on. Conversations in Oracle Social Network are contextual.

Employees can participate in business transaction-related conversations securely, too. Conversations may be private and information can be exchanged securely and in confidence among members of those conversations authorized to have such access.

OSN on simplified UI

Oracle Social Network is a great solution for tablets too. Oracle Applications Cloud Release 8 simplified UI shown. 

When you start using Oracle Social Network, you just might find yourself asking, “How did we run our business before Oracle Social Network?” Just like smartphones revolutionized our everyday lives, Oracle Social Network will revolutionize your everyday work-life for the better.

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. Personality and emotion  adds to the voice user experience. Careful use of humor and an aspect of fun has its place in augmenting productivity on the go. 
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!

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