By ultan o'broin on Feb 13, 2014
Wearables at work: Use cases are emerging that add real business value
Wearables at work: Use cases are emerging that add real business value
Seems that baby boomers are now Instagram-ing, WhatsApp-ing and SnapChat-ing just like younger Digital Natives do. How widespread those apps are in the enterprise is another matter, but it’s a reminder never to make assumptions about apps users. Yet, certain job titles do sometimes conjure up a mental picture of how we think some people actually work.
Mention “accountant”, and you might visualize a gray picture of quiet, introspective types, heads down in books and spreadsheets, papers flying, calculators working overtime, phones to their ears begging cash from customers and wiring funds to suppliers, while accounting for all the money. Not terribly social, then? The polar opposite of those freewheeling “Mad Men” sales rep CRM types, out meeting and greeting, getting their message across to make that sale, perhaps? In fact, the finance department is a hive of social activity.
Accountants. “Life in the fast lane” is contextual. But social activity in the finance department happens at a pace few other jobs experience. And they use applications too…
I spoke with David Haimes, Senior Director in Oracle Financials Applications, about the social side of the finance department. David understands the reality of his applications users. “Their most critical time is the 5-10 days after period close when everything has to be closed out and reported”, David told me. “There’s a huge amount of effort and social interaction going on”.
During the close process, David said teams need to exchange information and make decisions as quickly as possible and still satisfy business and legal requirements. Accounting teams were early adopters and heavy users of instant messaging, email distribution lists (with Microsoft Excel spreadsheet attachments), wikis, file sharing workspaces, and of course, the old fashioned telephone. But these tools were external to the financial application and data. The user experience was disjointed. Who works well in a silo? And, there was no audit trail. David has seen accounting teams copying and pasting emails into documents and attaching them to meet that audit requirement.
“The finance department has to make sure everything is correct and legal,” David said. “They’re reporting not just to internal management, but to Wall Street, to tax authorities, and to other legislative bodies. And, since the Sarbanes-Oxley act, CEOs are legally responsible for the correctness of the accounts,” David reminded me. That’s pressure.
Things are even more hectic when you consider the nature of the enterprise financial department today, with its distributed team members with shared service centers offshore and everyone working in different countries and time zones. Everyone needs to communicate and collaborate efficiently, yet securely and transparently.
That’s where Oracle Social Network is a financial department win.
“[Oracle Social Network] is a game changer in the finance department,” says David, not just for the closing period but also for daily financial activity. And, Oracle Social Network is available as a cloud service, with iOS and Android mobile apps versions too.
A close process conversation using Oracle Social Network integrated with Oracle Fusion Financials—an enterprise social user experience for the finance department that’s secure and efficient.
With the Oracle Social Network user experience in the finance department, Oracle also satisfies today’s workforce that expects social networking tools to be as much a part of their work lives as their personal lives. Said David: “Younger users are already familiar with how social networking sites work and how they’re easy to use, and that’s the sort of user experience we need to reflect. It’s demanded.”
Having a social networking application as part of the job makes hiring and onboarding easier too, offering benefits right across the enterprise. And it’s not only Digital Natives or Millennials who easily take to integrated social networking in work. Even senior users now see the benefits.
Socializing the finance department with Oracle technology is an example of how a great user experience can engage workers, accelerate performance and efficiency, deliver productivity for business while meeting the consumer technology demands of end users, and satisfy the requirements of stakeholder user groups such as other departments, auditing and security teams, tax authorities, reporting agencies, shareholders, and so on.
Read more about socializing the finance department on the Oracle Applications blog and David’s blog (a bookmark must) too. And, check out what the Oracle Social Network Cloud Service now offers and how it benefits your users and business.
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 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.
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.
Our latest UX Sales Ambassador Julien Laforêt (@julienlaforet) of Oracle France pitches a compelling social integration message to an engaged audience. Sold!
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.
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 (@noelportugal) demonstrates a CRM app live on Google Glass.
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!
The Oracle Development Tools User Group (ODTUG) webinar on the Visual Design for any Enterprise UI was a great success with nearly 150 participants signed up. The Oracle Applications User Experience team is delivering a series of webinars through ODTUG on building great-looking, usable apps, and the visual design subject, along the one coming up on wireframing, is always a crowd puller. The visual design webinar is branding-centric, a fun subject, topical, and something we can all relate to, so it's a great way to learn how to make a great enterprise UI for your customers and clients.
You can read more about the webinar content on the Usable Apps blog, but it is always fresh, this time updated to include insights on Facebook colors, the Yahoo! logo, those Apple iOS7 icons, and measuring usability and visual design. Applications user experience is all about being modern and compelling, and if it's hot in UX, and relevant to enterprise UX enablement, we're on it!
There was a lively question and answer session at the end of the webinar. Athough the answer to any UX question that looks for a "yes" or "no" answer is, of course, "it depends" (hat tip: Jakob Nielsen), here's a sample:
Q: Should your designs always follow a color paradigm of a logo for say, some company?
A: Don't copy or steal, but inform yourself of branding and visual design best practices and then apply them to your enterprise UI's requirements. Adapt the best practices to communicate your key messages and to quickly "hook" the user. Before rollout, do some usability testing with representative users, and when you're live, measure the usability, and respond to feedback. Using smart coding techniques means you can make changes in a centralized, scalable way. A conservative approach is best.
Q: Have you read the book by Edward Tufte on the visualization of quantitative information?
A: His book, The Visual Display of Quantitative Information is a great resource. Visualization of information is a vital UX requirement in the enterprise. You can find more information visualization guidance for free from the Oracle Applications UX team with the OBIEE Dashboard design patterns and guidelines and the Oracle Endeca UI Design Pattern Library. The Oracle ADF DVT components enable developers to be productive when building data visualization solutions.
Q: How does this (guidance) change for numeric data? For instance, can we apply these techniques to spreadsheets?
A: You can adapt these techniques for spreadsheets, yes. Lay out your information logically, use headings to organize and padding for readability, show the information in locale or common formats your users will understand, and don't overload the spreadsheet with lots of garish colors. A small number of primary colors, supported by a legend and made accessible, is best. Use readable, conservative font faces and allow users to change the viewing size if necessary. For faster access and breadth of information, consider graphs and charts visualizations with action components to then drill down into spreadsheets. Remember, Oracle ADF provides for the integration of Microsoft Excel workbooks and to detach and view application tables in Excel-like ways, too.
Q: If you are design phobic but your usability is good, should you hire?
A: If you must prioritize, then invest in a designer for icons (especially for mobile devices). Being smart with coding and leveraging technology to help you with color changes, font fallback solutions (using a centralized CSS) and so on, testing with common browsers, along with the other points covered in the webinar, make for development scale and productivity. However, as icons and graphics will most likely be binary files (let's not go there with SVG), bringing in designer expertise once-off is worth it. Remember, that its's usable websites that users consider beautiful - not the other way around - and well-designed iconography contributes to productivity and that all-important positive impression that users form rapidly. Icons are communication devices, central to your UX and the emotional engagement with your brand, so hiring a qualified artist is a wise investment to make if you can (investing in a copywriter is smart too).
Great questions! A copy of the presentation and the webinar recording is available to ODTUG members. You can ask your own questions by attending such webinars and engaging with our other outreach and events. Follow @usableapps on Twitter and the VOX blog for news of upcoming opportunities.
Mrudula Sreekanth, Oracle Applications User Experience, tells us about sharing the latest PeopleSoft User Experience guidance.
The PeopleSoft Applications User Experience team is excited to announce the release of the PeopleSoft User Experience (UX) Guidelines. These UX Guidelines contain information about using key PeopleSoft components to create highly usable, efficient, and productive experiences for Oracle customers.
PeopleSoft UX Guidelines and Principles to Create a Great User Experience
Several PeopleSoft customers participated in a survey in December 2012, which helped us identify the following topics, all covered in the first release of the guidelines.
With PeopleTools 8.53 and PeopleSoft Applications 9.2, you see more modern and visually appealing features being delivered by PeopleSoft. With the help of these UX guidelines, customers and partners can not only design and tailor their own user experience but also ensure consistency with the features designed by PeopleSoft.
The UX guidelines explain each topic in detail, display relevant images, and provide usage guidelines.
The following image explains what a WorkCenter is and the advantages of using it.
UX How's and Why's of PeopleSoft WorkCenter
The image below shows a train with sub-steps which takes users through complex tasks, one step at a time.
Train Steps Covered in the Guided Process Guideline
The next image shows the usage guidelines for Pivot Grids. Relevant usage guidelines have been provided for all the other topics as well.
Pivot Grid Usage Explained
The PeopleSoft UX Guidelines enable customers to design and tailor the ultimate user experience for their organization. Following the guidelines ensures consistency across applications. The guidelines also help in choosing the right pattern for any scenario.
Send any feedback and suggestions on the PeopleSoft UX guidelines directly to the PeopleSoft UX team using the comments feature below, your input will be forwarded to Mrudula.
Whether on-premise or cloud enterprise applications, workers expect their mobile experiences to “delight and excite.” Applications must be usable, consistently simple, intuitive, and above all, contextual while enabling productivity. The applications must look great, too—after all, your mobile device is something you rely on throughout the day.
The key to building successful mobile applications that meet these ever-demanding expectations—true no matter the platform or deployment—is to begin by focusing on real workers performing real tasks in real work environments.
The Oracle Applications User Experience team has done just that, undertaking an intensive and ongoing effort to understand the worldwide mobile workforce . A result of our user research: 10 key design practices that address common usability challenges of these on-the-go workers.
These practices, presented recently for some of our partners and customers at the Building Great-Looking Usable Apps workshop by Lynn Rampoldi-Hnilo and Brent White, have been tested in our labs by actual users performing real tasks and have informed our own reusable and adaptable mobile design patterns and guidelines.
Stay tuned to Misha Vaughan’s Voice of User Experience (VoX) blog and your customer and partner channels so that you can learn about workshops or other deliverables that focus on building great-looking usable mobile applications.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Enterprise application software development is all about being smart with architecture and methodology as well as knowing your code. Best practices such as using software design patterns for the abstraction of UI from logic (for example, the object oriented Abstract Factory and Decorator design patterns) are great reusable solutions and productivity enhancers that developers already rock with.
Oracle ADF developers will already be familiar with the concept of separating UI and logic, abstraction, and reuse through the underlying Model View Controller and Java EE patterns of ADF, the declarative componentization of ADF Faces, skinning, and perhaps most strikingly by the code-once for different platforms paradigm of ADF Mobile.
Enterprise software architecture patterns make for productive development while providing for enterprise requirements of scalability, performance, security, and maintenance. It also enables customers and partners to take advantage of a great user experience (UX). UI or platform changes? No problem...
UX design patterns are the interaction (or usability, if you like) equivalent of software architectural design patterns. True to the design pattern concept, UX design patterns, too, are common reusable solutions. Based on ADF component usage guidelines and insight into how users work, the Oracle Fusion Applications UX design patterns mean that ADF developers can now go much further than writing code, by building a great user experience for applications users.
The UX design patterns can also be used to solve usability design problems in applications developed using other technology frameworks, and you can see them at work in Oracle applications (Oracle EBS, PeopleSoft, JD Edwards, Siebel, and so on) too.
Using these already tested UX design patterns enables productive development (why sweat the UI or usability on top of code issues?). Applying them to a scalable and flexible enterprise software architecture means continued ROI for apps customers who can continue to uptake advances in functionality through a consistent, compelling, modern applications user experience.
BS theory? No. I came across a compelling design pattern methodology story recently of how an Oracle E-Business Suite customization based on UI abstraction was built with Oracle ADF and BEPL by a partner, Innowave Technologies. The Oracle Fusion Applications UX design patterns provided the UI for the underlying logic (a user experience based on a UI Shell with dynamic tabs as the transactional work area as it happens).
Basheer Khan, Innowave Technologies CEO told me “An excellent proof point of using UX design patterns on an abstracted UI was that our client upgraded functionality from one EBS release to the next while we built their apps modules. We were then able to connect the users into the latest functionality seamlessly.”
A solid architecture of UI abstraction and UX design patterns means Oracle Applications customers can now upgrade versions of Oracle applications and have a smooth path to coexistence and eventual full Oracle Fusion Applications adoption. The loose coupling of UI and functionality approach means development and QA efficiencies with the result of a shorter time to go live. Instead of business downtime with loss of productivity for users, there is painless user adoption and performance delivered from the proven productive and consistent UX solutions of design patterns. Basheer continues:
“CIOs are enthusiastic that they can have an upgrade smooth path for upgrades that also gives their users a compelling and modern UX along the way.”
So, if you’re an applications customer, or on the journey to Fusion, think about how Oracle technology and UX together provides a roadmap for continued ROI from your applications regardless of deployment model.
Smart partners like Basheer’s are ready to provide such ROI to customers, and he tells me “By default the Innowave team leverages the design patterns, it’s become part of our culture now to add usability to functionality. It helps us differentiate our approach from other partners.”
As chief evangelist for the UX design patterns story I tell our customers, partners and the development community about how design patterns are created and the benefits of using them. I love stories like Innowave Technologies’; it’s when I see the story happen in the wild that I really feel like we’ve moved to the next phase of the UX design pattern proposition. And it’s still evolving: moving to the cloud and ever-fluid development with our toolkit, with customers demanding the best of what Oracle technology offers as well as great UX, means techniques such as abstraction of UIs and UX design patterns will become even more important to developers.
Cloud-based development using hot-pluggable remote task flows, web services, and APIs is the way to go for competitive enterprise application uptake in the cloud, but apps users still demand a UI they know and want to use! So, as the cloud development community accelerates through the trajectory of not writing UIs, but writing UI services instead, they can turn to the UX design patterns as the front-end usability solution for the cloud development model. We’re done the usability thinking so that cloud developers don’t have to.
To get going with the UX design patterns, go to the Usable Apps website and find the For Developers section. And, for more UX developer enablement, such as for the building great looking usable apps workshops and helping ADF developers to build great enterprise applications, keep coming back to Voice of User Experience (VOX) blog, or follow along with the latest and greatest on Twitter (@usableapps).
By Misha Vaughan, Oracle Applications User Experience
The Siebel team has been hard at work delivering a platform for Siebel customers to tailor their end users’ applications experience. To this end, the team's just posted a bunch of super-helpful training documents, for free, for any Siebel Tools user.
Alexander Hansal of the Siebel Essentials blog did a lovely job of laying out the motivations (user experience, simplicity, and usability) behind Siebel Open UI. But this post is about the other story, the tools story. A good tools story on UX is always near and dear to my heart, so I talked with Uma Welingkar, Senior Director of Siebel Product Management, to find out what’s behind the release of the content.
Misha Vaughan: Why did you decide to make this Siebel content available?
Uma Welingkar: Just to give background, we put these TOIs out for internal use. We realized that we had a lot of customers clamoring for this additional information, to get started with Open UI. So we put these out on Oracle University (OU). The TOIs are not complete, but there is enough information to get you started installing, configuring, and making little changes.
In Open UI, we changed the framework from a compile time to a run time model. It allows customers to re-skin the UI on top of Siebel. The questions we got internally were the same questions customers were asking, because they wanted to go deeper than what we had in our documentation. So we decided to pull some of the information together. We took our own product management and engineering content, it’s not beautiful, but it’s great for our customers to pick up and get started with. We've seen an Open UI forum on LinkedIn where partners and customers are sharing together.
We talk about the technical aspects, as well as some insight into how to make the changes. For example, how to make changes around the UI controls, how to build mobile applications, and about style sheets, as well. We realized the first thing they needed to do was install the innovation pack. We decided to put it all together, the steps of installing the fix pack, and then next was a document on the specific function of the UI. We have seen a huge uptake of this, 400 hits a week right now, for each piece of collateral. We are seeing a constant uptake on these pieces. These are free presentations hosted through OU, as well as the recording of the presentation. They're self-study modules.
MV: There is an Open UI Functional Overview presentation available. What kind of detail should folks expect to see if they dip into this?
UW: This presentation talks about the functionality that was changed, for example:
See all the free courses available on Oracle University on Siebel Open UI.
There is also the accessibility features discussed in the Open UI Usability and Accessibility presentation (accessibility features are amongst the most powerful in Open UI).
Check out the Siebel Essentials Blog for lots more juicy tidbits on Open UI.
Attend the live, virtual training event April 10, 2013 10am-5pm (EDT).
"Beer." Mark Burrell, Director of User Experience for Oracle Endeca Information Discovery, tells me the apocryphal story of the technology’s origins. “Some Princeton friends were struggling to find a commemorative beer on eBay. They concluded that humans should be able to easily find their way around messy, dynamic information." Using facets (or attributes) to navigate through self-describing, unstructured data, ones that could relate to each other, was the answer:
"Say you’re on a home repairs web site, searching for a washer. Endeca facets would let you discover if it is in appliances, in dishwashers, to find it by style, by size, and so on. Facets summarize the data and guide users in a way that makes sense to their world."
It’s been a rollercoaster ride since the founding "beer quest", with Endeca taking off as an industry leader in the e-commerce and information access world, followed by Oracle acquisition in 2011. Oracle Endeca Information Discovery is a real game changer for the enterprise, now answering million-dollar questions:
I was gobsmacked that Mark designed the faceted search for the Irish car website carzone.ie. “Those horizontal sliders on price tested brilliantly. People even play with it” (I have!). Mark’s an evangelist for what user experience really means; his use of personal technology is one of problem solving in new, smart ways. He mentions using LinkedIn to discover professional relationships. Trulia’s faceted information for finding real estate by school district, commutes, and comparing buying and renting options impresses him. Pandora streaming Internet radio service is a fave for his music, with suggestions that are pure “serendipitous discovery”. And then there’s MIT’s Scratch, “computer programming made easy”. He loves the idea of snapping together components, enabling people to build cool stuff, fast.
This story of easily building magical experiences with stunning visualizations to make sense of a virtual world of information and discover new things is right there in the Endeca user experience, too. Mark tells me how Endeca technology explored a very large corpus of published medical data and discovered relationships between asthma and poverty and cockroaches when visualized as a tag cloud. I wonder how long such discovery would have taken, it at all, by manually poring over spreadsheets?
It’s “the consumerization of analytics. We’re in the age of insight,” says Mark.
At the back end, the Endeca engine indexes data, assigns metadata, and exposes salient terms and clusters of information as navigational facets. This provides for a layer of different visualizations and tools to let users easily explore the information.
Sure, traditional business intelligence, dashboards, analytics and so on, have been around for 20 years or more, but fundamentally they’re about the “how” – what formulas are used to show KPIs, for example. Endeca goes beyond that into the “why” of information, the “sweet spot” for decision makers, says Mark.
It’s the “magical” Endeca front end user experience with its visually compelling way of engaging the right users in the discovery of insight from the right information that enables great decisions and timely action, while measuring the results – conversion rates for example – and showing ROI.
For customizers, those great user experiences come easy. The Oracle Endeca Information Discovery Studio combined with a componentized architecture and baked-in best practices are the secret. Creating a geo-spatial visual UX, a cloud tag, or heat map for your data is simple.
Endeca user experience is based on some of the best interaction design patterns I’ve seen, informed by the power of their technology, design expertise and the consumerized expectations of users living and working in an increasingly mobile and social world of shopping and sharing on the go.
Broadly, information discovery product use cases are everywhere. For example, with Endeca, a CPG company can understand what products are performing, in what markets, regions, and what users are saying and how they feel about products, vital in the social world of customer experience.
Endeca product offerings are represented by Oracle Endeca Information Discovery (for business intelligence and discovery of any type of information), as well as great e-commerce solutions with Oracle Endeca Customer Experience Manager and Oracle ATG, for example. The ease of use and integration capability makes the experience of working with existing Oracle applications even better too. Oracle Endeca Information Discovery is seamlessly integrated with Oracle E-Business Suite Release 12.1.3 to deliver superior data discovery with killer usability, matched by high performance and mobile capability too.
Clearly, Endeca is a Big Data sense maker, but I mention the problem of bad data and how analytics is this regard can become be lipstick on a pig. Mark counters that Endeca discovery “describes” data for users, enabling them to multiselect from points of interest. This “amazes customers; they can still explore their data and select what’s important”, he says.
Mobile is a big opportunity for Endeca information discovery, especially for tablets Mark feels because of their form factor and the gestures and other device capabilities possible. Exploring a heat map with your fingertips, for example. Those Minority Report movie customer experience (CX) references that everyone likes to use, and offer so much promise, can now be brought to life in your hand, if you like.
Developers and user experience aficionados who want to get started with Oracle Endeca Information Discovery should go to the YouTube channel and to the learning information on OTN. To find out more about Endeca applications check out oracle.com.
Thanks to Mark for the magical insights, and for tell us how Oracle Endeca makes information discovery easy and fun. Watch this space…
At the Building Great-looking Usable Apps workshop, Misha Vaughan explained how observing even little things makes for building a great application user experience (UX): sticky notes*, for example. I caught up with the flame-haired Texan Applications UX messaging maven at home to find out about those very successful UX outreach programs to the Oracle Application Development Framework (ADF) community and what makes her tick as a UX mensch.
Misha Vaughan teaching apps developers about building a great UI at the UK workshop (photo: Ultan O’Broin)
Ultan O’Broin: You see sticky notes on a screen. A UX “crime scene” or “opportunity?”
Misha Vaughan: An "Aha!" UX opportunity! Applications users rely on a support infrastructure to do their jobs. The sticky notes tell me there’s something missing from that system. That’s why it’s important to watch users at work. You see everything workers do in context: the extra little inputs they make, switching into email, chatting with colleagues, the real interruptions, what happens when workers are at the close of a transaction, and what “you’re done” means. This aspect really informs the user experience. It can’t be captured in a service request.
Sticky notes: Still holding their own (Photos and Polar opinion poll: Ultan O’Broin)
UO: Developers value what Grant Ronald of ADF calls “Feng Shui of UX” anecdotes. How do sticky notes inform the Fusion UX?
MV: Simple things like sticky notes offer a good example of why UX doesn't stop at the UI. When we observed real users at work, we saw a common phenomenon: sticky notes on computer monitors whose job it was to remember. To remember an account number that had to be passed from one system to another, to remember a procurement item that needed to be tracked, to remember a budget code, and so on. What users wanted was a way to pass this kind of context from one part of their system to another.
Oracle Fusion Middleware (FMW) enabled the kinds of contextual UX that we wanted users to have in Oracle Fusion Applications. Those accounts, items, budgets, and the context of what users are doing with those objects gets passed by Fusion middleware sensors into Oracle Metadata Services (MDS). Users can now easily search for and tag items, monitor budgets, manage account exceptions, track progress, and see and share information about their transaction easily.
UO: Context seems central to UX. So “context over consistency” as 37 Signals would say?
MV: What may make sense here may not make sense there. Consistency has a place in UX, but it can be the enemy of productivity. Each experience must be contextual: for that user, their device, and their task. Enforcing a common UX means context becomes impossible. Think about how task flows are different for the mobile or desktop user, the difference in the UI when using amazon.com on a smart phone or PC, the responsive web design approach.
UO: How do you get the Apps UX messaging right? For example, squaring a noob ADF developer’s needs with those of a senior solution consultant?
MV: We learned the hard way (laughs). Know your users! We usability test our messages. UX can be too academic, so we stepped back. We communicate in plain language, making no assumptions about what the audience needs to know. Then we deliver our message in non-UX technical language through events and experiences that get to the heart of solving the real problems faced by the audience.
UO: What usability inspires you personally in your work and personal life?
MV: The stuff designed for kids. If they can use it, then it’s simple; it’s straightforward. Look at kids’ games and how they learn to use them. Somebody who cannot read is not going to look up a manual. I love the iPad games for my five- and seven-year-olds. Seniors, too. My mom can reboot an Apple router now just by plugging it in and out. She doesn’t know she’s “rebooting.” So, make it easy, transparent.
UO: You told me that you read Computers as Theatre. How did this influence you?
MV: I read Brenda Laurel’s book for my dissertation. The Internet is full of information. It’s a whole wellspring of genres. It was interesting to me how people didn't think of the Internet as “work” and how this informed their computer expectations. Today we can see that work and personal genres are blurred: games, consumerization, content, information, and entertainment are fused together.
UO: Developers really love Steve Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think approach to common sense usability. But can anyone be a UX champ? How can they start?
MV: IT implementers and developers don’t have the money or time to be UX pros, but they can still do it! I’m inspired by one IT manager we know from the City of Las Vegas, a UX evangelist there. He showed the way: Sit and observe your users. Take a piece of paper and pencil. Ask: “Show me how you start?” Don’t begin with what they do on-screen, start with that pile of papers on their desks or that incoming email. Then ask: “Tell me what do you next?” Explore further with “tell me more about that” and keep saying it until you get to the “you’re done” bit. Ask: “How do you know you’re done?” Tremendous insight.
You have to follow those user conversations thoroughly. Back to your sticky notes. Don’t start with the notes themselves, but find out what happens when users get the first message to act. Do they Google it? Look up the sender in LinkedIn? What’s the path of people, and how do they connect to each other? What’s a full day of work really like? What are the bits? Then design to enable users to work, not click, better.
UO: On to real user experiences. Austin or San Francisco: which has the best food?
MV: Austin! The cheapest, the best chefs. I’ll challenge anyone on that. The best burritos by far!
UO: Diversity in technology is a hot developer topic: Any thoughts on attracting wider audiences into the UX ecosystem? Women? Seniors?
MV: Start early, in school. Teach coding expertise in simple, meaningful ways. Move the Turtle Programming for Kids on the iPad, for example. Teach with Legos. Use games. Definitely, it’s about teaching fundamental programming skills to the community.
UO: OK, then, crystal ball time: Your top three UX trends for 2013?
MV: I see:
One, continued gamification, simplification, and BYOD. Take FUSE (the New Face of Fusion Applications) for example, an immersive, cross-devices concept taking in all those things. Enterprises have to embrace these things and really they need it for retention of staff, productive employees, and other business benefits.
Two, new emerging device paradigms gaining traction. Look at the adoption of contextual natural language voice avatars in the enterprise, Google Glass, the work as entertainment trend, too.
Three, cheaper RFID, GPS technology, and so on, enabled through device features and hot-pluggable middleware, that passes context across apps will start to solve real enterprise problems. Just watch this space!
UO: Finally, what’s your “call to action” for ADF and FMW developers to get on board the Misha UX train?
MV: Stay connected! Here’s how:
And keep coming back here. There’s some real cool stuff comin’ your way!
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