Sunday Jul 29, 2012

BYOD: Ultimate Work Device Personalization. What Does It Mean for Oracle Apps?

Bring Your Own Device (known as BYOD) is an increasingly popular information and communications technology (ICT) strategy where users are allowed by their employers to use whatever device they prefer to do their jobs and to integrate these devices with other services and data. Devices are personally owned by the user or may be funded by the employer.

The future help desk in the BYOD world?

Yep, BYOD is on the uptake and a hot topic in user experience (UX). Driving forces are many: the influence of what users are doing in their personal lives, powerful emotional attachments to brands and delightful web and mobile-based user experiences, exposure to many more device options, working a company with a strong acquisitions record, and so on. Major technology players are reacting strategically.

With BYOD comes the advantages of superior, personalized user experience, flexibility of working, increased productivity at work, less training needed, and so on. The good is nuanced by issues of corporate liability, security of devices and data from loss or virus attack, integrating a multiplicity of solutions, maintaining versions, scaling the device support offered, questions about control over assets, and other concerns. For some, BYOD is a Bring Your Own Disaster waiting to happen. But, evidence of accelerating BYOD uptake is strong as explained, along with the top pros and cons, in this super infographic.

BYOD may be considered as part of what we call the consumerization of information technology (COIT) in the workplace, where expectations about applications and device UX in work are set by those familiar consumer apps and websites used in an employee’s personal capacity. For me, BYOD is the ultimate strategic expression of device personalization in work. There are plenty of applications UX research areas to explore.

For example, we could investigate how productive are users of apps on different devices. Or, what are the user experience expectations influencing apps? How can apps design be responsive (or neutral), depending on what the user wants to use or do? What are the integration, security, or performance aspects of apps on all these different devices? How can a range of apps perform effectively, efficiently and satisfy a wide audience’s requirements as new devices rapidly appear? How important is consistency of look and feel, and interaction, across devices (ever compared gestures on different mobile devices)? What about user frustration or confusion with so many choices and self-reliance? How can support organizations react? You get the idea...

So, what does BYOD mean for apps in the world of work? Well, for example, in the CRM space, users may use a range of official and personal tools, everything from Microsoft Outlook to RIM BlackBerry smart phones, Apple iPads, Microsoft Excel, Google Search, Facebook, LinkedIn, and so on. The data for all these devices and apps is centrally managed in a database and processed by business intelligence software (and shown using cool visual analytics such as those in our dashboard design patterns), integrating with solutions on–premise or in the cloud. This all makes sense. CRM sales users generally hate the idea of using enterprise apps. It’s all about sales for those guys and gals, so accommodating their context of use through personal device choice is critical.

BYOD interest has been really driven by mobile phone and apps in the workplace with employees using their personal devices to make business calls, installing corporate business apps to perform their work tasks, or integrate with social media or other consumer apps from app stores to help them get their jobs done quickly and easily. However, BYOD goes much further than mobile or the security issues that seem to dominate right the discussion right now. Examples of, or BYOD in the UX area, might include:

  • Using personally purchased laptops that are not available through the corporate procurement policy on the corporate network. For example, users connecting their Apple Mac Book Airs to a network in an organization where only Microsoft Windows-based PCs and desktops are officially distributed.

  • Being allowed to pick and purchase any device preferred and expensing the cost to the employer who then supports the device officially.

  • Using personal tablets (iPad, Nexus 7, Kindle Fire, and so on) in the field loaded with business and personal apps, while traveling, visiting or working at remote locations.

  • Catching up on the latest press releases and other docs using an eReader powered by a Raspberry Pi processor just before leaving the hotel to go to that business meeting, or maybe refreshing your mind about the latest release notes while servicing a solution at a customer site.

  • Connecting home PCs or smart televisions to a corporate intranet to use work email or collaboration tools.

  • Help desks and support solutions providing a range of user friendly, walk-in, or concierge solutions for any device, such as the Apple Genius Bar approach. The final nail in the coffin of the “contact your sys admin” error message!

  • Using gaming consoles, gesture-based, augmented reality or even wearable devices available to consumers, to run business applications or process information. For example, a CRM user might use Google Glass specs to visualize Google Maps or Analytics for sales leads, and then use Google Translate about multilingual opportunities while on the move.

  • Using their devices to connect a knowledge-based mobile service solution to a 3-D printer and print a replacement part or prototype for review at a customer site.

  • Using Microsoft Kinect or a Leap Motion system to move market opportunities around a large scale map by gesture, modeling different territories sales scenarios, and so on.

  • Turning to the Oracle Fusion Middleware toolkit to integrate open source GPS tracking devices with Oracle Fusion Supply Chain Management to manage deliveries in real time.

  • Or, how about using a Nintendo DS to approve your team’s expense or vacation notifications with some sly working during a family holiday?


So, watch out for more BYOD research from me in the coming months, and if you’re a partner or customer, stay tuned to the Oracle Usability Advisory Board events.

Comments welcome!

Monday May 28, 2012

From Inside the Fishbowl: UX Provocation, Innovation, and Games

I previously pointed out risks of conflating gamification and gaming per se. That’s not to dismiss using gaming technology to perform business tasks, of course. Why shouldn’t I do my Oracle expenses on my seven year-old’s Nintendo 3DS if it’s handy when we’re traveling together, for example? That the expenses process itself would also be gamified resonates with the platform too.

Nintendo 3DS

Nintendo 3DS and business applications: From Browser to Bowser? Image referenced from site. All rights acknowleged.

I met the brilliant Dr. Edward de Bono a few years ago. He’s the genius behind Lateral Thinking and the technique of ‘PO’ (or Provocative Operation). De Bono challenged Shell Oil to drill for oil horizontally instead of vertically, and now everyone drills that way. He’s been directly and indirectly responsible for lots of other high business values ideas becoming real, all based on challenging us to think more creatively when solving problems.

Enterprise applications user experience needs more genius provocateurs too. One such guy is John Sim (@JRSim_UIX), UK-based consultant for Oracle Gold Partner Fishbowl Solutions. After meeting John at the Oracle offices in London recently, I came away thinking hard about what gaming offers us. I was totally blown away by John’s technical wizardry, demonstrated with WebCenter and other Oracle technology, but his stuff with the Microsoft Xbox 360 and Kinect (also featured at Collaborate 12) really opened up my mind to a whole range of possible business use cases.

Why not use game controllers to move people around the Oracle Fusion Applications Human Capital Management person portrait gallery and take actions right away?

Person Gallery Portrait, part of the user experience for Fusion HCM Applications.

Oracle Fusion Applications HCM Person Portrait Gallery

Or why not use the Xbox 360 and Kinect to interact with a portal? How about using game controllers and gestures to manage your supply chain, orchestrate orders, getting field sales teams onto guerilla market leads, do some easy visual manipulation of analytics or model financial scenarios in advance? Maybe combine insight at work and keep fit at the same time, all in front of your TV. A large game screen could be the ideal way to record and manage resources and feedback, time management, progress or other activities in an open office environment such as a call center. Gesture controls, people, are just another way to allow interaction with apps.

Leap Motion Leap gesture-based computer interaction system.

Don’t get blind-sided by a narrow definition of devices. Under pressure from the BYOD, open source devices, cheap, powerful processors and design platforms, and the gaming generation, within 3-5 years what we consider to be a device for running our apps will even require UX thought about how the wearable devices color coordinates with the rest of the user’s ensemble and mood. ADF skinning never had it so good! Another reason why events like Maker Faire are important to Oracle. Anyone for printing their own parts as a solution to service requests in the field using 3D Printers?

Printrbot: Your First 3D Printer

Lots to think about.

You can read more about John’s insights on the Fishbowl Solutions C4blog.

Provoked enough? Find the comments.


Oracle Apps Cloud UX assistance. UX and development outreach of all sorts to the apps dev community, helping them to design and deliver usable apps using PaaS4SaaS.


Ultan Ó Broin. Senior Director, Oracle Applications User Experience, Oracle EMEA. Twitter: @ultan

See my other Oracle blog on product globalization too: Not Lost in Translation

Interests: User experience (UX), PaaS, SaaS, design patterns, tailoring, Cloud, dev productivity, language quality, mobile apps, Oracle FMW, and a lot more.


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