Perfect Harmony – The Critical Role of User Experience Design
MAN AND MACHINE IN PERFECT HARMONY
Two universal, but unspoken, threads ran through Gartner’s recently published Top Ten Technology Trends. Every trend mentioned by Gartner shares a fundamental requirement if it’s to make an impact – the technology has to be usable and it has to be adoptable.
This places a strategic priority on User Experience design to drive engagement and on the use of the Application Program Interface (API) to facilitate innovation in the enterprise by freeing up data and exposing it to anyone who wants to use it – serving the needs of customers and the demands of integration so critical to seamless back-office efficiency and collaborative working with business partners and suppliers.
If users can’t gain quick mastery of how technology works, how it can change their lives and their jobs and how the enterprise can make leaps and bounds forward in the never-ceasing drive for enhanced competitive edge then the technology is just so many bells and whistles.
If the game-changing preponderance of data is to be any more than just gathered information then it has to be accessible, made sense of, and capable of serving multiple needs across locations, devices, systems, and applications. An impact can only be made if technology users can see the point. UX and the use of APIs define the point clearly, quickly, unequivocally and the greater benefit of the enterprise.
CREATING TRUE COMPETITIVE DIFFERENTIATION
‘Computing Everywhere’, for example, can only serve the needs of the enterprise if customers and workers buy into the idea, adopt the capabilities being offered to them, and encounter zero barriers to engagement. As the Gartner report says: “it’s the overall environment that will need to adapt to the requirements of the mobile user.”
Of similar significance from the user perspective are ‘Advanced, Pervasive and Invisible Analytics’, where Gartner identifies the need for organizations to “…deliver exactly the right information to the right person, at the right time.” Such capabilities sit at the core of UX design; driving other trends, not least ‘Context-Rich Systems’ where ‘context’ itself is entirely user-centric.
The UX angle is pivotal at every point. This is why leading organizations globally – from retail to finance and even through to High-Tech and Telcos – are looking ever more closely at what they can do with the data they now have available to them to enrich customer experiences and create true competitive differentiation. They are finding that they can use it to engage and connect more with their users, and improve their services. To ensure that the data flows effectively and usefully to any device anywhere (Cloud and Client Computing addresses this point) APIs play a critical role. It’s not just for customers either – these observations relate to workforces and developers.
The value of technology depends on its ability to drive improvements in the enterprise – how it serves the needs of organizations and the users within it. Complex or ill-thought-out user journeys simply alienate people. The result is slow adoption, arduous training, slower ROI and occasionally even wasted investment. If organizations and their technology partners need to go back to the drawing board to redefine the relationship between what’s comfortably within the mind of the user and what’s sitting within the heart of the system or the app then costs escalate and improvements suffer delay in implementation.
EVENTUALLY USERS MAKE OR BREAK TECHNOLOGY ADOPTION
Users must be able to relate to technology, see the point, adopt and exploit it for their own purposes. This depends on how they can work with it. And, of course, that depends on the user experience it delivers (UX) and the accessibility to data if offers (API). Successful enterprises make best use of their data by developing APIs that put critical data in the hands of their users to deliver timely, relevant, and trustworthy information. Successful enterprises also put their customers and partners at the heart of their systems, ensuring that the user experience drives closer interactions and generates lasting relationships.
Any of the trends not driven and supported by a focus on what the technology does for users and how easily it can be used as a foundation point for the next improvement and the next innovation is no more than slick machine manipulation doomed to remain commercially un- or at least under-exploited. And that’s a trend nobody wants to see emerging.