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CIO Perspective: Enterprise User Experience

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If we step back and look at the past 5 years, we see that the consumer experience has been dramatically and structurally changed: touch screen interfaces, over-the-air (OTA) application installations are activity feeds are the everyday tasks of the consumers. Smart phones and tablets are the main enablers of this transformation, and they are very commonly used. On the other side, when these employees start each working day, they see that the enterprise environment is so behind with the traditional point-and-click, drag’n’drop and cut-copy-paste applications. In the enterprise world, the main collaboration tool is the e-mail attachments, and the adoption rate of collaboration and social tools are still very slow.

The majority of the companies fail to understand that it is just the time to rethink about the enterprise user experience. CIOs and HR managers are very lucky, what they need to think and apply is already in the market and they are one of the users.

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The first thing is the content (information) aggregation. Consider RSS feeds with Feedly. You just log on to one website (Feedly) and see all your news headlines from various sources. At a glance, you can read Wall Street Journal, New York Times and The Telegraph without visiting them each. Or consider Flipboard, which aggregates your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn accounts and your magazines so you do not need to log on each website to see what is going on.

Thinking it at the enterprise level, you can aggregate all the enterprise news and deliver it in one interface. Rather than asking users to check various places for information such as the e-mail about promotions, Intranet for the latest product launches and ERP for the latest vendor information, you can aggregate everything into one consistent interface and enable an activity feed. You can also go one step further to build the enterprise social network.

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The second thing is the contextual information. The level of information that you need differs based on your current location and the time. The information you need on your mobile phone while you are at the airport terminal is very different from the information you need when you are managing your daily tasks and also is very different when you are commuting and checking your mobile phone on the subway/taxi. In that scenario, the information that is delivered to the laptop outside the business hours should be robust compared to the one delivered to the smartphone.

The third is the ubiquitous access to information. Think about Dropbox. You can access your Dropbox data irrespective of the device you are using: a smartphone, a computer or any other device that has Internet browsing capability. Enterprise data should be the same. It should be accessed by the various operating systems – mobile or not-  and over the various connection types – mobile, VPN etc.. And this access should have a consistent user interface. With a consistent user interface, I am not talking about the “same” user interface. I am talking about a consistent interface that can adapt to various form factors and does not require the user to learn a different interface for different devices.

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This is the reshaped user experience. The information is aggregated, delivered in a consistent user interface, is contextual with ubiquitous access. As Bring Your Own Device revolution has already stormed the enterprise IT, CIOs have already learnt that there is nothing they can do except following their users and adapting their infrastructure accordingly. Otherwise the companies will not be able to take advantage of the benefits the social and collaboration tools bring, which in turn will make them lose the “coolness” factor, leading to unhappy personnel leaving the company. It is obvious that you cannot keep Generation Y with a static Intranet and e-mail attachments.


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