Women in Despair
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Pervasive User Experience (UX)

Pervasive  User Experience is about extending the user experience and connecting it to the world users live in and work in as well the service or product. Pervasive UX is not about the what and how in the beginning, but it does get there.

First it is about the who and the why, understanding the needs of the end users and everything they will come into contact with. There is almost a cascade effect that can occur from user interaction not unlike the Butterfly Effect . Pervasive UX is disruptive. It is likened to a chaos theory. It ignores the silos in an organisation and breaks down barriers. Back-end processes and structures become invisible. Users are broadcasters and promoters of what matters to them.

It is a moving target. Social media, augmented reality and smart devices are driving user experience into uncharted territory. User experience is travelling beyond the traditional boundaries. It cannot be defined by what happens on a web page or within a single application or service.

User experience has gone from being a tactic sprinkling of usability, to keep the hippie mongrels at bay with their wacky usability principals, to becoming a new business model as brands struggle to keep up in fast paced multi-channel world.

Users identify with the method in which they interact with a company, product or service. Companies are only as good as their call centre or their sign up process. To the consumer mobile services are retailers. You walk into a shop or go online and buy. How is this a telecommunications company to the average Joe on the street? It is not. When users are online it is a digital service. This digital service extends beyond the pages or even the site. Digital is now the dominant interface for a lot of businesses.

If digital is now the dominating aspect then social media is the glue. The social media phenomenon extends the reach of the user experience. Every touch point a user has with an organisation should provide a seamless experience. A pervasive user experience strategy forms part of the core philosophy of an organisation.

This has a big impact for businesses as user expectations and perception is rapidly changing. During the Dot.com boom companies rushed in to offer services before the infrastructure and take up of the web was at a mass level. Now it is users who are in charge and the companies need to adapt and understand these new pathways. Business processes need to be re-engineered to become more usable to the user.

An example that comes to mind is my recent stay at the 4 star, La Centre Sheraton in Montreal I experienced the full Faulty Towers Experience, diagram below.


Until I got into my room I was having a mostly positive experience.

  • I asked about the staff about the top floor bar. I was abruptly told it was unavailable. I finally found out it was only available to Elite Members.
  • The complete lack of WiFi filled me with horror. Room internet access costing more than an expensive meal. Business lounge day care centre  gave me a full free 30 minutes on one of their computers.
  • At check out they charged us extra per bag regardless of size to hold them until our flight. Lining up at both the checkout and the porter desk. The porter desk is as far as the hotel management is concerned a separate business unit.
  • The experience was not a good pervasive experience. Everything was about sales. There was nothing about keeping me as a customer, engaging with me or recommending them to friends. It was as far as I am concerned a “one shot deal”. Good bye Sheraton.

 

But something of a paradigm shift is happening. It just has not made it to most companies yet. I wrote in another article on Disruption Innovation that employees of companies are tired of waiting for the company to give them tools to do their jobs better and are taking to the web to collaborate. This is called Shadow IT. But how much money and time have companies wasted and are wasting to replicate what is already there?

Suppose I am applying for a credit reference  to rent a property.

Why is it I am expected to print 6 months of bank statements? Why can I not simply click on a button on my bank site that says “send reference to” and fillout a few details? Surely the renting agent does not to see that I spent £xx on shoes, when all they want to know is whether I have had a steady income and no overdrafts? Surely that is worth something to some one and would help reduce fraud. What happens with those 6 months of printed bank statements that get sent to the letting agent, how do I know they were appropriately destroyed?

Tactical UX starts with a project, a budget and a list of vague requirements and go down the process route of producing personas, wireframes and a solution. By then it is too late for UX to contribute on a strategic level.

Pervasive UX ascends to the Grand Strategic level of an organisation and can give companies a constructive advantage.

The chief role of User Experience strategists are:

  • Bring a customer perspective to problems through deep understanding.
  • Account for and minimize bias.
  • Identify business opportunities promote end user well being.
  • Facilitate a balance between business goals, user needs and technology.

 

The foundations are there, the semantic web did arrive and is silently increasing. Data is more open and augmented reality has taken off. It is all about delivering big connected experiences now.

We are looking at situation where user experience strategy has taken on the task of being a catalyst for positive change and disruption.

Please comment and let me know what you think.

dictare
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Disruptive Innovation, Let the Revolution Begin

Tyrants are having a bad year. Things are only going to get worse. The old style management that is all about control is out. The new style is about “empowerment”.

    • New managers mentor. Tyrants order.
    • New managers ask. Tyrants dictate.
    • New managers are results focused. Tyrants are process focused.

 

I am lucky to have some great examples to learn from. I have also witnessed dreadful managers in action that think that ruling with a fist is the answer.

As a manager I know what type I fall in. I love mentoring and empowering. So it was with great pleasure that I was asked to read and feedback on a report on social learning for teams. It also got me thinking of what I do and my personal beliefs and the views of some of Thought Leaders such as Umair Haque, Director of the Havas Media Lab and author of The New Capitalist Manifesto: Building a Disruptively Better Business.

A revolution is happening. There is more talk about “disruption” and innovation and changing things for the better. In part this is down to digital and social media breaking down boundaries.

User Experience practitioners are certainly at the heart of the digital media revolution. The social media phenomenon is here to stay, and knowing what’s happening in this space is important for everyone. Social media is the glue.

In politics it is fueling uprisings. In business, people are breaking out of their team rooms and corporate structures and taking their conversations online. The web can be the one place where democracy really can exist and everyone can have a say. It is no surprise that user experience is now such a hot topic. Looking at some of the top brands and their recent marketing offerings is seems that have been quick to jump on the band wagon with messages all about the power of “you”. They know how much power you (and me) have.

This is not a bad thing. There is nothing wrong with giving people more individual power. Provided people get guidance and use it responsibly it adds a lot of value. Digital innovation is constantly driving new approaches that have huge potential value for our customers, employers and society, as well as ourselves. Greater transparency can foster better relationships with clients.

It has me thinking of what is best for digital teams when it comes to providing information about their industry.

Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man how to fish and he will eat for the rest of his life.

Fortunately most people in user experience are very vocal and socially media aware. The “UX cats” are long out of the bags. Putting the cats back into the bags and going back to old style team rooms with spoon fed content is not going work. Team rooms still have their place as a repository for documents and resource files but they are not where we should be having our conversations.

Twitter is fantastic for conversations and event tracking. Add a hash tag #myevent and tweet. It is pointless to duplicate content and functionality when the tools and information are one click away on the web. It is a no brainer. No really. Laynrd does a great job of listing conferences and events. Laynrd has over 3,500 presentations on file. Meet-up is fantastic and has the added bonus of sending notifications of new events.

The key is to influence rather than argue. The value of writing a book report or conference biopsy seems a little odd when it will be Tweeted, blogged and reported by almost everyone. Everything is online and the last time I checked Google was still working.

Today already 40% of business technology users at North American companies report using one of more website (s) to do parts of their jobs that are not sanctioned by their IT department. We expect this number to grow close to 60% in 2011 as frustrated workers work around IT to self-provision technology. How democratization of technology empowers employees, Forrester, 2011

This is a smarter and more collaborative way of working. The only way people are going to learn about digital, their industry and the social media phenomenon is by getting involved. By the time I write that report it will be out of date.

The accelerating rate of change forces everyone in every organisation to make a choice: learn while you work or become obsolete – Quote from Jane Hart, Impact of Social Learning in the Workplace

The four cornerstones of Social Learning are:

  • Building relationships and joining communities: Learning more from competitors, industry experts, thought leaders and innovatorsthrough blogs, Linkedin, Google +, Twitter
  • Improving productivity: Using tools like Google, Twitter, Dropbox, Twitter, Doodle, Good Reader
  • Finding and using content: Flipboard, Google, RSS, Laynrd
  • Creating and sharing content: flickr, Slideshare, Vimeo, Meet up

 

Tyrants beware, the revolution will be Tweeted #revolution. Jane Heart, The Impact of social Media in the Workplace is good place to start. Jane Hart”s report is now online with more at Slideshare.net

Please discuss as I am always interested to know what people think.