6.5.3 – Six tips for #CQ5 from 3|SHARE

Great tips for anyone seeking success out of the gate with their web projects!

Contextography

In today’s brief customer journeys, customer experience professionals are both artists and scientists collaborating on behalf of our most important benefactor.   As artists we want to visualize and experiment with these benefactor touch points but there is this wall of complexity around how we intelligently scribe and simulate a million points of light from a hundred thousand journeys.  As scientists we seek to simulate and experiment with our learnings and shape them into thesis or ultimately repeatable models.

If you follow Gartner’s thinking around context-aware technologies, it is clear that C- level executives need to seriously consider the disruption that context-aware technologies will have on purchasing and loyalty behavior.  Gartner identifies context-aware technologies as the ones that influence consumer purchase decisions by using information about the consumer’s context (e.g., location and interests) to offer more-relevant promotions, content and recommendations.  Smartphones and tablets armed with context-aware apps will influence consumer spending as much in nonelectronic channels (e.g., physical stores) as in e-commerce and the technology will primarily be used to shift consumer spending from one competitor to another. It does point out that is less likely that it will increase consumer spending overall.  The customer journey, when taken into consideration at a touch point, must be considered in context.

What is the taxonomy of this union of art and science, this cartography of a journey and ethnography of a participant, perhaps individual or en masse as an audience?  What are the unifying factors and measurable, logical groups of data that we can ultimately action?  We have more than enough market data to understand that context in its totality has all the facets of data needed to optimize a behavior.  But context is the thing itself, what then would we call the process of understanding and leveraging the learning of context?  I propose:

Contextography – n. - the collection, study, analysis, measurement and resulting use of context. e.g.  For the purpose of this article, the user speaks in italics to help you empathize with data gained through contextography.**

I’m on a horse. You knew that. right?

First let’s meet a user and their context.  In the same way that Old Spice imagined how women might like to see the men in their lives in order to have men in turn see themselves through that lens, we are constantly anticipating an audience and their needs, desires and motivations. I am hoping that I have anticipated your need to better understand how context is made actionable even if I am really only able start another conversation at this inflection.

While we have gotten better at allowing users to manage their account, their profile, and even how they share their activity with other customers or users of a product or service, we also have had to learn over time to consume that data intelligently and understand patterns that emerge and perhaps express these as context.  The parameters that are relevant for the context can be broken down in different dimensions.  For the purpose of this short journey we will give our user, which could be me, some context.

Me, the user, of course: Sometimes you and sometimes me, but always everything that characterizes the customer, perhaps demo-, psycho- and ethno- graphic.

My situation: That which describes the circumstances in which the user interaction takes place and the process and result of interaction. Relevant parameters for this include the channel of the interaction, the device made use of, the location, and the network that is used to connect and the facilities that enable this.

My history of interactions: That which we know and are able to share about the relationship between the user and your enterprise. Relevant information include buying history, contracts, support cases, and any other information that characterizes the business relationship.

I’m at a touchpoint. It’s pretty. It doesn’t work the way I expected.

A user’s experience is always dependent on a defined relationship between a business activity and that user’s goals. While the experience may take many forms, there are commonalities in the approach to arrive at a final experience, and this process is the practice of user experience (UX). The disciplines essentially map to the outputs of this process and typically include:

  • Interface design – the graphics and branding.
  • Interaction design – the method by which users interact, e.g. touch and voice.
  • Information architecture – the visible organizing principle for content and applications.
  • Graphic design – the brand treatment, color palette and treatment of text and media

Technologists, behaving like scientists, strive to have applications widely adopted are essentially questing for patterns; patterns to users means that there are functions in those applications that are repeatably useful, usable, easy to find, credible, and ultimately successful at solving an identified problem or achieving a known goal. As the increase in focus on great customer experience matures, so in turn does the practice and rigor associated with defining the patterns of engagement. It’s fair to think of increased investments in great user experience as a discovery of true patterns – the right investments presented in the context required for the right happy customers and happy employees to use your apps.

I know what awesome is.  You and I are on the same page.

Essentially, most investments in user experience within the enterprise today amount to superficial and cosmetic changes applied as afterthoughts in an attempt to solve apparent and predictable problems with the surface of the application. Often, people focus on type size, color, and other basic design, and believe that they have created a great customer experience. The reality is that this approach only goes so far in addressing problems and is ultimately going to fail since the user-focused work was started much too late in the process.  Business users often make the mistake of masking the lack of user input with cool technology, and while this world of wonder can fascinate to the point of going viral, it often lacks the deep engagement intended.

I don’t make mistakes, you do. I recently redefined the customer is always right.  I did this for you.

The later in a project you invest in change, the more it costs.  There are a number of methodologies in use today across the industry that are purported to facilitate user input into the design and development process – beware the linear, embrace the cyclical, and mandate the agile.   In this way we appropriately recognize that users don’t really blame themselves for things going wrong the way that they used to.  That was convenient because it presented an opportunity to teach someone how to use a system in the way it was intended.  Now the table is turned and the system must work in the way that is expected.

I’m on a journey.  I have a map.  Embrace my journey.

Many of the guidelines from analysts and industry experts have identified a key tool in this process to be a map of all the customer touchpoints across an enterprise. This map can be used in several strategic ways:

  • Identify and plot persona against specific actions or opportunities.
  • Understand and modify business processes in order to overcome obstacles or bottlenecks.
  • Inform design and technology choices and prioritize resources against those choices
  • Measure success by defining Key Performance Indicators (KPI) based on customer activities.
  • Refine opportunities for increased productivity by aggregating logical groups of actions.

I’m in your systems.  I’m doing this fast.

Finally, we need to reflect the outcomes of design in our application architecture. In a functional architecture we can surface this experience layer to bridge the “last mile” gap between user and business application. This layer essentially represents the presentation layer of applications (e.g., interaction models such as touch) with knowledge of domain, integration, and the associated infrastructure. True multichannel delivery is thus enabled through an abstraction of presentation that intentionally separates the channel, controls, and interaction from the fundamental underlay of business logic and application code.

This abstraction serves a unique purpose in planning and development. By creating handshakes between the UX professionals who own the experience and developers who own the implementation of the application, we in turn empower handshakes between customers and the business.

For example, wireframes that represent the experience layer and interaction model can be made interactive in such a way as to represent the potential interaction, and elsewhere in the team those interactions can be wired to the application and business logic. These can be tested with actual customers or users in order to further refine logic, interaction models, and general usability themes such as accessibility, both prior to implementation and over time.

Suck less.  Be awesome more.  Please.

A user’s experience is impacted by many things beyond our control as designers, such as network issues, device or operating system issues, IT policies, or even physical distractions. What is within our control is exhibiting a shared understanding of goals and interaction capabilities and providing this in a consistent way to support the brands we represent.

One could choose platforms and tools that effectively reduce the time it takes for you to develop the final experience with a component model based on UX best practices. For example, here at Adobe, we are working hard to maintain a domain model that is essentially pre-integrated with relevant technology services and infrastructure, and abstract this from the presentation layer such that you can reuse or strip away and replace at whim.  Not your whim, but that of your customer’s oft-fickle hearts and minds.  In this way you can adapt to changes in contextual trends at the edges of your business, and put your new passion for contextography to work helping to sustain and grow your business.

I’m done. Listen for my feedback.

Martin Smith's Applause Machine - According to the designer, the machine was created “for when your ideas are great but no one else agrees.”

** Re: Contextography.  I honestly had no idea that someone else had made the word up before I did but Google was helpful in setting me straight on that.  Recognizing the definition potentially already in place actually helps me build on that to an expanded definition that is first of all both representative and inclusive of the user POV, and more importantly one that embraces all aspects of a digital environment, not only images of a fictitious one.  I should point out that more recently I have been made aware of a definition of this term that is similar to a bibliography for a paper or thesis – essentially tracking the context of sources.  I love that definition and my only regret was that I was not personally encouraged to add contextographies to my papers when I was a student many (many, many) years ago.

I have registered the domain Contextography.com to build a body of research and work in the areas of definition, research and analysis of both the art and science of context.  In parallel to that we will also be tracking the context conversation here – @contextography (sorry to any fans of @uxpectations, that chapter is now complete for me) and I will bring the first few months of this together for a talk on this subject at the upcoming Adobe Digital Enterprise Summit in October.  Register for VIP invite here.

Special thanks to Hank Barnes, Craig Randall and Jamie Anderson for additional insights and thoughts.

Insert your card. A walk-up UX fairy tale of yore.

It’s 8:58 PM on a balmy Friday night and the local wine merchant is about to roll down the steel cage door. Why is always at these little Friday night soirees that no one ever brings enough imbibe to keep the silver tongues dancing?

Andrea’s breath leaves a trail of whispered steam that plots her hurried pace to the limited vintage selection down the corner. As she hurries towards the hopeful neon, she contemplates whether uncorking a few screwtops might just elevate the priority of adequate resourcing for the next informal meeting of the minds.

Once in the store, her years of amateur sommelier practice pay off and in no time she hoists her well stocked basket in front of the cashier, proudly presenting a couple hefty Riojas balanced by her favorite wispy Bordeaux, the instantly classic and far too expensive ’82 Lafite. ’83 was just not the same.

$108.49.

Her wallet is already in her hand and she quickly pulls 5 crisp twenties and sets them on the counter as she unsnaps the change compartment…empty. A quick glance at the new girl behind the counter gives no glimmer of recognition and in despair she starts to prioritize Spain over France, lining up the soldiers to choose one to fall first.

The clerk doesn’t skip a beat. Reaching her hand beside the register, she whips out a strange telephone like device and hands it to Andrea. “We take debit.”

“What? Debit?”

Then it hits her. Somewhere in the retsina-accompanied fog of her Friday night glow she remembers the quick scan she took over a pamphlet in the bank scant weeks ago. Diving into the card section of her Ferragamo wallet, she procures the mag-striped novelty that she has just started using to deposit her paycheques and hands it to the clerk.

Swipe.

Tap tap tap.

She takes it back from the clerk and squints at the screen.

ENTER YOUR PIN.

She assesses the clerk’s helpfulness and clips the support request down to, “…same as the bank machine?” As if expecting this, the clerk nods quickly and looks down at the machine.

They stand facing each other, engaged in this strange new transaction as it starts to move ahead quickly.

APPROVE PURCHASE? 108.49

Yes.

CHOOSE ACCOUNT.

Chequing.

THANK YOU.

She hands it back to the clerk and the chatter of the miniature matrix plays a strange harmony to the crinkling of plastic bags encasing the precious guarantee that great friends and good conversation will ensue for a few more hours.

FREEZE.

I single plastic card falls to a well worn counter, the bounces echoing in the eery silence of a wine shop frozen in time.

What just happened?

The world changed in an instant. A cultural and practical change on this level that has such profound implications on how we manage (if you believe that rampant consumerism is a form of managing) our financial systems and status is predicated by only a few significant phenomena, such as banks, money, RRSPs and other instruments of investment and preservation. But lets ponder for a moment the complexity of those instruments and the apparent simplicity of the much more sophisticated system that chattered and tapped and quietly streamed the transaction across the web-i-verse.

Do you take this for granted? Yup.

Should you? Yup.

Why? Recently the topic of walk up UX has been floating in the hallowed XD and enterprise halls at Adobe. The term itself is kind of walk-up, right? I think you instantly grok what it means and why it matters.

And while this mundane and antiquated example of boring old-people technology is well behind us, what is interesting is that it has persisted through generations of PC form factors, mobile phone types, fundamental shifts in network and networked technology and it still works just as good as it did when it launched. Will Square replace it forever? Will the bank and payment machines of the future do away with the bulky terminals and the oft too long wait for a 56K phone line connection to take us screaming into consumer bliss.

What won’t change is that a great user experience that makes sense the first time you experience it, and a value proposition that inspires you to finish the task, will never go out of style. That’s walk-up UX.

In a recent discussion on IXDA, an energetic thread on the user experiences that changed the world popped up and interestingly almost all of them had great walk-up UX. Interac and debit appeared a few times on the list, and more recently in banking the PNC Virtual Wallet was mentioned a few times as well. The other thing that was notable was that many of them had little or no UI such as QR codes, EZPass, DropBox and RFID, while others had much more sophisticated and complex UIs, such as Skype, Traktor, PayPal and ZipCar. This indicates, and should come as no surprise, that the user interface is pretty much an open book in terms of complexity and sophistication and a great user experience ensues either way. But that’ another story.

It was a great party.

Note: I know finding an ’82 Lafite at your local wine shop is not realistic but it’s an aspirational fairy tale.

User-centric: how much UX is too much UX?

Originally posted on the @bitpakkit UX/Customer Experience blog. This is part of an enterprise UX and architecture whitepaper that a few folks at Adobe have been working on for release soon. This particular part has been removed from that paper in the ‘edit’ process. I share here because I feel it is worth sharing and since I claim some part of the credit for this along with Craig Randall, Marcel Boucher, Rob Pinkerton and others.

Consumers need or expect a compelling experience across devices, channels and, in some cases, on and off-line. Design and experiential symphony are the new competitive battleground in modern commerce. For business managers, this represents a new method for acquiring customers…or a threat if they lose customers to competitors providing a better experience. The company who provides the best sales or service experience will grow.

Today, most user interface re-design efforts amount to applying lipstick on a pig. This is because it is either a pure design function (aesthetics) or because it is left to developers and technical teams to ‘skin’ the application based on data or functional requirements. There are important differences between UI (user interface) and UX (user experience). UI is about chrome (frosting); UX is about interaction (cake). Better together, the properly layered and frosted cake symbolizes both the unique innovation and the repeatable approach to delivering sweet experiences.

Efforts to link existing systems to provide comprehensive data integration are valuable, but have less to do with customer experience on the front end than with transactional automation on the back end. Such strategies may prove useful for improving customer service through existing systems but even then you might consider integrating information where it is used, in and by the client application or browser. User-centric technologies are designed to induce customer participation from an evolving consumer who wants to modify, create, and respond to product and service offerings in-context and at non-traditional intersections in the customer communications model. Businesses that can reach these customers through experience will grow their customer base and increase revenue opportunity. Unforgiving users will create new business opportunities as well. Customers disappointed with experience will seek new firms for their business.

Performance and blended environments
Personal computing environments are outperforming workplace computing environments. Employees and consumers mix and match their own blended IT environments to optimize performance – and challenge the traditional role of IT. To the business manager, this represents an opportunity to harness employee productivity outside the traditional workplace environment and to reach customers through new touch points. User-centric computing enables telecommuting, personalized workspaces and hour access for employees allowing them to work the way they want to work and increases productivity, loyalty and contribution. To access the participatory customer, there are new opportunities to communicate online, offline, on mobile, and securely through traditionally unsecured channels. Such access provides opportunities for constant contextual analysis and delivery of services based on improved customer insight.

User-centric computing can turn amateurs into professionals, consumers into prosumers, enabling deeper participation and ownership of interfaces and how people use them. Customer participants should be nurtured as human capital as well since they will invest in developing, improving and evangelizing products and services. User-centric technologies provide the tools and access to the machinery of innovation – content, context, communication, collaboration. Employees can design business processes to meet changing market conditions. Customers can design products to meet their specific needs and this dynamic intelligence can be aggregated to unearth new business opportunities.

Opening up traditional business process boundaries provides new opportunities for customer contact and regulatory compliance: User-centric technologies create a complete paradigm shift as they perforate the traditional enterprise border. Business process automation and information security are typically constrained by a network, a machine or a disk. The companies who extend their business outside the traditional enterprise border will generate new business opportunities and can reduce the burden of regulatory compliance.

These boundaries are challenged by new technology delivery models such as SaaS and pervasive client infrastructure such as PDF, Flash, HTML. These new delivery models promise opportunities to delivery superior service with less cost, reach large audiences for compliance without systematic burden and communicate rich, personal information with complete security. Over time I have adopted a refined approach for measuring categorical leadership across three core capabilities that should be inherent in your design thinking and application delivery strategy:

• Reach – you will want your applications to reach the most customers in the most contexts possible with the least amount of effort to provide for these various contexts; e.g. browser, application, mobile

• Experience – You must leverage best practices in experience to deliver on three key opportunities to excel; during customer acquisition or the first touch point, during any interaction dealing with customer service throughout the life of the customer, and enhancing our communications both personal and mass inclusive of all documents and ongoing outbound touch points to provide new levels of interactivity and response

• Optimization – Tireless improvement and betterment as part of a measured approach to bringing these great experiences, enabling us to manage highly responsive environments, constantly optimized both physically and from a content and delivery perspective.

These three core capabilities empower your opportunity to deliver this new breed of applications: high touch, collaborative, everywhere and instilled with a constantly improving and agile sensibility. Further we see an increase in applications built by enterprises to service their customers, leveraging web and enterprise technologies to optimize outcomes by focusing on defining factors that invoke push/pull relationships between systems and users, leveraging dynamic content, rich data visualization and capture and finally social interactions to increase engagement.

Much of your time as an architect is concerned with how to sensibly partition an application into a set of inter-related modules or at minimum recognizable “chunks” of software. Software systems are designed according to human motivations and desires, and any reasonable architecture process should not remove the human element from the architectural design process. Essentially a focus on users both from the perspective of knowledge and environment as well as goals and activities is the best combination, since a pedagogical focus on what users want infers too broad of a set of cases, and conversely a pure focus on activity will not produce the desired results from a user input perspective.

ILUVUXDESIGN

ILUVUXDESIGN from lyle on Vimeo.

Who doesn’t love a good UX design, and who doesn’t get totally frustrated with bad experience design.
Hail to all the great UX designers of the world. Spread the love for UX design !!!

Building permanent bridges to great customer experience

Many executives and IT management I have met with over the past year share the pursuit of customer experience excellence but they also share a similar pain point – you have to start somewhere and you can’t do it all, at least not all at once.

When marketing and technology come together to support a paradigm shift this large it creates natural pressure to get it right and get it right now.  There is no shortage of data that points to real business justification for building stronger ties to your customers.  Consider these data points from Forrester, Gartner and others in the space:

  • Companies are increasing their investment in their most important asset – customers – with 90% seeing this as the most important investment they need to make
  • A company could increase revenues by over $12 million annually in the research and sales process, while the cost savings for improving service could reach $2 million by improving online customer experience
  • Increasing customer satisfaction by 10% for Global 500 companies can lead to additional $200M in potential revenue (on average)
  • Four attributes will characterize the next phase of development – experiences will be: customized by the end user, aggregated at the point of use, relevant to the moment, and social as a rule, not an exception.  Forrester’s Megan Burns refers to this as the CARS principle.
  • 50% of customer service applications are custom built and the packaged customer service app market is highly fragmented, often focusing on a single channel of interaction
  • 57% of online customers will abandon a purchase & 65% are very unlikely to return if you do not provide a good online experience

Productivity experts clearly favor the most successful strategy for any large to-do list as breaking it down into manageable pieces and this is no exception.  There are some things you could consider in your breakdown to help you prioritize, such as:

  • Finding a quick win that will produce fast or high return and does not require a long project to implement
  • Choosing a starting point that will build in a platform or cultural shift that will support further projects or broader change
  • Using data to determine where you have low satisfaction or bottlenecks that could ease conversion or increase loyalty
  • Focusing on people’s passion or commitment to get behind a specific area of change

Many of Adobe’s customers who are focused on transforming their customer experience have done exactly this.  By focusing on key touchpoints in a customer’s journey around points of conversion (acquisition) or complex support interactions (service) they were able to identify projects that were addressable, had clear KPIs, and would help them put in place a signpost for future change and a platform to support that change.  What follows are some great examples of companies who have tackled the customer journey one step at a time, and they were able to start and finish with a clear and attainable goal.

EBS (more info)

The team at EBS recognized that information technology is a powerful tool in delivering value to the business and to members. EBS had an aging client/server technology for mortgage origination that lacked flexibility and did not offer members intuitive and engaging ways to do business with the organization. Driven initially by the need to replace this mortgage origination system — a crucial tool for specialists in 100 branches across Ireland selling mortgages to members — EBS embarked on a major IT modernization project by starting at the beginning of a customer’s journey with them.  Along the way they realized some substantial benefits:

  • Reduced time to process mortgage quotes by 62%
  • Determined member needs based on age, savings, debt, and other factors, using information from disparate systems
  • Linked with multiple systems to recommend a complete array of relevant financial products
  • Increased value of every member transaction
  • Transformed back-office system into dynamic, front-office sales tool
  • Cut total cost of ownership by leveraging existing SOA infrastructure

Another factor driving technology and business process transformation at EBS was the need to comply with “Know Your Customer” (KYC) regulations. KYC requires financial institutions to identify new clients and gather relevant information prior to conducting financial business with them.

“We stay ahead of the industry curve, and we wanted to be among the first to comply with KYC rules, but we saw KYC as more than just a compliance requirement,” says David Yeates, head of IT for EBS.. “We recognized that KYC was an opportunity to more efficiently gather new members’ financial information up-front to serve them more professionally and efficiently, and to tailor product and service offerings to their individual needs.”


EBS put in place a technology solution built on Adobe LiveCycle ES using Adobe Flex that leveraged its Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA), existing IBM WebSphere application server and IBM mainframe environment.

Other companies that also benefited from this focus on initial interactions and the purchase process include:

  • impuls systems, who signs up new customers online and streamlines closing contracts, strengthening competitive advantage and doubling online engagement. More
  • Verizon Wireless, who built an online storefront for engaging customer experience and increased revenue from online media assets. More

It starts with conversion, but don’t stop there

Another key area to consider is the second call a customer makes. This is the call a customer makes after they have signed up and configured their product or service and are experiencing a service, product or administrative issue that is going to require some help.  If you acquired the customer online, you have a much better chance of successfully serving them online but you need to invest in this touchpoint to make it as seamless and effective as possible.  According to Forrester, more than 70% of customers still abandon online service and support situations in favor of more expensive support channels and this is hurting your brand image, impacting customer satisfaction and costing you money every time it happens.  For many executives I talk to this is the most important touch point and even if that is debatable the value of getting it right is not.

Rooted in the firm belief that there is no better place to receive medical treatment than in the healing environment of the home, Janus Health set out to transform the delivery of in-home care for doctors and patients. Janus built a rich Internet application (RIA) workspace leveraging Adobe LiveCycle ES solutions that enables doctors to provide full-service, compliant medical attention to patients in-home.

This initial investment not only provided payback in terms of the quality of care provided, it also helped the IT team to put a platform in place that they can build further projects on, effectively increasing the ROI of each subsequent project.

C. Gresham Bayne, an M.D. and Janus Health co-founder, told Adobe, “Escalating healthcare costs can be reduced dramatically by offering acute care in patients’ homes. Adobe LiveCycle ES provides vital tools for solving the complex information and business processing requirements for in-home healthcare.”

Along the way they also realized some other benefits, including:

  • Streamlined compliance with privacy and Medicare regulations
  • Increased number of housecalls possible in one day
  • Reduced Medicare program administration costs
  • Automated processes for ordering prescription, imaging, equipment, and other critical services

You have to start somewhere

Your customers, partners and business suppliers interact with your company in a myriad of ways across multiple channels and using increasingly sophisticated systems and devices to do this.  Having a technology platform that can help you detangle the problem is a good place to start but an even better place to start is based on what customers need and how employees can help them.

According to Patricia Seybold, whose Customers.com initiative strikes at the heart of this work, “You should realize that this is probably the most challenging and gratifying work you’ll ever do in your career. The satisfaction that comes from working on applications that touch the customer directly is immense. The continuous feedback you get from customers as they use these systems gives you clear, unequivocal priorities for each of your releases.”

When you realize additional benefits along the way this is your customer karma and it’s performing an important task in building your overall reputation.  It’s bringing you happier, higher value customers and empowered, satisfied employees all based on the simple fact that together they can get things done and they can do it in a rewarding, engaging and frictionless way.  This feeling, coupled with some customer data and proofpoints prove that your efforts are focused on the right things.  Cultural and technology shifts will empower the next wave of even more successful and even more rewarding customer experiences.

MAX Announcement: LiveCycle 2.5 adds supported solutions and mobile clients

Today at Adobe MAX, we announced the availability of Adobe LiveCycle Enterprise Suite 2.5, a new version of our suite for helping organizations deliver superior customer experiences across personal computers and mobile devices.

Increasingly Adobe is putting the customer and employees that work with customers  at the center of how an organization does business and organizes technology. When organizations take an end-to-end customer-centric approach to enterprise applications we have seen this create meaningful and effective experiences that deliver topline growth and bottom line efficiency.

With LiveCycle ES2.5, we are delivering on that principle in a few key ways:

  • Supported solutions that enable personalized communication and experiences out of the box
  • Native mobile clients for Android, Blackberry and more
  • New capabilities around social collaboration
  • Native connector for Sharepoint 2010 to extend the Adobe DRM model to document libraries and storage
  • Better integration between application tiles to support persistent security models that enable customization and sharing of experiences

This builds on the enterprise RIA and document services roadmap, and paves the way to a more holistic story around content and applications as LiveCycle continues to empower the enterprise to provide engaging experiences.  These come in myriad forms.  Many Adobe customers simply improve customer on-boarding and retention, others focus on broader brand awareness through interactive digital communications and channels and even more continue on the path of focusing on and driving process efficiencies.

LiveCycle ES2.5 continues to build on the platform promise to add powerful social experiences to enterprise RIAs that embed real-time collaboration capabilities such as chat, voice and video for interacting with customers in a more meaningful, personal way.

And critical business processes can now be extended to mobile devices through multi-screen delivery, providing true enterprise mobility for organizations.

Beyond the new capabilities of LiveCycle ES2.5 itself, we also introduced three new Solution Accelerators:

  • Correspondence Management Solution Accelerator
  • Interactive Statements Solution Accelerator
  • Managed Review & Approval Solution Accelerator

In the past Adobe provided Solution Accelerators that helped you kick-start project planning and decrease development time for building applications but these were in  the form of packaged best practices and some guidance and starting points for our customers to leverage an agile application development and deployment model.  Now we take this one step further by providing fully supported solutions that include all the necessary components as well as the expected best practice methodologies, solution templates, and building blocks to extend LiveCycle ES2.5.

Find out more about LiveCycle ES 2.5 by following the #AdobeMax tag on Twitter, subscribing to the Experience Delivers blog, or visiting the Adobe LiveCycle website where we will be posting information on how to get your team access to the software and solutions.

Also today we announced new versions of FlashBuilder, Flash Catalyst and the Flex SDK; Burrito, Panini and Hero respectively. You can now download preview releases of all three products from Adobe Labs.

You can learn more about these exciting new releases by reading our intro articles written by our product managers:

Andrew Shorten’s What’s New in Flash Builder “Burrito”

Deepa Subramaniam’s What’s New in Flex SDK “Hero”

Narciso Jaramillo’s Mobile Development Using Flex SDK “Hero” and Flash Builder “Burrito”

Doug Winnie’s What’s New in Flash Catalyst “Panini”

Looking forward to the keynotes and perhaps even more exciting announcements tomorrow morning!

Create a LiveCycle Data Services ES2 application

From Scott Broderson

The new Create a LiveCycle Data Services ES2 Application tutorial steps you through the development of a FlashBuilder application that uses Data Services ES2 and a back-end database to manage run-time data. Based on the Data Services Engineering Support Center Application sample, the tutorial focuses on the key features and development concepts that are critical for effectively developing Data Services ES2 applications:

  • Setting up your development environment.
  • Creating a data model that generates services for managing run-time data.
  • Developing the client application using FlashBuilder:
    • Extending the client-side service wrapper classes
    • Binding mxml data components to service operations to display data
    • Creating filters that perform custom database queries
    • Customize and generate model-driven forms for interacting with data
  • Customizing server behavior:
    • Integrating Spring Security
    • Customizing the Java assembler classes
    • Overriding CRUD methods
  • Deploying the application:
    • Configuring Tomcat and the database
    • Building the application using Ant
    • Deploying the application to Tomcat

The Create a Data Services Application tutorial is designed with both beginner and intermediate Data Services developers in mind. The tutorial is organized in modules that together describe the end-to-end application development process, but also stand completely independent of each other:

  • Beginners can complete each module of the tutorial to learn the end-to-end process for creating a Data Services application.
  • Intermediate users can pick and choose which modules they want to complete. Each module focuses on a different stage of application development.

The tutorial is provided in both HTML and PDF. You can use the HTML pages to leave comments about your experience using the tutorial. We are always anxious to receive your feedback.

LiveCycle Data Services continues to Blaze a trail through the enterprise

Colleague Damon Cooper recently posted a good post on the reasons that our enterprise customers are increasingly choosing LiveCycle Data Services to deliver rapid, reliable messaging to Flex-based applications. I quote his article below:


The question of when should you consider LiveCycle Data Services vs BlazeDS for Flex/Flash application development comes up frequently, and is documented elsewhere, but let me also tackle it here, since I’m engineering director for both BlazeDS and LiveCycle Data Services at Adobe:

BlazeDS

Previously only available in LiveCycle Data Services ES, Adobe’s server-side remoting and messaging technologies are now available as open source software. Using BlazeDS, developers can easily connect to back-end distributed data and push data in real time to Flex and AIR applications. The technologies included in BlazeDS, along with the Action Message Format (AMF) protocol specification, are being contributed to open source under the Lesser General Public License (LGPL v3) and are available at http://opensource.adobe.com/blazeds.

Choose BlazeDS if you need:

* Ease of integration with existing Java™ code
* Fast binary data delivery and transfer
* Publish/subscribe and push messaging over standard HTTP
* Limited scalability and performance
* Limited deployment options
* No support options

Adobe LiveCycle Data Services ES

Offered as a solution component within the LiveCycle ES family, LiveCycle Data Services ES is a complete data infrastructure for enterprise Flex and AIR applications. If you require a commercially licensed version of BlazeDS, or you need to go beyond the infrastructure features of BlazeDS by adding higher level data functionality, then LiveCycle Data Services ES is right for you. Find out more at the Adobe LiveCycle Data Services ES Product Home Page

In particular, choose LiveCycle Data Services ES if you need any of the following:

* High-performance data streaming, paging, and data synchronization
* High scalability of numbers of simultaneously connected users
* Reduced development and maintenance costs for complex database applications
* Offline support for Adobe AIR
* Ultra-RAD Model-Driven Flex Application Development and Deployment
* Integration with portals
* LiveCycle connectivity to integrate RIAs with business processes and document services
* Advanced deployment options for maximum scalability, security and flexibility
* Access to Adobe enterprise support resources to help you run business-critical applications

For real-time applications, LiveCycle Data Services can push up to 400,000 messages to 500 concurrent clients with an average latency under 15 ms on a single dual-processor machine.

UX Community Day in NYC Recap

Last week I had the pleasure of hosting Adobe’s first UX Community Day targeted at our enterprise partners in NYC. The day proved to be a hit with the attendees, and even though I felt like we pushed the boundaries of traditional enterprise comfort zones around UX, we still inspired several great discussions and QA periods, and the hallway/side conversations were both inspired and engaging.

We are turning a page with our enterprise business, and that page turn is metaphorical in that our traditional document-centric approach to enterprise solutions is turning into better experiences, more engaging applications and a specific focus on building from the outside in, from the user goals and desires back into the systems we sit on top of and integrate to.

One could, and many do, argue that forms themselves are a customer-facing experience, and that maintaining the fidelity of the form and document is an instrumental part of making great experiences.  This is true, but being able to position documents and forms in a broader context that embraces all the elements of a user’s path through onboarding, configuration, service requests and ultimately being able to interact with their communications is fundamental to how and why this is changing in the enterprise.  We too cannot solve the problems we solve in silos any longer, its not enough to integrate – we need to motivate, inspire and captivate.  This is the journey we, and our enterprise customers are on.

I found many of the presentations, and the panel I hosted, to be very inspiring and I think what I love most about our partners at Adobe is their frank honesty, deep experience and ability to work with us on this journey.  My intent is to specifically dig more into the topics that were discussed, such as how social media is changing the enterprise, how UX unlocks the ROI in our systems today, how we can rethink our organizations, skillset and approach in order to maximize our work in this area and more – but for now you can take a look at the sessions yourself (below) and see if you agree that this page has been turned and there is no turning it back.

Original Schedule with links to presentations and slides (as available)
The State of Customer Experience
Megan Burns, Forrester
Play Slides
Crafting the climate for UX innovation
Jonathan Anderson, UX Magazine
Play Slides
Adobe Flash Platform roadmap for UX
Christophe Coenraets , Adobe Systems
Play Slides
The Art of Storytelling
Christian Saylor, Universal Mind
Play
Intuitive, contextual composition with LiveCycle Mosaic
Joe Sanfilippo, Adobe Systems
Play
The ROI of User Experience
Anthony Franco, President, Effective UI
Play
3D Methodology and Experience Oriented Architecture: Bringing Technologists and Designers together
Steven Webster, Adobe Systems
Play Slides
Case Study: UX in workflows
Helmut Nachbauer, ecomplexx
Coming soon
Panel discussion: Best Practices UX for a Social Enterprise
Ben Watson, Adobe System
Play
CMO Challenges Today: How to Electrify Customer Interactions
Kevin Cochrane, Day Software
Play
Introduction to Acquity Group and Adobe’s Latest Acquisition – Day
Andy Peebler, Acquity Group
Play