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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.

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 !!!

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

Clienteer.TV launches on ClienteerHub

ClienteerTV – Episode 1 from Clienteer.TV on ClienteerHub.

ClienteerHub is all about sharing the ‘how’ of customer experience and brings together the best resources, stories and people, to help you better understand the ‘how’ of customer experience.

ClienteerTV’s mission is to share meaningful insights from those leading customer experience transformations.

Putting the H back in IMHO

I have returned to Adobe after a 3 year walkabout. During this walkabout I had the pleasure of working on product strategy for the new ad platform at Yahoo!, rolling out a new website and eBusiness infrastructure as well as community tools for a software vendor, and helping to drive strategy and awareness for a flash-based interactive video startup called Overlay.TV.

I have returned as the Principal Product Marketing Manager, Enterprise User Experience in the Digital Enterprise Solutions business unit working on next generation customer and user experiences. I will continue blogging here…IMHO, it’s the right thing to do and I will do my best to keep the ‘H’ in IMHO.

My First Mashed-up Podcast now on Dr Dobbs

Dr. Dobbs just posted a podcast that I did a couple weeks ago – I guess that they must have figured it was worthy of distribution. ;-)

It’s the first part of a series that focuses on RIA (Rich Internet Applications) – should prove interesting to hear all the different vendors weighing in.

Do the Math

It turns out that SOA 2.0 might actually have been intended to be SOA 0.002 and it was simple mathematical error.

Following the logic “Do the Math” on this advertisement I was able to unravel this long-standing much debated mystery – http://www.integratedmar.com/gartner/itcv/admailer/ITCV-admailer_090806.pdf

Reference:
3,394,000 impressions at a cost of $7,950 would net the cost per impression at $0.002342368886269888037713612256924, not $2.34