Tag Archives: UX

10 rules for how businesses need to ready themselves for the Matrix

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We are in the matrix!

The digital world is now becoming more important than the real world.
We have become internet obsessed and the ubiquity that connected smartphones gives to mobile and social apps has made them ever-present in our lives.

Speaking of ubiquity, Pew Internet reports that 79% of adults between 18-29 now have a smartphone and 67% between 30-49. We are spending more time online at the expense of other activities.

Our time, both personal and professional, is shared between Facebook, Twitter, Linked-in, youtube moreso than interacting with real people. And children who were born in 2000 and later will never know a world without instant digital gratification.

Apple, Microsoft and Google were ranked #1, #3 and #4 in terms of largest market capitalizations at the end of 2013. Snapchat was just acquired by Facebook for $19B. That’s the most ever for a venture backed company. Shocked? Don’t be, they are the engines behind the digital experiences of the future.

Here’s that scene from the Matrix where Neo chooses the red pill for reality and the truth…

But there is no “red pill” for businesses. No way back to the old realities. To succeed and flourish you must change.

How do businesses need to ready themselves for the Matrix?

  1. The business needs to take ownership of the customer experience. The old bureaucracy is dead. Business can no longer afford to have bad outcomes and finger pointing. “It was ITs fault” or “We didn’t have clear requirements.” The business must be driving the ship and project managers and developers must be part of supporting the business goals.
  2. Take an integrated look at the people who are your users. Understand them and their needs. What do you need to do to keep them happy and loyal.
  3. Change the focus to outside-in. Now that you understand them better, think like the people who are your users. Construct and manage the user experience in a unified way across all the customer touch points. This means spending more time on usability.
  4. Learn to be a story teller. Traditional marketing content and tactics are becoming less and less effective. Tell a story that answers the question of “why.” Why will this help me or my company or my family or…well you get the idea :)
  5. Help your users tell your story. Send a follow up email asking them to return the product if they are not 100% happy and ask for a brief product review if they are.
  6. Be Agile. And by that I mean two things. Build the bare minimum at first. Don’t let committee scope creep thwart bringing new products to market. Try new things and be willing to fail…quickly. If the results don’t turn out as expected move on to the next thing to try.
  7. Consider gamification. Make using your product rewarding for the people who do it. Give them rankings or free credit or access to something exclusive.
  8. Use everything you know to help. I’m really avoiding big data here because I still think a terabyte is big since I built my first data warehouse with 2G fujitsu disks. But you know a lot about your users. What they purchase and what they don’t. What parts of your website they use and which parts they avoid. Probably a number of different demographics as well. Leverage all of that to help deliver the best experience possible.
  9. Start thinking about what you need to do in the future to ready yourself for when everyone walks around like a Cylon (am I allowed to make a Battlestar Galactica reference in the same post as the Matrix?) with their Google glass on and has digital assistants helping to find the products and services they want before they even think about it.
  10. Lastly, move faster. You must learn to run and operate your business in the new real-time reality of business.

What an exciting time this is to transform your business!

Hope you are starting the journey.

Ken

We are in the great monitoring renaissance

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Someone told me just yesterday that my head was in the clouds. That I was too much of a dreamer about monitoring, but I really disagree. We are in the great business and application monitoring renaissance!

Today, monitoring systems both open source and from leading vendors are simpler to implement and distill better intelligence about application performance than ever before and better capabilities are coming.

There are a pile of vendors that do all or most of the 5 APM dimensions described by Gartner. The future though is different. It’s something more, something with it’s own intuition to help us normal humans manage things well. And it will be more than a system that helps you become aware and address technical performance issues like today’s APM. It will be a system that helps you manage Customer Experience across all channels.

Someday we may have the internet of things (IoT) because everything will be a sensor, but we already have a lot of sensor data for managing business, applications, networks and platforms.

Many organizations already have sensors that collect performance and availability data from:
– synthetic end-user monitoring
– real user monitoring
– algorithm performance
– transaction tracing
– platform monitoring
– network performance monitoring
– database performance
– visitor analytics
– business performance statistics
– events like product releases

The bigger issue is that much of the above sensor data are still looked at in a non-integrated way.

What organizations need are business analytics and performance systems that give us the traditional shareable KPI dashboards with a layer underneath. That statistically powered, machine learning layer that includes analyzing the streams of “big data” coming from all those sensors in real-time, identifying anomalous behavior and correlating other anomalous events all the way from the technical stack, through to the user experience layer, and ending up with business results.

I was told that this is too complex. That it will never be mainstream.

Yes, performing streaming analysis of data in real-time and correlating that across hundreds or thousands of metrics is complex, and so is a fingerprint sensor on a smartphone. It’s ok if something is complex inside as long as the user interaction is not complex. Well designed products take very complex things and make them simple for users to leverage.

This isn’t anything as futuristic as AI. In fact, to me this seems like the maturation of business intelligence systems applied to customer experience. In the beginning there was the data. The data is big and raw and complex and hard to look at. Over the years we turned that data into information. Delivering reports and dashboards that make it easy to understand and ask questions of the data or build dashboards to show KPIs over time. The fulfillment of BI promise is that software systems can help us turn data into information and into knowledge.

That’s really what we are striving for. That our operational systems are smart enough to self-identify anomalous behavior anywhere is the business / technology stack. Machine detected anomalies effectively create a warrant which needs to be triaged before jumping in to action. But isn’t that what we really want from our business monitoring systems.

Tell me when something unusual is happening and provide all the related things that could be causing it.

Just my 2-cents. It doesn’t seem like rocket science to me.

Ken

PX > CX > UX = #usable + #feels_fast + #was_emotive <-- the battle for business supremacy

Over the last few years I have become inspired or perhaps possessed with a certain awe about how touch interfaces, Mobile, Cloud and Social have converged to change the focus of most successful organizations from delivering usable products to delivering meaningful and pleasurable experiences worth sharing. Digital experience influences more and more of our business landscape from how customers find us, to how they learn about and perceive our reputation, to their on-boarding experience. It’s the experience to date (hey I just made up a new term ETD), the sum of the whole experience delivered to the PEOPLE who are our users, that drives this.

Delivering experiences that people feel good about, find memorable and want to share is the next battle for business supremacy.

I’ve suggested previously, because our users are people, and understanding the customer journey and how to deliver amazing experiences starts with people, this should not be the practice of customer experience (CX) but rather people experience (PX). Further, if we are focussing for today (and we are) on digital experiences then we are really talking about user experience (UX).

I would suggest to you that this equation holds true:

PX > CX > UX = #usable + #feels_fast + #was_emotive

Of course, this is rooted in the fact that software systems are now systems of engagement and not just systems of record. We count on our software systems to help improve our reputation with our customers and our software systems to help our employees improve our reputation with customers. Every software system built ultimately has an impact on People Experience. And I want to emphasize how important it is that even our internal systems provide pleasurable experiences to employees. Because happy employees make for happy customers.

Aberdeen Research interpretation of Andrew's CX hierarchy

Aberdeen Research interpretation of Andrew’s CX hierarchy

This concept is borrowed from a slideshare (slide 15) by Steven Anderson in 2006 and the clarified graphic is courtesy of Aberdeen Research.

They are both a refinement of some previous research from Carnegie Mellon on human computer interfaces in the early 90s.

This is what we all should be striving for in the software systems that drive our interactions with customers and prospects. And also the software systems that support real-world interactions that support our employees or inventory or return process. What does this refined CX pyramid look like to you? Does it remind you of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. Take a look.

maslow

Just like with Maslow’s Hierarchy the basic needs and basic tasks at the bottom are much easier to achieve than the needs at the top like self-actualization. And yet, that is what is required of everyone involved in designing customer experiences now.

How can we build applications that create pleasurable experiences? By understanding the PEOPLE who will be using them. That’s probably a lot easier than self-actualizing.

Understand the people who are your users and do more than help them get it done – strive for delight. Think about those smaller parts of the interaction that don’t require building the starship enterprise. The Kano model is a good strategy here. Where could you introduce parts of the interaction that are different and appealing?

Let’s look at one ingenious example in the Travel aggregation space – Hipmunk.com. Search for any flight…go ahead. Notice that cute little button in the sort bar that says sort by “agony.” How can that not make you smile if you’ve every travelled through airports?

What appealing little capabilities are you adding to your UX to help delight people?

Ken

Competitive Website Benchmarking with Sitespeed.io – insurance example

I couldn’t resist spending a little more time with Sitepeed.io, over the weekend, mostly because I am smitten by the power of the free and open source tools that are available to measure Web performance, availability and optimization. One of the things I mentioned in my first post about using Sitespeed.io was that this was definitely something you should use to compare and benchmark your Web site against top competitors.

If in the digital world, if customer experience (CX) = user experience (UX) = #feelsfast + #usability, and differences of a quarter to one-half  a second have significant impacts on loyalty, then NOT using a tool like this to understand your competitive situation is…well…er…irresponsible.

I took 5 of the largest insurers and ran a little test of their home pages as an example. Click to review the sitespeed.io benchmark of top insurer’s Website home pages. I ran this little test on Sunday morning.

The usage and presentation of the results from Sitespeed.io are pretty technically oriented.  Still, if sifted through there is a lot of information here customer experience ought to be reviewing regularly.

Who in your organization owns user experience?

Ken

 

Cisco Application Visiblity and Control – What’s in it for me?

Cisco’s NBAR2 delivers detailed visibility into application performance and prioritization

A long long time ago in a galaxy far away…
I read a research note from Gartner (circa 2001) that suggested deep packet inspection (DPI) would render other forms of measuring application performance less meaningful.

Has that day come?

Maybe, maybe not, but this gets us a lot closer and the data could prove invaluable providing metrics, diagnostic, and deep-dive data to application performance processes within an enterprise or service provider network.

With the flurry of news over the last week about vendors (ManageEngine, CA, Plixer) leveraging this new application performance data I had to take a closer look. What I found was incredibly interesting.

AVC stands for application visibility and control. It is Cisco’s built in capability for discovering and controlling applications on the network. Leveraging NBAR2, Cisco’s next generation of DPI, more than 1000 applications are recognized out of the box, and this data is available just like standard netflow data for visualization in Cisco’s tools or 3rd party tools.

The demand for bandwidth consumption in the enterprise is growing along with video, mobile and cloud. While this is often good for business it can be challenging for operations who need visibility into which applications are running on the network, performance metrics by application, and a way to manage and prioritize to control the end-user experience.

How many times have you walked around your office and seen too many desktops watching something on youtube? Listening to music streaming from youtube is not the most productive use of bandwidth I think.

NBAR2 provides visibility at the application level for collection of performance metrics such as:
– breakdown of applications in detail going accross the network
– by IP, by port, by application
– in-bytes
– in-packets
– in interface
– out interface
– out bytes
– out packets
– response time
– application delay
– network delay
– client delay
– server delay

Because AVC is built into the latest gear (ASR 1000 and ISR G2 routers) it may eliminate the need for other costly DPI hardware currently used to measure application performance or shape traffic.

Check out this very short video demo of ActionPacked Networks net flow reporting tool showing the new application performance data.

This data is awesome and needs to be accessible to APM tools to diagnose performance issues as well as fed into analytics (ITOA) engines that perform anomaly detection and correlation.

AVC also supports prioritization of applications using QoS to improve user experience for critical applications and enforce fair-use policies.

Ken

Related links:

Cisco AVC FAQ
Cisco AVC Knowledge Portal
Dr. Netflow doing a quick demo