User eXperience at work at Oracle – the latest from Oracle OpenWorld 2016

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User Experience (UX) is a broad term that represents many different interactions humans can have with computer systems. Traditionally UX has been largely based on desktop terminal and keyboard, but a wide variety of ways to interact has come our way. Mobile devices, speech recognition, face recognition, wearables, “gesture detection”, IoT devices but also email, SMS, social media and chat are part of the UX catalog.

Our expectations for user experience in enterprise IT is driven by our consumer experience and by what we see in movies and on TV and perhaps by what we imagine besides. In addition to the interaction channels, we also have come to expect proactivity and smartness from the systems we communicate with. When entering data, you expect the system to already know things about you and your current context and past activities. When you interact across one channel, you expect to be able to have a consistent and even uninterrupted experience when you continue the interaction on another channel. If I switch from tablet to desktop for watching a movie on Netflix, it will just continue at the right point. If I start shopping with Amazon on my mobile device and go to bed and continue shopping the next day on a different device, the contents of the basket is still there. That is UX that enterprise systems should also offer.

Oracle has its Oracle Applications User Experience division – a group that has been working on designing, implementing and evangelizing a modern, attractive and functional user experience throughout Oracle and the wider Oracle community. The experience of the Oracle SaaS applications was created by this OAUX team, they were behind the Alta look & feel that is provided with both ADF, MAF and JET.

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The simplified UI introduced by the OAUX team. On the left the UI for on premises E-Business Suite and on the right the cloud based Fusion applications. Talk about a common look and feel and a consistent experience.

A similar evolution is visualized by the evolution of HCM in EBS 12.1 to 12.2:

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The OAUX team are behind powerful mottos such as ‘simplicity, mobility and extensibility’ that help design and development teams to have clear focus – especially on the 10/90/90 (10% of the functionality of an application that is used by 90% of the users in 90% of the time):

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and ‘glance, scan, commit’

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that have been leading in the design of today’s appealing and consistent experience of the SaaS applications.

Interestingly enough, in addition to heavily influencing the HCM and Sales Cloud, ERP and Supply Chain Management Clouds, the OAUX team have also seen their philosophy embraced by the JD Edwards product team, as can be seen from this slide on the JD Edwards UX vision (where glance, scan, commit is translated to Alert-> Analyze -> Act):

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The JD Edwards UX vision comes with clear objectives:

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The OAUX team also focuses on providing extensibility and customization on top of the Oracle SaaS products – to allow customers to have a tailored application experience that optimizes productivity and increases participation and adoption by the end users.

imageFrankly, in the recent past, the extensibility of the SaaS applications has been limited, mainly restricted to fairly superficial user interface configuration – add a logo, change a font or color scheme, that kind of thing. Bigger and better things are coming shortly, allow organizations that adopt SaaS products to tailor them much more to their desires and needs and also do a better job at integrating extensions – such as ADF applications running on the JCS-SX cloud.

 

The cloud is the platform that powers all forms of interactions with users and of experiences by users.

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One of the concepts pushed by the OAUX team is the notion of session portability: the state of the conversation between a user and the system is retained and shared across devices – without the user having to explicitly save that state. This is similar to the experience with Netflix or e-readers, applied to enterprise applications. The cloud provides the platform for retaining and sharing the state, allowing devices to coordinate and synch up.

The OAUX team have enabled internal Oracle product development teams to build products according to the UX philosophy. They now do the same for anyone creating custom applications – by sharing design patterns, guidelines and templates for designing applications and by providing the Rapid Development Kits (RDKs).

With an RDK, any organization can design and build stand-alone applications and SaaS extensions according to the same UX principles that Oracle applies. The RDKs contain a starter application, sample code, reusable components, guidelines and resources to create the Alta look and feel, exemplar “simplified UI, mobile app SaaS and PaaS task flows from product and web services”, Local, standalone data sources, Guidance on choosing best use cases, Microsoft PowerPoint wireframes and stencils, UX design patterns and development eBooks, Video guidance. RDKs are available on OTN – for free – for ADF and shortly for MAF and JET.

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Download the AMIS OOW16 Highlights for an overview of announcements at OOW16.

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About Author

Lucas Jellema, active in IT (and with Oracle) since 1994. Oracle ACE Director for Fusion Middleware. Consultant, trainer and instructor on diverse areas including Oracle Database (SQL & PL/SQL), Service Oriented Architecture, BPM, ADF, JavaScript, Java in various shapes and forms and many other things. Author of the Oracle Press books: Oracle SOA Suite 11g Handbook and Oracle SOA Suite 12c Handbook. Frequent presenter on conferences such as JavaOne and Oracle OpenWorld. Presenter for Oracle University Celebrity specials.

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