Thursday, March 25, 2010

Evolution of the Worker

We were not designed to sit at a desk. I spoke recently to several young working professionals, mostly from the Net Generation and they all had one thing to say. I don't want to be tied to my desk. Let me work from wherever I want. Leap Factors presentation has some good research and a good image on slide 4.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Content Economy by Oscar Berg: Explaining Enterprise 2.0 in one minute

A good post that gets to the core of Enterprise 2.0. The message may not be new. But a good short summary. The Content Economy by Oscar Berg: Explaining Enterprise 2.0 in one minute

10 Cool Things You Can Use Your BlackBerry Camera For

1. Take a picture of your white board brain storming sessions, right after the session and post them in a wiki and share them with colleagues. This takes very little effort and will earn you kudos.

2. If you see a flower in a garden, take a picture and email it to your significant other. It will make his or her day.

3. If you are in another town or in another place and are enjoying the scenery, take a picture and send it to your significant other to let them know that you wanted to share the moment. If the scenery is really good, watch our for a reaction such as "How come you are having all the fun and did not take me there".

4. If you are at a customer location, and customer draws something on a piece of paper,or a napkin, take a picture of it (with their permission) and use that picture in your next PowerPoint presentation.

5. If you are at a restaurant and want to send the address of the place to a friend, don't bother remembering the address. Pick a card or menu from the front desk, take a picture and email it while you are walking to your car or taxi, train or bus.

6. When you are at a customer site, take a picture of their actual office and use them in your next presentation. If graphic artists are available, they can use them as source material.

7. If you are doing user research, take a picture of the users desk, artifacts and documents (with their permission) so that you can look at them later. Your team will get a better sense of this customer if they were not part of the visit.

8. Take a picture of your receipts. You can print them later for expense reporting purposes. You will also remember the order in which you incurred the expenses.

9. Take a picture of  visiting cards your receive. Don't have to worry about losing the card. You can also take a picture of books to remember their names and authors.

10. If you are asked for a copy of your drivers license or any other small document, (and do not have ready access to a flatbed copier) take a picture of the document and print it or email it.

Enterprise Software where SMS is the only end-user interface

In my last post, i wrote a simple use case where a new employee is helped by the IT department via tweets and direct text messages. In this use case the only interface used was text messages. These messages can be posted and received even by the most rudimentary phones on earth. If enterprise software has to reach and benefit every person in the world, it should have the ability to adapt to the most basic interface, text.

I have been thinking for a while about this now and wonder, how a text only user interface for an enterprise application might work. I saw some interesting examples during my last visit to India.

Project Management
After a long career as a college professor, my mother now works for several women's welfare organizations in India. The project manager for one of her assignments is a young man in his thirties from another city.. Every day morning he texts the tasks to her cell phone. [My mother uses a regular Motorola phone.] At the end of the day she texts back her updates to him so that he can track and report. She looked at my BlackBerry and said, "You can do a lot with text". I am glad she never had to seen the interface of any enterprise software system. I tried to capture the use case here.

Employee On boarding
In my previous post I wrote a simple use case where an employee tweets about her status on the first day of work and IT staff of the company monitor her tweets to proactively to help her. Is it not great to tell your Net Generation new hires, to just walk into the office and tweet about what they are doing and what they are having trouble with. One of my colleagues, Girish extended that idea and said why just IT? Why not a community of self appointed employees who monitor new hires and help them settle down in a new workplace. A group of people will directly text them directly to tell them what to do.

This scenario can happen in any country, any industry, any language, any mobile phone. The behind the scenes text analysis software can be sophisticated. But for the new hire, there is practically no software involved.

I am sure there are wonderful ideas out there for using just text as a user interface. What are your thoughts? Any killer use cases for just SMS? If you share an idea with me, I might draw (no promises though) the use case in a comic strip format, post it here and give you credit for the use case.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

User Story Scenes in a Comic Strip Format

It is hard to pack a message in three frames. But if you can, it will be great. Let me know what you think. This is a hypothetical use case where the IT department of a company is monitoring the tweets of a new hire on her first day and proactively supporting her.
Note: I made up this fictitious scene above. It is not from any specific project.
I tried this approach to create a 8 scene story. I was not sure how my colleagues at SAP will react to this approach. After the first discussion, to my surprise, we eliminated most of the PowerPoint slides with text and decided to use this story to convey our ideas and research to our team.
We requested a a colleague who neither wrote the story nor drew the pictures to narrate the story. She was able to narrate the story without any difficulty. I am confident that this approach is paying off.
Presenting to Colleagues
We presented a complete story with 8 scenes to our colleagues. We used one PowerPoint slide (which did not look like a PowerPoint slide) for every scene. The presentation was received very well. When we presented it to senior executives, they were able to jump into the story and discuss key aspects right away without worrying about the format. With a single glance, people were able to connect to the content of the story.
Construction of a Scene in a PowerPoint slide
1. Name of the story
2. Name of the Scene: This should be self explanatory.
3. The Comic Strip with two or three frames.
4. A short 2-3 line description of the scene with the design concepts highlighted.
5. A foot note with the design concepts and technical concepts covered in the scene. This is for the reference of the presented and to handle question and objections during the presentation.
It takes a day to create a user story, if you have the story written down already.
The next step is to take approach to customers. More on that later.

Persona Diagrams Instead of multiple PowerPoint Slides with text

At SAP, design teams and many product managers routinely use personas to describe the target user. Using an illustration rather than a stock photo with some text next to it, helps people in the audience picture themselves in the role rather then see the user as someone else.

I learned from one of my colleagues, Jeremiah, that drawing an outline of the target user and leaving the facial details out is better than capturing all the details. You can create these illustrations from a photograph. Here is a sample user. A Net Generation employee who is used to getting things done on his phone. Conveys much more than 10 PowerPoint slides, does it not? This approach is very effective when presenting to executives, who normally have very short attention spans.

You will notice that the facial details are missing. This enables the audience to picture themselves in the role irrespective of their ethnicity. If you are interested in the tips and tricks of creating an illustration without hiring a full time artist, leave a comment and I'll add the procedure.

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