Below is an excerpt from a recent piece I’d published for an IT industry journal, offering “predictions” for 2012 around design matters. It was a fun piece to write, in cooperation with our Citrix PR team. I usually avoid publicizing any kind of “predictions” (you almost always get in trouble, either for inaccuracy or overhyping) but took this cool opportunity to frame a case for certain UX trends and themes. Enjoy!
2012 will certainly see further market growth and technical evolution of enterprise virtualization technologies, along with competing cloud platforms for public/private data access. From a user experience (UX) perspective, however, certain drivers are starting to become apparent as “consumerization”emerges as a common theme amongst enterprise software vendors–thanks to the skyrocketing popularity of iPhones, iPads, and “Apps”.
1. Ubiquity of content: Partly due to virtualization & cloud tech, we can now access any content from any device, any place. We will live in increasingly “blended” modes of work AND play, from updating your Facebook status (discreetly) at the office, to revising spreadsheets while in line at Starbucks for your Venti latte. Indeed, it has become an entitled expectation to be able to do so among Gen Y & millenials entering the workforce.
2. Fluidity of information: Much like the NFL Mobile Network commercial where a football fan enjoys the exact same game across morphing devices (from TV > phone > tablet > laptop > etc.) that information remains the same and “mutates” according to each device’s particular form factor and screen size or capabilities. Yet all the while it’s one constant uninterrupted flow, optimized for the context and device with device-based and network-based intelligence (bandwidth enhancements, off or on-loading resources, etc.). All of that is done invisibly so the consumer has no idea, nor should they.
3. Personality of service: As Robert Brunner of Do You Matter, a good book on creating cultures of design savviness, has explained: People simply love their chosen brands, which matter even more so in highly contested, fragmented technology spaces. People LOVE Dropbox, Netflix, Evernote, and so forth…and will react harshly when things change for the worse (See: Qwikster). Asking for patience during downtimes or flaky service just doesn’t cut it anymore. So while IT admins roll out new cloud-driven IT systems, the service impact will reflect their brand and shape their users’ (and employees’) perceptions. Tone of voice, personality, and value of service all add up. You gotta have emotional connectivity, not just IT data connectivity. People have to WANT to use your service to positively fold into their daily lifestyles of work and play…and feel good about sharing that with their friends and family (the viral, social effect).
In the end, 2012 will be the year of emotionally resonant simplicity that blends with people’s lifestyles, not just their devices or apps but tapping into their needs for have ubiquitous, fluid, beautiful experiences across virtualized and cloud-based platforms. We’ll see this emerge in Home Entertainment (Cloud-based TV that “help” your choices), Home Automation (Cloud-driven thermostats that “know” your energy usage), and Wearable Computing (Smart health monitors, like Jawbone Up, FitBits, Nike Fuel, to support wellness habits) even In-Car Telematics (Cloud / Virtualized systems for a car to run entertainment, navigation, etc.). The possibilities are truly endless, but the choices will be determined by total quality of UX.