The Intelligent Enterprise – A Bubbly Approach to Why Consistent User Experience is Important
Have you seen the TV commercial of a German beer company, where the protagonist has to mature from a pimply, insecure teenager to a grown-up man in order to pass the barkeeper’s visual test and receive a beer at the bar?
It may be a bit far-fetched (and I’m not here to promote alcohol consumption or talk about the quality and meaningfulness – or male stereotypes in these beer commercials in general) but to me, an Intelligent Enterprise has to pass similar tests, every day, in order to get the users’ acceptance. Only with maturity, consistency, and setting and living up to high standards will you be recognized as a company that brings incremental value to your customers and users – time and again. And once you’ve set these expectations and users begin feel at home with whichever product they consume from your portfolio and are able to execute their tasks in a fast and easy manner with higher productivity, you don’t want this experience to break. Particularly if the UI was intelligent enough to give these users a personalized experience, with up-to-minute information turning into actionable insights, with designated assistance and the ability to access their tasks anytime and anywhere. While intimacy is a big concept in beer commercials (beer in belly button, anyone?), the equivalent in the Enterprise software space definitely is a personalized user experience.
And in many instances, it is the visual test that comes first for any user. Here, an integrated, seamless, intelligent experience is key. For SAP and our goals to deliver the Intelligent Enterprise to our customer and enable them in their digital transformation, this means aligned user interface design across SAP products. It also includes single points of entries for all products of the Intelligent Suite and Services they commonly use. It means natural interaction via digital assistants and bots. And it will result in a user experience that is personalized, unique, and consistent, now and going forward.
The pipeline is bubbling – from getting things done at the speed of thought – with or without mind-reading headsets – to having thorough underlying semantic models for chatbots to give you the right answers even if you didn’t not use the perfect wording, across multiple languages. From intuitive pen & paper based experience and text recognition capabilities, to all of the embedded AI you don’t even see but that highly influence whatever you touch, click, or say. With cross-product navigation and the support of deep linking patterns across business process relevant objects, a central inbox service for any workflow items, embedded and integrated central search, and a WebAssistant that is integrated in the application and provides context-sensitive help and tutorials, I think we are pretty close to becoming mature from an Intelligent Enterprise UX perspective. Hopefully, we can pass any user’s or barkeeper’s scrutiny. Prost!
If you want to take a more serious approach and deep dive into UX consistency (and why this is not as boring as it sounds), I can highly recommend Kai Richter’s blog series. He is Chief Designer at SAP, and explains in detail, what consistency is, why it is important, what aspects of consistency there are in our UIs, and how a process for defining company-wide UX consistency standards was established. Check it out: https://blogs.sap.com/2019/03/12/the-best-user-experience-is-consistent-part-1-about-consistency/