All About the UI: Technology without the Gory Details

Today I had the true pleasure to join Coffee Break with Game Changers, the Voice of America internet radio talk program sponsored by SAP and hosted by Bonnie Graham.  We looked at a number of issues driving user interface (UI) and user experience (UX), from changing workplace demographics, to gamification, to the use of common enterprise computing platforms.

On the topic of employee retention and workplace demographics, my focus was on the shift to a new breed of workers – Millennial workers – and how very different their expectations are for businesses looking to hire and promote them.

Millennial workers (born 1979 through 1999) grew up learning how to play, and fun was part of their learning pedagogy in their educational upbringing and remains so today. So you need to make work fun and easy, and gamification is a big part of this.  Older Baby Boomer workers may dismiss this as wasting time, but it’s how millennial workers get things done.

Millennial workers also have a tendency to prefer to work in teams rather than alone. As such performance management systems which place much of the emphasis on independent contributions will give way to more team based and group performance approaches.

On the topic of using a common computing platform, one that everyone knows and is familiar with, to access complex enterprise information our focus shifted to Microsoft SharePoint and their co-branded solution with SAP, Duet Enterprise:

A 2011 study found that nearly two in three (64%) North American and Western European organizations are currently using SharePoint, while an additional 12% plan to do so in the near future.  As a common platform, SharePoint can allow access to complex, business critical information through a user interface that most organizations already own.

Content being directed at a common, easy to use platform is on the rise.  While most SharePoint sites manage content in the 100s of Gigabytes, the same 2011 study found that content level will grow to 10s or 100s of Terabytes by 2015.  With increased capabilities of SharePoint content management and data handling, the ability to scale SharePoint as a common platform in the advent of global, big data enterprises becomes real.

And finally my crystal ball around the future of the UI, which I stated there “won’t be a UI in the future as we know it, screens will be replaced by mobile, virtual environments.”

While Baby boomers are working longer, they will leave the workforce creating the next largest workforce generation we have seen in 40 years.  These jobs will be filled by millennial workers. These millennial workers will demand team-based, fun work environments.  Giving them the easy-to-use tools they need to be productive while having fun will not be a workplace perk, it will become a requirement for successful businesses.

You can listen to the full radio case on the Voice of America site as well as subscribe to Coffee Break with Game Changers on iTunes.  Thanks to my great panel of colleagues today as well as to Bonnie for a fantastic show!

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