Integrating Workflow into the Information Experience
Given the pressures for increased productivity, information experiences that don't take the user out of workflow or that save time in doing regular tasks have
built-in market advantages. Brian Mackie, senior product manager for Moreover Technologies, which provides online media monitoring tools to enterprise customers, says, "You have to embed it and make it easy. It's about categorizing things under the hood-you don't want [users] to have to think about what they're accessing."
In the case of Moreover's Newsdesk 4, a SaaS news and social media discovery and sharing service, end users can send customized newsletters and emails directly from the social monitoring dashboard, as well as set up feeds directly to corporate intranets or other enterprise information products. Social sharing is also built into the product. "The sharing aspect in Newsdesk 4 is a better way of tapping into the enterprise directory," says Mackie, noting that users can now set up groups and comment on and share stories that might have interest, for example, just to colleagues in a product team or a marketing department.
Looking beyond the enterprise, Cengage Learning, which provides teaching, learning, and research solutions for the academic, professional, and library markets, recognized a need in the academic market for a solution that would more easily integrate disparate tasks and content types. In March 2011 the company introduced MindTap, which it bills as "the first in a new category of Personal Learning Experiences (PLEs)." According to William Rieders, executive vice president of New Media at Cengage Learning, "Given that half of the U.S. student population is considered ‘non-traditional [not full time],' that anytime, anywhere access is key." Cloud-based MindTap is a multimodal environment that enables educators to distribute content from multiple providers to students and builds in interactivity and tracking to improve engagement.
Rieders says, "MindTap is designed to be the ultimate mashup of content, technology, and pedagogy." It assembles all of a student's course materials in one spot for easy access-their ebooks, homework solutions, quizzes, multimedia content, assets from Gale's library databases-and students can access MindTap from mobile devices, desktops, or iPads. By integrating grade books and tutoring into the platform, Cengage is also striving to simplify lower-value tasks for professors using the system, to free them up for more complex teaching tasks.
The Five New Fundamentals of the Information Experience
Taken together, the "new" precepts of improving information experiences-mobility, customization, enhanced productivity, visualization, and workflow integration-are simply updated names for what has always won end users over: simplicity, speed, flexibility, and accuracy. Similarly, the underlying supports for user experience, such as excellent customer service and responsiveness to the changes in a customer's environment, will only become more important as the pace of technological change quickens.
As Ricou-Bellan says, "It's difficult to predict how platforms will change over time. But as traditional business models are challenged, adapting and innovating products based on changes in the customer's organization is critical."