“Today, companies want web applications and services to be available to users in any situation and on any device. User interaction, rich media, and social concepts are no longer options, and mobility is no longer an afterthought. These trends are driving … user experience platforms (UXP).”
– Gartner Analyst, Jim Murphy
What’s a UXP – and Why You Care
The emerging User Experience Platform (UXP) is the most exciting concept in enterprise technology since the advent of the corporate intranet. The UXP blends personal and enterprise technology in a way that will fundamentally change the way we work and how we interface with our employer and co-workers. It not only supports work processes and productivity, but how we learn and solve problems and how we manage our personal career path. If that sounds like a pitch for a social media or process improvement platform, or a talent management system, a UXP has the power to become all of those things—and so much more. At the same time, the UXP on its own is none of them.
Gartner defines a UXP as “an integrated set of technologies used to provide interaction between a user and a set of applications, processes, content, services or other users.” In a corporate context, a UXP is a graphical interface that lives on an organization’s intranet or is hosted in a private cloud. It knows who you are and directs you to role- and time-specific interactions that you need to do your job and achieve your career goals:
- Business process and productivity applications
- Performance support
- Learning and career development systems and activities
- Collaboration tools, communities, and media sharing
- Information search and portals
- Forms and document management
- Dashboards and analytics
It may help to envision the UXP as an imaginary layer that runs on top of the corporate technology ecosystem, coordinating complex activities that take place over time. It weaves in and out of multiple applications and directs tasks that require interactions with others, providing everything you need to complete each stage of the task, and keeping track of where you are along the way. The UXP is the uber-competent director of the network orchestra—capable of telling each musician when and what to play and providing exactly the right instrument and sheet music just-in-time at each stage of the performance.
Way Beyond Portals
The UXP makes good on the promise that corporate portals failed to deliver. Too many portal installations suffered from rigid architecture and a cumbersome user interface, and without careful curation, degraded into unwieldy wastelands of duplicate and outdated information. Workers in large organizations are accustomed to accessing the seamless interface on their smartphone or tablet at home, but are forced to log onto a number of separate portals and applications in order to complete a single process at work. The result: the portals that promised to help improve productivity too often frustrate workers, who the only use them as a last resort.
The term “User eXperience,” is the first clue that a UXP differs dramatically from portals of the past. UXP developers must have a strong grounding in user-centered design and be able to apply usability best practices to support complex interactions. As the UXP expands, the interface must remain consistent, yet be versatile enough to support a wide range of roles and activities across the organization. UXP asks the questions, “What does each of our employees need to thrive at this company? … in their role? … in the future?”
But the UXP is not just a pretty interface. “Platform” points to the composite application development and integration capabilities of the UXP. A well thought out UXP transforms the corporate intranet into a robust performance support system with seamless, authenticated, personalized user access. The UXP guides and tracks a complex business process that requires interaction with people, documents, and multiple applications.
Today, enterprise platforms such as Microsoft SharePoint, Oracle WebCenter Suite, IBM Customer Experience Suite, and Adobe Digital Experience Platform have matured beyond the portal and information management stage. These enterprise platforms already incorporate collaboration capabilities and are emerging as tools for UXP interface and back end composite application development to augment existing systems. An organization already using one of these platforms for information portals is well positioned to take the logical next step toward piloting a UXP “proof of concept” to support a complex process or business function.
Why You Care
UXP is a game changer. Its holistic approach has strong implications for integrating systems, collaboration, and performance support activities across all key functional areas of an organization. Business leaders will appreciate the ROI that the UXP provides through performance improvement and analytics. HR will benefit from the talent management, learning, and compliance capabilities for Human Capital Improvement. Workers will enjoy the ready access to the personalized, role-specific tools and support they need to get their job done efficiently as well as the ability to manage their personal career development path.
Perhaps most importantly, the UXP has the potential to break down the pillars in large organizations that pit departments against each other. According to Jim Murphy of Gartner:
“UXP could provide the bridge that finally aligns the efforts and interests of IT, the business, and the end-user.”
It’s this alignment that is the key to optimal performance in the future of any organization.