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I have been in the enterprise software business for almost 20 years where the dominant user interaction has been through keyboards and screens in different sizes and form factors. It started with desktop computers with big monitors, then laptops, then smartphones and tablets. What’s next?

Whatever innovation we have seen throughout the years, talking remains a natural way to communicate (teenagers excluded, probably), so we thought that IFS Labs should explore the opportunity for you to start talking to your enterprise software.

Talking as a user experience can raise productivity

Thanks to the internet and cloud services, data can be accessible to anyone at any time. You don’t need to be stuck at your desk to browse social or business data. Undoubtedly, this makes you more productive.

However, you are still stuck behind the screens and keyboards on your smartphone, tablet or laptop and have been so for the last three decades. There are situations when you are not allowed to use your phone, but still need to access business data to keep productivity up: when driving your car, for instance, or wasting your valuable time in a traffic jam.

This is the way it can work:

When is talking a good user experience?

There are a number of situations when voice has the greatest potential. It might not necessarily be the only user experience in a given scenario, but a great complementary one.

For instance:

  • Users with various disabilities who cannot see or use a keyboard and a screen.
  • Users who are in eyes-busy and hands-busy situations such as driving a car, wearing protective gloves preventing them from touching a device, or getting instructions when repairing complex equipment.
  • Users who need a very simple UI (think Google search, Siri or Cortana) where you don’t get paralyzed by lots of menus or buttons but instead just ask the system simple questions and the system will guide you through your queries.

Traffic statistics and potential returns

Even if new technologies can offer cool new things, I’d like to see if there are some potential earnings to be made.

Using the TomTom Traffic Index, we can see facts on how traffic jams in major cities delay people, and how this time can also potentially be used in a more productive way, instead of spending your energy swearing at traffic.

TomTom Traffic Index
Congestion level means increase in overall travel times when compared to a free flow situation. Please visit the TomTom Traffic Index for more interesting details.

In many countries you are only allowed to use your phone in hands-free mode. Talking to your enterprise software while driving to check some business data to proactively give a customer or partner the information they need can be a smart use of non-productive time spent in the car.

I talk to Google Translate to order sushi and a beer in Tokyo

Order sushi and a beer

Let us step outside the comfort zone of enterprise software to explore how we use voice interaction already today.

If I need to get in contact with my broadband supplier at home, I first navigate through voice interaction in their support center to explain the issue. It’s convenient and works very well.

The Google Translate app can help me to order sushi and a beer in Japanese as I frequently visit IFS partner NEC in Tokyo. It’s a bit embarrassing, but fun.

What are your thoughts on how talking can be an improved user experience for enterprise software? Feel free to share your views in the comments section.


2 Responses

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    Natasha Mustapha

    In my opinion an enterprise application you could talk to would be great. For one thing talking is so much less exhausting than typing. To the contrary however the youth nowadays as you’ve already pointed out spends more time typing than talking. This is no doubt an influence of the texting/emailing made possible by the same smartphones and tablets to reach the other end as fast as a phone call or face to face word even. This has ironically led to an increasing preference to quietly typing instead of talking to avoid as much social interaction as possible. But the truth is, in a work environment shying away from talking cannot do you any good. As much as your ability to be understood through a typed out message would matter that cannot be your main mode of communication. I’ll tell you why. When you need some important piece of information that too urgently, I’m sure anyone would agree that asking a few questions and getting immediate feedback in voice would take much less time than typing out the questions and reading the answers one by one. So you’ve got your information as soon as you’ve spoken the words out loud. What’s more is that over time you know to ask the right questions to get the right answers as a natural reflex in other words by talking, “the most natural way to communicate”. Now you’ve reached a whole new efficiency at work not just with your app but also at talking in general or sharing your ideas with others. So an app like this could have a greater influence than you’d think on the younger talents’ diminishing communication resulted by the same technology.


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