I am reviewing the Manifesto on Human Factors Engineering and making updates. In the meantime, what follows below was a draft introduction letter, which was left unpublished when releasing the Manifesto last year. Blue text shows new updates. As far as this post’s title is concerned, DX refers to Digital Experiences. The same acronym is also used for Digital Transformation initiatives.
Claude E. Shannon, the father of information theory, is credited with being the first to use the word “bit” in a ground-breaking paper published in the Bell Labs’ Research Journal in 1948. He defined a mathematical framework that defines information and how to encode and transmit it over communication networks.
John E. Karlin, the father of Human Factors Engineering and a peer of Shannon’s at Bell Labs, is credited with assembling the first business organization addressing the human side of the equation just a year earlier. His interdisciplinary team focused on how to interface and, therefore, best design communication systems that account for cognitive and behavioral matters, as well as form factor considerations for devices to be user friendly.
In the Age of Digital Transformation, the notion of “being digital” has transcended the sophisticated handling of binary digits and what we can do with tangible hardware. Data driven automation and the notion of zero-touch lead to the development of end-to-end digital systems that are largely software defined and autonomic. These are engineered to be highly efficient and to operate without human intervention… or so we thought.
That feat can only be accomplished by undertaking a holistic design approach which, paradoxically, highlights the larger context and the new nature of Human-Machine-Systems. Otherwise, we would incur a technical myopia where presumably good technology ends up addressing the wrong problems or causing new ones that offset the intended benefits. In the digital age, technical prowess alone does no longer guarantee success: impressive inventions can fail to “cross the chasm,” fall in the “valley of death,” and never become true innovations to their creators and investors’ dismay. Passing the Turing Test just to plunge into the uncanny valley paradox also reinforces that point.
Note: the above draft chart is not self-explanatory, requires some updating and I will better address it on another post… but I’d like to leave this version here for ongoing discussions and feedback.
Being digital entails a new breed of jobs enabled by workforce automation. Any of us may become a citizen developer who can leverage self-service and intuitive decision support systems to create, blend and program services, because automation does the heavy lifting under the hood. Interdisciplinary collaboration is now within reach as teams involving individuals from different domains can effectively share these tools and the underlying resources to overcome the pitfalls and diminishing returns of organizational fragmentation. Enterprises can better innovate and further business opportunities by engaging in rapid experimentation with nimbler teams working at greater scale and scope, and by doing so at unprecedented speed.
At the time of writing this, and in the foreseeable future, no enterprise system is left alone without a human being accountable for its performance (or lack of thereof) since our skills and judgement remain key to critical and ultimate decision making. The more sophisticated the environment, the more obvious, as smaller agile teams become responsible for systems operating at greater scale, scope and speed. Dr. Alonso Vera, Chief at NASA’s HSI (Human Systems Integration) Division, states that “humans are the most critical element in system safety, reliability and performance […] across the gamut of applications even as increasingly intelligent software systems come on-line,” Human-Centered Design and Operations of Complex Aerospace Systems 2017.
It should also be noted that best practices in A.I. are promoting the kind of augmented and collaborative intelligence that only Human-On-The-Loop and Human-In-The-Loop Computing can deliver. A.I. is also powering up Affective Computing to make day-to-day digital services be contextual, empathic and adaptive, and allowing for mass-personalization at scale. We are also leveraging Natural Language Processing coupled with Dataviz helping better search, discover and visualize insight and foresight with interactive infographic quality, instead of just rendering data overloading screens and overwhelming navigation.
These are all good reasons to further our understanding of how to best leverage analytics, automation and programmability to design enterprise and consumer systems driven by a human-centered approach. The desired outcome is greater utility, frictionless consumability, dynamic adaptation and, last but not least, extreme ease of use at any level throughout a service’s lifecycle. That’s the fertile ground that enables new cross-pollination opportunities to enable a better future, which continuous improvement sets in constant motion and, hence, always is in the making.
Being digital is a human experience and, as such, it involves human affects. That relates to how we perceive our predominantly analog world and the diversity of our social and cultural fabrics. We interact with a great deal of objects and services of all sizes which can, and will be, digitized and automated in some fashion. We will continue to lead our lives in a variety of changing contexts and perform numerous tasks throughout the day, some routinely and some exercising more demanding skills with both low and high tech in that mix. So, it pays to think of Human Factors Engineering as not only having pioneered human-centered-design, but as an endless source of serial innovation for Creative Technologists to address our evolving lifestyles and quality of life in the DX Age.
I am joining a discussion on Information Visualization and Interaction Design… and the integral role of Cognitive Art to deliver innovative HCI (Human-Computer-Interfaces.)
Heare are sample projects that I have been involved in. This set showcases: multi-modal user interfaces, metaphorical abstractions, and cognitive models, as well as ergonomic form factors that optimize for extreme ease of use.
d.SCI refers to a methodology that I am working on which purposely intersects design and science. In this particular discussion, human congition and affect are the topics of interest.
“Argyle Executive Forum is bringing together senior digital & IT executives from a variety of industry verticals for our biannual CIO Chicago Forum. Throughout a full day of content and networking, we will focus on the most pressing issues facing IT executives with regards to leading the business through digital transformation, with an agenda geared specifically towards Chief Information officers, Chief Data Officers, Chief Digital Officers, as well as Data/ Analytics/MIS VPs, Directors, and Architects in a leading role.
It is worth noticing that this event featured partners who we work with such as HP Enterprise, Thought Leader Sponsor, and IBM, Breakout Session Sponsor.
That talks to the criticality of collaborative undertakings as Digital Transformation becomes a pressing objective across industries, academia, public service and government sectors.
What follows is my notes and personal insights. While all the sessions and discussions were quite relevant, I would like to highlight the opening keynote, which set the tone and narrative of the event.
James P. MacLennan, SVP & CIO at IDEX, discussed “The Five Components of a Great Digital Strategy,” which addressed the fact that “Design Thinking”, “Human Factors” and a collaborative culture involving interdisciplinary workstyles and “Great Teams” have become of the essence.
Moreover, he stated that “a Digital Business” will only succeed when it understands hot to connect with people.” The “human element” and, therefore, “people centered” strategies turn out to be critical success factors.
I would like to add that this entails engineering a continuum of (a) stakeholders, who are all human personas by definition, and to do so across (b) UX (user experience) and CX (customer experience) domains.
This job takes (c) a holistic understanding of customer facing (front end) and resource facing (back end) elements forming a coherent end-to-end system. Otherwise, operational fragmentation will take a toll and will deny the intended DX benefits.
James’ presentation displayed the convoluted UI (user interface) shown in this picture to illustrate the paradox of well intended yet counterproductive implementations that negate transformation initiatives.
Here is another valuable insight coming out of Argyle’s Executive Forum: information technologies (IT) and tech and processes for operations cannot longer be worlds apart, which demands superb cross-functional teamwork.
Cognitive overload, deficient information architecture, and poor usability translates into: human error, risk aversion, costly budget overruns, missing or deviating from goals, so on and so forth.
Any and all of these issues combined can be silently impacting quality or, simply, just lowering the bar for a business to get through noisy and cluttered operational environments. That is hardly the stuff that operational excellence calls for.
Obviously, in the context of CX, customer satisfaction becomes harder and harder to attain and, more specifically, to get that effectively done in a consistent fashion.
Predictability and consistency are key objectives for any Quality Management program. If that scenario alone wasn’t troublesome enough, Customer Delight (rather than just satisfying agreed upon requirements) is Design Thinking’s ultimate performance indicator, which commands a premium clearly beyond reach under those circumstances.
Quality management wise, “satisfaction” is the fulfilment of expected specifications while “delight” is about great pleasure, or great satisfaction if you will. “Satisfaction” can be rationalized and is the acceptance ticket to be in business. “Delight” accounts for human affects (emotions) and is a powerful source of differentiation. Those who think that’s just about splitting hairs should take a pause and think twice because DX is set to enable game changing experiences on all counts and fronts.
Thoughtout the forum and session after session, Jim’s “Design for Humans” principle gained more and more critical mass as presenters and panelists discussed the reasons why we should be mindful of the user journey and how to best improve all touch points along the way.
In one of the panel discussions this became even more evident when the question on aligning people, processes and technologies pointed to difficult prioritization exercises. Note that there was immediate consensus on the need for putting people first and humanizing technology and processes by applying Design Thinking, a human centered methodology that is corner stone to the job of creative technologists.
That means projects that are driven by clear missions and specific experiential outcomes and lifecycles (Goal Directed Design) rather than just an I/O approach. It also means rapid experience prototyping and A/B multivariate testing to explore possibilities since Design Thinking is a serial innovation engine.
Chicago’s NPR station aired a rerun of “The Power of Design” this past weekend. The discussion was centered on “How Can We Design For A Better Experience.”
By the way, TED’s acronym actually stands for the convergence of Technology, Entertainment and… Design.
Interview with Tony Fadell, one of the main designers of the iPod (Apple) and founder of Nest (Google).
“Design begins by also noticing all those little problems that many ignore (…) we we though our lives accepting these design flaws that actually don’t improve our lives.”
“Steve Jobs challenged us to see our products through the eyes of the customer, the new customer, the one that has fears and possible frustrations, and hopes and exhilaration that the new technology can work straight away for them. He called it “staying beginners” and wanted to make sure that we focused on those tiny little details to make things work faster and seamless for the new customers.”
“There is this positive emotional momentum that builds on itself at each step of the process (…) when you hit a brick wall you loose all the momentum (…) and though away an entire great experience.”
“There are to halves to design, just as there are two halves to your brain, the emotional part and the rational part. If you want people to truly adopt your product it has to have an emotional component, something that grabs you (…) that unlocks your curiosity, it also needs to rationally work (…) because people see value beyond the sexiness.”
Interview with Joe Gebbia, Airbnb cofounder.
“Any time that you see duct tape in the world, that’s a design opportunity (…) it’s an indicator that something is broken, that something did not perform the way it was design to and that there is an opportunity to improve it.”
“Design is the key to (Airbnb) success (…) and as a competitive advantage, design is thing that can separate you (…) the next thing that can differentiate you. All things being equal, two comparable products side by side with the same technical features and components… you will be crazy to choose the one that is harder to use.”
“Airbnb’s design decisions not only made the service easy to use but it helped millions of complete estrangers trust each other (…) and open their homes (…) design is more than the look and feel of something, it is the whole experience.”
“The debate surrounding digitalization has gained increased practical importance […] changes in business approaches, opportunities for organizations in operational and business process development, with effect on the internal and external efficiency of IT.”
“When planning for digital transformation, organizations must factor the cultural changes they’ll confront as workers and organizational leaders adjust to adopting and relying on unfamiliar technologies.”
“Digital transformation has created unique marketplace challenges and opportunities, as organizations must contend with nimble competitors who take advantage of the low barrier to entry that technology provides.”
“Additionally, due to the high importance given today to technology and the widespread use of it, the implications of digitalization for revenues, profits and opportunities have a dramatic upside potential.”
Updated links on Nov 11 2017
2017 – NOKIA LEAN OPS DSS – DECISION SUPPORT SYSTEM
5 minute intro: restricted access
15 minute demo session: https://youtu.be/W0MZeY70ZeE
20 min talk: restricted access
2016 – NOKIA LEAN OPS – IMMERSIVE DATAVIZ & “AUTONOMATION”
3 minute introduction: https://networks.nokia.com/videos/nfv-operations-keep-it-lean
15+ minute demo session: https://networks.nokia.com/videos/lean-nfv-operations-mwc-16
2015 – DIGITAL OPERATIONAL TRANSFORMATION WITH LEAN OPS
10+ minute demo session: restricted
20+ minute deep dive: https://youtu.be/TQEtgpEi5Mc
60 min webinar: https://www.brighttalk.com/webcast/6985/172207
90 min webinar: registration required
2013 – REDEFING LEAN FOR THE CLOUD AGE
5 minute interview – processing
2008 – DIGITAL EXPERIENCES
4 min day-in-the-life “emerging experiences” -Millennial Zoe: https://youtu.be/BDE6XSPHv6c
4 min day-in-the-life “forward looking concepts” -GenX Ethan: https://youtu.be/eX0Qm49RU_0
I need to spend some time locating and reviewing videos discussing other projects that I have been involved in for Mixed Reality (MR), Mobile Edge Computing (MEC), Interactive Mobile Media, Commuting Vehicles, and the Internet of Collaborative Robotics… and will share them in future updates.
“We celebrated HFE’s 70th Anniversary at Bell Labs, the home of the creative technologists who pioneered this inter-disciplinary field. We are also encouraging our community’s renewed efforts to shape innovations that enable the human possibilities of technology in today’s connected world.”
“This year’s agenda featured guest speakers from AT&T and Verizon, practitioners in diverse industries from NASA, IBM, Information Builders and Lab Z, experts from MIT and IIT, as well as Bell Labs and Nokia flagship and award winning innovations. This event is organized by Nokia’s Technology Leadership Council in partnership with Bell Labs.”
The above file delivers the event’s agenda and topic abstracts. First, there is a need for thanking everyone involved: speakers, participants, volunteers and sponsors, as well as Nokia’s IT and Real Estate staff. Our conference involved 20 fast paced sessions over two days. 300+ of us participated in this conference from multiple worldwide locations as well as online. Approximately 150 people registered with NokiaEDU, Nokia’s training platform.
I am happy to share that feedback received during and after the event was very positive and encouraging beyond expectations, some of it was incredibly passionate. If you are a peer at Nokia, note that you now have access to HFE17’s communications, conversations and files and the recordings.
Moreover, we are now working on jumpstarting a company-wide community of interest centered on Human Factors and are also gearing for HFE18, which will feature the John E. Karlin Recognition Award. John pioneered HFE at Bell Labs in 1947. He passed away four years ago and his contributions paved the way for user centered innovations.
Nokia’s legendary journey has already passed the 150 year mark and, interestingly enough, more than 95% of us did not carry a Nokia badge four years ago. There are more than 100,000 of us embarked in this endeavor and we all collectively represent 160 nationalities working in more than 100 countries.
Our customers are the world’s communications service providers, governments, enterprises and consumers. We deploy the industry’s most comprehensive set of products, services, as well as licensing opportunities with a patent portfolio featuring in excess of 30,000 inventions.
But, most importantly, our innovations and collective know-how make a decisive difference when we “shape technologies that truly transform the human experience” as technical prowess alone does not suffice. HFE17 was sponsored by Bell Labs and supported by our Technology Leadership Council, a grassroots organization formed by volunteers whose goal is to help foster a culture of innovation that honors Nokia’s renewed commitment to “enabling the human possibilities of technology.”
Humanizing technology is the core belief of those of us working in Human Factors Engineering, whether the job focuses on UX, User Experience, or CX, Customer Experience, dataviz and graphical interfaces or natural language interaction, services or operations, software or hardware, HCI, Human Computer Interaction, or HITL, Human in the Loop Computing, with AI, Artificial Intelligence.
HFE2017’s main objective was to get our community connected so that everyone’s good efforts become as meaningful and impactful as they can be.
I would also like to take this chance to highlight Betsy Cowell’s leadership. I had the pleasure to co-chair this event with her. Betsy’s discipline became instrumental given the scope of the effort and unexpected challenges.
Some of you might recall our first attempt to get HFE off the ground last year. Back then, we encountered technical and scheduling shortcomings when being asked to switch to a new webcasting system yet to be deployed. So, we ended up postponing.
Betsy managed to re-energize this undertaking with the turn of the year. She engaged a small army of volunteers who became key to HFE17’s success. Some just wouldn’t give up even when facing technical and organizational intricacies in the eleventh hour. TLC makes a difference by taking down silos and fostering a culture of collaboration across the company.