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Hi everyone, thanks for coming. Today I’m going to take a particular slice of designing for everybody. When we design for consumers, “everybody” can be market segments, people in different geographies or cultures. When we design for the workplace, “everybody” means bosses and workers. This is the lens I’m going to take to talk about enterprise UX, that the enterprise is workplace, but we can look to consumer products to help us design. How?
Sometime in 1985, Shoshanna Zuboff walked into an insurance office. She was there to study how office workers were coping with the new technologies that insurance companies had started been installing in their back offices. She suspected there was a huge shift happening in office work, and she was right. 
At the time, insurance companies and banks were rapidly adopting back-office technologies that allowed them to digitize their paper records. This was more than just an exercise in archiving; financial services companies were actually transforming their core competencies as businesses. The digitization effort transformed insurance companies from paper managers to data managers. This brought the potential to analyze their customers’ records in entirely new ways. Cumbersome, manual processes like processing cheques or making claims payments were beginning to be automatic.
Unsurprisingly, this profoundly transformed the working experience of insurance workers. A typical UX research project might miss this important shift. UX research in the enterprise means understanding the nature of the work, not just the nature of technology. Zuboff did this. She focused on the workers. What was changing for them? And what role did the software play in those changes?
Zuboff found that daily routines were completely changing for these insurance workers. They use to flit around the building, carrying paper files, and checking with colleagues in quick, face-to-face conversations. Now, they sit at their desks, entering data into digital files, and staring at their screens. Zuboff discovered that they were increasingly “chained to the desk” inputting, checking, and analyzing data.
This shift was significant. What Zuboff was witnessing was the result of the early forays into enterprise UX. What she learned was that there was no “U” in UX at that time. Users – like these office workers, were not customers. No one seemed to care that their work was boring, alienating, and isolating. All anyone seemed to care about was that these workers’ files were now instantly available, digitally manipulatable, and saved the company time and space.
This is where enterprise software comes from. At the time, we called it groupware. We talked about increasing collaboration and making communication instantaneous. But what we didn’t talk about was how users were feeling about these tools. We didn’t talk about the fact they actually enjoyed walking around the office to talk to people, and that they found it a very efficient and productive way to communicate.
How many of you use a Filofax? A desktop paper calendar? A hanging wall calendar? No body? Okay. Would it surprise you to learn that digital calendaring was expected to be a total flop? That we thought no one would actually use it?
Who would benefit from automatic meeting scheduling? The person who calls the meeting: in general, a manager would benefit. But who would have to do additional work to make the application succeed? The subordinates.
This quote reminds us of what puts the “enterprise” in enterprise UX. Enterprises are workplaces. We know that workplaces have unique features to them that absolutely affect how people use software. When you design for workplaces, you must confront the tension of a workplace. I’m not going to tell you that data exhaust is a silver bullet for great enterprise UX. I’m not going to tell you that just do this “one thing” and you can fix enterprise software forever. No. Instead, I’m going to tell you the reality of today’s workplaces. I’m going to point out an inconvenient truth that we routinely fail to acknowledge in our enterprise design processes. And then, I’m going to give you a way to be optimistic about that reality. That inconvenient truth is, as Jonathan pointed out in this quote, that be that customers are not users in enterprise UX. Customers buy our software, and users use it. But is all productivity benefit goes to CUSTOMERS (i.e., bosses) then users will not use the tool. They simply will not. I’ll unpack what this means and talk about how we can actually design WITH this constraint.
Okay, let me tell you what Jonathan was crowing about. He looked at the case of the digital calendar. This seemed like the thorniest problem in workplace software: the only way to get maximum benefit from the digital calendar is to have everyone use it and share their calendar with everyone else. But in god’s name would anyone do that?
What, so you bosses can check up on you at any time? So people can see how busy you are? I mean, why would you?
Jonathan didn’t use the words “gold bricking” or “soldiering,” but this is essentially what he was talking about. Sociologists who studied the workplace had shown (and continue to show) that workers may appear to be compliant with company policies, but they have any number of ways of resisting. Slowing down the line. Taking your time. Intentionally hiding parts or supplies. Refusing to follow official policy and doing things just their own way. This continues today in the digital world. The reality is workers resist things they don’t like.
And if they don’t like digital calendars, they won’t use them. It might not be overtly obvious, but it’s there. Workers have a measure of influence in workplaces that most of us don’t recognize. Peter Drucker captured this nicely when he said “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” What he was saying is that the “way things are done” can trump any CEO’s plan.
So if this is the reaction to the tool, you can see there will be a problem with widespread adoption.
Or there was. Clearly something happened between now and then. We’ve all got digital calendars now. We use them. What happened?
The essential problem that enterprise software designers fail to realize – over and over again – is that the workplace is a seething cauldron of anger and deceit, of lies and silences, of alliances and betrayal.
The workplace is not the utopia we see in stock photos. It can be a den of vipers. We as designers of workplace technologies, must recognize this fact. Most work today is a dreary, anxiety-infused exercise.
Instead of enhancing productivity – much less actually delighting them – the products we in this room create often make an unfulfilling workday downright awful. Workplaces are not democracies. They are run often by fiat.
It’s no wonder that Gallup recently found that only 13% of workers are actively engaged at work. Deloitte consulting recently found that 2/3 of workers all over the worlds are “overwhelmed.”  Nearly 1 in 4 American workers do not trust their employers. One third are feel stressed out during a typical day. .
Technology has a lot to do with it.
J. Harter and A. Adkins, “Employees Want a Lot More From Their Managers,” Gallup Business Journal, no. April, 2015. Deloitte Consulting, “Global Human Capital Trends 2014: Engaging the 21st Century Workforce,” New York, NY, 2014. S. Bethune, “Employee Distrust is Pervasive in U.S. Workforce,” American Psychological Association, 2014. .
Our technologies all too often reinforce this nasty experience. In fact, social scientists have a word for this experience: technostress.
Technostress was coined in 1984 by Craig Brod. He was referring to challenge workers have when they cannot adapt to using computers. It’s no coincidence that Brod was writing around the time that Zuboff was researching workplaces.
Yet Jonathan’s truth still seems hard for many enterprise software designers to understand. We continue to develop features like the ability to wipe devices remotely when a user loses credentials. We invest time into scaling permissioning systems and other mechanisms of control.
We are so busy making tools for enterprise CUSTOMERS that we have left a huge unmet need from users. Gartner Research has found that the majority of enterprises have created less than 10 mobile apps for their employees, and a significant minority have released zero. 
CIO magazine notes that there is a massive pent up demand for such apps, as much as 5 to 1 ratio of demand versus supply. They argue that too many enterprise apps fail because they’re pushed out too quickly. 
Companies want that productivity boost that mobile devices can offer, but they’re not willing or able to solve the actual need that users themselves have. In other words, enterprise app development is aimed at customers – not users. We’re right where we were 25 years ago.
We are building enterprise user experiences that are built for customers, not users, because we are not focusing on user needs in our enterprise projects. How do we get users to adopt things our customers want?
I want to zero in on a key moment in mobile productivity. The moment when the individual worker decides to recruit her personal mobile device to help become more productive. It was thi moment when I suddenly saw an overlap between user needs and customer needs. Let me tell you a story of a person I’m going to call Natalie. Natalie worked in a financial services company. Her job was to shepherd through all the paperwork required to get a residential mortgage approved and compliant. In the post 2008 world, this is a lot harder than it used to be. There are many moving parts. Natalie told me that even if she wanted to take work home with her, she wouldn’t be able to. She didn’t even have email on her phone. She was more like those insurance workers that Zuboff studied than what you’d call a mobile worker.
But then there was this moment. Natalie had a team meeting to attend, but she was anxiously waiting on some paperwork from a real estate appraiser. The mortgage was set to close today and she needed to hear from that appraiser. So her boss asked her to give the appraiser her mobile number, and come to the meeting. This was the first time Natalie ever used her mobile phone for work purposes. And I saw it.
What did I see? I saw the moment that Natalie discovered she could be more productive and still work the way she wanted to. What I saw was this.
Here is the model that I am working on, based on my research. Users will try workplace technology when they personally see a productivity boost – on their own terms. This might not be enough for them to fully adopt the software – they need to also get past their own IT departments!
This is the key where we need to focus in on. How do users both realize their own productivity gain, AND get past their IT departments?
The lesson here is that workers WILL adopt new technologies, if their IT department lets them, but more importantly if they personally derive value. They need to get a productivity bump. They need to get that time back. They need to feel like heroes. They need to take that extra time and pour it into whatever is more satisfying than technostress.
In the rest of this presentation, I’m going to talk about how we can do that using a relatively new thing: data exhaust.
Who here is familiar with the term “data exhaust”? Back in 1991, two authors, Davis and Davidson, argued that there is value in what many consider waste.  For example, natural gas was once burned off at the well spout, but of course now is known to be a valuable resource in its own right. So too should information exhaust, they argued. The information economy which was just emerging at the time, was producing valuable exhaust that if recaptured could create entirely new forms of value. referring to the digital trail we leave behind when we use digital tools like mobile phones, web sites, and apps. All interactions with software produce data exhaust. I remember way back in the 90s, the absolute delight I had when I discovered Web Trends. Remember Web Trends? For the first time, we would be able to understand what users are doing on our Web site? But as I quickly discovered, as all of us here have surely discovered, data exhaust does not automagically provide design direction. Those log files needed a lot of manipulation to yield something we could use to make feature decisions. What we didn’t realize at the time was that data – as poorly designed and fragmented as it was – could inform the users themselves about really valuable things. Like, these are your favorite topics you’re looking at. This is how much time you’re spending doing this thing or that thing. This is how many times you’ve abandoned this task.
Data exhaust we tend to automatically think about how valuable it is for CUSTOMERS. We tedn to think about Big Data solutions immediately, like Watson diagnosing diseases, or AI determining optimal traffic flows. To be clear, Big Data can do some of these great enterprise productivity tasks. It’s amazing what we can learn from petabytes of curated data. But again, these use cases are designed for enterprise CUSTOMERS not enterprise users. When you take that Big Data approach to enterprise UX, all too often you get features like surveillance of workers, or analyses of how many keystrokes per hour people generate. What you don’t get is data exhaust for individuals to use to benefit themselves and their own productivity bump.
But research has shown that there is enormous value USERS can derive from data exhaust. The consultancy Claro Partners did a detailed ethnographic study  of what they called “personal data.” They looked at how people use data in their daily lives, and they discovered
You could argue that Google was the first business to recognize that USERS can drive customers. Users searched Google and Google used those data to sell advertising. But I would argue it was really Facebook that turned data exhaust into a business. It was the first mainstream tech product that offered a full range of features to users, who willingly and knowingly offered themselves up as a product because they got such value out of what Facebook offered. For the first time, people could now reach out to a broad range of people they had already met but didn’t take the time to write down their contact information. They could easily, quickly, and with less effort find out how these people were doing. They could reminisce with this person actively or even passively. They could also discover who was interacting with whom, and how they entire social network fit together. This insight was massive and enjoyable. It gave early Facebook users an entirely new way to see their social lives. And it was addictive.
Imagine instead if Facebook had been designed the way most enterprise UX tools were designed. What would CUSTOMERS want? Advertisers in this case would likely have demanded verification of the data users provided. They wouldn’t trust users to reliably report their hobbies, interests, or gender.
Counter example that they’re getting it right with Delve https://hbr.org/2016/04/the-paradox-of-workplace-productivity There are some signs that collectively, we’re starting to get it. There is a Microsoft product called Delve which is starting to get the value of personal data. This is a screen shot from some of the data exhaust analysis that they’re now offering customers. You can see here that they’re trying to tell the individual that they’re in too many meetings, but are still doing a good job in “focus hours,” or time spent outside meetings. This worker spent 4 and a half hours working, and a whopping 10.8 hours in their email. Ouch. This? This can be informative. What’s tough about this is that you don’t know what your boss knows. You don’t know if you think 10.8 email hours is good and your boss thinks it’s bad. Are these data going to come back to haunt you? And what about proven indicators of productivity, both individual and collective? So for example, we know that time spent in the woods can boost productivity. Can we add that?
R. K. Raanaas, K. H. Evensen, D. Rich, G. Sjøstrøm, and G. Patil, “Benefits of indoor plants on attention capacity in an office setting,” Journal of Environmental Psychology, vol. 31, no. 1, pp. 99–105, 2011. R. A. Atchley, D. L. Strayer, and P. Atchley, “Creativity in the Wild: Improving Creative Reasoning through Immersion in Natural Settings,” PLoS ONE, vol. 7, no. 12, p. e51474, 2012. G. Garrett, M. Benden, R. Mehta, A. Pickens, C. Peres, and H. Zhao, “Call Center Productivity Over 6 Months Following a Standing Desk Intervention,” IIE Transactions on Occupational Ergonomics and Human Factors, vol. 7323, no. May, pp. 00–00, 2016.
Zuboff did another study in another location. This time she went to a power plant and observed the operators, as they’re called. She discovered a key difference. The operators were given tools to help them make decisions. Their technology was designed to enhance their intuition. Their technology leveraged the existing insights they already had about how the power plant operated. She called this kind of technology “informating.” The insurance clerks, by contrast, using “automating” technology in their work. Informating is the practice of making technology that serves enterprise USERS and in so doing,a ctually serves customers too. I urge us all to build technology that informates, not automates.
Learning from Consumer Products: Data Exhaust and the Potential for Better UX (Sam Ladner at Enterprise UX 2016)
Learning from Consumer
Data Exhaust and the Potential for Better Enterprise UX
Sam Ladner, Phd
“Who would benefit from automatic
meeting scheduling? The person who
calls the meeting: in general, a
manager would benefit. But who would
have to do additional work to make
the application succeed? The
J. Grudin, “Why CSCW Applications Fail: Problems in The Design
And Evaluation of Organizational Interfaces,” in Proceedings of
the 1988 ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative
Work, 1988, pp. 85–93.
• Only 13% of workers are actively engaged at work
• 2/3 of workers all over the worlds are “overwhelmed.”
• Nearly 1 in 4 American workers do not trust their
• 1/3 feel stressed out in a typical day
Harter and A. Adkins, “Employees Want a Lot More From
Their Managers,” Gallup Business Journal, no. April, 2015.
Deloitte Consulting, “Global Human Capital Trends 2014:
Engaging the 21st Century Workforce,” New York, NY, 2014.
S. Bethune, “Employee Distrust is Pervasive in U.S.
Workforce,” American Psychological Association, 2014. .
• >10 mobile apps for
• 5:1 demand for mobile supply
User (not consumer) productivity
Awareness First useResistance Productivity
Protects private time
by refusing use
Learns of device’s
User begins using
device regularly for
User adopts new
New service adoption
No productivity gain
Device usage frequency
IT restricts access
Plant at your
Went for a
R. K. Raanaas, K. H. Evensen, D. Rich, G. Sjøstrøm, and G. Patil, “Benefits of indoor plants on attention capacity in an office setting,”
Journal of Environmental Psychology, vol. 31, no. 1, pp. 99–105, 2011.
R. A. Atchley, D. L. Strayer, and P. Atchley, “Creativity in the Wild: Improving Creative Reasoning through Immersion in Natural
Settings,” PLoS ONE, vol. 7, no. 12, p. e51474, 2012.
G. Garrett, M. Benden, R. Mehta, A. Pickens, C. Peres, and H. Zhao, “Call Center Productivity Over 6 Months Following a Standing Desk
Intervention,” IIE Transactions on Occupational Ergonomics and Human Factors, vol. 7323, no. May, pp. 00–00, 2016.