The User Experience of Things: Why Ubiquitous Sensing and Software Require a New Approach to UX Design

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What does it mean to interact with the digital realm? The input-only days of desktop and laptop are long gone; we are entering an era in which interactions are seamless, voice-enabled, even predictive, and sometimes entirely invisible.

As the so-called Internet of Things, characterized by pervasive sensing technology and networked services, infuses every realm of our lives, the very definition of ‘interface’ transforms.

We are placing sensors on our bodies, in the objects of our homes, throughout transportation, commercial, industrial, and municipal domains, and connecting data across these realms to drive unprecedented insights and services. Simultaneously, innovations in software intelligence such as machine learning, deep learning, computer vision, natural language processing, machine reasoning, edge processing, and even blockchain technologies are shifting the narratives for just how ‘smart’ our smart devices can indeed become.

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These emerging technologies aren’t the only forces shifting what it means to interact with the digital world. Companies are struggling to transform from product-centric business models to service and data-centric business models. They’re struggling to manage and make use of what data they have—mostly ‘dark’ and unstructured data at that. They’re struggling to manage more and more vendors and partners, to keep up with industry standards and adherenace, to maintain current products while investing strategically in new product development.

Meanwhile consumers, equipped with the power of mobile and social, are demanding real-time, always-on brand experiences, often for free. Curiosity for new features drives purchase intents in some industries, but tolerance for friction and poor service is low in all.

The result of colliding technological, social, and business forces is the imperative to re-think of the role and development of UX.

Ubiquitous sensing and software are transformational to the design of connected products. The inherently distributed nature of infusing software and sensing into the messy and chaotic physical world creates new and distinct challenges for companies vying to design meaningful connected product experiences. Now more than ever, businesses must architect UX across entire systems— interoperable with other products and services; across teams; across customer journeys; across the supply chain, and so on.

With inputs from more than two dozen companies across the value chain, new research focuses why and how companies must take a new approach to UX design. The report offers an array of frameworks, examples, and 12 best practices for product leads to use in their ongoing efforts to design and evolve software-enabled products.

Download the report in full and at no cost here.

You can also see industry analyst and lead author of the report, Jessica Groopman present key findings of this research at IoT World 2017 in Santa Clara on Wednesday May 17 at 1:20pmPT.

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