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Oracle Tests Mobile Portrait Gallery for Fusion Applications at OHUG

 

Teena Singh

Author: Teena Singh, Principal Product Manager, Oracle Applications User Experience
Revised: June 21, 2011
First published: June 13, 2011




It’s all around us: People are chatting away on their cell phones at Starbucks while sipping on a latte, firing off text messages while waiting in the express lane at Safeway, or checking e-mail on a smart phone while riding the elevator up to the office. This is a fast-paced, information-driven world, and mobile devices are not merely an accessory; they are an omnipresent tool that is changing the way we access information, the way we connect with others, and the way we live.

 
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Given this paradigm, the Oracle Applications User Experience team decided to test an Oracle mobile application design on jet-setting, information-hungry customers at an annual Oracle Human Resources User Group, or OHUG, conference in Las Vegas when designs for Fusion Applications were still under development. In addition to six enterprise desktop applications we were testing in our onsite product usability lab at OHUG, we brought the Fusion Mobile Portrait Gallery -- an employee directory portal for mobile devices.

The Application: Mobile Portrait Gallery

Typically, an employee directory is the most-frequented site on a corporate intranet, because it provides essential information that connects employees to one another.

Contact information about a specific employee, as well as networking and collaboration tools such as e-mail and chat, are located on a “portrait card” in the new Fusion Mobile Portrait Gallery, which allows users to access employee directory information from their mobile device.

The Mobile Portrait Gallery not only has vital contact information, but also aggregates social networking and other core human resources features into a one-stop, portable shop for workers, even when they are away from their desktop and working from a mobile device. The gallery has an embedded, interactive organizational chart that is the primary launch point to individual employee "portrait" spaces, where a user can see a comprehensive informational summary about an employee.  From the gallery’s organizational chart, search results, or portrait spaces, users can navigate to self-service tasks such as promotion, goals management, and accessing and updating personal information -- all from the central portrait space. It’s everything an employee, manager, or busy human resources professional would need, right at their fingertips.

The Customer Profile: iPhone or Blackberry User

For the OHUG customer feedback sessions, we recruited users who fit a standard employee user profile before they even arrived at the OHUG conference. We also wanted people who used an iPhone or Blackberry during the course of their job.

We were looking for some pre-existing familiarity with mobile device navigation, so that the customer could focus primarily on testing our application, rather than trying to learn how to use a mobile device. We wanted to glean specific results, rather than merely assess a user’s level of comfort with the mobile device itself.

The Study: Completing Tasks in the Mobile Portrait Gallery

During one-hour customer feedback sessions conducted by Brent White (User Experience Architect) and Grace Chen (Senior Interaction Designer), we asked each participant to search for a person on either a Blackberry or iPhone, using the Mobile Portrait Gallery. Once the participant found the person’s contact information, we asked them to display their mobile phone number and initiate a call in the application.

Participants were also asked to search for a manager in the finance department, who was based in a specific geographical location. Finally, participants were asked to look up the amount of their 401k deduction on their latest pay slip. 

Oracle’s usability engineers focused on observing how each user completed the tasks, and only provided hints or help if the customer needed assistance in the application. In addition to taking detailed notes, we also videotaped the user’s gestures on the device to determine how easily they completed the tasks we had assigned. We also noted any comments or concerns the customer made when navigating through the application, so we could use this information in the next iteration of Oracle’s Mobile Portrait Gallery application design.

The Customer Perspective: iPhone User

One customer who took part in the feedback sessions was Jana Lyons. Jana also sat down for an interview after she had completed the study and talked about how she uses her mobile device on a day-to-day basis, what she thought about the Mobile Portrait Gallery, and whether she would like to use this type of application if it was available through her mobile device.

Photograph by Teena Singh, Oracle Applications User Experience

Jana Lyons (7-Eleven, Inc.) demonstrates a task on her iPhone while participating in UX customer feedback sessions at the OHUG conference.

Teena: Jana, tell me about your current job and company. 
Jana: I am a senior business analyst for 7-Eleven, Inc. I focus on support and strategy for the Oracle E-Business Suite at 7-Eleven.

Teena: What mobile phone do you currently use? 
Jana: Apple iPhone.

Teena: Can you briefly describe what you do in your typical day and how it involves interacting with your mobile device? 
Jana: I use my iPhone for work and personal e-mail, and work calendar. I like to use my iPhone to stay in touch with former co-workers via AIM and Facebook. I also enjoy listening to the radio or music on my mobile device. 

Teena: On an average day, what percentage of time are you using a mobile device for personal usage and what percentage of the time are you using it for work usage? 
Jana: Thirty percent of the time, I am accessing work information, and 70 percent of the time, I am accessing personal information. 

Teena: How critical is it to have a mobile phone to complete your personal tasks on a daily basis? 
Jana: Well, it is not critical, but rather a great convenience! I have basically replaced a personal computer with my iPhone, so I use it for most of my personal tasks.

Teena: How critical is it to have a mobile phone to complete your work tasks on a daily basis?
Jana:  It is so helpful to have my iPhone, because I keep my calendar and e-mail in it for work.  So, I can get a glance of what I need to do, wherever I am.

Teena: Do you have any enterprise applications on your phone today? 
Jana:  No.

Teena: What did you think of the tasks you completed in the Mobile Portrait Gallery using the iPhone? 
Jana:  What I saw today made a lot of sense and would be very helpful in finding critical information.  It does take information and implementation to a higher level. When companies take advantage of it, it will be very useful – especially for global companies. Technology like this makes traveling much easier, too.

Teena: Would you use a program like the Mobile Portrait Gallery if your company offered it? 
Jana: Absolutely!

The Findings: A “Thumbs-Up” for Mobile Portrait Gallery

“Participants easily understood the benefit of tapping into their HCM data and connecting with coworkers while on the go because it matches the work style of today's workforce.”

All of the participants that completed this customer feedback session said they liked the Mobile Portrait Gallery. Many commented that they were very impressed by the design, and noted that it was intuitive and easy to use. Users said that having quick access to common functions such as text-messaging, e-mail, and chat was useful. The researchers noted, "Participants easily understood the benefit of tapping into their HCM data and connecting with coworkers while on the go because it matches the work style of today's workforce. Employees are working less at a fixed location as the nature of work blends into our current location whether it's at home, in public transportation, or waiting for a dentist appointment."

Testing on the Mobile Portrait Gallery and other products continues, as the next generation of Oracle applications evolves. To get a sneak peek at what might be coming, sign up for an Oracle Applications User Experience feedback session.

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