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This chapter is from the book

A Formula for Designing Engaging Systems

IBM has devised a formula for creating compelling new systems of interaction that drive business innovation. Here is the equation:

  • Mobile apps [smartphones, desktops, vehicles, devices, . . . ] + interaction
  • characteristics [ . . . ] = drives process innovation [detect, enrich, perceive, act]

The formula starts with mobile first. The mobile app is what interacts with the end user and can be deployed to more than smartphones. Modern “mobile apps” have deployment target devices as diverse as cars, TVs, desktops, body monitors, and many more.

Interaction characteristics are applied to the mobile app. We define the compelling interaction characteristics as:

  • Omni-channel: Available across many different classes of end point device
  • Context and social aware: To automatically tune the interaction to the place and relationships involved
  • Connected to systems of record: Such as existing business services and data sources, as well as cloud-hosted third party services
  • Experience driven: Able to learn and adapt to specific end user responses
  • Highly instrumented: So that data for analysis can be obtained
  • Rapidly revised: So that app developers can continuously improve interaction

These characteristics are applied by the system of interaction to drive business process innovation. The methodology that drives business process innovation must:

  • Detect opportunities to engage customers and employees
  • Enrich interaction context with historical data and trends
  • Perceive via “in-the-now” dynamic interaction context from location, time, social media, and other events, and . . .
  • Act on the insights gained to enable positive business outcomes.

Hence, the design characteristics for using mobile technologies to drive business innovation are simply: Detect, Enrich, Perceive, and Act.

Let us consider a quick example. We will use an app for hailing taxis to illustrate our formula for systems of interaction.

As a consumer, you download the app and set up a personal profile including preferences and payment information. When you need a cab, you press “Hail Cab” within the app. Your current location is captured, and in a few seconds you are informed that a driver named Mike is heading in your direction. This cab can be available if you confirm within the next minute. Perhaps some social factors can help influence your action here. Have your friends had a good experience using Mike for taxi service? When you confirm, you see Mike’s actual location as he approaches along with an estimated time of arrival (ETA). And Mike’s cab location is updated even if Mike takes a wrong turn along the way. When he arrives at your location, you get in the taxi cab and payment is established to Mike upon conclusion of the ride.

Let us see how our methodology might apply to this example scenario.

  • Detect: Customer loads the app on their smart phone
  • Enrich: Get customer profile, favorite cab, and favorite destination
  • Perceive: Location of the customer, location of the closest cab, other nearby friends heading to the same destination
  • Act: Connect the cab driver and the customer through notification and establish secure channel to pay through the app

You can see that this example app meets all of the criteria for a good system of interaction, providing all of the dimensions to deliver compelling value to the user.

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