I recently had the pleasure of spending a week working with the Citrix Octoblu team on the future of experiences for Citrix.
While sitting, on a warm, Tempe, Arizona evening, next to a statue of the grim reaper, a spark of ideas came to mind for our team to consider on our journey in defining value for Citrix in the age of the Internet of Things (IoT). This journey will ultimately create a better lifestyle for our customers and an enhanced experience for users.
Moving forward, the Citrix IoT experience will help bring common sense to the technology we are exposed to on a daily basis. What I mean by that is that IoT really helps us to fill in the gaps and remove the friction points in the experience that we, as users, are all exposed to and helps us achieve our goals without all the hassle. Removing friction leaves us with more time to do what we want and less time focusing on what we don’t—this is what Citrix strives to deliver to our customers.
Simple, right? Well, it should be, at least in theory, but companies have spent a great deal of time and energy developing individual products and software that are designed to work for themselves and not necessarily to be interoperable.
When you add user demands into this picture, well, that just introduces another level of abstraction that makes the situation even more convoluted. Just take a look at any corporate conference room. There is a multitude of interfaces and friction that individuals have to deal with to start a meeting. These include gathering everyone you invited on your calendar, starting your conference software, turning on the phone, connecting your laptop to the larger screen, and more. None of these “things,” individually, help you start your important meeting.
Here’s an example of messy “things” I faced in a conference room:
Citrix Octoblu helps you have “things” talk with each other much more harmoniously and, in turn, it creates a more cohesive experience that “just works.” Octoblu fills in the gaps within the experience. We should not only consider the obvious configuration and equipment involved, but also the one other experience that is often overlooked: human nature. IoT can help facilitate that.
People—as well as their social norms—should be taken into account when designing IoT solutions; we don’t want to take the “human” element out of the experience. Taking into account the pauses and typical discussion patterns in human nature make the IoT experience “normal.” Don’t make it feel too automated. Automation shouldn’t be the experience, but it should power and complement it.
No matter how seamlessly we design solutions, users still want to maintain control and not feel as if they are being controlled. Think about how you interact with an environment. When you enter a conference room, you assess your environment. Who is in the room? Who should I sit next to and converse with? There is an element of “getting your bearings” built into you getting comfortable in the environment. When you are the presenter, you have other things on your mind. Where should I sit in the room in conjunction with the audience? When there is a problem getting your devices to work, or some other type of experience failure, this hiccup can derail your intended goal in your presentation and disconnect your audience from the meeting’s objective. Human nature is an integral part of any experience and technology has the ability to help you build a better experience and engagement with others.
At Citrix, we analyze the experience a user goes through, including elements from the technology to variables of human nature, as I described earlier. By understanding the experience, we have a strong grasp and understanding of where the gaps and friction points lie. This gives us a baseline to achieving a holistic understanding of the problem that will help us design a more efficient way for our users to achieve their goal, which is, ultimately, to be more satisfied and delighted.
Let’s look at a concrete example of a thoughtful design around IoT and how to remove friction in a user’s experience. I chose taxi cabs because many people encounter that experience on a regular basis whether its for business or vacation travel.
High-level friction points include:
- Getting cabs to stop
- Having someone assist you in getting a reservation and pickup
- Hailing a cab in a low traffic area
- Giving directions
- Unknown final cost
The goal of a taxi ride is to get you from point A to point B, however there are many friction points you must encounter before reaching your end goal. This also does not include the numerous micro-interactions. None of these micro-interactions offers you any real value, but are ingrained as part of taxi cab experience today. So, I say we remove the friction points! Remove these obstacles and—voilá!—you can reframe the experience and get to the heart of what you, and all users, want.
Uber is an IoT example of removing all of the aforementioned friction points while keeping the user in control of achieving their goal. Uber effectively connects people, places, and things. Their experience model creates a perception of simplicity and, over time, this technology solution has become the norm – making you question how things were done before.
At Citrix Product Design, we strive to create an experience that isn’t just about the user interface but about helping our users and customers to achieve their business and user goals with simple, sophisticated technology that enables a positive user experience.