The Expected User Experience: Visual, Video, Virtual and Voice
Our employees expect to live and work in a world where their experiences consist of visual, video, virtual, and voice-enabled technology (the 4 Vs). As users of technologies like Facebook, YouTube, and Siri, our employees don’t leave those user experiences at the door when they enter our buildings. In fact, they are beginning to demand those experiences within the four walls of the office. The pace of technology evolution will force both information technology (IT) and knowledge management (KM) professionals to keep up with these demands. Taking each of the 4 Vs in turn, let’s look at the implications for KM and IT professionals and how they can be partners in meeting employee demands.
The adage that “a picture is worth a thousand words” breathes truer every day. In an age where people are constantly snapping photos with phones and sending pictures via text and Instagram, images have become embedded in our everyday communication. Knowledge managers and software providers are being forced to design systems that are increasingly visual in nature. Tiled websites where pictures are used to capture attention and text is at a minimum have gained in popularity. Partnering with KM, IT can assist with managing digital assets used in knowledge sharing across the enterprise, especially as big data is embraced by organizations.
KM systems will be integrating with business intelligence applications to display dashboards and reports. Data in the form of graphs, tables and infographics will need to live on intranets and extranets so they can be easily accessed in already familiar systems. Data and knowledge are closely aligned. Integrating big data with KM systems will be key to deriving knowledge that can be applied by all staff in an organization. A new associate on a project team will be better equipped to contribute and make informed decisions with visual representations of data within the same system he/she is getting tools and templates especially if that knowledge is provided in the right context. IT and KM teams will need to work together to integrate big data and KM systems so that visual data becomes knowledge in the context where needed.
Our ever more tech savvy generations expect interfaces and experiences in the workplace that mirror their personal lives. It is up to us to deliver them
Video has become a commonplace tool for knowledge sharing. Via YouTube, you can finally learn how to fold a fitted sheet or even change the brakes on your car. Internally, end users are asking to see more of it within an organization and staff are asking for permission and education on how to create videos for knowledge sharing. Software is beginning to catch up. It is now easier for employees to capture, store, share and manage videos with enterprise software. IT teams will need to partner with KM teams to set policies around protecting intellectual property, retention and storage of video content. Sites like YouTube and Vimeo are now some of the easiest sites to manage and share videos, which may give way to video tools within an organization’s portfolio of available technologies.
Virtual collaboration has long been a stable of the KM toolbox. Online communities of practice can be bright spots in knowledge sharing; however, KM initiatives often don’t reach their full potential. With the advent of the digital workplace, defined as the virtual equivalent of the physical workspace, KM practitioners may find the holy grail–embedding KM in everyday work. On one hand, it provides KM practitioners the ability to see how work gets done and therefore how to provide the right knowledge at the right place at the right time. On the other hand, the digital workplace provides users an even greater opportunity to share their knowledge in the course of daily activities. As IT teams lead the charge to digital workplace technologies, it behooves them to partner with their KM teams to realize the benefits, increase adoption, and effect positive culture change. Looking further into the not-to-distant future, virtual reality (VR) may present challenges for both IT and KM teams. Is it unfathomable to imagine cubicles lined with VR gear? If end users read less and less today, what will it be like tomorrow in a world where users can don a headset to experience a simulated environment? VR may be a notable example of where KM and learning collide. Simulations engage employees in developing skills and competencies and virtual mentors may demonstrate how-to tasks while imparting what was once tacit knowledge along the way. IT teams may need to think about the possibility of virtual meetings, virtual product designs and manufacturing, and virtual sales floors. It is yet to be seen if VR will be a game-changer for the enterprise, but it can have a profound effect on both enterprise technology, knowledge sharing, and learning.
One goal of KM is to provide knowledge-based user access “at your fingertips,” but with the rise of the Internet of Things and wearable devices, we may soon be saying knowledge “at the sound of your voice.” For IT teams, “bring your own device” will encompass more than just your cell phone or iPad. How can KM and IT connect to create applications where a user can get access to an expert in their company or share the updated talking points minutes before a client meeting via their wristwatch? What will be the Alexa for the enterprise? KM and IT can often be reactive, but the future is ever closer and voice-enabled technology will be a part of it.
We all agree that technology is evolving more and more rapidly each year. KM has struggled to keep up with these changes. A true partnership between KM and IT leadership that is forward-looking strategy that can help bridge the gap between users’ technology expectations and needs and our ability to fulfill them. These four areas: visuals, video, virtual tech and voice can be guideposts for the next chart of work between KM and IT teams. Our ever more tech savvy generations expect interfaces and experiences in the workplace that mirror their personal lives. It is up to us to deliver them.