Four fundamental forces of change are driving the evolution of the user experience for the Business User in 2009:
(a) economic recession and its impact on the enterprise IT budget
(b) enterprise governance, security and business policy requirements force "hardening" of consumer apps
(c) new sources of value and revenue continue to be found at the Enterprise Edge
(d) consumer innovations influence and shape business user expectations (see below)
Based on the above, I've outlined some initial thoughts on how the user experience for the Business User will evolve in 2009:
1. Acceleration of Enterprise SaaS and Cloud Computing: The economic downturn will encourage more businesses to explore both cloud and hybrid (premise + cloud) computing models. As a result, the Business User Experience will improve with seamless integration between apps behind the firewall and those in the cloud. Watch for hybrid applications that create a seamless premise + cloud experience for the business user.
2. Broader use of Voice interfaces: ASR, Speech-to-Text and Text-to-Speech will continue to emerge as primary interfaces to mobile and web applications.
3. Visualization continues to emerge: As more and more user data is collected and integrated into business user search, filtering, communication and collaboration applications, visualization will simplify insights and analysis of user activities to improve user interaction and experience.
4. Business Apps look like Consumer Apps: We will continue to see the blending of consumer and business user experience. Business users will increasingly look for experiences that are shaped and informed by their experience with consumer applications. From Search to Create, Communicate and Collaborate apps, business users will ask for experiences similar to what they experience in consumer applications.
5. Move from Unifying to Threading & Filtering: The last few years have seen services and applications that aggregate user content from across various networks and communities. FriendFeed, Facebook, Meebo and Tumblr are examples on the consumer side; Unified Communications and Messaging on the enterprise side New value for the Business User will be found at the next step beyond aggregation and unifying. During 2009 we will see improved "threading" of conversations and relationships... and improved filtering... enabling Business Users to find, create and share the most important and contextually relevant conversations and relationships.