The Tablet Paradox (aka looking for disruptive User Experience design)

kevin spacey

I am quite interested in User Experience design. We actually do a lot of it at work and we try to take it seriously – we have to. One thing I have increasingly noticed recently is what I now call the ‘Tablet Paradox’ and it suggests (well to me at least) that although tablets initially bought huge innovation to UX design, now in 2016 they have simply become a huge ‘leveller’ and possibly represent a new race to the bottom with an almost standard swipe-based UX creating a ubiquitous and boring website experience. This is especially the case with applications that are not specifically targeted to leverage any of the innovative technology capabilities within the mobile platform such as location awareness, 2-way cameras, movement awareness, and general convergence – and this means almost all websites and ALL corporate websites. This lowest common denominator keeps being reinforced to me when I watch how people interact with devices. In particular, when I watch my son as he interacts within his reality, which is his online world. Yes – he picks up the tablet – and he might swipe through Facebok or Instagram, or send a Snapchat, but if there is any serious interaction – real time interaction then its straight to the PC – and usually within a game – and with a group of friends all online and in the same game. What amazes me is the richness and variety of different PC/game user interfaces he uses and understands – and how he and his teenage buddies whilst focusing on the core activity of killing each other, avoiding being killed, and navigating vast online worlds, will be having a sidebar conversation about what they like and don’t like about the UX – and here I find myself having a bit of a listen. The adaptability is also something to be watched carefully as they navigate the complexity of twin 19 inch monitors running multiple applications and multiple user interfaces, video, and chat all concurrently – but then 5 minutes later go and lie on a beanbag for an hour with just a tablet.

I wanted to think of a good example of a disruptive user experience design so I could use it in design workshops, in particular with corporates who run UX projects with a strategic goal of providing a single UX that will provide the same experience whether running on the most advanced hi-spec dual monitor PCs  or an entry level tablet – this ‘cross-platform consistency’ goal feels a little to me like part of the race to the bottom. My son for one does not look for consistency across platforms,  he looks for which platform is best for what he wants to do and moves between platforms – there is a big disconnect here with this consistency goal – and one that is tricky to address.

Anyway that is the context and here is the example…


Nothing Here, Move on… ABC iView

In our house we use iView via an old PS3 hooked up to the TV (we probably should get an ‘Internet TV’ or a PS4 but the big screen Bravia cost a fortune and had a free PS3). The new iView interface released last year when accessed via PS3 is a shocker. It takes forever to load the images, its a nightmare to navigate the top menus. A bigger nightmare to navigate the show ‘image’ horizontal menus – all different sizes and no logical order that seems remotely obvious – is it chronological? – is it by popularity?. For a while you still could access the ‘classic’ interface via a PS3 browser session. It was fast and efficient. That is also when I realised all they had done was simply re-skinned the UI. I wonder if I can ‘register’ and ‘customise’ my profile – so 90s!! – Seriously what a poor evolution of UX and definitely no disruption here.

sbs on demand

Nothing Here Move on…SBS On Demand

Mmmmh slightly better. I am sure there is some irony here as the SBS UX was probably delivered on a tenth of the iView redesign budget. The left side old school menus are functional, navigation is easy and the side-bar works quite well with the inner image based menus. But alas no disruption here.


Stop the Bus – Disruptive UX design here…Netflix

Sure not a bad UX to use – intuitive with some neat ‘it remembers me’ features but the overall UX is not where the disruption is. By now you have guessed where it is, right? – and yes it is a game-changer and one so simple that its described in a beautifully understated way on the Netflix Online Help: “Netflix’s Post-Play feature will give a brief countdown before automatically playing the next episode for you”. It started way back in 2012  as the UX team began playing around with various ways to do it. You sit there and when the episode finishes you watch a countdown  timer  ‘in seconds’ before the next episode starts which you usually then watch. This single small UX feature has changed our viewing habits and evolved ‘binge-watching’ from old-school 80s midnight cine-plex marathons, and beyond 90s DVD Box sets, to now completely change the whole streaming and distribution model in ways that are probably irreversible. Watch one episode at a time?  – bah – never again. Offer me one episode at a time – no way! – Yes – you can turn it off in the settings but who wants to do that… I started watching the first season of ‘House of Cards’ about a month ago, had heard it was great but had never got around to it – after binge-watching the first season I realised Season Four was out in March. Thinking Season Four would surely be one episode per week I quickly moved through Season Two and Season Three planning that things would then slow down with Season Four and one episode per week only to discover after episode one that the full Season Four was available for immediate ‘binge’. Well that’s all over now, it was over in just a few nights and days of avoiding friends and ALL social media to remain spoiler-free, and now, well, I just have to die for a year or so waiting for Season 5. This is not the way I watched two seasons of Special Agent Dale Cooper in Twin Peaks, and it is not the way I watch iView – Netflix what a beautifully disruptive little piece of UX design you have delivered.

Have you got any other great examples of Disruptive UX design. I would love to hear of them? – I am still trying to think of others as simple but as influential.

next episode


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Robo Advice – Articles and References List

My current role as Platform Development Manager at Decimal Software requires me to stay ‘out front’ with understanding of what is happening in the digital wealth management space.

In relation to the emerging Robo Advice sub-segment, within the Fintech sector there is currently plenty of hype – but even more poor quality journalistic endeavours and very ‘average’ industry coverage – and just much too much vendor click bait out there.

As I steer my way through this and find any interesting and useful articles I will post the links here.

Australian Securities and Investments Commission  consults on Robo-advice (March 2016) – Download the consultation paper

Robo Advice Explained by Matthew Townsend

Digital Wealth Management and the Icarus Deception by Efi Pylarinou

Digital Wealth management in 2016: The year of re-shaping by Efi Pylarinou

Robo advice laws: are they technology neutral? by Jon Ireland

Australian Fin-Tech Overview and Directory


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Digital wealth management and the Icarus deception


Digital wealth management requires willingness to change the current comfortable and seemingly safe business practices… it’s far more dangerous to fly too low than too high, because it feels safe to fly low. “

The article Digital Wealth Management and the Icarus Deception is by Efi Pylarinou, Founding Partner of Daily Fintech Advisers




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Where should the Enterprise Architecture function ‘sit’ in the Org Chart?

From a Linkedin thread “Where should The Enterprise Architecture Practice within the corporate structure reside?” here which discusses the article by Vance King Saxbe  here

Summary  and Proposition

The short but concise article by Vance King Saxbe explores how EA typically sits in either location 1)  or 2)  in the diagram below. Aspects of EA also sit in locations 3)  – 6).

My commentary below on the article which is below the diagram suggests that where EA sits has moved between 1) and 2) and offers some reasons and also suggests that 3) – 6) are where Agile Enterprise Architecture is emerging.

Where should EA Sit

I think where EA ‘sits’ is a real dilemma and does not have a single correct answer that changes over time – this is also a reflection of the changing role of EA, in particular within large enterprises, and increasing mainstream/corporate acceptance of previously ‘niche’ IT practices such as Agile that challenge the fabric of traditional EA ‘top-down’ views.

To me in a number of large organisations I have worked at the trajectory of where EA ‘sits’ within the Org Chart tends to follow a path very similar to the Gartner Hype Cycle. During the ‘peak of inflated expectations’ EA is positioned with corporate strategy as understanding and managing an organisation’s Enterprise Architecture is seen as a key enabler for achieving its business vision (i.e. use EA frameworks to ensure business plans are understood and their execution is managed concurrently across all domains). In reality in most of the larger enterprises I have worked in EA simply just moved up the food chain and became a ‘strategy support’ activity. With its most visible face into IT as ‘governance’ and policing of ‘adherence’ to published largely conceptual models. Over time the prominence of Solution Architecture then re-emerges as it is really the vehicle for execution, and is a devolved activity largely IT focused and ‘within’ projects where the only interaction across projects, or with ‘Corporate’ EA are the obligatory and largely under-valued ‘EA review and EA compliance steps’. And this view does not even reflect the C-level staff count issues if EA if EA is positioned higher up the chain highlighted in the post already where EA is seen as an expensive staff overhead – and where the EA budget is an even more visible aspect of the where does EA sit challenge.

So where should EA sit?

For organisations that have been through this journey reaching the ‘plateau of productivity’ means striking a balance – Solution Architecture within and across projects evolves to be more like ‘Agile Enterprise Architecture’ (see Scott Ambler etc) working with a reduced sized corporate EA function that primarily assists the strategic planning group by adding value on ‘what’ to document and model to best ensure the vision can be executed and then measured. The Corporate EA role needs to work with rather than ‘govern’ the devolved ‘Agile Enterprise Architecture’ function.





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Architecture with Intent


I think more people working in IT and especially in architecture need to get across ‘Moravec’s Paradox’ and ‘Nouvelle AI’ and how they work together.

‘Moravec’s Paradox’ suggests that, contrary to traditional assumptions, high-level reasoning requires very little computation, but low-level sensorimotor skills require enormous computational resources. For IT planners working with business and customers this means in practice that the mental abilities of a four-year-old that we take for granted such as recognizing a face, lifting a pencil, walking across a room, or answering a question, are all much harder to automate, than say achieving adult level and expert-level performance on rules-based and reasoned-based processing such that an Adviser, or a Clinician might exhibit.

‘Nouvelle AI’ challenges classical AI by aiming to produce, instead of supercomputers, simple robots with intelligence levels similar to insects. Overall intelligence can emerge organically from simple repeated behaviors as these insect intelligences interact – remember the ants and bees.

By ‘peeling away the onion’ of task complexity and decomposing seemingly very complex tasks into their component  ‘insect’ units, and then using an IT ecosystem to bring them together into new solutions – leveraging both the IT expertise of the ‘share’ economy  and leveraging the computing power of the cloud to do this – the resulting solutions solve what  at first appears to be very complex process challenges such as ‘advice-automation’, ‘risk management’ ‘HR candidate selection’ or ‘clinical diagnostics’. To me this is where ‘understanding’ the business problem meets ‘leveraging’ the technology solutions.  This is a higher architectural pursuit than time spent modelling ‘information’, ‘business’, ‘application’ and’ technology’ domains – this is architecture with intent…

Yes I am working on a whitepaper – some yet to be determined big IT conference in Las Vegas here I come…hopefully…

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Is Enterprise Architecture Completely Broken?

image - is EA broken

Among the EA ‘click-bait’ a genuinely interesting article “Enterprise Architecture: Is It Completely Broken?” by Jason Bloomberg exploring the big picture on EA and its value proposition and its attention-grabbing (For EAs at least)  follow up “Enterprise Architecture: Don’t Be A  Fool With A Tool”…

It’s an insightful article for EAs and thinking about where the value creation points are. It touches on a lot of big themes – but perhaps too many and without enough analysis of each of them. If you ignore the ‘framework’ bashing, the contribution of EA in strategic transformation is a good discussion, as is the theory that you must understand the parts to improve the whole – in recent years I have had to come to terms with the ‘ecosystem’ concept and its implication that I can ‘model’ and understand less than I thought I had to and certainly less and less about the underlying IT. Digital transformation by its nature forces a “businesses are living organisms” viewpoint. The article comments are good too. EA can and should be used to support (but perhaps not lead) the transformation of the enterprise, but that is only one of its use cases. EA can also be employed to discover the enterprise, understand it, analyse it, manage its complexity and change and fix the enterprise operation malfunctions amongst other things”


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Oracle Day 2013

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison lifts the America's Cup with members of the Oracle Team USA after winning the overall title of the 34th America's Cup yacht sailing race over Emirates Team New Zealand in San Francisco

$100m worth

On the balcony…

As a very wise colleague I worked with at a large resources company going crazy during the mining boom once told me, just before we checked out of the chaos… “Sometimes you just have to get off the dancefloor and get onto the balcony”. So with this thought in mind I spent Tuesday hanging out at the Crown Casino for Oracle Day  – or as I like to call it…’Poor Man’s Open World’ . The idea being to give my mind some… Oracle Day is always a fast-focused immersive experience and one of the best ways to get a feel for what is hot in the IT industry based on where Larry – the 41 billion dollar man – is heading – hype or reality? – I am never sure – Oracle a key influencer? – no doubt.

Crown Casino -Metropol-Perth-20120615154407263125-420x0

mot sure on the new ‘deco’ look – I miss the tacky old atrium

I actually think they should start charging and keep out some of the riff-raff as the crowd tends to be full of freeloaders, but then again within the IT industry and its critical shortage of students doing IT majors it is always nice to see a few young academics and career conscious Gen Y-ers in the sessions and even better scoffing cakes during the breaks and returning for seconds and thirds at the free lunchtime buffet.

How much RAM?

I had to put my propeller-hat on for the couple of hardware sessions I went to. And in the exhibition hall not a single big box with lots of shiny lights – all ‘out there’ in the Cloud I guess – bah humbug.  When Oracle acquired Sun over three years ago I went to an Oracle Day and some strategy, some R&D and some early products were presented, all focused around bringing hardware and software together. It looked pretty interesting but to me was completely counter-intuitive to the IT activity and strategy talk I was seeing back then – ‘virtualisation and commoditised infrastructure’ blah blah blah everywhere  – this Oracle strategy seemed to be going the other way. But in 2013  three years plus down the track I am seeing some real stuff, stuff that has evolved into the mainstream, and is a real hardware trend. As John Furrier in a recent Forbes article reflected Ellison’s moves with the creation of the so-called “Red Stack” (a reference to an all-Oracle integrated system) were designed to capitalize on an industry transition toward convergence in a way that would give Oracle strategic advantage against competitors. By engineering hardware and software together, Oracle can not only lock-in customers, it can lockout competitors”. Now imagine if that kind of technology is what is running your cloud – or should I say Oracle’s cloud… ‘Engineered Systems’ was the buzz term  this week. So back to my propellor hat and the top of the range in Engineered Systems – the Oracle SuperCluster M6-32 running Solaris with 32 TB of main memory, the SPARC M6-32 only has TWICE the memory capacity of IBM’s current largest Power server. You see its all about software on silicon – something a company that spends about $5Bn on R&D knows all about (read 10 Reasons Software On Silicon Redefines Enterprise Computing). Well the Server Administrators in the room were getting excited (the on premises ones that is) – but me I am apps guy – my little moment of joy – perhaps a minor epiphany came in a throw-away line from the presenter “so now you don’t have to have a reporting database and you can re-think how you update your data warehouse – just put it all in RAM”. For an Enterprise Architect who earns his living coming up with clever strategies for integration and managing data staging, data historians and general scalability challenges around IT/OT convergence this was something to reflect upon. I wonder what the virtualized/commoditized/on-premises is the only option infrastructure boys were thinking – well apart from too expensive – I was thinking can I put “it all” in RAM? – if it is out in the cloud – the Oracle cloud – I think I can.

As I said  I actually did not spend that much time with in the hardware sessions. A few years ago an Oracle Day was all about the database then about the hardware. The only mention of database this week was DaaS or Database as a Service – and database in the cloud – – this was a new term and had some real solutions. I could go on here but I won’t as it was not about the database. These days Oracle is in a different place. Most of the innovation being discussed at Oracle Day was in the apps and their use of the cloud.

How much data?

Oracle was a bit late coming to the Cloud. In 2008 Larry famously quipped “Cloud is the new SaaS” and “… the computer industry is the only industry that is more fashion-driven than women’s fashion …  I don’t understand what we would do differently in the light of cloud computing, other than market.. you know, change the wording on some of our ads”. Loved your work then Larry and even more now you have turned things inside out again in 2013 – that is how you stay in business – staying on top of the fashion. According to one of the Oracle Day presenters Oracle’s cloud is currently about 41 petabytes. Impressive I thought – especially for a late starter. This got me thinking about who’s cloud is biggest and who might win out in this mega almost Orwellian, in its end-state implications, managed service play. Or let me put it another way, in the plain language of Iron-Chef, I was thinking “who’s cuisine will reign supreme’. Unfortunately some heavy duty Googling and Binging revealed little – But it did send me off on a more interesting path into social networking which was (LOL – well obviously) another key theme of Oracle Day. Facebook at its IPO a year ago claimed it had 100 petabytes at that point – that’s 107 billion megabytes!!. This year Facebook has 1.15 billion users so is probably now using much more storage in its private cloud. How Facebook keeps this all online is also pretty interesting. I like the idea of clustering you’re your global data centres yes clustering the data centres – that is big. But hey it turns out it’s not all just kids posting to Facebook and YouTube. CERN have published stats confirming collisions in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) generated about 75 petabytes of this data in the past three years – Big Science!

I was very impressed with the Fusion material and where that stack is heading. Apps in the clouds – in a big way!. No surprise that Oracle has started moving all the Fusion apps to the cloud with some nice on premises integration. What was neat and mentally stimulating was that I had a deep-dive in the showcase breakout area with one of the Architects working the Human Capital Management (HCM) cloud solution space. I asked if the ‘in cloud’ apps were Peoplesoft etc in the cloud SaaS style. No – they are brand new apps – new gen stuff. I cynically asked well then how do you migrate from on-premises Peoplesoft to HCM in the cloud? that is a big move? – well in a totally convincing way he totally convinced me – a total cynic – on how you achieve an incremental one module at a time phased low risk migration where Oracle manages the on-premises components to cloud HCM components integration – Seems real? – the technical explanation that is – solution hype or reality – to be confirmed but looks real that in the next year or so some key ‘tier one’ on-premises internal apps such as HR can be fully migrated to the Oracle cloud with associated staffing and budget benefits for an IT shop – totally convinced. And hell if running on Engineered Solutions I might stick some BI and reporting warehouses ‘out there’.

Forget CRM – its all SRM now (or Wow you can measure that?)

Last but not least I actually loved Oracle Social Relationship Management (a new product category – Oracle does this so well) and this whole new ‘Social Marketing’ thing – but then I always love it when Oracle buys a few interesting companies and mashes them up to create something better than the sum of its parts (and at the same time often a new product category! – see also the Oracle Database Machine). The demo showcase in the exhibition hall was being looked after by a young female Gen-Yer who was looking really bored sitting there playing on her android phone as most of the predominantly male infrastructure-database-heads were focused elsewhere – mmmh – a demo on Social Marketing – just for me, and by someone young who looks like she knows about Facebook, but actually uses Tumblr, Snapchat and Instagram and possibly even Prezi for her presentations – this was a good start. Well I can now tell you now from a much more knowledgeable position this stuff is awesome. The product is being pitched as an SRM that fully integrates inhouse organically-developed Oracle products, with solutions from recent acquisitions Vitrue, Collective Intellect, and Involver. The pitch goes that “the solution combines social marketing, engagement and monitoring into a complete platform which allows enterprises to seamlessly listen, create and publish content, engage customers and analyze interactions across multiple social channels in real-time”. Luckily she did not give me the pitch – instead she showed me social marketing in action – in a live demo running ‘out there’ – she showed me some very clever ‘social apps’ (I know what these are now!) developed using the SRM suite and being used by McDonalds (check out the Local app on the US Facebook page. These apps generate social buzz AND capture data. She showed me some other social apps and explained how they are used by a user but also what they are actually being used for – wow. It reminded me about when I started to learn many years ago as about supermarkets, check out scanning, and loyalty cards – and why they are always discussed together.  We then went behind the scenes into the measuring and trending and dashboards etc – and lots and lots and lots of data real-time data – she showed me examples of what she could learn quickly – very quickly – social media meets big data analytics. This is the future.

Now Oracle Day is one day in Perth with about 300 attending … Open World is a week in San Francisco with 60,000 attending and 2,500 sessions… I managed to get to IBM Impact in Vegas last year – now how do I get to Open World next year?

The Maroon 5 Mosh Pit Goes Berserk… with IT Geeks

oracle open world maroon 5 (Medium)

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