Wonderlane Studios

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Case Study:
Future 3-D Information Search
Designing Something Completely New

Client Overview
Fortune 50 Company

"Our employees are aging out and retiring. We need to attract to our workplace new employees just coming up. We want happy, playful, new and fun ways of visualizing and displaying information in ways that nobody has ever seen before," my client said.

Digital natives expect such things as gamification in everyday use we agreed.

The old Enterprise Architecture stuff looked like a battle of forms, white and gray with little tiny text. You had to already know how to use it, and even take a class. Some selections were labyrinthine and the baffling results of successful searches could be even worse.

What they wanted is a new way to search and view information. This is a design step along the way.

Projects
4 projects concurrently, this one performs Tag & Search for Enterprise Architecture

Imagine, design, and spec a unique 1st version search and data sorting by tags product for Enterprise Architecture software. The idea is an interface that digital natives will enjoy using, and that it may be naturally updated to an intuitive 3D imaging software for company-wide technology portfolio and software application portfolio searches

"Show us something nobody has ever seen before. Show us the future, so we can build it."
- Enterprise Architecture PM

Product
Existing version of Enterprise Architecture search app
Where does the user begin? What would someone do?
What is Enterprise Architecture?

A brief explanation is that is the stack of hardware and software at every company computer users desk, including internet and cloud access is termed "Enterprise Architecture". Your office laptop and software is that stack.

 

The key issues are that the software is approved and standard at the company and that it is interoperable with other corporate software and hardware. Non-standard software may be used with a users request for a waiver or variance.  

Some corporations allow BYOD - Bring Your own Device as part of regular business needs by employees and to make the company an attractive employer.

Enterprise Architecture is the product that the users and corporate stakeholders computer needs are based upon. 

Proposed Enterprise Architecture Tag Cube search app
Users

160,000 employees and contractors, many are highly educated with advanced degrees


Target users: digital natives, expect efficient software and on-demand usability, most are novices to Enterprise Architecture practices and procedures

The target users are young and just starting in the company. They expect consistent, well-designed or at least contemporary software. They are self-motivated, do-it-themselves users. They will want to set up their own stack themselves, don't want to fill out forms and wait to be told what to do. While they may be new employees they easily understand how to use computers, devices, and software sites and apps. They are likely to have significant education, and advanced degrees. 


Other users are the stakeholder professional enterprise architects who test and evaluate software and hardware, and track it. There is a lot of software in the world and new apps every day that people in business wish to use.

Needs
Digital natives expect clear and fun software.
 

The client needs to retain employees.

Experienced Enterprise Architects also want a product that will eventually plug directly into the planning processes of their company and not be external to it, but integrated directly as part of all of the company's planning needs.

Key requirements are:

collections
lifecycle (of the software)
business unit
project
capability
metadata
file type
software

The search dimensions filters are: 
categories
segments
user story
role
location
searching by solutions

and other dimensions...

The result is a list of standard software applications that users may install for their work needs, immediately downloadable from the website.

Users expect easy to use, clearly laid out, modern software which is self-explanatory at best and offers great help as needed. Users shouldn't need to take classes to learn how to select appropriate stacks, configure choices from thousands of choices, or request waivers when the approved standards aren't suitable to their tasks. Making requests should be simple and replies to questions painless and immediate.

For all groups of users the applications need to work instantly, be reliable, and consistently make sense. They also may "BYOD" or bring their own devices to work. They want to share their plans and ideas with co-workers, and store info. Writing for the Web is a standard expectation.

They expect clear positive feedback "You did it!" as a reward for completing tasks. Don't we all?

Enterprise Architects want their product to extend into the fabric of the company as a part of the planning stack in the future. 

Ideas
5 minutes of visualization

Speaking of stacks; as a consultant when starting a new job, it is common not to have access to wireframing software or even Photoshop on corporate laptops behind the firewall - not surprisingly deadlines remain the same.

Luckily I have access to PowerPoint & Office. And really an imagination is all that matters once you interact to understand user needs. 

Once I understood the users and needs, I came up with a successful idea in under 5 minutes. My idea naturally built on my 30 years of computer science experience and education - I've had great teachers, mentors, and colleagues. 

 

After meeting with the stakeholders, I drew this first rough version towards a solution in PowerPoint:

First version - The Idea, How a Cube Might Store Information