martes, 29 de julio de 2014

In search of a model

In the last few months, in this blog, we had touched on various ideas attempting to land the concepts behind context aware applications and various reasons that might make the notion a fundamental construct of the way we relate to technology.  

So far we had looked at Joseph Pine value chain, and ideas around what constitutes an authentic experience.  Before, in a very interesting play, Ivan took the notions presented in “The Age of Context” and merged them with Thomas Wendt point of view, and speculated with mobiles being at the centre of the equation. 

After having had quite a few conversations on the topic of Context Aware Apps, and circling back to this idea, I would like to take it a step further and propose it as the basis of a model simple but powerful model for the concept.  Lets look back at the diagram proposed by Ivan (slightly reviewed and translated):




As implied by Thomas Wendt , with the following quote:  

"We have thus moved beyond the theorization of our mobile devices as a type of prosthetic to our bodies — an extension of ourselves out into the material world — but instead have to conceive of our devices as absolutely integral to the very foundations of embodied space in the digital age.”   (Jason Farman).

Is is not difficult to see how this statement, almost a prophetic claim - although taken a "bit out of context," since the original quote referred to the relation of maps and LBS.  Regardless, it is clear in Ivan's evolution of the original idea that now, by combining a Mobile experience with the forces introduced in “The Age of Context,” we can start thinking about an initial model of what a context aware app might constitute.


As my colleague Robert Palmer put it, in this model the App is "the Agent”  that by running in the user’s mobile device, connects him to to a particular context permitting the creation of new level of UX never seen before, a new level of customisation of a service.  UX practitioners often talk in terms of journeys to illustrate how and idea goes beyond a static mock.  Similarly, I propose we look at one to illustrate how this model works.  

Lets take the Banking industry as an example where a user happens to use a Banks mobile App as the main way to interact  In the Age of Context, the day the user needs a loan the experience might be as follows:

  • After seeing in my social feed that some of the user's friends are changing cars and realises that it might be time to change it as well.

  • Curious, the client goes to the bank’s App on the way home from work to see if there is any info in the topic. 
  • From the app he might be taken to the Banks website and maybe asked a few eligibility questions.  
  • The journey stops at that point, but it should be possible for the user to go on in his desktop or tablet at home.
  • Thanks to the bank eligibility questions already answered it is possible to do a pre-analysis and potentially be ready to provide the user with a response.

  • If in the near future, the client decides to go to the bank, and at the door the App detects a beacon and lets the bank know that the user is walking in. 

  • With those critical inputs, the experience at the the bank, has the potential to be fully customised and tailored to the client.
  • Happy and impressed by the efficiency of the service, the user completes the cycle back at the emotional side of the model: likely going out of his way to share the experience, potentially sparking new journeys for others in the client's sphere of influence.
Under this model and by leveraging the various existing system and customising the experience to the client, this digital Bank is strongly signalling the client that the they care, and have created an authentic digital experience for their clients.  

As a closing thought, Metcalfe’s law states that the value of your network goes up proportional to the square of the number of connected nodes of the system (n2).  This is exactly what this model promotes:  a mechanism to extract more value from existing infrastructure.

What do you think about this simple model?  Is is it too simple?

I would be happy to hear your thoughts and reactions, please share them.