Making Enterprise Apps Mindful

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Guest post by Lindsey Jarrell

As a CIO, you’re probably familiar with the term workflow, but what about mindflow?

Mindflows are the steps we undergo to sift through information and arrive at a difficult decision. Comparing, evaluating, and summarizing leads us down a twisting, turning journey toward a final outcome. In the past, it’s been difficult to design enterprise apps that can support knowledge workers in this convoluted process. Now, that’s changing.

We’ve spent years designing and installing applications to limit human involvement with business processes. A key goal has been to reduce the instances of error and to improve productivity. We’re approaching a point where we’ve automated almost all the behavior that we can.

To reach that next level of efficiency and effectiveness, software designers are designing apps based on human thinking models. We call them “mindful apps” and they help knowledge workers make better decisions faster and more aligned with business goals.

Mindful apps don’t follow a script with a predetermined outcome. Rather, mindful apps adjust to real-life dialogues arising from the complex decision making process. They accommodate the intuitive nature of thinking to empower employees with the right information at the right time to make the right decisions.

The opportunities for mindful apps are everywhere. Unstructured, ad hoc, nonstandardized or variable work—otherwise known as knowledge work—abounds. Consider HR as an example. Most activities for hiring, onboarding, coaching and performance evaluation are drenched in complexity and knowledge intensity. Mindful apps can lend a hand.

How to Design Mindful Apps

Given that mindful apps are designed for employees in specific, high value roles, you should expect to be involved in some custom development. Unlike workflows, where observing a behavioral process generates much of the software logic needed in design, mindflows must be surfaced from targeted employees, using techniques such as the “5 whys,” design thinking, digital body language and related techniques that are detailed in our most recent technology forecast.

Concentrate on user-centric design:

Present the user with the right information at the right time, in the right format. Focus on finding solutions to critical questions and presenting the answers in a compelling and engaging manner. Put the user in the center of the design strategy to produce information and data visualizations that are both timely and relevant to the employee’s goals.

Design for a reason:

By understanding the user’s goals, developers can design an application that shortens the time to complete the highest priority tasks. Keep it simple: focus on the highest priority at the moment, remove irrelevant information, and introduce complexity only when it provides value. Incorporate ongoing user feedback to keep improving the user experience.

Always validate:

Across all phases of development, validate assumptions, interfaces, and interactions with users, so the designs remain aligned with how users work and even how the work might be changing.

There is much to learn about mindful apps, as blending human cognitive processes and software intelligence with enterprise business processes is a nascent field of endeavor. Few IT organizations have experience with it.

In this post, we’ve only grazed the surface of mindful apps, but you can dive deeper into this fascinating, timely topic by reading our technology forecast. We truly believe that developing this capability will pay off in way that IT’s long-standing role in promoting productivity never has before.

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