The Importance of User Experience to Cloud Integration Adoption

The Informatica Winter 2013 announcement included the following customer quote:

“The Winter 2013 release will accelerate the time it takes to access, integrate and deliver valuable data in order to meet our business imperatives.”

It was also noted that, “the new Informatica Cloud user interface will make the cloud integration solution even more user friendly.”  There are a number of user experience enhancements with this upgrade, so I sat down with Joshua Vaughn, Principal User Experience Designer for Informatica Cloud, to learn more about the impetus behind the new design and features, what’s on the horizon for the future releases, and why user interface (UI) design is so important for cloud applications.

Joshua has been with Informatica for the past five years and has worked in the field of user interface design for over 12 years at companies such as Cisco, eBay, Intuit and SAP. He holds a Master of Arts in Cognitive Psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

So Joshua, why the changes to the Informatica Cloud UI?

The majority of the Winter 2013 release UI enhancements were actually requested by our customers through the Ideas section of the Informatica Cloud Community. These UI improvements are designed to provide greater ease of use and improved productivity to our users.

Can you highlight the main UI updates that Informatica Cloud customers should know about?

The first thing you’ll notice when you login is that we’ve centralized a lot of our help options. We actually got the idea for this by looking at the Informatica.com and InformaticaCloud.com websites where a lot of social sharing buttons are centralized onto the right-hand bar. But for Informatica Cloud users, it would be more helpful if they could select the appropriate help channel that’s most convenient for them – be it our Videos site where they can view demos, the Informatica Cloud Community where they can interact with other users, or the online help. Users can now even open a support ticket with one click anywhere in the cloud integration service!

Another UI change that we’re really proud of is the ability for users to search for previously executed jobs from the Activity Log page. Users will notice that the search box is very similar to the experience they would encounter when shopping on Amazon, eBay, or any other consumer website. The purpose behind this change was to help users with hundreds of jobs to better locate those jobs in a granular fashion. Once they locate a job, users can easily restart the task from the Activity Log page or from the job detail page. We hope to add this search box to all task list pages like the Data Synchronization Tasks page in a future release.

We’ve also introduced the ability to save your Data Synchronization task in the middle of composing it. For example, Step 5 within the Informatica Cloud Data Synchronization wizard deals with mapping the source and target objects together. This is where users enter expressions and lookups for each of the fields that they want mapped – it is by far the longest of all the steps for complex cloud integration use cases. Now users can quickly save and continue editing their task. Users also have the ability to save and run the task, or save and close the task if they want to return to it later.

Everyone’s talking about this “consumerization of IT” trend when it comes to the Enterprise. Employees are demanding to use their iPhones and Androids to check work email and use MacBooks and iPads to do work. How do you think UI will help with this trend, especially in the area of cloud applications and data integration?

Overall, I think that use of touch devices such as iPads, Android, and Microsoft tablets and phones have increased expectations for user interfaces. Users increasingly demand the same degree of simplicity, comfort, and ease of use when using cloud applications. The challenge is to deliver enterprise-class functionality without sacrificing simplicity. If the applications are difficult to learn, then no matter how useful it may be, it’s just not going to get used by the same segment of tablet and smartphone users. A clean UI design ensures that cloud applications, no matter how complex, are able to be utilized for their intended purpose by the intended users.

Why is it important to strive for B2C simplicity for primarily B2B cloud applications and platforms?

The expectations of technology users have changed. This explosion in online shopping, and tablet and smartphone usage means that users are no longer willing to spend several hours to learn complex functionality – they expect to just “get it” from the moment they log on to the app. And so the challenge lies in achieving a balance between exposing the right level of complexity to first-time users or “business users,” while at the same time allowing highly technical users the depth of functionality that they need to accomplish their work objectives. Bridging this gap and designing custom user experiences for the appropriate user personas is crucial for ensuring application adoption and utilization.

Thanks Joshua! Looking forward to the great things the User Experience team has in store for us down the road. And if you’d like to try out these cool new UI features for yourself, you can go to the Informatica Cloud homepage and sign up for a free 30-Day trial.

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