When consumer meets enterprise..

Microsoft’s channel 9 and 10 are very impressive. I noticed that there is now a Channel 8, but my corporate standard Microsoft Explorer 6.0 conceded defeat while trying to display it. Anyway, over on Channel 10, I saw this Video for a Silverlight  prototype demo for Burton Snowboards. Seeing 3D images, context video and so on is eye catching and engaging.  One of my twisted metaphors is that GUIs are like fashion, and no more so is that true in the retail web shop front. Perhaps we should have seasonal GUI shows;  “From the House of Flex, this spring  for ERP the tones are muted, but with a subtle touch of tactile interactivity.”

 The demo looks like Boo  redux, but better… 

This sort of thing gets really powerful and goes beyond eye candy when it connects with the ERP and CRM system that actually know what sizes, colours, models etc are in stock, and can calculate delivery dates, special offers, dynamic pricing and so on. This is also where all that SOA business actually comes to life. It makes it a whole lot easier to connect this funky world of rich images with the reality of the supply chain.

But back to the “experience” 

The ability to develop rich 3-D and interactive experiences will become easier and cheaper, but the bar to create delight will continue to rise. (remember paddle tennis, anyone?)

I’ve been impressed by the work Adobe is doing in this space. As this rich, emersive experience becomes commonplace in the retail experience, why should it not have a similar impact on applications behind the firewall?  Displaying parts and designs in 3D, rich zooming and flying through graphs and charts. Integrating ERP and CRM with Second Life may seem frivolous to some, but I see it as a zoopraxiscope, a starting point.

The technology alone, though, is not enough. I believe that we will see a great demand for visual designers; people who can imagine new ways of interacting with systems, far beyond the 2D cages in which processes and data lurk today. I may be stretching it when I call for the return of the playwright, but we will need people who can help tell and visualise a story. Perhaps that is what Design is all about?

The default user interaction model has been the column and row for long enough.  For too long, the UI experience has been bound by the paper paradigm, or worse the spreadsheet. Designers of the world unite, you have nothing to loose but columns and rows.

(I’ll be off the grid for about 10 days. Building sandcastles)

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