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We live in a mushrooming environment of business solutions, catering to different core design principles - mainly systems of engagement and systems of records. We need to bring both concepts together and pace-layer a new system that is designed entirely around people's roles - a system of me.

Have you ever been sitting in front of a computer screen and scratched your head, asking, "What does this thing want from me?"

How did we get here?

You do not need to go back to the days of punch cards and command interfaces to understand that significant shifts come in waves. The interfaces at that time were primarily function modules, routines, or data interfaces.

Then we saw information-entry screens focused towards specialists, and later, the emergence of Graphical User Interfaces. Even the nicest ones have been built for a set of functions, often still very specialized.

And here we are still today: modules and features and functions. 

The divide of system of records and system of engagement

And then we saw a divide of two concepts, creating a mushrooming environment of different solutions. This trend has been fueled by the emergence of cloud solutions that cover a dedicated area well, or sometimes, more quickly.

Traditional approach

These are often called the systems of engagement -- where effectiveness is the key driver: "Do the right things." They have been built primarily for the business workers in an organization, they focus on dedicated business tasks, and they're enhanced by collaborative elements that improve communication and the connecting of people.

Systems of records, on the other hand, were tailored around efficiency: "Do the things right." These supported the "front line" workers who are keeping the business running. This involved creating an information highway focused on data processing of structured data, and it was mostly used within company boundaries.

While both concepts are valid, the fundamental flaw is that they live in a divide. What we need is an approach that unifies both, where problems are resolved with one solution approach only -- with no redundancies or duplicate processes, neither in features, processes, or data.

We need a system of me

A concept that we have seen emerging already for some time, which nicely describes what we need to do, is the "system of me." In a nutshell -- build your solutions around a role or a person, and deliver whatever is needed in real-time, and at best, predictively. When the goal is to cope with the challenges of today and tomorrow, you need to be able to look around corners.

The vision of digital empowerment for every end user, every human being, is based on a need to not only win the Millennial generation, but every generation. Of course, you could call Millenials a "sweet spot" -- they are users who grew up natively in the age of digital business, with multiple devices, and who are able to easily comprehend business software. This group will only use software that sticks to those paradigms to which they are accustomed from the likes of Google, Amazon, and social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. But digital proficiency knows no age (link).

We need solutions that have been designed and built for me. Solutions that, for their user experience, leverage every technology that we need to provide the right user interface for the right user. With design principles that make it possible to adjust the interface to every modern front-end device (including mobile) and adapt it automatically via flexible theming to future new design principles.

System of me

Those key development and design principles -- role-based user experiences, combined with contextual knowledge of the end user -- enables a design that keeps the user at the center of the business process, regardless of which system the information or transaction resides.

After this is attained, solutions are needed that help us to adapt to future demands, like the pressure to be data-driven, personalized, and intelligent. More on these concepts in the next blog.

I'd love to hear your viewpoint. Follow me on twitter @SDenecken.

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