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K8. Seamless Inter-application Interactivity Knowledge workers may need to interact with several computing tools in order to accomplish their activities, effectively treating their adopted suite of applications as one overall system. Product teams can envision functionality concepts that could facilitate desirable and fluid onscreen interactions across related products.

Which of the work practices that your team is striving to mediate could span multiple computing tools in knowledge workers’ technology environments? What useful interactions might your team envision to allow targeted workers to dynamically use multiple onscreen applications as if they were a single seamless system?

I need to ask our acouscs consultant some cosng quesons about this proposed form...

Examples from three knowledge work domains: An architect selects and copies a section of a building model, then pastes it into an email that she will send to an acoustical consultant who is estimating some specific costs. When the consultant receives the file, he is able to open it in a different 3D modeling tool, where only the specific section of the building under discussion appears on his screen (see illustration). A financial trader copies content from a series of forms in his trading application and pastes it into a spreadsheet for further analysis. Since he knows his spreadsheet application very well, he often prefers to work this way, even when other products provide “spreadsheet like” functionality. A scientist selects several rows in a table within her analysis application and drags them into a presentation document. The dragged content then appears in the body of the document with the same table formatting.

More specific questions for product teams to consider while envisioning applications for knowledge work:


So I am going to copy this smaller area of the building model and paste it into an email that I’ll send over to her...

See also: A, B, C3, E, G, I5, K, M

What role do each of these tools play within your team’s targeted tasks and larger activities?

Which interoperations frequently result from lightweight, spur of the moment choices? What breakdowns and errors can occur in these interoperations? Could these problems represent potential opportunities for your product? Where might your team’s sketched strategic directions suggest “open” and networked approaches to other technologies in targeted workers’ environments? Where might they suggest “closed” approaches? What market trends and technological realities might your team consider while envisioning possibilities for dynamic interactions between specific computing tools?

Based on analyses of common product and activity interrelations in targeted work practices (A5), product teams can envision functionality concepts that could provide users with lightweight and tightly coupled opportunities to effectively tie into their other computing tools. Conventional examples of these interoperations include “cut and paste” and “drag and drop” of interaction objects that users may want to move from one product to another (B1, B8, E3, G2).

Conversely, for reasons involving top down business or brand strategy, teams may intentionally decide to keep their application concepts closed to this sort of interoperation, regardless of the value it could deliver to workers and their organizations. However, over time — and under the influence of Internet driven thinking — this line of “protective” reasoning appears to be becoming less prevalent in many workplace computing domains.

Which computing tools do targeted individuals primarily use, given the larger constellation of technologies that are available to them?

How do knowledge workers currently coordinate their various onscreen applications in order to accomplish their goals in different scenarios?

In many knowledge workplaces, individuals’ screens are frequently alight with several different applications at the same time, often for overlapping purposes. An individual product is often only one component of an overall system of tools that workers appropriate to accomplish their activities.

When product teams do not actively consider how knowledge workers may want to seamlessly transfer content into and out of their applications, resulting products can contain functionally “isolating” barriers to long term productivity and satisfaction (D2, D3, M4). Workers may traverse issues that could be solved with lightweight interaction by redundantly entering data, capturing screens, printing information (J7), or exporting and importing application content (K9). Even with available workarounds, deficiencies in seamless interactivity may become an early and frequent complaint about adopted products (D4, G3, M4).


What attitudes and expectations do targeted individuals and their organizations have regarding seamless interactivity as a means of bridging their various applications? Which of your sketched interaction objects and functionality concepts might provide value in the context of other computing tools? What interaction objects from other computing tools might provide value in the context of your team’s application concepts? Where might existing convections for lightweight inter-application interactivity, such as “cut and paste” and “drag and drop,” play a role in your functionality concepts?

Remote Collaborator

And then she can open it up in the soware that she uses, without having to do anything special...

What novel interaction approaches might your team envision for specific bridging operations? Do you have enough information to usefully answer these and other envisioning questions? What additional research, problem space models, and design concepting could valuably inform your team’s application envisioning efforts?

Working through Screens (Tabloid Size)  

Working through Screens: 100 Ideas for Envisioning Powerful, Engaging, and Productive User Experiences in Knowledge Work This heavily illus...

Working through Screens (Tabloid Size)  

Working through Screens: 100 Ideas for Envisioning Powerful, Engaging, and Productive User Experiences in Knowledge Work This heavily illus...