Industrial User Experience Trends To Watch in 2016

"What's Trending?" is a common question I often get asked as the world of User Experience, specifically in the Industrial space, rapidly spreads. There’s no better time than now to offer some insight into what we, as digital experience and UX experts, see trending as 2015 comes to a close and we look beyond to 2016. Industrial User Experience innovation is maturing every day. The organizations that embrace this innovation, will most certainly see great returns on their investments. 

These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.

The Internet of Things will be the largest device market in the world, offering tighter security, greater building and jobsite efficiency, and better workforce management. We should see more use of beacons to track tools and machinery and more use of smart devices that monitor and maintain buildings but predictive analytics capabilities will be critical. 

We should see continued focus on using data and insights to make machines smarter and safer. Innovations like predictive maintenance (e.g. a truck’s engine temperature, average speed, and fuel consumption) that call for parts before they even need them will become more prevalent. Industrial organizations will also see external data layering (e.g. gathering and using product/service data within the business) become a valuable addition to their capabilities. It will be even more valuable when leveraged with data outside of the ecosystem. HVAC systems are a good example of this. When combined with weather, humidity and temperature statistics (e.g. weather.com), they become smarter and more efficient.

Wear it for looks, wear it for life.

Improved wearable technology will also improve safety as well as workforce management. While not quite to the level of virtual reality, wearable “smart” devices should start gaining more traction in 2016. Some examples include cloud-based ocular systems for site walk-throughs; smart lighting to create a “360°” personal active safety system; smart helmets that lay out instructions in real-time; smart safety vests; and wearable devices that map a building's geometry and energy heat maps. 

While wearable technology has the capacity to revolutionize the Industrial space it’s worth remembering that we’re only at the start of the journey.  So, as new devices and apps are developed, it’s entirely possible that these may only be blips on a much larger radar in a couple of years.

It takes a community...

Third-party platform integration--a message echoed by many Forrester Analysts--should continue to proliferate as companies look to offer services which are outside of their "main offering." You should start to see Industrial companies using Google for Mapping, YouTube or Vimeo for Video storage, Apple's HomeKit for automation, and Dropbox for data storage etc. Platforms, such as the aforementioned, have already built their technology, maintain their technology, and mature their audiences and ultimately their data, that Industrial experiences can leverage to their advantage. 

Industrial-tech rarely makes headline news. It’s not as flashy as say retail-tech, or simply too obscure to be of interest. However, as you can see, this belies the huge potential of technology to create great Industrial experiences. These experiences in the industrial space will help managers and fieldworkers by improving safety, working smarter, enhancing capabilities and offerings, see better results, and strengthen bottom lines. I think we can all agree that 2016 will be another year where new levels of innovation are reached and the Vokal team will be working with our clients in this space, including Bosch, Grainger, Pepper Industries, Exelon and Constellation Energy to lead the way.