Technology's Changing Our Expectations

Posted by Steve Knutson on July 9, 2015

The user experience is getting a lot of attention in the technology industry. It even has its own coined acronym – UX – and is giving way to new positions like the chief experience officer (CXO), an officer responsible for the overall user experience of an organization.

What’s most interesting is the changing user expectations we’re seeing. They’re often connected to if the users are digital natives (they grew up with the technology) or digital immigrants (they are learning to adapt to the technology).

Here’s a look at just a few core technologies that have drastically changed and the impact they’re having on user expectations:

why_Voice_Over_IP_VoIP_is_betterPhone Calls: Plain Old to Ultra Mobile
Digital natives, for an example, grew up with mobile devices, and the drop calls and sometimes spotty service that come with them. They are not phased if they are “dropped” from a conference call. They just call back in. It is part of their expectation.

Digital immigrants, however, grew up with “POTS” – a plain old telephone system. You know, the land line that’s wired to the wall and even when the electricity goes out, a call still can be made. That’s certainly not the experience with mobile devices, which now dominate.

In business, hosted voice is fast becoming the norm in phone systems. Unlike the old traditional land lines, these phone systems operate over the Internet. That changes the experience – and the expectations. Unless precautions are taken, if your Internet access is down or you lose power, a phone call can’t be made. 

Website: Links, Forms, Clicks, Oh My
Today, it’s common to complete forms online – for everything. My daughter heads to college this fall and all the registration, health and related forms need to be completed online – by parents, who are most often digital immigrants. The long, detailed forms can take extended time to complete, but as my wife recently learned, your information is not always saved. She went to look up a date of a health exam and ended up starting all over.

A digital immigrant does not expect the session to time out and the information to be lost. Digital natives, on the other hand, don’t assume. They can more easily ignore ads while digital immigrants click. Digital natives grew up navigating websites - for everything – and the Internet is their go-to place to find answers. They expect some websites to be slower than others and when a website is not responding, they move to a different task and check back later.

Changing Service Level Agreements (SLA)
Service Level Agreements are a typical contract between a service provider and an organization. A common SLA includes a guaranteed up time of 99.9 percent. That sounds solid and in most cases, it is what users expect today. But it used to be 99.999 percent. The difference may not seem like much, but when you calculate it, it means at 99.9 percent, organizations will be down for nearly 9 hours a year and at 99.999, that falls to about 5 minutes annually.

Digital natives are more inclined to be OK with the 99.9 percent and do not see a need to pay the premium to achieve 99.999 percent. Digital immigrants, however, are accustom to constant reliability (like they had with the phone system) and are more willing to pay. As more digital natives make the decisions, their workplaces will likely see a move to less guaranteed uptime.

How we relate to technology is evolving as much as the technology itself and the focus on the user experience will only continue to increase. Expectations around the user experience are moving more toward a digital native mindset. How do your expectations stack up?