The Next Big Thing
Posts about next generation technologies and their effect on business.

Is there a clash between automation and human-centered design?


human centered automation.jpgI was in a discussion a few weeks ago when someone raised the point that all future designs should be human-centered. When I first heard this, it conflicted a bit with my perspective about automation and the need to separate normal from the unusual.


I then began to think about what they probably meant. They didn’t really mean that human’s need to be in the center of everything but instead: if human interaction is required then focus first on designing and delivering great user experiences.


My view is that the automation of the mundane is part of having a human-centered solution. Why would someone want to be there if they are not adding value? Automating out normal is really empathizing with the user’s needs and pain points.


When we’re doing a human-centered system, we should be assessing the need to engage user and maximize outcomes. Some say that in order to be human-centered, you need to develop an emotional connection. Since there are positive and negative emotions, I’d rather the solution be one where the user feels needed as opposed to along for the ride.


Using the understanding of the users, their skills, availability and connections provides the contextual understanding to facilitate interactions helping users find each other and build a community. So I don’t think there is a conflict at all, as long as we’re maximizing the value of the user’s time.


Bill Hefley | ‎04-22-2014 03:03 AM

A number of years ago I presented a paper about autonomy and automation, and the need for human-centered design thinking.  We all know that in the Internet of Things  that our things are "getting smarter".  But, I argued, we need to design these to be transparent or provide enough information so that users can ascertain their state.  When this automation fails (or even if it works correctly) , how can we bring the right information to the user?  


A great example happened to me some time ago.  I was in  some part of the country that had a great electronics store, they had a great price on laptops, and we needed a new laptop.  I decided to buy one.  I was denied at the register.  My bank had denied the transaction.  Too high a value purchase in a different city in a different state. I'm left embarrassed in the front of the store because the automation never thought to include the human factor.  Is there some way to reach out to the customer -phone, an app, or even a Vulcan mind meld - to let me know the status and correct the bank's misperception that I was somehow the victim of fraud?  


It it also goes  back to the question of whom is the service system serving-the bank or the bank's customers (me).  This is perhaps a problem caused by another challenge -as developers are we developing programs just for the bank, or are we building a platform in a service system that must address the needs of multiple sides of the platform - customers and the banks.

Leave a Comment

We encourage you to share your comments on this post. Comments are moderated and will be reviewed
and posted as promptly as possible during regular business hours

To ensure your comment is published, be sure to follow the community guidelines.

Be sure to enter a unique name. You can't reuse a name that's already in use.
Be sure to enter a unique email address. You can't reuse an email address that's already in use.
Type the characters you see in the picture above.Type the words you hear.
Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Do you mean 
About the Author
Follow Us
The opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of the authors, not of HP. By using this site, you accept the Terms of Use and Rules of Participation.