Amid largescale technology modernization, federal agencies have prioritized baking the user experience into the process. But providing an optimal user experience requires strong capabilities in data analytics and serving the internal workforce as well.
As such, it’s important to utilize available funding as early as possible in the modernization process rather than waiting.
“Many times, solicitations focus on technology without funding for user experience, so it can be challenging to bring in user experience,” said Lakshmi Ashok, enterprise service integration leader at Leidos. “Technology modernization can not only embrace it, but also can include a task order to address it fully.”
Using tools like artificial intelligence and machine learning can optimize modernization workflows and ultimately enhance the user experience along the way. These tools are playing critical roles in the modernization process, especially with the widespread use of data and data analytics.
“We can better use the data with the help from AI to translate that user experience information that is trusted and adopted by the users,” Ashok said. “AI and machine learning are playing a role in the modernization process by looking at tracked data to identify ‘friction’ points for things we would like to avoid.”
Using AI and machine learning to model user behavior can help an organization identify efficiencies and bottlenecks in their business processes and strategize on the best ways in using new technology solutions to streamline business processes. One key challenge across the board has ultimately been trust in the models.
“We want to introduce our AI with user experience in a way that it can be trusted and consumed, but not in a way where it burdens the user or causes inaccuracy or inefficiency,” Ashok said.
Data has been crucial in helping Leidos determine user needs to feed that user experience.
“I think data plays a very important role because you need to understand a specific rhythm and routine — how the interaction and actions are coming out of a particular user base,” said Masood Ahmed, civilian health solutions CTO at Leidos. “You need to understand the data to predict, but also to understand what technology would play a role here so a value-based outcome can be achieved.”
Ahmed added that trend analysis is not just imperative to the user experience when talking about customers and personnel, it’s also vital in improving the end user’s business processes, reducing the administrative burden and decreasing unnecessary tasks.
One of Leidos’ focuses includes sentiment analysis, which enables development teams to proactively identify user needs ahead of time.
“It’s another area where we’re using data to build out applications based on data as to how users prefer workflows,” Ashok said. “We’re building out multiple options for user experience and user interface and offering them directly — do you want to use option A or B? We’re using it to drive these templates and applications in a predictive manner and using data to enhance user experience.”
Low-code/no-code development is also optimal for the user experience because it puts technology in the hands of more users seamlessly and easily without the need for intense development lifecycles. Ahmed said Leidos is seeing real results across its customer base, especially at the Department of Health and Human Services, where there's been a reduction in administrative burden.
“The metrics clearly show a decrease in the time of how things need to be done,” Ahmed said. “There is a visualization available showing how low code/no code is impacting the user experience right from having something available for them to interact with, but also understanding in a longer term how it’s saving them time and adding more value and efficiency to their day-to-day activities.”
Ashok believes low code/no code is a good opportunity to introduce human-centered design and user-experience practices early in the process of developing a solution. It allows users to make changes and improvements quickly and fosters early adoption.
“There is something to be said about, ‘I own this so I’m going to adopt it.’ Users can feel more in control, take ownership of the process and of the end product, and that connection leads to greater adoption rates. That is the biggest thing with user experience, why are we doing it to increase adoption and overall success,” Ashok said.
Saving money, saving time and adding value are all essential to the user experience, but one of the most important components is cybersecurity. Understanding user intent and where potential vulnerabilities may lie in a workflow is key.
“If we have a great user experience built into the current system, we have to think about how that would reduce that amount of security risk by enhancing cybersecurity,” Ashok said. “This is where the user experience really counts to say, ‘Hey we’ve got you covered. We know how you’re going to use this, just stay within the cybersecurity bounds and we’ll get you going.’ I believe this approach of good user experience can enhance our cybersecurity.”
Ahmed agrees that having a safe environment should be incorporated at the beginning with the business requirements and having that secure layer available right at the beginning of solutioning is very important.
“It plays a vital role, and it goes hand in hand because if the core requirement base is around that user experience, then it has to be secure and that’s why the cybersecurity thinking process should be implemented at the same time,” Ahmed said.
Ultimately, the people part is most important when talking about technology modernization and adoption.
“ User experience is at the heart of how we design technology because at the end of the day, high customer satisfaction through improved user experiences will lead to cost savings,” Ahmed said.