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User experience is one of the most critical success factors for Industry 4.0

by Philipp Schmidt , 22.08.2014

How can we effectively measure interactions in highly digital and complex industrial environments? For quite a long time, “usability” was the one and only indicator for this kind of interaction. However, the complexity of today’s environment shows that usability alone is not sufficient anymore to understand real life interaction of users. User experience (UX) is a step ahead and includes usability along with new aspects: Are the technical devices intuitive to use? Are the requirements of the user appropriate? Customers want a playful usability, discover functions without frustration. They want an appealing product which is visually appealing and fun to use – all in spite of the rapid advances in technology and the ever-changing requirements.

What is Industry 4.0?

Industry 4.0 is about the digitalization of traditional industries. It is also entitled as the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”, following mechanization, electricity and IT. By using digital systems, companies are envisioned to link their machinery, storage systems and operating assets through global networks, creating “smart production” systems which mutually control each other without requiring any manual intervention. As a result, the industry’s engineering, production, logistic and life cycle management processes are expected to improve drastically. Industry 4.0 merges made-to-measure manufacturing with the efficiency and capabilities of industrial large-scale production.

GfK’s UX Score

But which aspects are really driving user experience? Based on numerous research studies, GfK developed the UX Score, which integrates three main success factors of user experience: Task-oriented qualities reflect instrumental factors which basically consist of condensed usability sub facets. Self-oriented qualities summarize all relevant non-instrumental factors based on a “Top 10” of human needs. Additionally, aesthetic qualities echoes if the user is pleased by how the system looks and feels. From workmen to production managers, today’s industrial users demand intuitive, simple to use and well-designed interfaces in their daily work, which enhance efficiency of industrial processes.


User experience supports Innovation

But what does user experience mean to Industry 4.0? Today’s users are accustomed to using smartphones and tablets in their daily life. This has a huge impact on the interaction in an industrial context – functionality alone is not enough anymore at Industry 4.0. Processes are dynamic and the Smart Factory together with Smart Devices have to be efficient and effective: A positive user experience is most critical to satisfy users, product acceptance and a steady market success through Industry 4.0. The journey towards Industry 4.0 will be an evolutionary process, in which positive user experiences are a critical success factor.

About Industrial Goods at GfK

GfK’s Industrial Goods practice area coordinates industrial research at GfK. User experience research is one of the most relevant research topics in this area - a well thought-out user experience of software interfaces or operational concepts of machinery is key at Industry 4.0. Therefore, GfK Industrial Goods closely works with GfK UX and tailors solutions specifically to the requirements of industrial research. GfK Industrial Goods together with GfK UX support industrial organizations to improve control panels of machinery, evaluate the handling of tools or enhance user interfaces of connected Production Management Systems. They implement UX thinking and methodologies within multiple industrial organizations.

For more information, please contact Philipp Schmidt, Account Manager at GfK’s Energy, Environment & Industrial Goods, at p.schmidt@gfk.com or visit the GfK Industrial Goods Website.