Beverly May, Executive Director of the UX Awards, presented the Chaos Theory: How Real-Time Data is Making Analytics and Product Design Obsolete during the DAA New York Symposium on May 7, 2015.
Today’s digital services deliver chaos. They are rendered in real-time and completely customized for each user. Every person has a unique Facebook profile, feed, list of friends and configuration of their privacy settings, apps and plugins. Every user has a flights search result based on browser and cookie settings, search destinations, date and time of day, preferred airlines and their geographic location, that determines exactly what offers they do (and don’t) see and how they change over time. Every person performing a Google search will see different results based on device, browser, profile, location, demographics and even their credit history.
Not only is the data and content that each user sees almost completely unpredictable; so is the design. Google’s Material Design, true responsive design and the card-based approach to modern UX means each person’s interface and experience also cannot be controlled. Enter into the equation the coming wave of natural user interfaces through gesture, eye tracking, brain sensing, and text-to speech, as well as the rise of machine learning and AI, and the level of data and product design complexity becomes infinite.
This engineered chaos not only cannot be properly measured, it also cannot be designed. Systems cannot be “designed” or measured, because the exact customer experience of any one user simply cannot be predicted. Rather, design and analytics have become the creation of holistic rules and preferences in the hopes of controlling and then documenting the chaos some of the time.
The result? What we have now is true Chaos Theory in digital services in which when a butterfly flaps its wings in Brazil, it can indeed cause a tornado in Texas. In short, many digital services are becoming cyborgs: living, organic, and highly complex digital ecosystems. We have only just begun to glimpse meaning of the impossibility of data analytics and design, let alone the impact on our human-digital future that is unfolding.