An Augmented Infocommunication Model for Unified Communications in Situational Contexts of Collaboration

Carolina F Abrantes, Óscar Mealha, Diogo Gomes, João Paulo Barraca, Carlos Ferreira
Interdisciplinary Journal of Information, Knowledge, and Management  •  Volume 16  •  2021  •  pp. 077-099

In this work, the authors propose an augmented model for human-centered Unified Communications & Collaboration (UC&C) product design and evaluation, which is supported by previous theoretical work.

Although the goal of implementing UC&C in an organization is to promote and mediate group dynamics, increasing overall productivity and collaboration; it does not seem to provide a solution for effective communication. It is clear that there is still a lack of consideration for human communication processes in the development of such products.

This paper is sustained by existing research to propose and test the application of an augmented model capable of supporting the design, development and evaluation of UC&C services that can be driven by the human communication process. To test the application of the augmented model in UC&C service development, a proof-of-concept mobile prototype was elaborated upon and evaluated, making use of User Experience (UX) and user-centred methods and techniques. A total of nine testing sessions were carried out in an organizational communication setup and recorded with eye tracking technology.

The authors argue that UC&C services should look at the user’s (human) natural processes to improve effective infocommunication and thus enhance collaboration. Authors believe this augmented version of the model will pave the way improving the research and development of useful and practical infocommunication products, capable of truly serving users’ needs.

On evaluation of the prototype, qualitative data analysis uncovered structural problems in the proposed prototype which hindered the augmented model’s elements and subsequently, the user experience. Five out of eighteen identified interaction issues are highlighted in this paper to demonstrate the proposed augmented model’s validity, applied in UC&C services evaluation.

Considering and respecting the user’s natural communication processes, practitioners should be able to propose and develop innovative solutions that truly enable and empower effective organizational collaboration. UC&C functionalities should be designed, taking the augmented model’s proposed elements and their pertinence in representing the human interpersonal communication phenomena into consideration, namely: Social Presence; Immediacy of Communication; Concurrency and Synchronicity.

This paper intends to demonstrate that the adoption and use of UTAUT technology characteristics, in conjunction with Synchronicity proposition, can be considered as a reference for human-centric design and the evaluation of UC&C systems.

To highlight the need to develop further research on this important topic of human collaboration mediated by technology inside organizations.

This research focused its attention on communication functionalities. However, collaboration can potentially be affected by other services that may be included in a UC&C system, such as scheduling, meetings or task management. Future research could consider employing this augmented model to evaluate such systems or proof-of-concept prototypes.

human-computer interaction, organizational communication and collaboration, human-centred design, interpersonal communication, empirical study
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