Contextual IT: Benefit, Technology and Perspective

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Contextual IT: Benefit, Technology and Perspective

As a part of last week’s festival – Internet Week Denmark – I gave a presentation about one of my professional passions: Contextual IT. Judging by the amount of feedback, I’m not the only one to see the many opportunities contextual IT brings.

This post is a condensed version of my Internet Week Denmark presentation, highlighting the most prominent benefit, six technologies worth keeping an eye on, and my perspective on where the contextual IT trend is heading.


Contextual IT involves a series of new technologies, forms of interaction, and consumer movements that all lead our use of IT in a more holistic and contextual direction.

My professional experience, the latest literature on the field, and my participation in MWC14 in Barcelona this February, make me certain that the contextual IT trend will continue to grow!

Benefit: Personalized Real-Time User Experiences

As I see it, the biggest benefit of contextual IT is that it enables businesses and organizations across all industries to give their users highly personalized user experiences.

Global research and advisory firm, Forrester Research describes the contextual user experience like so:

A tailored, adaptive, and sometimes predictive customer experience that combines and extend existing segmentation and personalization techniques with in-the-moment details.
Forrester Research

As IT becomes real-time intelligent it mediates communication between ourselves and the things in both our digital and physical context. This brings an array prospects, some of which you can see in one of my former posts: How iBeacons could Change the World – not Just Retail.

Six Contextual Technologies you Should Keep an Eye on

The internet is our main tool to achieve this highly personalized and context specific user experience, but it is an extremely complex process. Luckily, there are several technologies and trends dedicated to help this process.

Below are six I find especially important:

  • Cloud Computing ensures easy access to data, and is vital when we want to share data across devices and situations.
  • Big Data, when analyzed well, enables us to predict and present data in a way that create the right experience for the right user in a specific context.
  • Wearables, e.g. Google Glass, smart watches, make it easy to collect and extract data continuously.
  • The Internet of Things unlocks the functionality of IT with a minimum of interaction. By black boxing processes in machine-to-machine interfaces and online services, our daily lives become more effective.
  • No-touch Interfaces allows us to communicate with IT by voice, eye movement or any variety of gestures ensuring that your hands remain idle for other important tasks.
  • Augmented Reality is a final technology that supports the contextual IT trend by enriching our physical world.

The Human Perspective

The promised contextual IT utopia, where man and machine blend in a close and rewarding symbiosis, is not achievable by technological advances alone. Leaving aside the debate of whether this is a desirable future, it is apparent that good design of contextual IT services and products is critical.

Contextual IT products and services must, first, have an understanding of which information is important at a given moment. To communicate this information in a non-robottish way is another challenge, and how to draw attention to it is jet another.

These very human questions is the center of the critical design layer of contextual IT.

A long but exciting way to go…

As with any technology in its infancy, contextual IT is undergoing an evolution where innovation and trial and error is key. I for one am excited to follow the many use cases and best practices that will arise in the coming years.

Learn more

Are you interested in discussing the trend? Do you want to learn more about the possibilities contextual IT brings? Would you like to know how we work with the trend on a daily basis?

Please feel free to contact me!

  • torsdag maj 08, 2014