Interview: Mitch Brisebois, TrueContext


Mitch Brisebois is Chief Scientist at TrueContext, a provider of mobile enterprise services. It’s mExperience platform is deployed by operators such as Rogers Wireless to provide hosted forms, content and device management to corporate customers. Mitch has two decades of experience with companies such as Nortel Networks and holds 17 US patents relating to usability innovations for software, wireless and workflow products. He leads TrueContext’s recently founded Human Factors Lab, focused on optimising user experience.

Marek Pawlowski: How did you become involved in the mobile business and what’s your role at the moment?

Mitch Brisebois: I became involved with mobility back in 1990 – creating future wireless concepts for Nortel Networks. Using user-centered methodologies, we explored the value of these concepts with lead users around the world. The goal was to anticipate high value applications to better plan wireless network evolution. Currently, I lead the human factors lab at TrueContext.

What does the term ‘mobile user experience’ mean to you?

Currently the term is a mixed blessing. The industry is in the early stages of realising user experience that works at the desktop can’t simply be shrunk for mobilty applications. New models of interaction are emerging that will greatly improve that experience.

How important do you think it is to have direct exposure to end customers when developing new mobile services? Is this something you do when you’re building your own products?

It’s important to involve all stakeholders in the design phase for new applications – including end users. The user’s performance with the application will greatly impact the enterprise’s success at mobilising their business processes. Factors such as data integrity, efficiency, and security are all driven by the end user’s abilities, afforded by the user experience. At TrueContext, our design cycles are based on ISO 13407, which defines a process for user-centered iterative design. We involve customers, choosers, and users at numerous intervals before products or services are deployed.

Who do you think has overall responsibility for user experience in the mobile telecoms industry – operators, handset manufacturers, application developers..?

Ultimately the user experience is dependant on all three – operators, device manufacturers and application developers. But, the design cycles for application developers are much shorter – so they tend to drive requirements for new capabilities. Eventually the devices and networks catch up – and the push for innovative solutions begins again.

What was your first mobile handset and what do you use these days?

My first mobiles were all prototypes. Now I rely on an HP iPAQ 6500 on a great, reliable GPRS network.

Which services do you use most often on your mobile?

Messaging and enterprise form applications such as CRM.

Do you think the industry should be moving towards a business model which enables each user to feel as if their handset has been designed for them as an individual?

Personalisation of devices and services is important at the consumer level. For mobile business solutions, it’s critical that the enterprise be able to customise their mobile solutions to integrate seamlessly into their established business processes. For these types of customers it’s not so much about personaliaation but about user specific configurations.

What combination of handset design, mobile services and customer support would represent your ideal user experience?

When a handset, network services and support work well together – that’s the ideal – it’s the synergy created by a successful integration.

What’s the most bizarre use of a mobile device you’ve discovered recently?

As more companies like TrueContext offer easy to use tools to create new mobile solutions we’ll see people become very creative with applications. Our own employees created an application to track real time golf scores for our company ‘best ball’ tournament. Not necessarily bizarre – but it introduced an entertaining twist to a great day of golf!

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