The role of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) in Business Analytics

Andrea Everard, Human Computer Interaction ResearcherIn fields like business analytics that require an understanding of both management and technology, the term human-computer interaction (HCI) may come up on several occasions.

What is HCI? And how does an understanding of it help those in business analytics fields?

Lerner professor of management of information systems (MIS) and HCI researcher Andrea Everard says that it’s one thing to understand data, but another to understand how to present data in a way that is useful to a user.

Everard finds that the most exciting piece of HCI is that it puts the human first.

“As you may have noticed, it’s HCI, human-computer interaction (there is another field called CHI, computer-human interaction.)” said Everard.

What matters to HCI researchers is the value that technology provides the end user, the human. It’s about how systems look to the user, how users interact with technology, and how they perceive the usefulness of technology.

“I always tell my students this in class: You can have the ‘best’ technology. You can have collected all the data imaginable, you can perform the most complex analysis on the data, but if you can’t tell a story with the data, if you can’t make the data ‘real’ and actionable, then it provides no value,” Everard said. “And if something doesn’t provide value, then why do it?”

Everard added that one example from her research in online advertising demonstrates why HCI is important to business and how it can change the way business is done.

In a paper published in the International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, Everard said, “My colleagues and I looked at important generic characteristics — feelings of intrusiveness, irritation, intentions to return to the website, etc. — that can be gleaned from various types of ads.”

Everard and her colleagues studied the effect of ads that obscure content and the effect of whether or not users have the ability to remove them. They found that particular features of online advertisements (those that obscure content and cannot be closed by users) produce feelings of intrusiveness, which lead to perceptions of irritation, degraded attitudes toward the website, and diminished intentions to return.

“Although ads often generate revenue for a website, businesses need to recognize that these same ads may be alienating their customers by increasing their negative feelings towards the website or business,” Everard said. “Unintended consequences are a real thing – and businesses need to take into account the human side of technology and how users react to it.”

The Lerner MBA in business analytics gives students breadth and depth in both understanding this human perspective, as well as the technology side of business. Students take courses such as data mining, decision analytics and more, in addition to a business core.

In another post, we will look into how Human-Computer Interaction is relevant to the field of finance.

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