UEM for user experience management and RPA for robotic process automation are two IT acronyms that continue to elude well-understood definitions, albeit for somewhat opposite reasons. UEM goes back decades, first emerging out of primarily network-centric management, becoming a cornerstone of business service management, and later being consumed by application performance management (APM) much to its own detriment. RPA is comparatively recent, evolving out of screen scraping into far richer technical options that are diverse in nature, with many RPA vendors contending with and replacing the more consultancy-driven platforms for business process management (BPM).
In the course of researching, documenting and advising on user experience management needs and directions for more than a decade, I’ve found myself waging a quiet (and sometimes not so quiet) war with several industry assumptions. Chief among these is the notion that user experience management (UEM) is purely a subset of application performance management (APM). This APM-centricity misses some of UEM’s most critical value points, and in a basic sense fails to recognize what UEM is truly about.
An unfortunate side effect of maintaining a vibrant technology subculture is an over-reliance on acronyms to describe basic concepts and solutions. For instance, to be ITIL compliant a CTO may need to invoke the ARP of a TCP or UDP IPv6 WAN to determine the DNS entry of an SMTP server for a POS system to prevent GIGO and ensure WYSIWYG. Now, if you understood that statement, you are certainly among the lucky few “in the know” and probably use these terms on a regular basis. However, if you are unfamiliar with or had to look up any of those terms, you likely recognize the core problem. While acronyms are intended to simplify complex technical conversations, they actually impede successful communication if any participants are unaware of their meaning. Sometimes acronyms are introduced to shorten long-winded technobabble; sometimes they are developed as marketing devices to create unique sounding products; and often they evolve simply because they make techno-elitists sound more knowledgeable.