How Software Simplifies the User Experience

Chad Reid | July 26, 2019

Shure has a 94 year history of making exceptional audio products known for their unmatched quality and versatility. As our customers' needs have evolved with new tools and technologies, so too have our products. We strive to stay on the cutting edge and deliver the best possible solutions while maintaining our core promise of reliability and performance. Our focus is to deliver intuitive solutions that empower our users.

The Evolution to Smart Systems

In the not so distant past, software was merely something that was delivered to support its corresponding hardware. We thought of products as very specialized tools that solved very specific problems. But we have turned the corner from being a audio product company to being a audio solutions company, and the difference between those two things is software.

Software has become the critical differentiator and central brain that brings whole portfolios of products together and offers system level capabilities and workflows. So now we're at the point where software is becoming a key a selling point as part of our products' promise. 

Intelligent Workflows

As this continues to evolve, and as we integrate new technologies and architectures into our software, I predict we will see software that is capable of making endpoints almost invisible. Customers will simply plug devices in and the software will automate the setup; users won't need to know much about the actual hardware because the software will do most of the work for them.

When we have multiple parts of our system in an installation, our products will work better together because they are aware of each other. This means there can be some built in automation where they operate as an intelligent system instead of disparate sets of products, they can auto configure and make intelligent assumptions out of the gate. 

We are building out our solutions to make more intelligent workflows for design, monitoring, operation and management of our products and help conquer the scale and complexity of modern systems. A big part of this will center around interoperability, not just between our products, but also with common tools and applications that our customers are already using to make sure we fit into their existing ecosystem and expectations.

Shure has just started to scratch the surface in this area. But we are working hard to continue to improve the user experience and simplify user workflows. In fact, we believe there will be a day where the best UI is no UI at all.

Simplicity: Automatic or Manual 

We spend a lot of time in the field talking to customers, watching how they work and learning their biggest concerns and struggles. When designing solutions, we often try presenting them with alternate workflows and seeing which one really resonates best with them. We leverage existing operating system paradigms, common user interface platforms like material design, and we have built a Shure user interface platform called Prism. All of these are done to provide a consistent experience and set of workflows making them easy to learn and use. It also improves our efficiency, stability, and quality, enabling us to focus on creating unique new features and capabilities. 

When it comes to IT users, those trying to manage large diverse sets of endpoints, the focus is on making their lives easier and not requiring them to learn all the nuances of audio. We aim to help them conquer the scale and complexity of modern systems that now include audio endpoints. 

We've also found that in every market there are people who want things to just work, and others that have great technical knowledge and want deeper control. As a result, we do not always eliminate the more complex capabilities of our software. We just look for ways to place them one layer down. This allows users to choose whether they want to take the simple path or explore the granular controls of that product or system.

Data and Security

One big reason why our software and applications are so valuable both to us and our users is that they allow us to gather analytics on how products are being used. We take great care to collect usage data, not user data. However, that anonymized information is tremendously vital to inform and guide us as we not only make continuous improvements to the products already in use, but also plan for new functionality and solutions. At scale, it can be used to build models and algorithms that will lead to our solutions being more intelligent, where they can predict when issues might happen and proactively take steps to avoid them or alert customers to take action.

Of course, no conversation about software is complete until we address the topic of security. At Shure, we consider it just as important as quality and performance. To address against today's threats, we have formed a dedicated security team and engage with top vendors to make sure we are always evolving. Our security team adopts an attacker's mindset to understand how each and every device, server and piece of technology relates to a risk. We have a security roadmap for updates and we prioritize that as part of our day-to-day operations. Security requires a combination of investment in people, processes and technology, and Shure is dedicated to delivering the best-secured products to our customers. 

A Moving Target

Software and technology will continue to evolve at amazing speed. Shure is ready, willing, and able to ride the wave and is dedicated to being an industry leader. Going forward, we will leverage all the current and upcoming technologies, cloud and IoT, AI and ML, Voice UI, AR and VR, to develop smarter, more integrated solutions and experiences. When we'll get to zero UI, we'll just have to wait and see.

Chad Reid

Innovative design leader guiding multi-disciplinary teams in the creation of exceptional products and experiences.