Systems Usability — Promoting Core-Task Oriented Work Practices

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Abstract

A new concept of systems usability is introduced. Systems usability provides a holistic activity-oriented perspective to evaluation of the appropriateness of ICT–based smart tools. The concept has been developed in empirical studies of work in complex industrial environments. The nuclear power plant domain is used here to exemplify the systems usability concept and the method developed for evaluating it. In the chapter, we first identify four practical challenges that the current approaches in usability studies face: task analysis, data collection methods, usability measures, and inferences concerning the interface. As a solution to tackle these challenges we, then, introduce our concept of systems usability. To reach the demands of systems usability, work tools must fulfill all three functions of tools: the instrumental, psychological, and communicative. Because systems usability is visible in practices of using the tools we, finally, demonstrate how the developed method labeled contextual assessment of systems usability (CASU) is used for evaluating systems usability.