Abstract background with blue and orange curved shapes.

August 5, 2021 – Up to Our Eyes in APIs: The Price We Pay for Fast and Cheap, from Mental Healthcare Navigation to Construction Management – Marymoore Patterson, MA

Mental Health Word Map.png

In the past 10 years, open-source software, SaaS, and subscription business models have arisen from David to Goliath status in the workplace. Companies can create flexible, customizable IT ecosystems at a fraction of the initial investment of time and money previously required. This has enabled comprehensive views into productivity and customer analytics. It has brought the easy UX people now expect in consumer products to the work environment.

However, these fast, easy, and cheap solutions have also transformed the experience of work, not always for the better. First, they create a fragmented, even siloed work experience, with gaps that require extensive manual effort to close. Second, and conversely, they engender much duplicate work in overlapping systems, often work that goes unseen, as employees simply put in the time and effort to do it. With both gap-filling and duplicative work, employees are solving the same problems over and over in Sisyphean loops. It may even feel productive but is simply sapping scarce mental resources from their true tasks.  

Finally, these solutions are driving an unquestioned push towards automation, which results in dramatic wins for some and losses for many, by both dumbing down and eliminating roles. This may seem like a great way to save money, but it can also demoralize workforces and significantly undermine customer experience.


Marymoore will explore these issues using two workplace software experiences from diverse industries where she has observed striking parallels: mental healthcare navigators for an online employee service and construction information managers controlling massive projects from design to build.

SaaS is here to stay, and there is no easy answer to these challenges. However, Marymoore will recommend a couple of approaches that can help companies, employees, and customers flourish rather than flounder in the sea of APIs.

Images are licensed under Creative Commons License.



Marymoore Patterson is an innovation strategist, design researcher, ethnographer, and storyteller, and with 25 years of experience in keeping high tech human. She’s a big fan of emerging technology, human-centered design, and solving problems that matter. Marymoore has directed open innovation, design research, and communication strategies for global projects in digital health, education, cleantech, smart home, future retail, connected car, and semiconductor. She worked in product innovation for Panasonic in multiple countries, has partnered with startup founders, and has taught innovation, storytelling, and user research at UC Berkeley, Stanford, and other universities in Japan, China, and the U.S. She is currently Principal UX Researcher for Autodesk’s Construction Solutions team, exploring platform-wide needs and opportunities.

Marymoore believes that innovation is essentially about telling new stories, and that the best innovations and stories create hope and transformation. She also believes that everyone has a powerful story to tell. Much of her research has related to people in critical moments of change, and how products can help facilitate that, while minimizing the addition of new stresses.

Marymoore holds a B.A. in Chinese Language and Literature from Pomona College, an M.A. in the Translation of Chinese and Japanese from the Monterey Institute of International Studies, and dual MBAs from Berkeley-Haas and Columbia. She is currently an M.S. candidate in Human Factors and Information Design at Bentley University. In her spare moments, she hangs with her husband and their three daughters, practices creative writing, and songwrites and plays with her folk-rock trio, Hitchhiking Honeymoon.