Steve is currently building a great set of posts on the different impacts of personal priorities and their impact on how we approach IT. He’s followed his initial post with some application of his ideas:
There are some great insights into the impact certain IT initiatives have had and why they have actually caused as many problems as they have solved.
One of the most telling insights for me is the insight on ‘process’. I have previously had a lot to say about the delivery of technology without process. Having read Steve’s article I don’t think I was really meaning ‘process’ I think I was meaning something broader than pure process and really talking about the whole impact on people of a technology change. Steve’s model does a good job of extending this issue by trying to explain why sometimes the impact on the end user is ‘a step too far’ for them.
This relates to my post the other day which picks up on the need for the CIO to deliver value. If, as Steve suggests, we have pushed the CIO into a corner (in the desktop arena) then it is going to be difficult for them to deliver the value without first increasing the cost.
Creating Passionate Users has an interesting article today on the success of communication techniques.
When trying to communicate to a crowd it looks like the best you can get is about 30%, and that’s if you put something in their hands and communicate via written or video media.
This rings true with my own experience. I have been involved in a number of large projects that have implemented some new technology something (email, desktop, etc.). In each case the implementation has gone slower then the project managers expected and in every case the project managers have complained that the end user has not done what they were asked to do.
If a project requires the end user to do something – the best you should expect is that 30% of them will do it. If you start with that number you will build a project that will at least be realistic about the effort that is going to need to be expended overcoming this limitation. If you expect that only 30% will do what you want them to do then you will realise how important it is to have a project that requires the end user to do nothing whatsoever; any dependency on the end user will just slow you down.
A lot of comment on Microsoft’s intention to buy Softricity (Steve Richards, Brian Madden, others)
My own viewpoint can be summarised like this:
- Technology: Great
- User Experience: Great
- Licensing: Problem
Both Steve and Brian touch on the licensing issue. The benchmark that everyone in the market works to when it comes to licensing is Microsoft. Whatever Microsoft are doing everyone else falls into line with. The Microsoft licensing engine is dominated by licensing that is installation based. In other words, you pay for every installation.
In order to accommodate the ‘terminal server’ type applications the pay-per-installation scenario has been fudged a bit to state that a license is required for each device capable of running the application on the terminal server.
Application virtualisation only becomes truly valuable where the licensing terms are flexible and fluid allowing a pay-per-use type model.
The pressure is on to make this change, but until Microsoft makes a dramatic change no-one else will see the need to. Moving to a pay-per-use model would require a huge shift for Microsoft and significantly impact the revenue from enterprise licensing and from Office; both of them things that they will be unwilling to tinker with too much.
Without a shift in licensing mechanisms application virtualisation is stick.
Tags: Microsoft, Softricity, Licensing
Slightly off the beaten track for me.
Kim Cameron picks up on a publication by a leading IBM Researcher Michael Osbourne regarding the proposed architecture of the UK ID Cards scheme.
Kim’s strongest words are these:
The resulting central database, where everything is connected and visible to everything else, is as vulnerable as a steel ship with no compartments – one perforation, and the whole thing goes down.
The starting point for a security thinker is that there will be perforations.
As a UK citizen this sounds like a problem to me. If mine and everyone else’s identity is lost (sunk) how do we ever get it back?
There are experienced Identity professionals out there – why doesn’t our government appear to be listening to them?
And don’t tell me that the ID Card is optional – because in practice it isn’t. If I have to have one to get a new passport then it isn’t optional for anyone with a job in any multi-national because travelling abroad comes with the territory.
Tags: ID Cards, Identity, Security
A reasonable amount of buzz has be flowing around today about Project Orange.
Project Orange is described by the WinFS Team Blog at:
The killer app for getting users organised
Project Orange is about the creation of an application that demonstrates the reason why WinFS is the replacement for the file system. But more than that, why it’s something that truly liberates data from the constraints of the application.
The file system has been a mainstay of the corporate and desktop infrastructure for a very long time now. If it’s going to change then the change can’t be about the technology. The change has to be about the user experience, enabling them to do things they have never done before in ways that feel more familiar than the file system today.
The WinFS iWish Video is quite interesting to watch – not a ‘file’ in sight.
Tags: WinFS, Project Orange, Microsoft
Flickr has been upgraded.
Did they add in loads of new features to make me happy – not really.
Did they sit back and think about how people use the service and make me smile with the way they have thought about the user experience – oh yes .
FlickBlog has the details.
Loads of thing which I used to have to do through two pages I can now do through a drop down. It’s still two clicks of the mouse, but it’s only one page load. Much, much nicer .
“Your Photos” is now dramatically cleaner and shows more of what the service is really about – photos .
They have put the number of photos and the number of views near the top of the screen which is just catering to our megalomaniac tendencies – but I’m sure I’m not the only one that spends a lot of time looking at these numbers .
Moving the product away from being a ‘beta’ product also makes me feel happy. It was only a title, but it made me feel uncomfortable especially when I’m paying for it. Who buys a beta product?
The is a myth that surrounds the technology arena. The latest time that I read it was in a Boston Globe article on Notes upgrades.
According to The Boston Globe:
Bisconti said admitted that the Lotus office software won’t have all the advanced features of Microsoft Office, but most people rarely use these tools, he added. ”Most customers tell us that 90 percent of my users use 10 percent of the functions,” Bisconti said.
I’d love to be able to say that I have managed to do the research and find out where this myth came from but I can’t. I used to know, but it’s one of those examples where search has a long way to go. If my memory serves me correctly it was some research done by the Microsoft User Interface team and started them down the road of hiding functions that people weren’t using so they could get to the ones they were using quicker.
My experience on the functions that people use is this. Users use a variable amount of the capabilities of large applications like Microsoft Word and most of them only use a small amount of the capabilities that are available to them. But the capabilities they use are different to the capabilities used by the person sat in the cubicle next to them. The way that they do something is different to the way I do it. Adding together all of the capabilities results in a set of capabilities that are all used by someone.
My other experience is that the 10% of users – the power users not in the 90% – use significantly more of the capabilities. It is these individuals who make the other 90% productive and keep encouraging them to increase their productivity.
The Microsoft Office 12/2007 team chose to change the user interface for all of the Office applications because a huge majority of the capabilities they were asked for in Office 12 already existed in Office 2003. It was just that people didn’t know where to find them.
Ed Brill points to a document in The Boston Globe which is reporting on the inclusion of Office capabilities and ODF into Notes.
How is this improving the experience of the user of the system?
Well I’m not sure exactly, and that’s my problem with the premise that it’s a good idea. If this is going to be a good idea it has to make the experience of the end-user better.
I don’t see anyone ditching Office altogether in favour of an ODF alternative at this point. The problem is the inter-connects between individuals and organisations. Microsoft Office is the standard, because Microsoft Office is the standard.
If anyone creates a Word document they can be confident that whoever they send it to will be able to read it, very few people only communicate within an organisation (where a change of standard is relatively simple). As soon as the communication leaves an organisation you need to go for the highest level of confidence which is Word, Excel, PowerPoint. The next level of confidence is achieved by using Acrobat, but that has certain restrictions that sometimes are a benefit and sometimes not (the ability to edit).
The highest level of confidence equates to the best user experience. using ODF may be free, but it probably gives the person receiving the communication a problem giving them a poor user experience.
Organisations could choose to dual-skill their staff in using two different editors but that’s not a great user experience either.