- Bandwidth was limited (oh yes, you think AT&T "4G-is-coming-because-the-rest-of-our-service-is-sooo-slow" is bad, try booking a flight over a standard GSM connection)
- Usability was clunky at best, Windows Mobile at worst
- The software development tools were limited, web protocols were obscure (for standard web developers), including WAP and others, all trying to seek standardization and best use of bandwidth, and achieving limited adoption
- The mobile devices just weren't ready for the general public's use of the Internet (I would struggle with one, my wife would throw it out the window)
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Thursday, March 24, 2011
- build from the ground up
- invest in an enterprise software application and professional services
- build your app on the Salesforce platform and still write loads of code
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Perception is clouded by experience. We can't expect the personas, the human faces we add to our requirements to be meaningful to anybody who does not have experience in what we are trying to explain. We need somebody with experience of business requirements to translate. That person, and I would hate to give them the title 'Usability Expert' knows enough of what the personas really represent, and enough credibility with the software developers, to be able to bridge the gap and state in solid terms, "put a single text box and a big button on the screen that says Search". Nope, the persona with the picture of my dad, and a bio discussing how he plays golf on weekday mornings (because its cheaper) and types with two fingers, did not result in Google. It just took a very creative 'somebody' with some profound creative thought to say, "this is how we are going to make web-search usable by the masses", and enough credibility with the software developers to convince them that it was worth the effort of writing extra code to make things easier for the end user, and that they wouldn't miss all that other stuff that was previously just cluttering up the screen.
So personas have been absorbed into the marketing of software more successfully than the building of it. Therefore I'll suggest that we should not use those picture-profiles of our intended end users as a cover for the fact that we have no real idea what will work for them. Two options remain: make lots of excuses and just accept that we are going to have to do a lot of training of our end users, or; get ready to refine our software a lot after we release it and start getting feedback from end users on how much it sucks!
- Personas are for hippies... and transformation and focus (disambiguity.com)
- UW Libraries | Personas Development (kwhitenton.com)
- Persona Cheat Sheet - LUXr (luxr.posterous.com)
Friday, March 18, 2011
You have heard this theme from me before, and it was triggered again when I read a post on Finextra by Matthew Dragiff, "Why do checks still dominate B2B in NA?". In it, he suggests that IT and the need to develop a business case for a project such as electronic payments stops any change in its tracks:
The mantra, “do more with less” pervades today’s business climate, and companies increasingly struggle with how best to allocate limited resources so they have the most impact. The elimination (or reduction) of paper checks is perceived as requiring system changes for which a business case must be developed and funding approved long before projects can even be considered for the IT development roadmap.My personal opinion that the paper check, and the vague attempt at electronic payments (by printing paper checks - ha!) needs to just go away. Despite this, I am never going to suggest doing a big expensive project without a good business case. This is nothing to do with today's business climate though. IT constraints have alway been a block on producing highly polished solutions in the US, compared to what I was familiar with in Europe.
When I first arrived in the US to do professional services and sales engineering for an enterprise software company (8 years ago), I was surprised at the difference in the style of enterprise software implementation projects between the territories. I had the definite feeling that US companies were happy with "just good enough". This mostly translated into projects with a lot of rough edges, software that with little customization for the end users, and anything at the end of a business process (in this case check payment) being swept up by a mass of available labor.
The question was asked, "why would I pay for integration when humans could do the job more easily?". Fair enough. Its hard to get past that when you are building a business case, and it doesn't matter how many less quantifiable attributes you throw at the argument, like:
- reduced risk of fraudulent payments
- reduced risk of errors
- easier tracking of payments within a full bank-reconciliation process
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Simplified yet enhanced, the user interface brings sites forward. Characteristics of each website are reflected throughout the browser, allowing you to be more immersed in each site you visit.
- it looked good
- it worked fast
- it was secure
Tuesday, March 08, 2011
GK. Enchantment isn't a big, expensive, "hire a consultant to get it done" activity. Not at all. In fact, those qualities are the enemy of enchantment. The bottom line is that a small business should employ people who are likable and trustworthy, and it should sell a great product or service. Money isn't the gating item. The hard part is realizing that there is a better way to do business, and the flexibility to give it a try.
PA. The enchanting experiences require us to think differently and interact with customers differently. Is this just a change in the way we educate employees, or do we need to fundamentally change the nuts and bolts processes that businesses run to allow this to happen?
GK. There is a causative relationship: if you educate employees and empower them to enchant customers then, quite naturally, they will change the nuts and bolts processes of the business. Management, however, has to believe in enchanting customers. My recommendation is that instead of announcing a great enchantment campaign ("Oh God, the boss read another book..."), management should start with small things. Stuff like answering email faster or returning all customer phone calls. Take it a step at a time and build upon success.
PA. Working with customers in an enchanting way sounds like it is extremely time consuming and probably quite costly. Are there any short cuts a small business can take?
GK. Quite the contrary, enchantment is not time consuming and costly. How much more does it cost to smile, dress appropriately, and give a good handshake? And to act in honest and trustworthy ways. "Shortcuts" is a loaded word. I don't recommend shortcuts that amount to putting lipstick on a pig. But the foundation of enchantment is not hard or costly. It's just different.
Friday, March 04, 2011
Since I didn't hear anything from my pitch to the reporter, I'm going to share this information with you. You'll look and say, "of course - that's ridiculously obvious", but really how many mid-sized businesses have taken the plunge into saving money rather than being trapped in overpriced 20th century technology? Bear in mind also that I have 15 years experience around software, so if you know how to manipulate Dell for a better offer, let us know! (I go to NewEgg for my hardware requirements - they offer small name PCs cheaper that work just as well as the big names).
- Productivity Suite: Use Google Apps as a replacement for Microsoft Office. It is significantly cheaper, especially considering how small a piece of the functionality of Office most people use.
- Dump Windows: Now that you have a friendly Office productivity apps in place, start using Linux on your new desktop and laptop PCs, when it comes time to replace them. Nobody is going to complain, since they are doing most of their work in a browser, and Ubuntu (my OS of choice) is as clean and simple to use as any Windows 7 machine for all the remaining desktop tasks a user may have. And with that, you save on buying licenses for resource and wallet hungry virus scanners.
- Save it to the Cloud: Install and maintain complex and expensive network attached storage? Why bother, when cloud-based storage is cheap, flexible and saves you not only hardware, but the hassle of backups too.
- Need Windows for Quickbooks? Some business applications just haven't been made workable in the cloud - Intuit's offering is an example where some users will still need Windows to install some real software. So consider using virtual machines with Windows installed to run them. Why? Because the next time you have to replace the hardware, you don't need to buy yet another license for an OS you already own.
- Work Better! All of this has been about saving costs for IT. How about giving back to the business a little? After all, its the reason IT exists. Encourage the use of process, content and collaboration tools that will help people work better, share information better and save emailing every document they work on backwards and forward a hundred times.
Thursday, March 03, 2011
On January 1st, you tried to buy some flowers for you mother's birthday. We rejected your card a bunch of times. You assumed it was the fault of the vendor, as their site stopped accepting any card you owned. That's probably because we were providing merchant card services for them too. Though you can only guess at that. Anyway, almost two months later we are going to remind you of this bad experience and give you vague assurances that it won't happen again. Love and kisses, the CEO (who will claim he never even saw this letter if it comes down to it).Now, thanks for reminding me of an unfortunate experience with your credit card, which I could have just assumed was somebody else's issue. Doing so, so long after the event is just crazy in my opinion. I'd forgotten about it long ago, and have been frankly more irritated by the incessant calling from your India based sales reps trying to sell me fraud detection services I don't want (to the point that I will dump the card if I see that Citi telemarketing call pop up on caller ID once more this month). Though you kindly reminded me that you can't be trusted to run a decent service, and that I'll receive more calls from Sales than for any useful customer services. And if you are going to send me a really personalized letter (wow - it addresses me by my full name), at least make it sound personal. That letter must have taken at least two minutes less than the time it took me to write this blog post (including the time to get it reviewed by Legal). Maybe you could learn something from my discussion of aligning employee development with business process improvement. You might get a meaningful letter out in a timely manner.
Sorry Citi, but you have no idea how bad the perception of your customers is over annoying telemarketing, and misjudged customer service like this (or maybe you don't care). I am not looking forward to the day when you screw up my bill or block my card due to "fraud detection" and I have to actually try and speak to somebody real to get it fixed. I think on that day all my eggs will be in one basket with Bank of America, who provide me really good service. If you would like me to help with an assessment of why this letter irritated me so badly, and whether other customers feel the same, just give me a call. I'm sure you have my phone number on file as your sales reps are going to wear it out.
- Steps to Improve Customer Service (thinkup.waldenu.edu)
- Upgrading Customer Service and Sales With Negotiation Role Play (brighthub.com)