Wednesday, August 31, 2011

It Is Not About Collaboration In An Island says Benioff

In today's Dreamforce 2011 keynote, Marc Benioff mentioned a realization about collaboration. He said that after two years of using chatter, customers told that they do not want islands of collaboration. has realized that they need to put collaboration at the core of business processes.

Another important thing is that collaboration needs to be part of ALL business processes, not just customer relationship management. In my opinion, it is hard for any one provider to become the only social collaboration provider. It is a bit like saying there should have been one internet application provider. No. That is not how it happened. There were multiple internet application providers. Similarly that is not how it will happen in the enterprise social collaboration space.

There will be Chatter that, I hope, puts collaboration at the core of customer relationship management. However there will be more enterprise applications that will put collaboration at the core. There will be Service applications, people management applications and many more. is not going to provide all of them.

Video streaming by Ustream

Friday, August 26, 2011

Mad Money Loves SAP

Jim Cramer's view on SAP as a company. Bill says SAP is about cloud and mobility.
Bill also mentioned that the housing and jobs economy will take a long time to recover. But corporations have $ 1.7 Trillion to invest and SAP is in a good position to deliver solutions. That is interesting. Government and consumers don't have much money to spend. But corporations have a lot of money to spend. This is a great time for corportations to invest in the next 20 years of innovation. I believe that OnDemand applications that are designed for people and mobility are key areas for investment.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Prototypes appeal to a different part of the brain

Last week we had our quarterly product review sessions where we pitch our big bosses for more money and resources by showing them our plans for the next year. Instead of showing them slides, we showed them a very very early version of the prototype and talked about the research and the concepts. We did talk about facts, figures and potential market size and so on. But most decision makers were able to relate better to the prototype. Some of them even came over later and shared their ideas and volunteered to talk to us about the product even after the meeting. We took them up on the offer and picked their brains a bit more.

That is the power of a prototype. People can relate to it. It appeals to a different part of the brain, compared to spreadsheets and bullet points. Did we get the money and people? Is that even a question? Of Course we did. Who can resist a cool prototype accompanied by a magical story told by the one and only @enricgili

Image from

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Marc Andreeson talks about the state of the technology economy

Marc Andreeson talks about the state of the technology economy.

Somethings that caught my attention

1. By the end of this decade 5 Billion people may be accessing the web from their phones. The technology industry has never handled a market this size before.
2. Enterprise software that is shipped to customers still is a big business. Companies spend more than quarter of a trillion dollars a year on enterprise software. 

Beautiful Budapest and Danube

The team that designs and develops the profile module of Career OnDemand is in Budapest, Hungary. Sometime back I spent a week with them. The SAP labs offices are on the shores of the river Danube. Here is a lovely view of the Danube. The ruins you see on the left of the first picture are of an old church. I took these pictures with my Blackberry and used Pixlr to add some vintage effects.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Enterprise Collaboration Vendors Have A Tough Sell Ahead

Enterprise social networking software tools claim that they will enable people get their work done with help from their professional network.

I use tools several collaboration tools such as Jive, Atlassian Confluence, and PBWorks. They are good tools to collaborate when a group of people already know the context and can bring the context of work into these tools. For example, my colleagues and I write our use cases in the Atlassian wiki, I collaborate with Android Enthusiasts in the Jive forum and wrote my book on the PB Works wiki.

Some vendors such as Atlassian are focused. They provide tools to solve one problem. Tools such as PBWorks try to solve problems for a specific set of audience.

Some other providers on the other hand claim that they are an enterprise collaboration solution. They claim that updates from ERP, CRM and other enterprise tools will show up in these tools and users can collaborate around those updates. I find this sort of explanation naive. I wonder if the product managers of these tools have any understanding of the purpose or architecture of any ERP or CRM system.

These tool vendors have a real hard job of finding out how they can provide value once the excitement of having a wiki a blog and a discussion forum wanes away. Some of them try to do a half baked job of project collaboration, document management, microblogging and social networking.  There is no reason why I will use a tool such as Jive or Social Text or Cubetree for document management. That is the last place I will go to maintain my professional network. It is definitely not the place for frequent twitter like updates.

So far these vendors have assembled a collection of tools without a clear idea about the problem they are planning to solve. This is  like a chef going shopping for ingredients without a recipe in mind. I suspect these vendors without a focus, who claim to be the enterprise collaboration solution, will go out of business one by one or become marginalized soon.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Gold Rush In Australia

I had an interesting chat with a friend and former colleague, who is the CEO of a talent management software company in Australia, today. While Europe and North America are seeing unemployment levels in the double digits, there is low unemployment there because of a big mining, resources and energy boom. The war for talent is real in Australia. Companies are spending a ton of money on attracting people and even more on retaining them.

Here is the latest labor market update.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Perfection is achieved when there is nothing left to take away

"Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."
— Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry

This is a great principle to follow while designing OnDemand software products. Your hypothesis is the sketch. Your prototype is the model. Keep showing it to customers and keep carving away until there is nothing there to remove.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Look and Flow is the new Look and Feel

R Marie Cox, who designed the question and answer site Quora had this to say about the early design of Quora:
"Really early on I decided to focus only on the product design and would forgo any time spent on things like visual design and, to some extent, branding. I didn't really know how that would play out at the time but I knew I wanted to get as much built as possible and as quickly as possible and hoped this artificial constraint would pay other, as yet unknown dividends. In hindsight, this turned out to be a good call because it really focused the product design and avoided common distractions. So, the scant visual elements are carefully added to provide utility and help guide the user to the most important behaviors we wish to encourage."
Soleio Cuervo the product designer who created the "Like" button in Facebook, said the following.
"We have a saying at Facebook: Photoshop lies," said Mr. Cuervo. Instead of relying on mockups filled with pretty fake text, Facebook designers create Web-browser-ready versions of their designs that can be filled with real user content, which tends to look very different from what designers might want ideally. "On Photoshop, it is very easy for me to fabricate an imaginary world where users type in very poignant statements, but that is not how people will populate the system."

How does this work in Enterprise App design?
The quotes above are from designers of consumer facing apps. I believe this is even more critical in enterprise applications design.

I have observed this over the past two years. I see many of my user experience design colleagues start with their favorite tools such as Adobe Photo Shop or Illustrator and build very appealing screens. When they show the screens, I have noticed that they get stuck when asked how the application will behave or flow. This is not because they are not smart people. It is just that the tools they use do not force them to think about behavior or flow. On the contrary the tools they use make them shine in a very narrow territory in a particular time period of the design process. They shine for a while. However, because they did not take into consideration what the behavior or flow of a screen is and because they did not make adequate inquiry about what is currently possible with the tools used by the programmers, the development teams settle for designs of their own. This disappoints the designers and frustrates them. Sadly, I did not see designers learn from this experience and change their behavior. Instead they sulk and keep using the same tools they they are familiar with.

Sometime last year my colleague @enricgili suggested we prototype behavior or flow for everything we do right from the beginning. He identified a tool that forced us to think about behavior of a particular screen or feature apart from the layout. We did not worry about how appealing the screen looked. One reason is because we believe that design is how things work, not just how they look. Another reason is that, like every large software company, we depend on a common technology framework designed by a central team to cater to multiple projects. We have relatively little control over how things might eventually look. The look will largely depend upon the capability and leadership of the central user interface framework team. However, we have relatively more control over how things will eventually behave or flow.

How did fellow design colleagues react?
We were able to influence some colleagues. Many other them adopted tools that help them build flow or behavior into their design suggestions. Focusing on 'Look and Flow' instead of just "Look and Feel" forced them to think differently. They started showing behavior rather than focus on one screen and rely just on verbal communication to convey their ideas. Because the tool forced them to think about the behavior, they were able to articulate the flow even in places where they did not have a chance to build it. I applaud the courageous colleagues who gave up the opportunity to shine for a moment and focused on making a long term impact on the product.

Some other designers refused to get out of their comfort zone and started talking about the glory days of Adobe Photoshop. I suspect these designers will fall behind, be marginalized and will either fade away or will change eventually if they want to be relevant as designers.

Is there a downside for building look and flow?
Yes. There is. One of the design interns started building behavior into every button and every element on the screen, almost treating it like a final application. This is counter productive. You should know where to draw the line and stop there. This is more art than science.

If you are a manager of designers you can make a difference
If you are a design manager, you can help designers recognize this changing landscape by providing them with the tools necessary to build behavior and flow rather than plain screens. Earlier, designers developed skills to code in HTML, which was an open canvas to do anything. Tools such as Axure and ForeUI provide a boundary within which designers can create clickable prototypes without getting lost in an open canvas.

When SAP says OnDemand, SAP means Software As A Service

Bill Kutik asked David Ludow, the Head of HCM Solution Management at SAP  about the term 'OnDemand' and David clarified. When SAP says Career OnDemand is an OnDemand application, SAP means that it is Software As A Service (SaaS). The software will be available for trial, purchase and use, without any need for hardware purchase or onsite implementation, the same way Sales OnDemand is now available for trial, purchase, and use.

It is like buying a cup of coffee for every employee once a month

If you were to get a solution that engages your employees, aligns their day to day work to their performance and development goals and enables them to connect with others to learn informally, for the price of a large coffee per employee per month, would you try it? Not intrigued yet?. What if I say you can upload your employee information and start using the service and that there is practically no technical implementation required.

A Use Case Is Like An Aircraft Carrier

A sea level use case is like an aircraft carrier. Like an aircraft carrier travelling with three to four destroyers while sailing, a sea level use case normally has about three to four support use cases. So when you add a sea level use case to your design, be prepared to add 4 more sub use cases.

There Is No Free Puppy

Sometimes my colleagues tell me that they will include a feature in their product because it is available free from somewhere and it costs us nothing to implement. I explain to them that a 'free' feature is like a free puppy. A free puppy is really not free. Over a period the puppy grows, takes over your house and life and becomes a part of your life, whether you like it or not. You pay for food, for medical insurance, for the walker, for grooming, for hosteling when you go away and give up other activities because the puppy is home. Its is great to have a puppy. But bring it home only if you really want it. Not because it is free. Because it is almost impossible to get rid of a puppy, once we get used to it and it becomes part of the family.

A product feature is like a puppy. Even if you got it for free, you will have to integrate it into your product, write test cases for the feature, write documentation for the feature, develop training material for the feature, create go-to-market material for it, version it, upgrade it, fix bugs in it and so on.

So think twice before you bring home a free puppy, no matter how adorable it is.

Friday, August 12, 2011

People Centricity Will Help Think Mobile-First For Existing Business Applications

Product managers who managed existing business applications are looking to build mobile versions of their products. They sometimes think that the putting a mobile interface on existing use cases will meet the needs. So they start with existing use cases and build mobile interfaces on top of them. This does not work. I have watched and overheard colleagues and friends in the industry share their observations and frustrations.

Thinking mobile first for existing products is difficult, but not impossible. I believe that product managers of business applications can learn a lot from Airline Website and mobile app designers.  Airlines, which have fairly complex websites have created successful web applications by focusing on the core needs of their customers. Banks have done so as well.

I had a chance to see some of these airline apps and listen to experts such as Luke Wroblewski talk about them. I realized that people centricity was a key reason why airlines and banks got mobile apps for their existing websites right. They focused on the things people want to do rather than port all features in the web applications to the mobile phone.

They also thoughts about use cases that one could do only with a mobile phone and not a computer. Depositing a check by taking a picture of the check is a good example of using the unique capabilities of a mobile phone.

Perhaps product managers of business applications should make a pilgrimage to the design studios of Southwest airlines or Chase Manhattan Bank.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Customer Can Make Yogurt Drinks Using Your Washing Machines

Northern Indian road side  hotels, called Dhabas, make yogurt drinks, called lassi, using top loading washing machines. It is a hilarious example of end user creativity. The makers of washing machines are aware of this. But they did not get into the "Lassi machine business". They continued to focus on the washing machine market because everyone washes their clothes and only a select few make their lassis using a washing machine.

There is a good lesson in this for product designers. Just because a customer uses your product in a certain way does not mean you change your product to suit that particular requirement. Be aware of the usage. Do not stop them from doing it. But focus on your goal for the product and stick to it, even if some customers want you to change.

Here is a HSBC commerical on the topic.

Thinking Mobile First Helped Us Improve Web Experience

While designing Career OnDemand, we started by thinking mobile first for most of the use cases. This forced us to think about the most important information to be presented on a screen and the most important action to be performed on a screen. We did this even thought we had no firm plans of releasing mobile apps for all use cases in the first wave.

However, identifying the most important action on every screen helped us highlight the buttons or user interface elements in the web interface with bright orange color. This was received very well by people who experienced our interface design.

This is not a Career OnDemand screen

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Design For The Factory You Have

Some of my colleagues and friends, who are product managers, sometimes confide in me about the problems they have with the technology platform they need to use and the restrictions they are facing with the technology they have to rely on.

I understand their frustrations. Some of those problems are real and need to be addressed. However, a smart designer needs to design for the factory he or she has. She cannot keep wishing for a better factory.


Co-Innovation In The Textile Industry

My father-in-law is an accomplished textile marketing executive. He had a long career during which, he worked at leading textile manufacturing companies in India and Africa. In Nigeria, he was the general manager of a textile mill. He has a deep understanding of all aspects of the business and always has very interesting things to share about the textile business in India and Nigeria.

When he asked about my work, I told him that we design software products in collaboration with customers so that we can create software that actually solves problems for customers. I also explained the co-innovation model to him.

He told me that the model is a good one because the best products are the ones designed by customers and people who will eventually use, distribute or sell the product. He then went on to share how textile designers and manufacturers design fabrics in collaboration with dealers and small retailers.

He said that good product marketing managers in the textile industry spent 50% of their time on the road talking to dealers, distributors and retailers. Product marketers learned about market trends, discussed design decisions and reviewed product problems with dealers and distributors. Distributors can give clear inputs on the design of the fabric, the quality of the fabric and trends in local markets.

So, when new fabrics are designed, marketing managers create small samples of fabric based on inputs from dealers and take the sample to them. The textile companies that involved their customers and partners in the design of the fabric were successful. The most impressive one is Reliance Industries, now India's largest private sector company. Reliance was so close to its distributors, partners and customers, that when the banks refused to invest in Reliance, partners invested their personal savings. Reliance Industries thus created an 'equity cult' among the Indian middle class.

I asked him about the people involved in this collaborative design process. He said that apart from the marketing manager, designers and production heads joined the conversation when possible.

I guess co-innovation started in traditional industries such as textiles and is adopted by the technology industry. Co-innovation works.

Image from

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

We are getting a new building soon...

The OnDemand team in SAP Labs, Palo Alto is getting its own building soon. Yes. We are that important.   Our work environment is going to look like a bit like the pictures below where teams of ten will work inside a single room. @MChewD who leads the effort believes that it is important to change the physical space to influence the work outcome. Usable open work spaces will lead to usable open software. We are going to have open spaces, quiet work areas, private conversation areas, and work spaces that enable accidental collaboration. Our executives such as Kevin Nix are going to give up their offices and share the same open office spaces with us.

What do you think? How does your office help your scrum team work together?

Coworking Space in New York



Prodigy MSN interior layout

Images from various sites including the one below.

Monday, August 08, 2011

A Product Is Also Defined By What It Does Not Do

A product is defined not only by what it does, but also by what it does not do. While discussing concepts with colleagues and customers, I use a simple technique. I ask them about the problems the product is not trying to solve. Then I ask them about the problem, the product should solve. It works much better than just trying to explain what the product is.

We Think A Lot About Where Not To Focus

The Career OnDemand product designers and product managers spend as much time thinking about where not to focus on as much as they think about where to focus on. 

I find the iPad Value Curve, which I found in very useful, while determining product strategy at the early stages. We used this approach to determine the features we need to focus on.

Focus on a few things. Don't try to solve all the problems.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

The Platform Restriction

I have heard product designers and user experience designers blame the limitations of the platform they are required to use for poor design or lack of design in their products. I don't buy that. I wrote my college thesis using a word processing software called WordStar.

It had one of the best user interfaces in the world at that time. The designers of WordStar had three colors and text to work with. They produced a piece of software that was a pleasure to work with. I think for a good soldier, even a blade of grass can be a weapon.

A constraint is a wonderful opportunity to stretch one's mind and bring out one's creativity. Blaming the platform for poor design is just laziness.

The designers of WordStar built a wonderful product with text and three colors

Design Is How It Works - Not Just How It Looks

I work with several product management and user experience colleagues. When I tell them that I do not understand some of the screens they show me, they tell me that the visual designers will make it look good and then I will understand the screens. It deeply disturbs me when I hear something like that in this day and age. There is this flawed belief that visual designers will make poor or non-existent design look good. I just want to quote what a wise man from Cupertino, California once said.

"People think it's this veneer -- that the designers are handed this box and told, 'Make it look good!' That's not what we think design is. It's not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works."

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Knowledge Flows Vs Knowledge Stores

The book, The Power of Pull by John Hagel and John Seely Brown, influenced our thoughts significantly while designing the informal learning framework in Career OnDemand. We did not place much emphasis on storing knowledge. Instead we focused on how to quickly connect people with passion and generosity with curious people who have an open mind. We focused more on moving ideas quickly from person to person rather than organizing the knowledge in a neatly formatted way in a huge knowledge store.

In fact knowledge is so quickly accessible and perishable today, that we consider the effort of building knowledge stores almost a waste of time. Even when we attempted to store some knowledge, we just used it as an excuse for generous and curious people to start a conversation that leads to new ideas and creative friction.

We put the foundation in place to track these relationships and recognize the contributors and the consumers. If you are in the people management business, I highly recommend the book and the video below.

If you want to discuss this topic, talk to my colleague @burningcrow. He is very passionate about this topic. If you are interested in getting an early peak into Career OnDemand, please let me know. I'll show you what we have done so far. There might be some paper work. Don't worry. I'll deal with it.

Workforce Skills Required For 2020

According to a study commissioned by the University of Phoenix, these are the key changes happening in the world and the skills required in workers. Some of these may be skewed towards the market University of Phoenix serves. I read the analysis done by read-write-web added some of my notes in blue.

Six drivers of change:

  1. Extreme longevity - People are living longer. Increasing global lifespans change the nature of careers and learning.
  2. Rise of smart machines and systems - Workplace automation nudges human workers out of rote, repetitive tasks. If what you are doing is not exceptional, sooner or later a machine or a low cost worker will replace you.
  3. Computational world - Massive increases in sensors and processing power make the world a connected programmable system.
  4. New media ecology - New communication tools require new media literacies beyond text. People need to learn to express themselves using videos.
  5. Superstructured organizations - Social technologies drive new forms of production and value creation. This did not make any sense to me. I wonder what a super structured organization is.
  6. Globally connected world - Increased global interconnectivity puts diversity and adaptability at the center of organizational operations. 
I am wondering why the exploding number of mobile devices and how they are changing the world economy was not covered.
The key skills written in the report.
If you look at all the skills you will see a pattern. There is little need to know things anymore. There is however a huge need to work well with people, understand what they are saying, process information from many places, think different, focus and identify the tasks that matter.
  • Sense-making - The ability to determine the deeper meaning or significance of what is being expressed.
  • Social intelligence - Ability to connect to others in a deep and direct way, to sense and stimulate reactions and desired intentions
  • Novel and adaptive thinking - Proficiency at thinking and coming up with solutions and responses beyond that which is rote or rule-based.
  • Cross-cultural competency - Ability to operate in different cultural settings.
  • Computational thinking - Ability to translate vast amounts of data into abstract concepts and to understand data-based reasoning.
  • New-media literacy - Ability to critically assess and develop content that uses new media forms, and to leverage these media for persuasive communications.
  • Transdisciplinarity - Literacy in and ability to understand concepts across multiple disciplines.
  • Design mindset - Ability to represent and develop tasks and work processes for desired outcomes.
  • Cognitive load management - Ability to discriminate and filter information for importance, and to understand how to maximize cognitive functioning using a variety of tools and techniques. 
  • Tools: We need to stop complaining about having to use too many tools. Instead we need to think about using the appropriate tool for the appropriate job. We can learn from the automotive or construction industry. Workers in those industries do not complain about having too many tools. They know that there are specialized tools for every job and pick the appropriate one.
  • Virtual collaboration - Ability to work productively, drive engagement and demonstrate presence as a member of a virtual team. I would say demonstrate contribution, not just presence.

Friday, August 05, 2011

How A Coffee Guy Learns From A Computer Guy - Via Conversation

I am listening to Onward by Howard Schultz. It is about the return of Howard Schultz to Starbucks as CEO. There is no high drama in the book. However there are some very interesting things from a learning and development point of view.

Looking at this picture makes me long for cold coffee...
When Howard Schultz wanted to learn about the experiences of a second time CEO, he reached out to Michael Dell, someone who returned to Dell Computer as CEO for the second time, and had a conversation with him. After the conversation, Howard even borrowed the 'Transformation Agenda' document from Michael to use it during his second stint as CEO of Starbucks. Howard was doing two things. He was learning by conversation with an expert on the topic. Howard was also borrowing artifacts that Michael created for use as a template or guide.

I was delighted to learn about this because I strongly believe that conversation is the best learning technology on earth, people copy what other successful people do and people want other successful people to mentor them on specific topics or assignments.  Some of these beliefs significantly influenced the design of Career OnDemand.

For several months now, my colleagues and I are thinking about building a framework for informal learning. A framework that will help people learn from the right person at the right time in the right context. We also wanted to ensure that the learner and the teacher get credit for this learning relationship. We wanted all this to be embedded in the fabric of every day work, rather than tucked away in a system called the learning management system.

With help from tens of customers and hundreds of people who helped us, we believe we have designed a simple and effective framework for informal learning in-context and on-the-job. We may not get everything right in the first attempt. But I am very pleased with where we are today. We still have a long way to go before we can get this to customers. We will get there. One day at a time.

Two Things To Keep In Mind For Co-Innovation To Succeed

My colleague Terence Chesire shared some interesting insight about co-innovation with me.
  • When you are co-innovating with customers, make sure that there are at least a few customers with whom you are co-innovating. If you work with just one customer, that is not co-innovation. That is a custom development project. Co-innovating with about 5 customers worked best for us.
  • Make sure that the project is already sanctioned and signed off internally for development. Do not co-innovate with customers before the project is approved for development, in the hope that you can build a business case. You will disappoint customers, make a fool of yourself, and spoil you reputation  in the industry. 
Do not co-innovate because an executive wanted to appease a customer. That is not co-innovation. That is free consulting. 

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Eliminate Costly Development At The Prototype Stage

@Enricgili and I showed some intial ideas as a prototype to @Jeremiahstone today. He gave a very good idea. He asked us to show all the screens of the prototype to the architects and ask them to put a $ sign on every component on the prototype. Not person days. Not dollar value. Just a rating systems where they put $, $$, $$$ or $$$$ on the components on the screen. Then he asked us to look at the most expensive components and check if they bring adequate value. We plan to do that.

This sounds so simple and makes so much sense. I wonder why we never did this at the prototype stage. Jeremiah also shared some interesting insight about the reaction of development colleagues. When developers say "I don't understand that feature. Why do we need that", what they are really saying is "That is a lot of work. Are you sure that brings significant value for customers at the cost of losing other things that may be more valuable".
Image from

Mobile First by Luke Wroblewski

I attended a session by Luke Wroblewski on Mobile First today in the offices of Ning in Palo Alto. Since we have been thinking mobile first for the design of Career OnDemand with good success, I went to this meetup to see what's new. There are a lot of new things. Here is his current presentation.  I highly recommend it. Please visit for his upcoming talks. He has a book in the making named Mobile First.

In Career OnDemand, we designed every use case Mobile First. We painstakingly created prototypes for every sea level use case for the employee view and manager view. It helped us focus on the most important things, clarified the purpose of a use case and made the use experience significantly better.

When we transferred the mobile first design to the web, the main button that showed up on the mobile screen was displayed in bright orange color in the web page to indicate the most probable action to the user. It was received very well by users. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Agile Development Across Locations

The Career OnDemand team is distributed across Palo Alto, Walldorf, Germany and Budapest, Hungary. It has been an interesting exercise of Agile development so far. We relied on prototyping and did not write any detailed specifications. The designers of the product are heavily involved with the development team, sometimes on a daily basis.

When it comes to discussing the details of features, we are relying on limited use case descriptions, prototypes along with videos that tell the story. It has been a learning experience. I'll keep you posted about how it goes, from the product manager's point of view.

Many colleagues from other companies have told me that Agile development does not work across locations and they switched back to the waterfall model midpoint.  I hope we don't have to go there.

How we should be delivering enterprise applications

I recently listened to a conversation between Jason Averbook and Bill Kutik.

This is a summary of their views on how the workforce is changing and how we should be delivering enterprise apps. I added some of my comments in the sub bullets.

Overview of the session
  • User Defined
    • Participation based on user preferences. At SAP we think of this as people centric. Finally we need to build software that is useful and usable.
  • Cloud Computing
    • Almost all HR software purchase today is Software as a Service
  • Consumer Driven
    • Don't waste people's time. Make it usable
  • Perpetual Beta
    • Deliver small increments of innovation
  • Interactional
    • Focus on collective intelligence rather than transactions. 
Jason on Social Networking in the Enterprise
Jason says that collective intelligence needs to be captured in some form so that they can be reused. Jason did not mention the phrase 'knowledge management'. But he alluded to it. I am not sure storing knowledge has worked in the past. I am inclined towards knowledge flows rather than Knowledge stores.

Collaboration needs to be integrated with daily work
It should not be a separate system where people discuss topics that do not matter for the business.

System Go Live is not success. Business benefit is the success
The best place to listen to business drivers is an earning's call.

SaaS Deployment requires more planning...Not Less
Saas software cannot be changed by an Internal IT team after deployment. So SaaS deployments need better planning and careful implementation compared to OnPremise software. Because there is limited customization possibilities in hosted software, SaaS will keep HR focused on business value compared to OnPremise software says Jason.

Monday, August 01, 2011

The Power Of Mapping Value Drivers To Features

My colleagues and I in the OnDemand product team, design enterprise software products using the design thinking methodology. As part of the process we identify value drivers that make the product useful for people.

Value drivers may not seem important at first, until the product designer or product manager is challenged about the need for a feature or the priority of a feature. Mapping value drivers to use cases and features is a useful exercise that has helped me on several critical occasions when I had to defend the solution or design.
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