“One of the biggest insights we had was that we decided not to try to manage your music library on the iPod, but to manage it in iTunes. Other companies tried to do everything on the device itself and made it so complicated that it was useless.”
How does this insight apply to OSS? Can this “off device” perspective help us in designing better OSS?
Let’s face it – many OSS are bordering on useless due to the complexity that’s build in to the user experience. So what complexity can we take off the “device?” Let’s start by saying “the device” is the UI of our OSS (although noting the off-device perspective could be viewed much more broadly than that).
What are the complexities that we face when using an OSS;
- The process of order entry / service design / service parameters / provisioning can be time consuming and prone to errors,
- Searching / choosing / tracing resources, particularly on large networks, can result in very slow response times,
- Navigating through multiple layers of inventory in CLI or tabular forms can be challenging,
- Dealing with fixed processes that don’t accommodate the many weird and wonderful variants that we encounter
- Dealing with workflows that cross multiple integration boundaries and slip through the cracks,
- Analysing data that is flawed generally produces flawed results
- Identifying the proverbial needle in the haystack when something goes wrong
- And many, many more
How can we take some of those complexities “off-device”
- Abstracting order and provisioning complexity through the use of catalogs and auto-populating as many values as possible,
- Using augmented decision support to assist operators through complex processes, choosing from layers of resources, finding root-causes to problems, etc,
- Using event-based processes that traverse process states rather than fixed processes, particularly where omni-channel interactions are available to customers
- Using inventory discovery (and automated build-up / tear-down in virtualised networks) and decision support to present simpler navigations and views of resources
- Off-device data grooming / curation to make data analysis more intuitive on-device
In effect, we’re describing the tasks of an “on-device” persona (typically day-to-day OSS operators that need greater efficiency) and “off-device” persona/s (these are typically OSS admins, configuration experts, integrators, data scientists, UI/UX experts, automation developers, etc who tune the OSS).