Putting the IT fox in charge of the OSS hen house

Most telcos service a large demographic of customers that span almost every generation. Some of those customers are familiar with technology and others have the deluded belief that clouds are made up of water particles, not songs, apps, videos, VMs, etc.

So if a large cross-section of the user-base doesn’t know their way around technology, then why do we have the vendor’s IT geeks designing OSS for the service provider’s IT geeks? Isn’t that putting the IT fox in charge of the OSS hen house? Or put another way, isn’t this a license to print support calls, calls coming in from the masses who ultimately fund our OSS projects?

Okay, so we probably don’t need 90 year olds testing whether our assurance solutions are easy to use. Their definition of (network) health might be different to the typical NOC engineer (I know, I’m making the wild assumption that there aren’t many 90 yo NOC engineers around). But maybe we do want a diverse range of testers playing with our fulfilment and other front-line solutions [You’ll notice I said “solutions” there because the customer experience we want to test is more than just our OSS software].

We intentionally hire intelligent, diligent, tech-savvy testers (yes Arina, Pooja, Minh, Damneet, Spencer, Tim, Catherine, Deepak, Mahesh, et al, I’m thinking of you!) Unfortunately these great hires are way too literate to represent all of the service providers’ customer categories. Do our testers ever represent a demographic that managed to perform the unthinkable and complete school assignments without the Internet? Or the generation at the other end of the spectrum, whose umbilical cords were terminated with RJ45 connectors and texted their first words?

Just wondering, when we’ve automated all of our testing functions, do any of our synthetic transactions replicate a demographic range of thinkings? Do our robots mimic this variety of personas?

Why do we keep letting our IT geeks (myself included) design, then test, then re-design our OSS user interfaces and user experiences? It might explain why the OSS henhouse of user experience is often covered in feathers!

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