Creating a new reputation
Posted by Meg Bear on February 20, 2009
I was in a conference session last year about product offerings in the Talent space. When it came to the question of usability, someone in the audience asked why Oracle was not named as a leader. The speaker said (of course I’m quoting this from memory so I might not be exactly quoting):
Oracle is known for building complex applications that solve complex business problems, usability is not really their strength.
Ouch! That stings, and yet I have to acknowledge that a large part of this reputation was earned.
The thing about a reputation is, once earned, it is hard to change. Long after you have fixed the source of the reputation, you will still be working to repair the damage to the reputation itself.
As we look toward Fusion, we are determined to change our reputation. The tricky bit is, that we know there is no single fix to give us a reputation of stellar usability. A lot of the reasons that gave us a “complex” reputation still exist. We are required to solve business problems for the most complex businesses in the world. Our large customers, a huge advantage for us, often require complex solutions.
Each and every day, we have to work against the things that got us the reputation for lack-luster usability and learn better habits as part of the process. To keep us honest, and to gain the benefit from the wisdom of the crowds, I decided to come public. Here is what I think we need to do to win back the trust and reputation that we ought to have (based upon the level of investment we do in technology innovation).
To gain a reputation for outstanding usability we must
- Remember that there is a difference between usability and flashy UE. Quality usability allows me to do tasks efficiently, with a high degree of confidence I’ve done them correctly.
- While continuing to solve 100% of the business requirements, we need to be mindful of not putting the burden on the 95% of the users for the complexity needed by 5% .
- We must never think it acceptable to have a user experience be a direct reflection of a data model. User experience is about task completion and not at all about data storage*.
- We must be willing to question our assumptions and challenge our ideas to find the best solution for our customers.
- We must be willing to recognize that the “best” solution will change over time.
- We must use the wealth of data we capture, to provide better analysis and insight as part of the task itself. Reporting after the fact is not as good as analyzing in real time.
- We must work toward a mindset of continuous improvement, not just because the industry is growing, but because it is the right thing to do.
- We must help our customers get the benefit of the great technology we have to offer, not for the sake of itself, but for the value it can provide.
Please jump on the comments and tell me what I’ve missed. Our reputation is in your hands.
*Important to note, that as an employee of Oracle, I think data storage is VERY important and should be taken seriously