First off, sorry for sending spam and bacn, the other inbox meat, all over the place. I’m trying to build a community here, so mind the dust.
The network humanizes the software you use.
One of my peeves about being an Enterprise software developer, as compared to say a consumer software developer, is that I am far removed from the actual end users of the applications I develop. The only interaction is via TAR’s and bugs, which is lets say, less than wholesome. The sales cycles are so long that the software that I code today, gets real user traction after about a couple of years. Yes we have the CAB’s, eForums, CVC’s and other such instances of closer customer interaction, but I desire a much more closer feedback loop. The early and frequent feedback from customers is very motivating for developers and develops stronger customer focus in the development organization. It would motivate me to surpass the customer expectations, not just my management’s expectations.
I’ve heard this before from developers, and as a former product manager and hacker/consultant (yes, I did once do real work), I always felt a sense of ownership and pride when people used my products. And even if the experience was bad or buggy, this was good feedback to help improve the product and subsequent ones I designed and built. Building software takes a lot of work, so when it actually gets used, you can’t help but feel that rush of pride.
Not to plug Mix too much, but it brings people who use the product closer to people who build the product. This has also been my experience at the last two OpenWorlds. Due to the size of the event in recent years, product management and development have been asked to staff the demo pods and take a more active role in the conference. This produced the cool effect of putting the developer or product manager right in front of the customer.
This has a positive impact on both parties. The customer sees Oracle as a person who smiled, was cordial and ideally, helpful. Development sees the customer as a person who had questions. This is a big change from the regular process, in which the two communicate only via bug updates with support as the intermediary. Not that this process is bad or wrong, it’s just not as personal as a conversation.
It’s not news that people act much more rudely when protected by anonymity. It’s also not news that text in an email or comments can be misinterpreted between parties. I’ve often remarked that many virtual meetings would go way differently if they were not virtual. Even on phone calls, when not faced with a person are more apt to say things they would not in person. It’s a human condition.
But it’s the world we live, work and socialize in, so why not bring the parties closer together to have a conversation?
Thanks to Puneet (again) for triggering some blog fodder.