There’s a pretty great, short post from Business Insider last year that’s been getting re-circulation recently. It’s one-sentence summaries of famous business books like The Innovator’s Dilemma, Good to Great, Outliers, Purple Cow and The Lean Startup.
I particularly liked BI’s short summary Eric Ries’ book The Lean Startup, which is centered around the concept of creating a “minimum viable” product and then iterating on it, fed by with continual customer input and analytics. Here’s the nicely done reductionist summary:
“Rather than work forward from a technology or a complex strategy, work backward from the needs of the customers and build the simplest product possible.”
If you’ve been in tech the last few years – and especially in Silicon Valley – you won’t have escaped the term “Minimum Viable Product” (MVP), and you’ve undoubtedly been immersed in Agile development methodology. But there’s a dilemma in the seductive notion of Lean and MVP when misapplied: We all have seen teams who focus on the alluring idea of minimal without thinking about what will make the product viable from the standpoint of the customer: Across industries, we’ve seen that the “work backward from the needs of the customers” part is easy to miss in the rush to produce efficient code and quick deliverables.
This occasional lack of customer orientation has led to the backlash observation that “Agile doesn’t have a brain,” meaning it’s very good a producing efficiently, but not guaranteed to produce the right end products in the eyes of customers. We in tech have all seen this happen, and it’s vexing because it’s against the core principles of Agile to produce un-useful end deliverables.
Enter author Jeff Gothelf, an ardent evangelist for Lean and MVP thinking. Jeff is author of the excellent book Lean UX, and recently wrote about this “Agile doesn’t have a brain” topic in a really interesting post on the subject.
Jeff is working with us on some upcoming talks and a workshop, and in addition to what he says in the post above, brings some good advice for including design and customer thinking to the MVP debate:
Work “Lean” on projects, and focus relentlessly on the customer in your process and measures
Focus on user-driven metrics to understand how you’re doing
Make sure designers and other key non-coding disciplines are in your agile sprints — they will add efficiency and dimension, helping to make sure the “right things” are being produced
Think “team,” not “roles” within the sprints (at Cisco, we even do this in Marketing sprints).
Most important: Transform from a culture of delivery to a culture of learning, where you are constantly tuning and improving based on end objectives and customer needs.
If you’re new to ideas of incorporating the customer-oriented design into MVP and Lean, I recommend Jeff’s book Lean UX. And, as a bonus, there’s a great video overview he recently gave at Google on some of these topics.
Today’s blog post is by a guest author, Adel du Toit, who is currently spearheading the effort by Cisco’s internal IT organization to deliver IT-as-a-Service internally, dubbed the Cisco IT “eStore.” Recently, the eStore team took home multiple awards, you can read more about that here. (If you’re not familiar with the eStore, be sure to check out my other blog posts regarding the eStore here and here.)
Over the last few months I had to take a few steps back and admire the passion and dedication of the team as our Vision is starting to become a reality. For those less familiar with the Cisco IT eStore, have a look at the latest customer case study here. You can also check out the demo video below:
In the last few months the eStore team has delivered IT services, to any device, simply, while achieving broad adoption while showcasing Cisco as the #1 IT Company thanks to Cisco Prime Service Catalog, which is the underlying foundation for our end-user storefront interface.
Delivered IT services:
We have 2 ways of delivering IT services and apps. In estore.cisco.com employees can find the IT services that one needs to order from a desktop or laptop computer. As for mobile devices, employees can go to eStore for Mobile to install the apps he or she needs to stay productive whilst on the go.
Today we have nearly 290 IT services and mobile apps that our users can choose from:
To Any Device:
It is important to embrace BYOD and at Cisco we live this every day. It was important that the store we created could be used by any device.
Below is a breakdown of the device types that have accessed both eStore over the last 6 months.
User experience is important to us and we wanted to make sure that the store provides a similar experience to what you would expect when shopping at Amazon or eBay, for example.
In both our mobile and web interface we have the ability to surface the apps and services most needed by our end users:
The Cisco IT eStore (Desktop Version)
The Cisco IT eStore (on iOS mobile)
Adding spotlight content and recommendations is important to help with findability and user experience. This was made possible by the latest release of Cisco Prime Service Catalog, which introduced a next-generation user interface and powers the storefront that the eStore is built on. Be sure to check out Phillipe’s post on the latest release here.
Achieving broad adoption…
One of the most recently added features in the internal Cisco IT eStore has been the addition of desktop software for employees to download. Going forward, we expect to see around 20k unique visitors a month ordering Desktop Software from eStore. For the first time we will have a single, unified platform for both Mac and Windows users to install their software from.
In addition, during our Global Sales Conference (GSX) in Las Vegas in late August we had the requirements to support 18,000 Sales users downloading the recommended mobile apps during the event. We had to be ready to surface the apps, but also support 18k users downloading the event app in a 15 minute period!
Lots of long hours and planning later, we made sure that all of this happened seamlessly, here are a few statistics from the event:
- 89% of the GSX attendees installed eStore for Mobile
- During the event we had 5.4k average visits a day
- 81% of the attendees installed the GSX event app from the store
- 49% of the attendees also installed other apps in addition to downloading the event app
- Very few support issues (less than 40 total!)
- Our max CPU stayed below 12%
- With an average load response time of 1.7 secs
If we take a step back and also look at our overall adoption for Q4, FY14 the numbers look very healthy. Nearly 50k requisitions in the 3 months period from May to July 2014.
…While showcasing Cisco as the #1 IT Company
The Cisco eStore team is no stranger to awards, and we continue to add our trophy cabinet with our latest award, the Gold Stevie Winner for Information Technology Team of the Year. For more information on the latest awards, be sure to check out this blog post detailing all of the awards we won this year at the International Business Awards.
Want to learn more? We have a webinar coming up on October 8th at 8 am PDT where we will discuss best practices for delivering Enterprise IT-as-a-Service, and delve deeper into the latest developments in both the Cisco IT eStore and Cisco Prime Service Catalog. You can register here.
Thanks for reading. For more info be sure to follow us on Twitter @CiscoIT to learn more about the Cisco IT eStore, and follow @CiscoUM for the latest info on Prime Service Catalog.
It’s no longer a question of whether mobility best practices and policies are required, it’s a matter of when your strategy will get ahead of the unstoppable trend. Business and IT leaders alike are not just witnessing the movement of everything mobile, but guilty themselves: who isn’t on their devices for both work and play anymore?
User experience, performance, security and management are key red flags that shoot up when we think about mobile. Getting these four totems right will help organizations keep employees or customers happy and productive, while protecting the business. This is no piece of cake: mobility is a journey and you need a strategy.
Thought leaders and innovators across industries are converging on #SuperMobility Mobile Con this week in Vegas to discuss best practices and ways for organizations to tackle these key issues. We’ll be there too to discuss how to move beyond BYOD and develop an enterprise mobility strategy.
Usability testing a support mobile page at the NetVet lounge with NetVet Mike Williams.
Recently at CiscoLive!, we spent a full week with customers and partners doing in-detail usability tests of Cisco.com and some of our mobile sites and apps. This is one of the main methods we use to make our web and mobile easier.
What’s a usability test? Something different than you might think. While you’ve probably heard of other research techniques like focus groups and surveys, usability tests and listening labs are a way for us to learn through observing how people use our sites: We have someone sit down in front of the screen and ask them to do a task that they would in their real work day. This could be solving a support question, researching a new product, finding the right download, investigating a new API, or any number of other things.
Here’s the difference between a usability test vs. a focus group or survey: In a focus group, a facilitator often throws out an idea or scenario and gets a group of people to comment on it. The people in the room will tell you what they might like… they will build on others comments… they may give you some great ideas! But, you won’t really be learning by observing. You won’t understand the kinds of things they will actually do in real life, because you’re asking them what they think they would do. You aren’t observing.
But when we observe people using our mobile apps or web sites, we can see lots of things. For instance:
We can see the areas that trip them up (even if they report to us that the experience is just fine)
We can see the areas where they’re getting the wrong result (even if they think they’re getting the right one).
Or sometimes even technical problems that we see and can troubleshoot, but they can’t.
We recommend running usability tests or listening labs at multiple stages for major projects:
At the beginning of the project – when you want to understand current state and also look at how competitive or best practice sites and apps are doing.
In the middle – while you’re still developing, and direct observation and feedback can make a huge difference
Before release – so you can catch any last-minute problems
After release – because sometimes when outside factors and environments affect the app or web experience in way you can’t expect (for instance, how and whether people can find your site topic on Google or other search engines, and how they interact with the results).
Even though this sounds like a lot of testing, there are some new techniques you can use to get real user feedback very quickly – within hours or days. I’ll talk about that in a future post.
Organizations are moving from just dealing with bring your own device (BYOD) and the influx of mobile devices to proactively developing solutions that use the full power of mobility. Because of the complexities and fluid technology horizon, this is often simpler said than done. Now you can simplify and accelerate your mobility projects by deploying a comprehensive mobility solution that has been tested and validated end to end. Read More »