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Moving Towards a Simpler Software

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The web has made things simpler, and as our lives revolve more and more around it, the way we interact with it has become simpler, too.  As James Governor puts it:

The most obvious strategic imperative we can learn from the web is simplification. Web companies generally support only a small range of system images for developers to target, which is one of the reasons a company like twitter can support a global user population in the hundreds of millions with a support staff that amounts to a handful of people.


But for years, simplicity has been missing from big companies like IBM, where customers are provided with a seemingly unending list of configurations for their software in an attempt to tailor a product to exact customer specifications.

Even IBM's definition of its User-Centered Design is complicated:

User-Centered Design is a well-established process that is used by IBM and many other organizations to deliver products that meet users' expectations. This process has been supplemented by the Outside-In Design approach, which brings a focus on...


...blah, blah, blah...This approach may have impressed clients at first, but has now created a system of headaches and nightmares.  However, now it seems a novel concept is quietly making in-roads at companies like IBM: Keep it Simple.  The Intelligent Operations Center, the latest IBM Smarter Cities portfolio addition, is the beginning of what hopes to be a flood of new packages available with limited variations.  Providing "operational insight into daily city operations through centralized intelligence," the Intelligent Operations Center has four basic configurations:

  • Large On-Premises
  • Large SaaS
  • Small On-Premises
  • Small SaaS packages

And that's it.  By eliminating further variations, IBM can hopefully focus on improving the four configurations it provides, ultimately leading to better products for the client and improved customer service.

Of course, a full transition to smarter, simpler software will take time, and IBM will likely roll out plenty of products built on the old value system of complexity and customizability.  But if the Smarter Cities packages are any indication, an internal change is in place at IBM, and a "Smarter Company" could be on the rise.