Industry buzz words: Exploring “Customer facing”
In this blog post, we want to explore and talk about a certain buzz word that gets inserted and interpreted in many ways in our industry. When i talk about buzz words, I’m referring to my interpretation of key words that might or might not be used universally in a software projects development lifespan. All the way from internal marketing/sales discovery, through contracting, through the development cycle and then ultimately though quality control and sign off. When i say buzz words, I use it in itself as a description of vagueness. A way to portray certain ideas without specifics.
Customer Facing as it relates to our industry:
For a company that builds apps or in our case a company that both integrates hardware/software, as well as ,builds apps for control/monitoring of these integrated systems, this Customer Facing buzz word comes up routinely. There tends to be many, very vocal opinions that are related to it. Anytime a person picks up an app it’s being judged on an individual level that is very personal. This brings up an interesting dilemma in our new world order. It’s personal enough that it tends to be the over writing factor sometimes in decision making about how a system or integrated system should work. What we are faced with , in my opinion, because of these buzz words and the very personal nature of people with their workflow, is that the industry or industries go towards the all inclusive and very loud direction of simplicity.
Integrated systems by nature are extremely complex. We can’t get away from this, it’s fact . People want integrated systems and software because the idea of integration is to make things accessible and in some cases automatic ( This is a whole different topic of buzz word that would require its own blog post). People want access to everything but also want the ability to have systems, devices, apps, etc. work together. The point is..simplicity is desired inside chaos and complexity. This is the goal and the “Killer App”. ..So here we are. and why the Customer facing buzz word also seems to relate to another buzz word, which is simplicity.
The conundrum that our business runs into is that the customer is always changing and there are also many levels of customers and end users, even in a specific project. There are decisions that need to be addressed daily on form vs. function vs. performance vs. wants vs. needs. Our business stretches across wants and needs very dynamically. We are never building integration apps for a specific person. We are build apps with “many faces”. How do we do we all do this effectively?
GreenPoint TDI believes that it’s adapting to the shift in sales mentality and perceptions with the above knowledge in your back pocket. If the buzz word is customer facing, which is inherited from the simplicity class, the obvious quick answer is to dumb down the systems themselves. One , plus one equals three. People want simple, “i’ll give you simple!” –Here is minimal scope..have fun. That is the danger which is overly prevalent in the integrated app and integrated systems game. What happens? We start regulated the integration itself instead of attacking the problem as multi faceted…with multi faceted solutions. Proof of this comes in other buzz words inside our industry, not Customer facing but with the manufacturers, developers, and purveyors. de-coupling, de-centralizing, de- everything. The end user customer channel sees this as “specialized apps” .
As developers, we believe that it is our job to empower the user. All users are different. All users have different needs. All users can’t be put in a box and told what is easy. People don’t like to feel stupid for sure but they also don’t like to be told what to do. If we, as the industry, don’t start paying more attention to the dynamics of the system as a whole and we take the most direct path to a single solution, it is our belief that we will ultimately never give the users what they really want.
How do we do this or is this all just pontificating? We buckle down and start empowering the users. It ends with the software..everybody wants a repeatable box to deliver..everybody. You would be a bad business person if you didn’t. Can’t we deliver a repeatable, standardized box that also empowers the end user..Customer facing for real? Shouldn’t real customer facing buzzword mean adaptation in code and interfacing?
The punch line:
We have to stop relating a certain problem as an overall theme to the whole process. Since we determined that customer facing is a buzzword that is derived from simplicity, does that mean that the solution is to make the whole process simple just to get a simplified user experience? I would challenge everybody and say, no it does not. To do it right, it would require a more deepened process with real discovery time allocated. Put in the work, reap more results. There has to be multi levels of interfacing to systems in the world we live in of extreme complexity. You can’t empower the end user or the provider if you are just delivering a customer facing interface into the system as the only control point. There has to be levels of “unveiling” that are allowable dynamically. Give the end users the choice to make decisions how far they want to go or how they want to see the interfacing flow go. Isn’t that the true end result desired in explaining Customer Facing?
I like buzzwords as much as the other guy. They are fun, they are sexy in conversation and they usually convey some sort of knowledge on a subject ,even if vague or made fun of. With that being said, I’m going to start injecting my own in conversation. If things go good, maybe..just maybe, this will be the new hot buzzword in our industry.