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Ah, Workplace, We Hardly Knew Ye!

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  • Ah, Workplace, We Hardly Knew Ye!

    ** This thread discusses the article: Ah, Workplace, We Hardly Knew Ye! **
    ** This thread discusses the Content article: Ah, Workplace, We Hardly Knew Ye!0

  • #2
    Ah, Workplace, We Hardly Knew Ye!

    ** This thread discusses the article: Ah, Workplace, We Hardly Knew Ye! **
    I've never succumbed to the lure of portals. Here's one key problem as I see it: The customization of a desktop, no matter how easy, is itself a barrier. Most desktops I see, and I've seen a lot, get to their present state incrementally. They aren't driven by any "vision", or master plan. They start with a default desktop (you better have one of these!) and if they change at all, it's in response to specific job tasks and the demands of the moment. I've always been struck by just how basic the requirements most people have of their computers. The average computer user runs their system on very simple, predictable patterns. Most aren't customized at all. Now ask these clients what they want their portlets to show. You lose half of them right from the start due to jargon and client skepticism about IT technologies and departments. Half of the remainder have no idea what they want, or they present concepts that are vague and have no requirements definition. In short they give you nothing that can be implemented. That leaves the remaining 25% or so. This group can tell you one thing they want. Six months from now they might think of a second thing, but don't count on it. And if you can't do it today, it's already too late. You're better off giving them a solid, business-driven default view. Sure, it will evolve, in part due to user feedback, but start off by telling them what they get. This prevents all the time wasting of talking endlessly about concepts, without having a pathway to something concrete and implementable. The problem with portals, I think, is this obsessive focus on their customization. That should be a secondary attribute, only brought up if and when the client indicates a desire to do so. It's all tech driven, even the name. It should be called a Business Information System, or Business Management System, or something similar. The technology to implement it needs to be in the background, but portals have put it in the foreground.

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    • #3
      Ah, Workplace, We Hardly Knew Ye!

      ** This thread discusses the article: Ah, Workplace, We Hardly Knew Ye! **
      Semi-custom is the way to go, both for the desktop and for business software in general. I agree with your contention that most users want a default desktop that they might be able to do a little customization on, primarily in the realm of "instant tasks". One user might want to see an IM list for people they talk to all the time, while another might want a list of hot orders for his clients. But in general, its better for both end users and IT support to have the same basic layout on every desktop. Heck, it's bad enough when a user changes the keyboard layout on their 5250 emulation! Imagine the joy of helpdesk when they don't even know what portlets are on your screen (at that point, you had better have some sort of remote desktop viewing software!). Yeah, portals have been oversold. I think a smaller, "lite" version of a portal is needed. One in which an IT administrator can, in conjunction with a power user, identify the components needed for a given role and then configure them into a single desktop, which can then be rolled out to users who would have limited customization capabilities. Joe

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