Friday, September 19, 2008

Share Your Application Management Ideas with Oracle at Oracle Mix

When I logged onto this morning, I was greeted by this page. This is Oracle Mix, a new Oracle platform for connecting with the Oracle community, network, share ideas, and get answers.

I think this is a cool idea. As a product manager, one of the most important things that I have to do is to gain insights on our customers' needs. However, unlike my peers who are on the consumer side of the technology business, especially those that manage web-based products, it is a lot more difficult to conduct broad base customer research. Traditional mechanisms such as customer advisory boards, while important, can be rather slow. Oracle Mix could be a great additional tool for understanding our customer needs if it is used properly.

Here are a couple suggestions to make this an effective tool for all of us:
1. Participate. This tool is not going to work unless we all use it.
2. Give meaningful titles, use the proper tags, and associate with the right product when asking questions and making suggestions. This helps channeling your postings to the right people.
3. When proposing improvements, state the underlying problems that you need to solve.

#3 is especially important. We sometimes get enhancement requests that basically tell us to "add a knob" here or "take out something" there. While the requests may sound very specific, it could actually very hard to use the information. Different customers tend to have different ideas of solving the same problem. While it is good to hear the specific recommendations, following them blindly could lead to piecemeal product changes that undermines the integrity of the product. Therefore, it is much better to find out the underlying problems so that we can learn about the rationale behind the requests and come up with solution that address problem root causes.

Click here to access Oracle Mix.

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