Who Wants Complexity? Definitely Not Users.

Igor Bergman, Vice President of Cloud & Software, Lenovo

This might seem a stupid question to ask, but complexity still ends up in IT solutions far too often in my experience, so it’s one that stills needs to be addressed.

I compare the removal of complexity to dealing with your boss. You go to your boss with solutions, not problems, and if you get that wrong, you learn pretty quickly!

It’s the same with software: it’s our responsibility to remove complexity, not the users’. Solutions and applications should be built to improve the user’s experience, across the board, from the application itself, to how the device is set up, to access and security, whether via the cloud or a corporate VPN.

And this should never be a test of the user’s technical capability!

There is no value in complexity.

Complexity is not the point.

The point of devices is not to test the technical capability of the user.
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This is not a trivial problem. Herb Krasner, retired Professor of Software Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, wrote a report for CISQ in 2018 on the cost of poor-quality software: according to the report, this was approximately $2.8 trillion in the US alone, in 2018.

Resolving complexity requires clear thinking, about which of two contrasting business models you’re following.

One is a cloud-based device business model, involving a complete ecosystem designed around the idea of making things simple, with the focus on the user. When you look at this strategically, the core design approach is to create solutions and devices that adapt to the user, not forcing the user to adapt to the device – which is the alternative business model.

Let’s look at a common laptop delivery experience – for example, when you start a new job. You arrive at the office at around 9am (OK, you used to!). Your picture gets taken, IT tells you about the device you’re going to get, but that it’s not yet ready, so you get given a stand-in device from stock to plug the delay, only to discover later that it doesn’t work – it has an old operating system on it, or the VPN access passcode has expired, or something else makes the whole experience too complex.

And if it doesn’t work, you don’t get to do good work.

The model is completely outdated. You have brilliant devices that can often be completely useless – because, in fact, the complexity applies to every aspect of the user experience.

Compare the mobile phone experience: it’s up and running in about 15 minutes. You can make calls or access the Internet, and your entire ecosystem is replicated on the new device. It’s not glitching or rebooting, or not working, or reconfiguring your long-held data.

The expectation benchmark is set by the mobile phone experience.

The difference is the software layer – understanding portable cloud connectivity that allows you to move from device to device.

The ball is in our court. We need to make a PC as easy to operate as a phone – and it remains a work in progress. Lenovo has a great app that moves your data as part of your PC migration, but it’s not even close to the phone experience.

Your device should know where you are and determine whether or not it can open up its access to you as a safe option – to remove the complexity of having to remember whether to connect, whether or not you’re operating in a secure location, whether or not you can work in that location with the data and applications you need.

And this has to be done so that corporations can retain their standard operating environments, or change them, to scale this new lack of complexity.

One example of this is a proof of concept project we’re delivering to one of our large enterprise customers that uses AI and machine learning to create models that provide proactive and predictive insights on device health. When you scale this level of analysis across thousands of devices within an organization, all at different points in their lifecycle, you’re able to visualize the journey of a device from procurement to retirement. We’re connecting pieces of information to be able to predict future failures and proactively resolve the risk ahead of the incident, avoiding end-user downtime and increasing employee satisfaction.

Removing complexity is all about value, exceeding expectations, increasing levels of service,  improving things for the IT organization and making the user’s experience better than they had expected. The difference between an uptime of 98.9% and 99.999% is very big, in real-world terms, but the removal of technology complexity also has to remove business complexity and frustrations as well – multiple passwords that are easily lost, difficulty accessing cloud services, security getting in the way of productive work, and so on.

Users, and the corporate IT team, don’t want to watch the explosion.

They want to know to take cover before it happens.
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In a world with  less complexity, the cloud, devices and software work together to deliver solutions and these four factors play their part:

  • SaaS (cloud) growth
  • Connectivity
  • AI
  • Security solutions, and how they have evolved from chip to cloud. Security is ubiquitous from the chip to the cloud.

These four things together remove complexity because the applications and solutions we’ve all been craving are now possible.

To close, here’s a check-list for removing complexity. Use data to understand users’ behavior and to understand device reliability, and then:

  • create a new user environment
  • establish new control mechanisms over the users’ experiences, security and devices, for corporate IT- create an easy way to make those decisions
  • these new tools must fit within current processes: don’t rebuild from scratch – rip out and replace is not an option
  • roll out over a transition period to build trust in the solution
  • make sure that the solution is ultimately applicable to the whole organization – a great solution also has to be of use, and usable, to the customer

Managing the complexity is our job, not the customers’. Methodologies such as Lenovo’s UDS Software Platform mean that, as enterprises embrace more software technology to transform their organizations, options such as edge computing, configuration management and simplified device deployment become enablers, not obstacles.

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