The importance of user-friendly technology

* In some cases, creating a technology is the easy part -- designing it so that people will use it (and want to) is the hard part

It's been a mantra that pops up in this newsletter periodically, and has for many years. Just a couple of weeks ago I phrased it as, "We have the technology, but the bureaucracy still gets in the way." Another way I'm fond of stating it is "the technology is easy, it's the people that's hard." But my old friend Chris Zannetos (he's CEO of Courion) has another opinion. I respect Chris' views, and they deserve to be presented to you. Here's what he told me.

"I look at it a bit differently. The market sees a *lot* of technology that does not accommodate the everyday realities that IT admins face…not just technology realities (like the fact that just about every major application has a different access security paradigm)…but the organizational and political realities. Most products are designed in a pristine lab 'the way people ought to work'…the reality is that the organizations that these admins (and we) serve are made up of people. And people beget bureaucracy and politics. The x.500 technology I tried to use to implement a global directory service for a top 5 global bank in 1992 was great technology….it worked! But not in a world in which the Retail Bank had its (real or imagined) needs that were different than the Corporate Bank that was different than the Private Bank, etc…. Instead of viewing that bureaucracy or politics get in the way, the industry needs to deliver solutions that accommodate those realities – and still help the customers solve the problems (this is why self-service password management works still today….it is faster for users…so they want to use it. And it doesn't require 10, 20 or 1,000 application owners to agree on a single authorization engine or a single set of password constraints). In the early days, whenever a staff member would say…well, "x" isn't working so well because the customer's politics got in the way", I'd tell them they were wrong. Our job is to deliver a solution that people *want* to use, that accommodate/avoid the politics…make it faster and easier for all involved and they will use it. Sort of a capitalist's way of viewing things….versus the central-planning approach of a forced march to a central directory that all don't believe in or support.

Top 10 RSA security innovators

The market has spoken and voted with its feet (dollars?)…SSO, Self-service password management, multi-factor auth (and I'd add provisioning and access certification if the products are designed right)….they just work."

I really can't disagree with what Chris is saying here. But it doesn't change the phrase, just it's meaning -- creating the technology is the easy part, designing it so that people will use it (and want to) is the hard part. Something to keep in mind.

Upcoming events -- it's only two weeks until The Experts Conference in Los Angeles. I'll be there following the tracks on Microsoft directory and identity technologies. Hope to see you there, also.

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