In one project, students designed an application that monitors power plants, providing real-time operating statistics as well as summaries that help managers optimize maintenance investment. It was clear that managers above the level of an individual power plant would want an application like this, but buy-in from lower levels might be harder to achieve; managers are often reluctant to submit themselves to measurement by their bosses.
The best way to build support, Liguori???s students found, was to offer everyone involved useful information, so they added diagnostic features to the app that help plant managers isolate problems with their machinery, as well as contextual documentation that helps workers get to solutions faster. ???Once [the plant staff] saw that they would be getting more data out of this, they bought into it,??? says Rebby Bliss, one of the students developing the project.
Let me repeat my refrain: This. Ain’t. Easy.
Without going into detail, my little rant about Calendar, iPhoto, Address Book, et al goes for iTunes as well. I even bought a piece of software to try to fix iTunes myriad issues (Rinse). I can’t figure out whether or not Rinse has fixed anything, to be honest, and so far, all it’s managed to do is marry the wrong album art to about 100 or so songs which previously didn’t have any imagery. Which is kind of funny, but a tad annoying. And just the fact that there’s a market for something like Rinse kind of makes my point.
The interesting thing here is that the apps aren’t outliers, they’re pretty core Apple or productivity items. We’re all outliers on some dimension, but there is common ground where you think the effort would be made. Email may be declining, but calendars, hardly. They’ve been a disaster for ever and don’t appear to be improving.
Never been an adherent of the Apple “just works” received wisdom. As a self-denominated outlier thought it might “just work” if you “just did what Apple expected you to do,” but this article is suggesting that even if you just do what might be widely expected you would, it won’t.