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Watson AIOps Sponsor User Program - Chat with the UX Researcher, Keith Posner

By Veeramani Nambi posted Wed March 30, 2022 07:44 AM


Keith Posner is an UX researcher working with IBM Automation. And one of his jobs is to work with customers and partners to understand their perspective on the product.

“Are you interested in helping to shape evolution of the ***** suite as an integral part of IBM’s ***** solution? Join us as part of our sponsor user program! Start by completing a survey. The result will help feed into the plan to create a cohesive platform, bringing together the heritage of different functions based on disparate sets of capabilities and components from across the complete Netcool suite. We would really value your point of view on the relative priority of different capabilities.”
If the above snippet sounds familiar to you, then you might already know Keith Posner :-) That is the opening paragraph of how he introduces the survey and the follow-up Sponsor User Program to his clients (which could be IBMers or Customers or Partners).

VN: So Keith, Please walk us through this program that you are leading. And more specifically about the Watson AIOps Sponsor User Program !

KP: Netcool suite of products is a highly successful offering that had lots of customer base. And our customers are heavily invested in Netcool through numerous customisations and such. And as a thought leader and an Industry leader, IBM has charted the evolution path as IBM Cloud Pak for Watson AIOps. And this obviously causes disruptions to the Installed Netcool base. When the customers move from Netcool to Watson AIOps, they might have invasive or implicit disruptions because of the solution Watson AIOps is. However, if we know what the disruptions are, then we could make those as a requirement for the product development and ease the pain of transition. And that's what i am trying to do with my program. And given the amount of Netcool knowledge that is out there, it's always enriching to hear the views. And i talk to not only our customers and partners, but also IBMers (SWAT team for example) on the disruptions and hence the remedy for that.

VN: Any examples you can talk on, so that i understand it well.

KP: Sure. There are typical themes for various functional and non-functional aspects of the product: Geo-Redundancy, Usability, Robustness, Scalability, Ease of Upgrade etc. For ex: The new release of the product could ease the creation of configuration by the use of wizards. What is important is the Wizard also takes into account of the existing customisations and not disrupt it. If it did, the wizard will get more brickbats than bouquets. Similarly, in every aspect, we can take examples. So you wanted to ask me on "Sponsor User Program". 

VN: Yes, of course. That's the next question. Tell us more about it. Is there a method to the madness?

The image is a depiction of the process that was outlined by Keith Posner

KP: Yes, there is. The process is something that i created over the past 2-2.5 years (Since 2018) and would be happy to get any feedback.

First step is always about working with the XBOX (No, not talking about Gaming here, this is serious business :-)  leads to identify upcoming research requirements. XBOX is my short form for X in a Box, which is all the stakeholders of the product together. That means, people from Dev/Test/Architecture/Product Manager. And depending on the size and complexity of the product, there could be one XBOX per functional area as well. And each of the XBOX can come and place a request for the research team. And definitely, the important research area is about how to ease transition from Netcool to Watson AIOps.

Post the identification of the research area, the next step is to create a research plan. A research plan typically consists of: Research Questions, Methodology, Prototype, Tasks, Design Artefacts, Estimate, Delivery date, Ownership etc.

Next is the identification of the customers/partners who are willing to participate in the program. And am very happy to say that AIOps Community has helped us this time in identifying good customers and partners for the survey we ran and the sponsor user program that followed. Once identified, it takes few calls with each identified participant, beginning with the introduction of the program and slowly getting into specifics. Sometimes, some UX testing is also done.

And the penultimate step is about analysing and documenting the results of the research. Post which, the XBOX, that i talked about that in requirement gathering, will be updated on the results of the program.

And apart from the gruelling technical discussions, the relationship one develops with the Developers and the customers is highly enriching.

VN: Thanks for the details Keith. And please let me know how the community can participate in your initiatives and enhance it as well.