Evangelizing Mainframe
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z/OS Consumability, User-Centered Design and Usability—It’s All About You

Have you ever wondered how you might be able to share your experiences using z/OS products with the designers of those products at IBM? Have you ever wanted to drive current or future requirements into z/OS software products you use daily in your job? Do you speculate about whom the designers think when they create or improve the z/OS products you use? Have you ever wondered if the designers considered how you would use the product? If you answered yes to any of these questions, read on.

Looking at the title of this blog post, you probably noticed the root word consume in “Consumability,” and are wondering, “What does this have to do with me?” The answer is—everything! It’s all about you! Consumability is a customer-centric term that describes the total customer experience with IBM products. To better understand your overall, end-to-end user experience with System z, including pre-sales, deployment, administration and service, IBM has developed a Consumability Experience Survey.

Utilizing this opportunity allows you to share your experiences with our z/OS team, enabling you to respond to questions and categories specific to your job role. To date, customer input from the survey has indicated that the following z/OS areas need focus:

  • Installation
  • Migration
  • Maintenance configuration
  • Problem management and analysis
To address these focus areas, our z/OS team developed the IBM z/OS Management Facility (z/OSMF), which is a new product that provides support for a modern, Web-browser based management console for z/OS. We used essential usability principles and user centered design (UCD) to ensure your needs and skills are considered when developing z/OSMF. Many customers, including some I’ve met at the SHARE mainframe user conference, have taken the opportunity to provide us feedback on z/OSMF. I personally enjoy collaborating with customers and learning how well our solutions are meeting your needs.

If you’re interested in sharing your feedback, we have a Stakeholder Feedback Program that allows just that. It enables our z/OS team to capture deeper system-level requirements for z/OS, z/OSMF, security configuration, Hardware Management Console (HMC) and workload management. These are just some of the areas you can discuss with IBM teams during one-on-one sessions to provide input into current and future requirements for z/OS. To learn more about the System z Stakeholder Feedback program, email your name, company and phone number, with a subject line of “System z Stakeholder Feedback Program,” to Laura Bostian at lbostian@us.ibm.com.

Our team has been working on modernizing z/OS, and we know that you’re essential to identifying and validating the areas we expand on. Therefore, we have studied the skills and backgrounds of both experienced and entry-levels users with a focus on system programmers. As a result, we’ve developed personas that are fictional characters that represent actual users, like our entry-level Alice persona, senior level system programmer Zach, and Casey, Zach’s replacement when he retires. Our team utilizes these personas to develop or improve the z/OS products you use, such as z/OSMF. We validated these personas with customers, again with some at SHARE, to make sure we understand your skills, the tasks you do in your job, and your current and future needs.

I hope you understand the key role you play in driving our z/OS consumability, user-centered design and usability work as our primary stakeholder. Modernizing z/OS to meet the needs of current power users and new and future users, such as zNextGen, is a balancing act between keeping experienced users productive and making new ones productive quicker. Once again, I invite you to collaborate with our z/OS team to help us find this balance and deliver ease-of-use solutions that meet your needs.

Thank you!

Iris Rivera is a user experience professional specializing in System z Software UCD and usability at IBM. In her eight years at IBM she’s acted as the liaison between people and technology, by using various methodologies like stakeholder feedback, to ensure IBM develops solutions that meet the needs of their customers and end users. She is also one of the co-founders of zNextGen.

Posted: 10/2/2012 12:22:55 AM by Iris Rivera

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