I feel for Bill Gates and his Windows development teams and I especially hurt for Leo Apotheker and HP’s team of WebOS developers.
Software is a stinker.
gap intelligence’s latest Data Center (DCv3.) is one of the very first software projects taken on by the company. Before the platform’s launch last April, I was one of the millions of people standing on the sideline who mocked the bugs quickly discovered by the consuming public when a software company released its latest initiative. I hurled insults at Microsoft’s Vista OS, giggled at bugs found in Apple’s iOS platform, and mercilessly mocked Sony when its PlayStation Network crashed on millions of users.
After launching DCv3, I quickly realized that the best laid plans never translate perfectly to the consuming public. Bugs and user experience issues plague all companies, from Apple to gap intelligence, and my heart is filled with empathy with anyone who builds software for a living.
We feel your pain.
Since launching DCv3, we have collected a great deal of feedback, both positive and negative, and rest assured we have listened. We took a further step last July and conducted an extensive User Experience project where we tested regular users of DCv3 to identify ways to eliminate errors and make using the platform a lot more “fun”. In August, we shut down all new development of DCv3 and used the time for our developers to streamline our code, eliminate bugs, and make the system faster.
The first series of revisions to DCv3 were launched today in a series release that we call “R4”. The majority of the changes are “behind the scenes” and are not immediately noticeable on the surface, but let me walk you through a couple of the bigger ones.
Single Click Downloads
One of the “fun” aspects of our DataCenter is that we give our users the ability to collect various reports in an “Information Cart”. By using an “Information Cart”, our clients can download multiple reports from various categories. While feedback for our Information Carts has been very positive, we realized that the cart system was the only way people could download reports and for those who are interested in downloading just a single report, we forced them to execute an extra “click”.
In R4, we have restructured our Price & Promotions tab and enabled visitors to instantly download any individual report by clicking on its date range / title.
gapDataCenter Did You Know??
You can share your Information Carts with co-workers! If you have downloaded information that you want your co-workers to see – send them your cart’s unique URL to instantly download!!
Google makes things too darn easy. Search functionality is actually a very complex algorithm and becomes extra complex with our market intelligence information. A search for “Deskjet 3070A” can pull results about “Deskjet” and “3070A”. Search results may also pull up information from non-related categories such as a digital camera report that included “deskjet” in the body.
We have dramatically improved the relevance accuracy of our search field, giving users the ability to “Exact Match” their keywords as well as filter results by category.
gapDataCenter Did You Know??
You can give yourself an Avatar. It’s fun! Give it a try!
There are dozens of new updates and changes within DCv3 R4 including a gorgeous landing page for notifications downloads, a more user friendly “Ad Reports” tab, and faster overall performance.
Our developers are currently at work on Release 5 (R5), which we hope will be launched in early November.
What’s in store for R5?
- A multi-cart system that allows you to manage several Information Carts simultaneously
- Upgraded calendars that allow you to efficiently filter search results by date range
- A completely redesigned “My Headlines” page that allows you to customize exactly what you see
- Upgraded pull-down menus
- Ability to download “Retail Ads” files in a single PDF file.
- Customized “My Settings” directory that allows you to change passwords and avatars
- Ability to view market intelligence reports in bunches up to 100 per screen
- Ability to view content “jump pages” before jumping that specific page
To name a few…..
Also in development is DCv3.5, which is set to launch in January 2012. DCv3.5 focuses on the delivery of Market Intelligence reports. Our Market Intelligence reports will have a fresh new look, will be more interactive with our Analysts, and will embrace new delivery platforms including Twitter.
Finally, the gap intelligence team is diligently working on DCv4, which is set for launch in June 2012. We’ll post a teaser site for DCv4 in Q1 2012 and while details are still “hush hush” at the moment, I will say that DCv4 will revolutionize the way market intelligence is viewed and organized. Think Facebook for IT products.
We thank you very much for your patience. Bugs happen to the best of us….
Your feedback is taken very seriously and many of our latest innovations are from your comments. Please keep them coming by emailing us directly.