All too often, when we start using a new platform, we only scratch the surface of its features. I think about products like Microsoft Excel 2016: the features are so vast, deep, and obscured that I would never know you could merge analysis of pivot tables to find a derived output. Luckily, I found the little light bulb above the icon ribbon with the invitation, “Tell Me What To Do.” (Sorry, this is not an Office for Mac feature.) The beauty of this feature is that it teaches me how to move forward with the product, while allowing me to investigate the context of what I am working with.
The more I dig into a product, the more I appreciate the richness of the features. But had I not spent the time learning, reading, and exploring, I might never have come back to find the true potential of the tool.
This paradox has driven us to look at the nature of our own platform. The tools are so rich within the CloudPhysics Card Builder and the Card Decks that most users will never dig under the veneer of the first view to find those tools’ true value for their own data centers. The idea that users may gloss over a card that I find to be of enormous value has led us to investigate: how can we communicate to users the full depth of value offered by a card?
Look at any card in the CloudPhysics decks. Pick one you have never explored, open it up, and try to determine its value from the output on your screen. It’s a difficult task, even for the most knowledgeable administrator familiar with their own data center. For many, myself included, we need to have someone explain the value of a specific analytic, and how the output adds value to my daily routine. No analyst or administrator is going to take time from their busy day to click around a tool until they find the value in it.
Most of you don’t have someone sitting beside you who knows the platform inside and out. Case in point: I don’t think I can find a single person, even in our own office, who can walk me through every card, explaining the features, values, and what I’ll gain from regular use. Some cards are globally valuable to all, while others solve a problem specific to a subset of users. Figuring out which scenario the card applies to shouldn’t be that difficult, but all too often I find myself trying to figure out a card that solves a problem I don’t have in my data center. I then become frustrated, and the result is wasted time.
That is all about to change.
The underlying problem is information overload. It’s like trying to find the right book in the library by reading them all. I need context and overview of the vast library of books. I want a summary of the book, plus guidance to the right section to ensure I am looking at the relevant books. With walls of pages, It makes more sense to ask for guidance than to start reading my own way through the library.
Starting in early September, we began the process of onboarding, with support tools for users. We are overlaying a new set of tools to navigate the features of our web site via the browser, while we are using the apps. We will soon start to see new tip balloons, walk-throughs, and onboarding features to help all users get the most out of the platform. These tips and tools will break down the learning process into digestible steps, and walk the users through the features and values of the platform.
As an ongoing effort, we will be adding callouts, tool tips, and step-by-step usage guides for the majority of the platform. Where possible, we will also include video training, links to support resources, and even the ability to ask context-based questions in order to get better answers about a feature or card.
If you are looking for help on a specific card or metric, or you’d like to know how best to use the platform, start with the HELP menu item in the header, or find the information callout next to the fields on the page. Currently, the circled “I” will provide feature overviews, while the double arrow steps you through the onboarding process.
Our goals are to evolve the platform quickly, from a powerful tool for the admin to an information platform usable by all within the business to gain insights and value from your own IT data center data.