Consumability - overview

duck axes pc Consumability is a homegrown IBM term that refers to a client's complete experience with a technology solution beginning with buying the right product to updating it. Consumability also includes issues related to acquiring the product, installing and configuring it, using it and troubleshooting problems that arise over the long term.

At IBM Research, outside-in thinking is a core component of a good consumability experience. Onside-in thinking is a core component of a good consumability experience. Onside-in thinking requires that every software developer or services delivery team define their project goal and then build a solution to achieve it. Outside-in thinking, which puts the client's business goals at the forefront of every research or sales project, is the opposite of feature-driven thinking, which emphasizes the "gee whiz" capabilities of specific products or services, even though they may not truly contribute to the client's business goals.

The point of consumability overall is to eliminate the barriers that stand in the way of a satisfying client experience.

A consumability survey might address these questions:

  • How easy was it to work with IBM Research?
  • What obstacles did the client or research partner have to overcome in acquiring the product, installing and configuring it and then operating it?
  • Did the client have a positive first-use experience?
  • Was the product/service rapidly integrated into the existing technology environment?
  • What issues does the client consider important?

What is an example of poor consumability?

Such a product might be an electronic health records (EHR) device that amasses data without giving physicians the tools to help them make real-time clinical decisions. The same EHR device with good consumability might offer data visualizations of disease risk factors, demographic prevalence of the disease, patient profiles and recommended drug interventions. The EHR interface would be easy to use and would simplify the physician's workflow. It would also aid in tracking work-arounds or user-defined modifications, ultimately leading to EHR design improvements. For a deeper dive into healthcare consumability, see Designing for "Consumability:" Novel Analytics for Next Generation Health Records.

At IBM Research, these professional interest communities (PIC) comprise Consumability:


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Last updated on July 1, 2014


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