Saturday 4 April 2015

Lifecycle management

So LifeCycle Management is something those of us in enterprise IT think about regularly (nearly all week if you're in the scale of company I am), but do we really expect the average home consumer to understand and do this?

In the office my team spend just as much time looking at and managing interoperability & technology debt for the existing estate as they do scouting, planning and on-boarding new techniques & technologies. Is this healthy? No. Is this necessary? Most certainly is (sadly).

So in my consumer world I've had 3 similar tech-debt related topics :-

1) Panasonic Viera plasma TV that has never got that firmware they promised to add it's smart-TV features and make use of the Ethernet port...

2) SkyTV High Definition set-top-box that has generally worked fine for years, then received an OTA software update automatically. Ever since it has crashed & locked up every day, steadfastly refused to download any on-demand content and been decidedly unreliable. Queue questions to support answered with "oh yes we've fixed those bugs and released a new software version. But not for your box as that model is old. Would you like to buy a new one?". (A more cynical person might suggest deliberate bugs & sales as a 'managing dissatisfaction' technique for revenue boost - but that's crediting businesses with too much intelligence).

3) BT Infinity HomeHub-5 has a reputation of fast internet speeds but poor customer service and shoddy software. Sadly around the festive period just gone BT released & automatically applied a software update to these devices, with a consequence of them rebooting many times each day. Killing internet connections and driving the exchanges to incorrectly cap negotiation speeds (assuming line instability issues). It took many many weeks of denial before a hot-fix roll out finally started, now line stability is fixed it would be good to address the dire WiFi stability. Honestly I've seen more stable "alpha" lab code...

Oh and just don't get me going on the utterly horrendous and farcical process of mobile device firmware & software updating (or lack of), as that may just tip me over the edge...

It's very clear that the topic of duration & nature of software updates needs to be covered in the original purchase - with computer software it's now clear and upfront dialogue. But with devices, if you ask how long they are going to support & update the software in your fridge most retailers look as if you're speaking Martian.

It's also clear to me that there are strong employment opportunities for great release & QA people and ethical product managers in many consumer services businesses.

So honestly, I think we're going through a home innovation phase of chaos - with consumer houses littered with half working, half finished electronic devices; not good for anyone! Clearly this will only get worse with IoT and M2M proliferating semi-manageable elements.

There is a time & place for DevOps and I assure you consumer home electronics & appliances is not one of them!

Ps. Oh and when will I know that IoT is real & working? When either the oven or fridge in my new kitchen always have the correct time showing! My VCR from the '80s could do this so why does 2015's finest tech not??? (Hang your heads @SamsungUK & @BritanniaLiving)

PPs. Hello world, obviously I'm still here :)