The Subtle Differences Between Similar Needs
I’m now about knee-deep in my mobile application development tasks. Being somewhat involved now in a couple things, I realized they’re good examples of how two things that sound similar can be so different.
First of all, I’ve had a wide variety of customers, over the years, and would say that working with an end-customer, someone who is doing research and/or making some kind of product, is much different that working with a software vendor who wants me to consult on their system or markets.
One Type of Customer
Right now, with this mobile application development, I worked to select an appropriate platform for my customer, iVention US, and am now creating a model of an application for them. This “model” is meant both to create a talking point about about what we could do and want to do, but also something they could hopefully show a customer to get feedback, as well. It’s also an opportunity for me to learn the platform to the point where I can give a firm overview of it along with a recommendation to them.
In doing this, it occurs to me quite often how different this is than, say, if I were creating a mobile application for an end-customer’s system. Since iVention sells their products to many different customers that could be using all types of tablets or phones, my opinion, which no-one has yet disagreed with, is that it has to run cross-platform. But if I were writing this for a specific customer, they possibly would be standardized on specific equipment and I might just pick something specific to that platform because selecting a platform form and building something that goes cross-platform has been a lot more work than one might imagine.
Yet Other Types of Customers
So, where we hear so much about how easy some of the tools are to use, when we select a “platform” to use for more general development, we can’t always pick the easier tools. But with that, it brings me to Dr. S., of the “HPLC ‘N You” blog. He wants to create a mobile application and needs my advice. With all this in my mind, I directed him straight toward tools that were specific to the device he’s currently using, which seems to be a much more straightforward path than what I’m taking for iVention US. For one thing, the app he’s considering creating probably doesn’t need to be a cross-platform app. So, let’s just make his life a bit easier and recommend a tool that will probably do the job AND be much less burdensome to maintain and use. He’s yet a different type of customer and I gave some thought to his needs as being quite different from those of iVention’s.
In the end, each type of customer, while doing what seems to be the very same things, actually has quite different needs and we as consultants have to have the ability to know where to direct them. That’s what being an expert is about. That’s why “best practices” don’t work – because, in the end, customers have a variety of reasons for having unique needs. “Best practices” are templates for people who don’t know enough about the topic to gather their customers’ true needs.