Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Designing Zero Knowledge System for Product Innovation

What is meant by being Zero Knowledge?
A Zero Knowledge System is the one who do not tell you anything if a. it has any knowledge about itself or b. its behavior and also c. its features. It is indeed an extreme condition of a high quality product. If you have a good quality product you will essentially find nothing wrong with it. The difference between quality product and a zero knowledge product is quality product will have a system that will highlight the various features by hints/tips so user can use them.

In a Zero knowledge system there is no highlight whatsoever e.g. if you install the product you get nothing out of it - at least at systemic level. Now take an example of accounting software. If you are an accountant and you install non-zero knowledge based software, the software will start creating a system by asking initial setup data input questions e.g. a company name and sales numbers, department etc...

In accounting software and many other software hypothetically it is possible to do nothing after the software is installed. A lot of software actually does so e.g. some Operating Systems, Word processing software etc... I think these are zero knowledge software and ideally a software should be a like that. E.g. for installing a browser you may need add-ons etc... these are now helping you create an incomplete system or not necessarily balanced set of usability. Though these are high quality products and there is nothing wrong with it you may be constrained due to its features and not take full benefit and innovative about its use. Note that if you are unable to use certain features intuitively that's also a problem because now you may report bugs. Such system is very much degraded and not zero knowledge compliant.

How does customer derive value of innovation?
By able to customize the data as per the need in zero knowledge based system the innovation is much more intuitive and predictable and need based thus giving a more value add for customer. If software are designed keeping this in mind and then tested the benefit will reach customer.

These are my thaughts and will be happy to know reader comments.

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