In my ongoing discussion of Quick-MI we have explored the importance of Sharability and Interoperability as essential components for successful Modular Innovations. Quick-MI consists of 5 components, or categories, that bring to light critical variables instrumental in the sustained success of many current and emerging products, increasingly becoming part of the Modular Innovation trend. Modular Innovation (MI), along with a product’s User eXperience (UX), combine to be strong indicators of a product’s adoption and success.
Modular Innovation (MI) is all about relationships, be they between people or products online. In looking at how these relationships are established, maintained, enhanced, and expanded, one can achieve greater insight into the underlying forces shaping Modular Innovation, quantifying the degree by which a product is participating within, as well as evolving towards greater degrees of, Modular Innovation.
The next of the 5 categories that make-up Quick-MI that we will explore is Portability.
Portability, a key component of Quick-MI , is a measure of degree of ownership and control over one’s own content (commonly referred to as User Generated Content and abbreviated as UGC).
In abiding with the overarching goals of both Quick-UX and Quick-MI (quick assessment for summary, directional guidance, and quantitative comparison), the variables constituting the minimal representative subset for Portability are…
- Exportability (UGC & Settings)
Each variable and category (e.g. Portability) is assigned a value that can be compared and combined. When all the categories’ values are combined, they form the Modular Innovation Index of a product.
Seen by many as dealing most directly with the actual UGC of all the 5 categories of Quick-MI is Portability. And, readily apparent in bestowing the sense of ownership and control over one’s own content and data is Exportability. The ownership and control derives from the ability to download or transfer your content to your local computer or 3rd party service. As a result, the content can be retained independently and re-used independently of the service through which it originated.
Exportability consists of 2 sub-component variables:
- UGC Exportability
- Settings Exportability
UGC Exportability evaluates the degree of Exportability of the UGC created by a user. This can be anything from pictures to blog articles — works created by the user and used with or simply placed upon the studied product.
Settings Exportability evaluates the degree of Exportability of the settings and configurations that directly impact the UGC and resultant User eXperience (UX). For example, the settings can indicate…
- which of the content is public or private,
- the color scheme (theme) to use when displaying the information,
- the user’s friends that are permitted to view each UGC element,
- and more.
The value of the Exportability variable is the sum of the values of the sub-component variables: UGC Exportability and Settings Exportability.
The UGC Exportability sub-component variable’s value is…
- 0 if none of the user’s UGC can be transferred or downloaded,
- 0.5 if some of the user’s UGC can be transferred or downloaded, or
- 1 if all of the user’s UGC can be transferred or downloaded.
The Settings Exportability sub-component variable’s value is…
- 0 if none of the user’s UGC / UX Settings can be transferred or downloaded,
- 0.5 if some of the user’s UGC /UX Settings can be transferred or downloaded, or
- 1 if all of the user’s UGC / UX Settings can be transferred or downloaded.
WordPress is a good example of a product with a UGC Exportability value of 1 and Settings Exportability value of 0.
The logical progression of ability arising from that of Exportability is Importability. Exportability and Importability are logically linked, however, not inextricably so, as one characteristic can exist without the other. It is not uncommon to find a wiki that allows for the exporting of the full contents of the wiki, but provides no capability to import that which was exported. Importability, within Quick-MI, specifically is the ability permitted by a product to import, or re-incorporate, content and/or settings that were previously exported as well as the product’s capability to managed changes within the exported data during the import process.
An example of Importability (value 1.0) is demonstrated by Google Merchant Center. Google Merchant Center allows users to externally edit the content that was stored or generated within the product and then upload and re-combine the edited content with the user’s existing data.
The value of Importability for a product is…
- 0 if data that was exported from the product cannot be re-imported,
- 0.5 if only an exact export from the product can be imported back, or
- 1 if the data that was exported from the product can be edited in the export format and imported back.
Editability is the measure of the degree of dependence the user has upon the product from which the UGC originated, or was modified by, once the UGC has been exported. Without an independent means of editing exported content, the exported content primarily exists as a backup of a user’s data — with limited reusability and flexibility.
- If none of the exported content can be independently modified, then the Editability value is 0.
- If some of the exported content can be independently modified, then the Editability value is 0.5.
- If all of the exported content can be independently modified, then the Editability value is 1.
A simple example of an Editability value of 1.0 would be the ability to independently modify all the content of a Flickr account.
Delving into the ‘where’ of Portability is a look at the Controllability of one’s own data, or UGC. Data can be Portable, but…
How close can you get to your data?
How much control can you exert over your UGC?
Can you “touch” it?
Some social networks allow their users to import friend lists directly from 3rd party services, e.g. email or other social networks. The social networks, may also allow the users to easily add, remove, and modify all their friends information. However, the control of the transferred content, for this example, is limited, since neither the social network, nor the origin of the content permitted downloading or other remote storage of the friends data — thereby, limiting the user’s overall control over the content.
This variable should not be confused with the previously discussed Redundancy variable, whose focus is limited to the replication of data or functionality. Controllability relates to the storage and manipulation of the active (in-use) data by the product.
The Controllability variable’s value is…
- 0 if none of the active data can be stored locally or at some 3rd-party data store,
- 0.5 if some of the active data can be stored locally or at some 3rd-party data store, or
- 1 if all of the active data can be stored locally or at some 3rd-party data store.
A good example of a product with a Controllability variable value of 1.0 would be Microsoft Word and its ability to save, load, and modify its UGC both locally, and from Office Live. While Ping.fm facilitates replicating of such UGC as a Tweet, it does not facilitate the any further Control of any of the redundant content post-replication (Controllability variable value of 0).
Success of a product is more than having the most awe inspiring UX. There is a lot more to it. Another component, another dimension of sustained success online is Modular Innovation.
Quick-MI is all about understanding and measuring the relationships formed and supported between online products, especially those pioneering the next generation of web products via Modular Innovation.
Integral to successful relationships is the inherent sense of control and ownership over one’s own work and contributions. A relationship cannot hold together without the individual’s “ownership,” and resulting control and pride that accompanies. A relationship cannot hold together without Portability, quantified via the Portability score (a summation of the above variable values).
Remember, Portability is just 1 of 5 categories that make up Quick-MI. The other 4 categories are…
Through all 5 categories, combined, a sound, representative, quantitative understanding of a product’s ability to foster and maintain relationships both within and without — yielding an oft missed, yet critical, perspective into the success and sustainability of an online product.
Enjoy, Discuss & Tweet!
The Product Guy