“Our Users are Doing Something Surprising”… but what?

I’ve just started a discussion on the OWB Linkedin Group based on a blog post from Laura Klein’s “Users Know” blog, entitled “Your Users are Doing Something Surprising”… As a PM I found the post thought-provoking and a good reminder to learn from our customers:

...You may have written user stories and work flows... But you know who didn’t read your user stories? That’s right: your users. The result? Somewhere out there, a whole lot of your users are doing something totally unexpected with your product.... Your customers want to do something with your product so badly that they’re going out of their way to come up with clever ways to do it on their own.

There are three excellent reasons for you to know what your customers are actually doing with your product:

  • So you know if you are missing an opportunity to pivot your product or marketing
  • So you know if you are missing an important feature
  • So you don’t accidentally destroy a commonly used workaround or "unplanned feature"

Truer words were rarely blogged. In fact just in the last few weeks I have had several "users" (some customers, and some internal to Oracle, in fact) turn up having built unexpected but powerful things around OWB, because it has such extensibility mechanisms built into it: OMB*Plus, the old Java APIs back before 10.2, and now the code template/knowledge module framework OWB shares with ODI. Some of our external users show astounding knowledge of how to make OWB really sing. (We hope to feature case studies from several of them over the course of the year on the OWB blog.)

My question to all of you: can you identify things you have done or are doing with OWB or that you depend on in it that you think would come as a surprise to us? This could be either some development so advanced as to leave us all gob-smacked, or just some common (to you) thing that you use it for that you find enormously valuable but that you think is a bit off the theoretical "main line" use case of loading data warehouses.

I invite the readers of this blog to come visit the OWB and ODI LinkedIn group and share their unusual applications of OWB or the very ordinary-looking features that you don’t want us to forget or would like us to extend. Your anecdotes will impress the crowd and will also help shape future data integration products from Oracle...
Come on, surprise us. :)

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