Blog

November 17, 2015

Building a Collaborative Platform

Ben Johnson, Product at OpenX

There’s a dividing line between enterprise and consumer technology. But while that line exists to differentiate performance, it should not exist to differentiate user experience. User experience must be consistent. As consumers we have high expectations when it comes to user experience, and those expectations don’t suddenly change when we show up to work. That’s why OpenX is determined to redefine the space, eliminating the user experience disconnect, by merging our ad tech background with consumers user experience expectations.

Imagine a platform built with three simple concepts top of mind: unity, transparency, and collaboration. These three values define the world’s best user experiences, from mobile devices we can’t live without to the Web-based services that can best be described as seamless. By emphasizing the same standards that inform leading consumer products, OpenX is building a platform that mirrors a universal user experience. In other words, we’re transforming ad tech into a tool that’s as intuitive as your iPhone. Here’s how:

Unity
Each of the environments and tools existing within the platform must be unified to be comprehensive and cohesive. A user’s basic knowledge should provide a common language for using the full suite of products with a minimal learning curve.

Collaboration
Rather than connecting islands of productivity within the platform through structured sharing tools, the DNA of the platform must be inherently team-oriented. The goal is a collaborative environment that empowers users to work together and communicate in ways beyond what was originally contemplated by the builder, but without the need for additional tools or development.

Transparency
Transparency is the cornerstone of a great user experience because it is the mechanism through which we surface knowledge. To be transparent, a platform must be an open book to every member of the team.

What does this mean for the OpenX platform?
Right now, we’re in the first phase of turning the OpenX platform into one that encompasses the highly desirable characteristics of consumer grade technology. Our long term goal is to move beyond basic product launches, and instead focus on building an entire platform that transforms the way we think and use enterprise software solutions.

Here are some of the initial changes we’re excited to tell you about.

Comments
Comments empower users to engage in dialogue with others. Until now, commenting in the enterprise software context was inconsistent and limited.

Moving forward, each page in the OpenX platform will feature a static module for commenting that enables users to collaborate, discuss questions, and reconcile conflicts precisely where the topic lives. We like to think of this as the ultimate forum thread, allowing users to work together in real-time.

Improved Audit Trail
Historically, audit trails are perceived as clunky mathematical statements that are accessible to only a handful of highly trained users.

To address this problem, we’ve built a natural language audit trail. Minor changes are noted in plain English, with a singular sentence explaining what happened, while an extensive change can be tracked and accessed through an Accordion View, which displays a natural language explanation of actions taken.

An improved audit trail vastly increases transparency across the entire platform. Managers have a clear window into operations throughout the platform. And secondly, the audit trails empower users to identify and troubleshoot tiny mistakes or errors before they create big problems down the line.

Alerts, Notifications, and Following
Speaking to our users, we found that many teams use email and other tools that live outside the platform to surface and share vital institutional knowledge. The problem with that approach, however, is that it’s easy for information to fall through the cracks.

Our solution centralizes communication within the platform. We’ve employed an Alerts, Notifications, and Following architecture that’s akin to how Facebook works. As with Facebook, users can follow a specific topic, tag a relevant person who should weigh in on that topic, and set alerts to receive updates on specific topics or actions. No more searching for the right email chain, no more frantic phone calls, no more Post-It notes stuck to your monitor; just the essential information conveniently where you need it.

Stay tuned for more developments as they launch! And please share your thoughts @OpenX, because the best user experiences come from users sharing their experience.