Words matter: Customize to configure

Let’s look at some definitions when it comes to software development and the nuances each one plays:

Customize: to modify or supplement with code development internally to match end-user requests, it may not be preserved during an upgrade. This could be analogous to hacking into a game like Pokemon Go and enabling end-users the ability to spoof their locations, to obtain regional exclusive pocket monsters.

Tailoring: modifying or supplementing without code to enable a system into an environment.  Analogous to downloading Pokemon Go a Google play store or Apple app store, where the right version of the app is downloaded into the right environment.

Personalization: meeting the customers’ needs effectively and efficiently.  This is achieved by analyzing customer data and using predictive analytics.  A great way is using the Active Sync tool to encourage players of Pokemon Go to be more active, but realizing there are three tiers to active players and personalizing the rewards based on those levels that are achieved.  Personalization can also be seen with character customizations, clothing, poses, and buddy pokemon.

Configure: it is the process of setting up options and features tailored to meet implementation of business requirements.  In pokemon go, some people want to achieve a full pokedex, some like the gym system, some like the 1:1 battles, 1:1 trades, side quests, beating the villains, etc. You can configure your goals in the game by doing one or all, and you can do it to the amount that you want, meeting your requirements for satisfaction in playing the game.

Now if we want to think of these concepts on a continuum:

Customize <——- Tailoring ——- Personalization ——-> Configuring

where the cost of complexity decreases from right to left, constriction in growth decreases from right to left, and a decrease in profit margin occurs from right to left.

The question now becomes, its the additional complexity on this spectrum worth the extra cost incurred?

That is for you to decide.



Literature reviews

Side Note: This particular post was on my to-do list for a long time.

A literature review as a process containing a deep consideration of the current literature, to aid in identifying the current gaps in the existing knowledge, as well as building up the context for your research project (Gall, Gall, & Borg, 2006).  The literature review helps the researcher to build upon the works of other researchers, for the purpose of contributing to the collective knowledge. Our goal in the literature review will be undermined if we conduct any of the following common flaws (Gall et al., 2006):

  1. A literature review that becomes a standalone piece in the final document
  2. Analyzing results from studies that are not sound in their methodology
  3. Include the search procedures used to create this literature review
  4. Having only one study on particular ideas in the review, which may suggest the idea is not mature enough

For a literature review, one should be learning their field by reviewing the collective knowledge in the field by studying:

  • The beginning of {your topic}
  • The essence of {your topic}
  • Historical overview {your topic}
  • Politics of {your topic}
  • The Technology of {your topic}
  • Leaders in {your topic}
  • Current literature findings of {your topic}
  • Overview of research techniques {your topic}
  • The 21st century {your topic} Strategy

Creswell’s (2014), proposed that a literature map (similar to a mind map) of the research is a useful way to organize the literature, identify ideas with a small number of sources, determine the current issues in the existing knowledge, and determine the reviewers current gap in their understanding of the existing knowledge.  Finally, Creswell in 2014, listed what a good outline for a quantitative literature review should have:

  1. Introduction paragraph
  2. Review of topic one, which contains the independent variable(s).
  3. Review of topic two, which contains the dependent variable(s).
  4. Review of topic three, which provides how the independent variable(s) relate to the dependent variable(s).
  5. Summarize with highlights of key studies/major themes, to state why more research is needed.

Cresswell’s is generally a good method, but not the only one.  You can use a chronological literature review, where you build your story from the beginning to the present. In my dissertation, my literature review had to tie multiple topics into one: Big Data, Financial forecasting, and Hurricane forecasts.  I had to use the diffusion of innovation theory to transition between Financial and Hurricane forecast, to make the leap and justify the methodologies I will use later on.  In the end, you are the one that will be writing your literature review and the more of them you read, the easier it will be to define how you should write yours.

Here is a little gem I found during my second year in my dissertation: Dr. Guy White (2014) in the following youtube video has described a way to effectively and practically build your literature review. I use this technique all the time.  All of my friends that have seen this video have loved this method of putting together their literature reviews.