Perpetual Beta

beta_testing

Definition of Perpetual Beta

Modern volatile IT environment with accelerating changes should be able to quickly learn new technological advancements and implement them in practice. This requires, however, the shift to greater openness and the adoption of the fact that the product is never finished (in beta state) as there will always appear new changes. Such approach is also reinforced by the popularity of web-based software which significantly increase the role of users in developing applications: “The rise of web-based services and cloud computing are moving the entire information technology world to a perpetual data mentality” (Wharton University of Pennsylvania 2011).As a matter of fact, analyzing interaction of users with web-based software and using these data for application improvement means that users are treated as co-developers. According to Tim O’Reilly, the perpetual data is the concept “in which the product is developed in the open, with new features slipstreamed in on a monthly, weekly, or even daily basis… Service such as Gmail, Google Maps… and the like may be expected to bear a “Beta” logo for years at a time” (O’Reilly n.d.).

Modern Examples where Perpetual Beta is Used

As a matter of fact, there is a matrix of modern examples where the notion of perpetual data is utilized starting from simple applications and ending with the whole operating systems and even whole IS of companies. Think of Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Flash player whose update searcher usually starts with your computer (although you can turn off this option). How many times per week/month you see that Adobe Flash Player receives updates? Another example is Windows where regular updates occur on a weekly basis. If you are still not convinced about the efficiency of perpetual data, the next example will surely persuade you. Modern companies focused on gaining advantages from making users co-developers. Lego or Threadless  not only offer their users participation in product refinement and improvement but they also encourage users to create and design new products. Now that is a very high level of trust in customers (Sloane 2014).

Advantages 

Based on the above mentioned examples, we can distinguish the following benefits of perpetual data:

Closer cooperation between application developers and users;

Through constant interaction market needs can be better met;

Faster response to any issues;

Increased quality of products as users participate in product improvement process as well;

Users are more educated how to use product as they participate in its creation.

Disadvantages

The need to constantly finance projects as they are never finished;

Privacy issues.

Conclusion

The perpetual data notion is based on two components: trusting/treating users as co-developers and collective intelligence. The notion of perpetual data has become the basic strategy for some companies which proves its effectiveness. Although advantages outweigh drawbacks, it is yet too early to talk what risk users run participating in perpetual data.

References:

O’Reilly, Tim. What is Web 2.0: End of Software Release Cycle. O’Reilly Media, n.d. Web 19 March 2015.  http://www.oreilly.com/pub/a/web2/archive/what-is-web-20.html?page=4

Sloane, Paual. Put Yourself into Perpetual Beta. Innovation Excellence, 16 Sep. 2014. Web 19 March 2015. http://www.innovationexcellence.com/blog/2014/09/16/put-yourself-into-perpetual-beta/

Wharton University of Pennsylvania. Is Google Stuck in ‘Perpetual Beta’?, 30 March 2011. Web 19 March 2015 http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/is-google-stuck-in-perpetual-beta/

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2 thoughts on “Perpetual Beta

  1. Hi Raed,

    Perpetual Beta in my opinion is quite frustrating when it requires the user to update the software on their computer. However, I know they are normally necessary in terms of security updates and bug fixes. If i were to build a system and use Perpetual Beta, I would ideally make it a web page which doesn’t require the user to do any software updates.

    Overall though perpetual beta is very good for system flexibility and updates especially for modifications of themes or games for certain events such as Christmas. Included all the advantages you mentioned are spot on however I’m sure they’ll also be quite a few more disadvantages.

    Good read and I liked the summary of advantages and disadvantages.

    Like

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