many, many, moons ago...

The story and milestones of the What if program

July 2020
The top 10 Usability Project
Based on user feedback, the Public Cloud team identified the top 10 usability issues with the platform. The goal was to identify issues for the platform, offer a solution and build it in 6 months.
This brought up a very important question - if we are only designing for what our platform will look like 6 months from now, how will we ever design for the future? How will we design for longevity? What if instead of focusing on the pain points of yesterday, we designed for a platform 3 years from now?
August 2020
The official start of the "What if..." Program
Adam Lankford kick off the "What if..." program at the Public Cloud Design All-hands, bringing the question of what our platform will look like in three years straight to the source. This date also marks the start of the #cloudwhatif slack channel, opening up the program to all interested and willing to participate.
October 2020
"What if..." Presentation at the Howard Boville All Hands
Adam presented the "What if..." program to the whole public cloud platform team reporting up to Howard Boville at the 3Q All-hands. That day alone the #cloudwhatif channel saw 24 new ideas from designers, developers, project managers, offering managers, mangers and executives, with more being added every day.
November 2020
"What if..." Design Jam
Over 200 global designers came together to form over 20 teams on a single day, taking inspiration from the submitted ideas within the #whatif slack channel to create groundbreaking prototypes. 
A grid with different IBMers who contributed to the design jam
Finals/Winners announced
January 2021
"What if..." Workgroup formed
A small workgroup of dedicated designers formed from the IBM Cloud product team to synthesize and ingest the themes presented from the Q4 design jam, consisting of Bill Grady, Adam Lankford, Dylan Dotolo, Erica Raymond, Lisa Kaiser and Sam Winslet
A screenshot of a mural board reviewing and organizing all of the different design jam entries.
March 2021
"What if..." Project Update to Howard Boville
After synthesizing the results from the design jam, the "What if..." team identified 12 emerging themes that carried across the 21 different presentations. Bill Grady and Adam Lankford presented these and the team's progress in a playback to Howard Boville, ensuring executive buy-in for the program.
April 2021
With Howard Boville's blessing and the inspiring work from the design jam, the "What if..." team started to design product screens and visuals to craft a story illustrating the possibilities of the future of the cloud and what could be...
May 2021
"What if..." Carbon playback
The teams in the design jam not only captured futuristic ideas, but new and innovative designs. Inspired by these designs, the "What if..." team synthesized the designs in their screens and presented the possibilities of the future to Mike Abbink and the Carbon team at a Carbon playback. 
May-June 2021
"What if..." video production
Now that the team had designs in place with approval from the Carbon team, they needed a way to showcase them. Using the 12 themes from the design jam and the synthesized designs, the team crafted a script and storyboard to tell the story of what the future could be, producing the 3 minute video featured here.
June 2021
"What if..." Video Playback to Marketing
Needing a place to showcase the newly minted video, the "What if..." team presented their story to Deon Newman, IBM Cloud Marketing VP, inspiring the upcoming marketing campaign, "The future of Cloud". Not only will these idea permeate our internal projects but will now reach our customers around the world.
Presented "What if..." Video at Arin's 1H All Hands
With executive and marketing buy in, It was finally time to share the fruits of everyone's labor with the design organization responsible for it. The "What if..." team presented their process, progress and video with over 450 designers at Arin's 1H All Hands.
The story had been told, the scene was set and now the team needed to start actually bringing these themes into our product and creating the cloud of the future. And that's where you come in. We need your help to bring these ideas to life. Submit your big idea for the future of cloud here.