I’m drowning. I’m drowning in too much information, I’m drowning in too much functionality, and I’m drowning because I don’t really get what I need and not as fast as I want it.
Where are we heading with our information systems these days? It seems to me that the amount of data I get increases every day, but the amount of information stays about the same. My ability to act on information diminishes more and more.
Systems are getting more complex every day. This increased complexity requires users to be more involved in understanding an applying technology, whether that is at home or at work. It actually becomes an issue for people that just don’t like technology as much as others do. We provide them systems that can do more, but they cannot do more. They would actually like to do less in these systems, and have the systems itself do more.
Web applications develop much faster into applications that are very usable, you can pretty easily customize the application and the applications are for the most part so much simplified that any average user can use them. Commercial websites get instantly punished if they don’t. Users will flock to other websites and companies values diminish into obsolesce.
Feedback with business applications is much more delayed. Significant investments are tied up in large projects. These investments amortize over a long period of time and are not being replaced as fast as we switch to a different search engine, web browser or mapping software. We just cannot.
Of course, business applications are much more complex and cover much more functionality then these comparatively simple applications, but they could learn from them. Business applications should be designed with user productivity in mind. Functionality that is not needed or not used needs to go away. Progress in Business applications is, when users do the same work with less effort, or can get more work done with the same amount of time spend on keyboards and displays.
Solution providers are more often than not in love with themselves. Pride of features and functionality and the ongoing increase of these make the software in general more valuable, because it can do more. Some of that value diminishes if the users are required to do more. In these instances software can neutralize the value it creates. It becomes self serving. I think software vendors are well served if they design software with the end goal in mind and the least amount of steps necessary to achieve that goal. Maximizing functionality does not lead to better solutions, companies like google, facebook and apple prove this point all too often.