Wednesday, October 04, 2006

How Enterprise 2.0 Products Can Succeed

Much food for thought on Andrew McAfee's blog discussing John Gourville's concept of the "9x Email" problem which new technologies must overcome - "a mismatch of 9 to 1 between what innovators think consumers want and what consumers actually want."

People - real people, not tech people, who sometimes seem to be rabidly adopting the newest, most obscure technology for no other reason than to claim "geekier than thou" bragging rights amongst their peers - have an inbuilt tendency to stick with what they know. Gourville suggests that in order for new technology to go viral, it must offer a tenfold improvement over what's already out there. The problem is that in order to overcome the inertia associated with the status quo, en evolutionary, not revolutionary approach is called for:

Gourville's research suggests that the average person will underweight the prospective benefits of a replacement technology for it by about a factor of three, and overweight by the same factor everything they're being asked to give up

McAfee takes the example of email versus "groupware", and cites the intuitive nature of email interfaces as a point of comparison for Enterprise 2.0 apps. Just about everyone "gets" email as a concept, and the critical problem for Enterprise 2.0 technologies is one of interfaces. Rather than adding more and more bells and whistles to an interface, we should concentrate on making the interfaces clean, elegant, and instantly-comprehensible. This is a viewpoint I wholeheartedly share, but McAfee puts it very succinctly:

A great UI not only heightens the perceived benefits of a proposed collaboration technology, it also lowers the perceived costs.
The greatest challenge here, I think, doesn't have to do with making the browser sufficiently application-like ... It has to do with making technologists sufficiently user-like -- getting them to stop thinking in terms of bells and whistles and elaborate functionality, and to start thinking instead about busy users with short attention spans who need to get something done, and who can always reach for email

Insightful stuff.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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