Simplicity wins the customer

My computer has had a series of viruses and other problems lately that eventually necessitated wiping the hard drive clean. I now know much more about its inner workings than I cared to learn. I resent having that knowledge.

I couldn’t have agreed more with Ed Zander, president and CEO of Sun Microsystems, when he said at a press conference recently that both his sons know how to configure PCs and that’s knowledge they shouldn’t have to have. “It should be easier than that.” Taking it further, he said “asking customers to be integrators ain’t going to work”. He noted that the IT manager’s boss just wants the application to be up and running with the vendor taking responsibility for the integrating. He cited an Oracle/Sun program as an example of certified configurations that reduce conflict for customers.

In a presentation on total cost of ownership (TCO) at the recent Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Toronto, Gartner analyst Bill Kirwin noted the complexity of technology as a major cost driver. He cited “messing around with technology” either in self-support or peer support as one of the significant time consumers which eats away at workers’ productivity.

I’m convinced that ease of use is the true turn-on to wireless applications. Hewlett-Packard Company last July introduced Cooltown to Canada, presenting scenarios where people could use their PDAs to effortlessly get information or pop and other products and services. One scenario was getting into your car and through biometrics, your car automatically adjusts the seat, mirror and radio station to your settings.

This issue, a print companion to the Web site, reports on a new, simpler ATM concept from NCR that makes it easy to do banking with a PDA device.

It also highlights a host of other IT initiatives within the dynamic world of financial services. Some of these initiatives are wireless applications. All are focused on ultimately wooing the customer in this hugely competitive market.

Take it from me: making it easier for your customers to use your products is a key competitive advantage. Complexity drives the computer world but simplicity – especially ease of use — wins the customer.