Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Does your technology work like magic?

Recently I had a technology-challenged weekend and I thought I'd share some thoughts about it.

At the same time, I heard some great comments related to technology from two of tech's top thought leaders:  Jack Dorsey (Twitter & Square) and Tim O'Reilly (O'Reilly Media)  

First my technology challenges (have any of these happened to you?):

  • My Fitbit went through the washing machine (currently residing in a bag of rice to dry out)
  • While working outside in the yard, I seemlessly bluetooth-connected my iPhone to my Jawbone Jambox  and then to tried connect my iPhone to my iTunes library just inside the house through the "Sharing" function on the iPhone music app.  It wouldn't connect.
  • I took some nice pictures with my iPhone at a street concert Friday night and wanted to edit them on the device using one of my various photo apps.  I like iPhoto, but it has so many capabilities it is actually confusing and I couldn't get the photo the way I wanted it (and the software claimed it could).
  • I finally bought a wireless camera to be able to monitor the house while away.  The setup instructions and step through from the manufacturer were perfectly clear and simple.  Except, they forgot to include the one important step of connecting the camera to the computer one time.  Unbelievably, this was not included in the instructions and I had to spend 20 minutes researching on line.  Once this step was included, the camera worked perfectly and wirelessly. 

Meanwhile in an interview on CBS's 60 minutes on 3/17/13, Jack Dorsey talks about taking his staff out to the Golden Gate Bridge, which he describes as "the perfect intersection between art and engineering.  It has pure utility."  He goes on to say that his point to his colleagues "is that when people look at the bridge, they don't think about the commuters or how it functions.  They admire its simplicity and beauty and good software should work the same way".  He goes on to say (regarding software, technology, bridges) it should just work!

Tim O'Reilly,  in a recent presentation at Stanford, refers to Jack Dorsey's commerce Solution, Square, as working like magic because the app, the device and the technology leverages all the capabilities of the mobile device.   It's a great talk, primarily about mobile, exploiting the device's technology to create simplicity, and available here.

Having been involved in digital technology for most of the past 15 years and observing friends, family, and co-workers who aren't geeks, don't care to be geeks and won't invest the time into figuring out how something works, it has become clearly evident to me that the winners (today and in the future) will be the technology that "simply works" like magic.   Where one doesn't' have to think about it or invest time in it to make it works.

Here's the money quote:  (and this is true for all business, regardless of whether there is technology involved or not)   "It just has to work....every time".  
Think: 'light switch'.

So as I think about my iPhone again.  These are the apps that I don't have to think about and work "like magic" for me:

What do you think?


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