Technology has clearly changed how we work. Mobile devices, for example, have allowed for a more flexible work environment, making it easier to work from anywhere on almost any device.
Whatever changes we adopt, the bottom line remains the same; we want to get our jobs done and done well. And when the technology we’re accustomed to using works, we don’t want to take the time to learn something new. Email is the perfect example. The tech community continues to argue whether email is a dying form of online communication. While tools such as IM have helped us communicate faster, we still use email as our core content management system because we have not yet found another platform that’s better.
My previous post asked whether our digital work habits were helping or hindering productivity. Today, the question is what if something could make doing our jobs significantly better than the status quo? Would we change?
What merits technological change?
I may be going out on a limb, but I think a new solution needs to be at least 10 times better than the current solution if a company or individual is going to make the switch. But what makes something at least 10 times better? Think of it this way. How much time have I spent on learning? How much does it change my work habits? Are there are tangible benefits? Going back to the email example and how IM has replaced email in places; IM is simple to use, easy to understand, and it provides an immediate response where email could take days for a reply. This is what makes IM at least 10 times better than email in certain instances.
The experience vs. features phenomenon
One of the best examples of this phenomenon I’ve seen is one software company’s testing of the next version of its flagship software. The company invested heavily in a simplified user experience, designed to enable users to more easily discover the features they needed as well as expose them to other tools that might be helpful. The company’s development teams took the existing features from the previous product and put them into this new user interface. They then got a wide variety of users – from new to very experienced – to use the new product. The most remarkable comments came from experienced users, who could not believe how much had been added to the new version, even though the only difference was a new user experience.
Every company or individual can tell you exactly when they decided to switch their processes to something better. For an individual, it might be the realization of how much time is being wasted in a particular effort. For companies, it tends to be something that impacts the bottom line. These decisions often have additional, unforeseen benefits as well.
One of my favorite examples comes from a major accounting firm. Their “tipping point” was in their financials. They realized they were spending 25 percent more in software costs than needed. A change was in order, and for them it was standardizing their tools.
The results? They not only were able to reduce costs, but they also reduced software management time by 98 percent, improved productivity and collaboration among their employees, and kept ahead of the competition.
With new tools and software, it used to be that “powerful” meant complicated. If you were prepared to take a class, read a book and invest significant time in learning, then that software or tool was more credible and capable of getting the job done. However, in the past few years, the web, mobile apps and the consumerization of software have all contributed to creating a new paradigm; the easier and more intuitive the tool, the better and more likely it is adopted.
Yet we all suffer from some level of risk aversion and fall to “the old way of working.” I am guilty of this sometimes, and I suspect most people are as well. We know what it takes to get things done today, however old-fashioned. If we sit back and critically evaluate from a technological perspective how we work as individuals, teams and as a company, the red flags will emerge and change will follow.
Has your company experienced a technological “tipping point” recently? Or have you personally switched to something you consider at least 10 times better? Please share in the comments.
(Photo credit: hand holding the world and email via Shutterstock)