An excellent article in the June issue of Unlimited Magazine by Mike Hutcheson of Lighthouse Ventures. It’ll be online on the Unlimited website once the July issue comes out but the June issue is good and well worth the $9.50 newsstand price.

In his opinion piece Mike bemoans the extraneous features resplendent in many of today’s products and uses the example of the long forgotten Apple Newton. Mike rightly comments that the Newton tried to be to much, too soon for too many and pretty much failed on all accounts. He also uses the example of a new Shacklock stove from the ’60’s which, when released, had a plethora of features including set and forget cooking. Mike rightly points out that the market was not quite ready for this feature, fearful as it was of burning the house down, and the product never took off.

Mike’s comments should be very much taken notice of by New Zealand businesses, and especially tech businesses. Too often design is seen as something for the industrial designers – a “we can/we will” approach. I’d love to see Design (capitalisation intentional) move into a more holistic implementation and used at all levels and on all aspects of a business. Products would thus be brought to market with a “they need it/we’ll work out how we can/we will” ethos.

I guess this is where Better By Design would like to be the pre-eminent provider. Without jumping onto my soapbox however I’m of the opinion that BBD has somewhat fallen short of it’s potential. To this end there is some great work going on in some other design consultancies. Over at DesignIndustry they run programmes that have a truly holistic viewpoint of design.

DesignIndustry’s “Winning Personas” programme should be a “must attend” for a huge number of NZ businesses.

SaaS in particular, and Xero as a domestic example, shows a fairly pure “provide the service without any superfluity” approach and is an interesting model to study. The challenge now is to take this simple approach and implement it on other types of product and service offerings.

An interesting challenge for design, Design

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

1 Comment
  • Agree wholeheartedly that simplicity in all aspects of business is something we should strive for. It enables greater efficiency and saves time and resources.

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