Simplicity, the next big thing?

Complex processRecently, Dynatrace conducted a survey of CIOs on their top challenges. Of the top six, almost all deal with concerns about complexity. There is no doubt there are numerous technologies being injected in almost every industry from a range of vendors. Integration of this multivendor cacophony is ripe with security risks and misunderstanding – whether it is your network or IoT vendor environment.

Humans have a limited capacity to handle complexity before they throw up their hands and just let whatever happens wash over them. That fact is one of the reasons AI is being viewed as the savior for the future. Back in 2008, I wrote a blog post for HP that mentioned:

“the advent of AI could allow us to push aside a lot of the tasks that we sometimes don’t have the patience for, tasks that are too rigorous or too arduous.”

IT organizations needs to shift their focus back to making the business environment understandable, not just injecting more automation or data collection. Businesses need to take latency out of decision making and increase the level of understanding and confidence. A whole new kind of macro-level (enterprise) human interface design is required. Unfortunately, this market is likely a bit too nebulous to be targeted effectively today other than through vague terms like analytics…  But based on the survey results, large scale understanding (and then demand) appears to be dawning on leadership.

The ROI for efforts to simplify and encourage action, should be higher than just adding a new tool to the portfolio ablaze in most organizations. We’ll see where the monies go though, since that ROI is likely to be difficult to prove when compared to the other shiny balls available.

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Measuring simple in a conference like #SapphireNow

As I was walking around the SapphireNow event and interacting with attendees, I began to really look at where they were from. A significant percentage didn’t really have money to spend on their own, they were service and support organizations needed to help others.

Yesterday, I mentioned the surprise I encountered with the philosophy shift embedded in the approach of SAP’s new online store. One of the likely outcomes of this approach is less hand-holding and more empowered employees actually generating value for their business using the new capabilities.

One measurement to watch over-time is the mix and background of the attendees. If the utilization is truly becoming simple there will be less ‘facilitators’ and more people with money to spend and value to generate directly in the business.

I remember back in 1989-1991, I worked as the technical architect of an emergency response system and corporation to react to oil spills, after the Exxon Valdez. One thing we had to do was make the entire interface simple to use and operate. There was definitely complexity behind the scenes – it was just that in an emergency any unnecessary distraction is costly. We knew that most of the people who would use the system would not have the option of training. We had to target the needs of the consumer of the system.

If SAP’s systems are really becoming simple, the attendee mix should reflect their ability to consume solutions directly. But that might be just my perspective.