Innovation's Challenge: Focus on the End User


It’s the year 2030. You step into your Tesla-powered self-driven car, sit back and listen to Zoro (Siri’s older brother) as he reads your high priority emails to you.  

As you drive past locations you’ve visited before, your car window becomes a transparent image library, allowing you to reminisce about that time you shared a waffle with your fiancé at iHop. 

The chip planted in your ear softly rings, you clench your jaw to answer. It’s your wife. “Hi love, I’ve just received notification that you were looking at our selfies from iHop, how fun was that?” 

You arrive at a nondescript office building, where you join thousands of strangers who have also picked this location to work. Companies have disbanded their headquarters as all staff are now able to work from anywhere.  

Cloud technology is no longer cloud technology — it’s just technology — and the word “on premises” has been retired along with floppy, CD-ROMs and VHS. And internet connectivity is a constitutional right across the globe …. 

The world described above is not as far off as one imagines. Did you watch “Back to the Future”? Did you ever think hoverboards would be a thing?   

Most of these concepts are already in research and development phase. So it’s not IF, but rather WHEN our world will become one interconnected web of non-stop information. 

Innovation Needs to Change Gears

Software companies are releasing new cloud platform features at a pace that makes it hard for businesses to keep up.   

What’s becoming clear though is that these software vendors are focusing on the wrong end of the applications. 

In order for us to keep up with the future of innovation, we have to focus on the basics.  

While we have access to task-focused applications that easily take care of our daily needs, providing us with the ability to email, create documents, presentations and much more, the constant addition of new features meant to improve usability without any thought to improving user experience is a concerning trend.   

User experience should encompass more than just design to include a carefully crafted strategy, implemented to ensure every feature added is actually needed, relevant, visually appealing and easily accessible.  

Technology should improve and simplify our lives and increase our efficiency and productivity. Yet productivity solutions increasingly face challenges with user-adoption.  

It is mind-boggling to see how many features vendors add to productivity solutions without addressing the core functionality of user adoption.

We can achieve user adoption by placing a strong focus on creating user interfaces that are not only easy to use, but amazing to use.  

The Future of Productivity 

In the scenario of 2030 that I sketched above, everything “under the hood” already exists. What doesn’t exist is how and through what we will seamlessly access these functionalities. 

This is the user interface. 

This is the client experience. 

This is the true next frontier of productivity.

Title image by SpaceX

Francois, a SharePoint evangelist, is the director of enterprise content management (ECM) at Mint Management Technologies in Gauteng, South Africa. He is responsible for shaping and architecting the technology landscape of business-critical customer projects.


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