Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Apple's Innovation Legacy

There has been quite a bit media coverage bemoaning the lack of innovation in the new iPhone 5S release (For example, see this review.) Well, people were saying the same thing about the iPhone 4 and probably before that too...

Yes, people always want more, faster, smoother and some novelty goodies - but is that "innovation"? To my mind the real and massive innovation of the iPhone was all about usability and UX. I'd been using some kind of smart phone for about a decade, and then along comes the iPhone and my reaction was "wow! this actually works and is a pleasure to use". (I didn't jump straight in there, I was far to much of a cynic to believe the initial hype).

If only companies and organisations could make their customer service and business processes as easy to use as Apple made the iPhone then THAT would be a massive "innovation". This is not primarily a technology issue - the technology that can make this happen is already there (Paper River makes and provides some of it!) Innovation is fundamentally about the combination of caring enough to improve something and the imagination as to how that might be done.

Steve Jobs famously wanted the circuit boards of his products to "look beautiful" - well if that is any kind of comparison, I have witnessed many business process designs and I'm not sure if I ever saw one that you could describe as beautiful. I'm not saying that it's not possible, just that I'm not sure you'd easily find a business analyst that cared enough to make the process design beautiful (though some are clearly thinking about usability)  ...and that's even assuming there is somebody that actually owns the process in the first place.

Apple's innovation legacy that continues to secure a healthy market share was to create a friendly, intuitive, attractive and powerful smart phone that really worked. This is why we the BYOD phenomenon came about. And on Apple's coat-tails other products surged forward. Rather than the novelty, people should look to quality in innovation. And if you're looking at improving your business processes then this is an equally good steer.

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