Monday, February 17, 2020

When Less Is Best

Late in 2019, Apple obsoleted my trusty iPad Mini II.  No more OS updates, may not run the latest apps, etc.  So I figured it was time for a new iPad... right up until the time I saw the prices. Yikes!!!

The expense of a new iPad, even a Mini, made me step back and reconsider my approach.  I started by considering my uses of the iPad.  I don't really create much with an iPad - it's just too limited for the type of work I do. And I don't communicate much with it, as I have an iPhone for calls, txt, and video chats. I use my iPad to consume:  books, movies, social media and news.

Once I understood my own use cases for the iPad, I realized I could fill my needs with a much less expensive device.  I settled on an Amazon Fire HD 8 (thanks to my kids for the nifty Christmas present).  And it works great for what I do, especially after setting it up to side load from Google Play.  My old Mini has been retired to a life as a digital photo frame and I'm really happy with the Fire.  Is the Fire as elegant of an experience as the Mini?  Not by a long shot.  But it gets the job done quite well.  And, at last check, the Fire is about 20% of the price of a new iPad Mini.  A great example of less being best.

I see this quite a bit in the way users work with enterprise applications - in my specific case, observations are from helping customers with Oracle HCM Cloud Enterprise Applications.  Users expend significant costs in terms of time and labor facilitating some very complicated use cases, many of which are either unnecessary or rarely encountered.  When we collaborate with those customers on those use cases, the end result is often that less is best.  Often they're focused on a specific use case because they have not considered another process for getting the job done. Other times it's a matter of the use case not being as critical to the business as originally thought.  And sometimes it's due to a legal or industry requirement that no longer exists.  And there are many more causes.  But it always makes my day when the lightbulb comes on and people realize they can make do quite well with much less than they originally thought.

I've seen this surface frequently in working with customers on the mobile-enabled Responsive UX.  Simplification was a driving design concept in building out Responsive UX, which means some less used and less important features were culled from the product.  Less is best, based on the feedback we've received from customers who have adopted the new UX.

So the upshot here?  Step back, take a breath, and think about how you use your enterprise apps.  Can you find instances where less would be best?  I'll bet you find more than one.

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