Jobs is gone (and this time he won’t be back)…at least I’m 99% sure of it.  Let’s face it, our world feels different.  Whether you were a fan of Steve Jobs or not, there’s no denying the fact that Apple changed the world (if you haven’t seen it yet, I recommend checking out this commencement speech).  I have always described Apple products as simple, yet able to deliver a level of elegance and just the right amount of “drama.” Okay, you’re just about to bolt as you think this is yet another weepy tribute to Jobs and Apple – it ain’t, I promise.

Apple launched the iPhone 4S recently and the night(s) before going on sale, people were camped outside the Apple stores waiting to get their paws on the new(er) iPhone device. Yes, I understand, you want the thing in your hands and just can’t wait…but really?  What’s with people wanting to be guinea pigs when it comes to technology?  In tech, this phenomenon seems to be more intense than in any other industry.  Why the fascination with being “the first” when it comes to tech?  The industry calls these types “early adopters”.  Let’s be honest, they are guinea pigs – or “pigs” for short.  Why would anyone ever want to be the first to deal with bugs, security issues, and often the fact that the devices flat out won’t work – and to top that, pay triple (at a minimum) the price for the same product compared to the price six months or a year from now?  Correction:  In six months or a year, that same product will have gone through three or four iterations and then it will finally be a stable product – so it’s not the same product after that time period — and you can get it for a much lower cost (or more than likely, for free).

Does the time spent to wait in line matter?  What about the time-value of the dollars spent (and lost) for paying 3x, 4x or higher for a product that will be given a way a year from now?  What about the time spent on hold with tech support or at your local ATT or Verizon store dealing with issues, replacements, etc?

Now apply the same logic to your business when it comes to technology solutions.  We all have the tendency to jump on the next big thing.  For example, you probably have someone telling you to get on the cloud computing bandwagon and another telling you to go SaaS with products like SalesForce.com (“SFC” for short), amongst other “new technologies”.  It’s easy to get lost in all the hype as it feels like you will miss the boat (or not have something to talk about on the golf course) if you don’t buy into all this “must have” technology.   If you remember one thing from this blog, take away the following:

Common Sense Rules (“CSR”)

Before you consider a new Content Management System (CMS) that’s integrated into your CRM via SaaS and Cloud Integration…step back and think “CSR”.  The mantra “Keep It Simple Stupid” has been lost and now when you hear it spoken, it sounds dated and stale – don’t let it.  Embed that old phrase into your twenty-something-tech-people’s minds so it becomes second nature (of course they don’t have to be tech people, but this is a tech blog, so went with it).  If you prefer the term “CSR” instead, because it sounds more in tune with present day, go with that – but don’t let the forces around your organization allow the message to get lost.

Technology, like life, is best represented in our minds, as I see it, by the Yin-Yang symbol.  It’s all about balance and that can only be achieved, as Apple has taught us, by maintaining simplicity, common sense and focus.  These are not mutually exclusive.  Don’t just jump into technology, take a common sense approach and apply this approach to your specific business needs.

And the next time you’re sitting in the conference room with department heads discussing a new CRM, back office credit workflow application or other technology upgrade, don’t forget to ask the actual sales people and/or credit support staff to join the meeting and speak up.  They don’t call them “support staff” for nothing.  I am always amazed when working on enterprise solutions how often the actual people who will be doing the work aren’t involved (or only minimally), yet they are the people that will make or break whether the new solution is a success and end up defining the bottom line in terms of not only ROI, but efficiency, customer support, etc.

Remember KISS, CSR, and Steve Jobs when it comes to technology.  Just because you don’t have an MIT degree (remember, Jobs never graduated from college) or even a clue about how technology works, doesn’t mean you can’t build a phenomenal technology solution and create much better solutions when it comes to improving your business and beating out competitors.

Steve Jobs said…

“That’s been one of my mantras — focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

“My model for business is The Beatles. They were four guys who kept each other’s kind of negative tendencies in check. They balanced each other and the total was greater than the sum of the parts. That’s how I see business: great things in business are never done by one person, they’re done by a team of people.”

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