Vanguard of digital disruption – Is it the design or the technology?

The last decade has seen a sharp rise in technological maturity of the human civilization. The sheer number of products and devices that humans are dependent on today far outnumber that of the technological dependency of all the previous generations put together. And this number is going to Image-(27)further increase in the future. However, the key question still remains – is it the design or the underlying technology that is critical in supporting the insatiable human needs for convenience, performance and security among others?

Design is the user experience that the product offers to the end user while technology is the underlying backbone. Blackberry had a great design when it launched the early set of smartphones targeted at the business users. However, it continued using Blackberry OS and never upgraded its technology to become compatible with the new generation smartphones launched by Samsung and Apple. Blackberry OS eventually lost the race to Android and iOS. This is one of the best examples of a great design but poor technological compatibility to support the incoming generations.

On the other hand, Windows Vista, though launched with a superior technology than Windows XP served poorly in terms of user satisfaction. Due to issues with privacy, security, performance and product activation, Windows Vista had been the subject of a number of negative assessments. Vista was released prematurely when the world was not actually ready for it. Instead of having incremental changes, Microsoft released a product that was significantly different than its predecessor and had to bear the burden of an unsuccessful launch.

This shows it is not just a great design or a great technology that defines the commercial success and worldwide acceptability of the product, but there are other factors that influence too. Let us look at some of the most successful products till date. The most noted names that appear across all the lists are Apple iPod, Amazon Kindle & Google search engine. No doubt these products have matured over time and with subsequent launches improved in both technology and design. However, there is one thing that is common to all of them – simplicity. The most successful and innovative products are the most simple and easy to use. It is this single factor that has never changed across generations or versions of successful product launches during the last decade. Though Google has significantly advanced its search engine algorithms to provide the best results, the front end has almost remained unchanged till date. Apple launched iPod in different formats, but each of them provided a simple and consistent user experience to provide rich music. Each of these products was always focused on its objective and never tried to obfuscate the product itself.

Simplicity in design is indeed a great characteristic that has resonated across the ages. Today, with too much technology around, a common man cannot fathom overtly tortuous products no matter how many features they provide. What matters is how simple these products and features are to use.

In summary, an innovative idea implemented with a simple design, using a compatible technology that provides a commercially affordable and viable product will have the potential to change the world.

Shreyas Ravi

Associate Manager - Business Consulting, Virtusa. Shreyas is a lead business analyst for one of the key insurance account of Virtusa. He also has extensive experience in the telecommunication industry on the OSS Stack. His specialties include business analysis & design, claims processing, PEGA, OSS, service assurance – Telecom consulting, requirements gathering, process analysis & enhancement. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering from Mumbai University and MBA from Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, School of Business Management.

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