Simple trend?

Photo by Priwo

It’s getting to be that season of 2018 trend spotting. Someone recently asked me if I saw a trend in software becoming simpler…

I was a kid and my father oddly started coming home late at night from work. Worried, I asked my mom what he was up to. She told me he was working “overtime”.

My dad, a commercial real estate agent, was putting in extra hours to close some deals so he could afford to buy our first VCR and microwave.

And when he did, they were glorious. I couldn’t wait to go to the video store with my dad. My family would sit in front of the TV each with our own bowl of popcorn. Everything was right with the world.

Except, one thing.

The clock was always blinking. If the VCR ever lost power, and I wasn’t around to set the clock, my parents couldn’t ever figure out how to set the thing. Which was far from uncommon.

In 1990, almost one-third of VCR owners reported that they had never set the clock on the machine. –Robert Proctor, professor of psychology at Purdue University

It only gets worse.

In most surveys, the majority of people have never time-shifted just because they don’t know how to program their [VCRs]. –Tom Adams, television analyst

Most people who owned these innovative devices couldn’t benefit from one of the main features of the product — recording a show for later.

It’s no wonder TiVos and their kind took off. TiVos could connect to the internet and program themselves. Sure pausing live TV was huge, but even better — people didn’t have to learn how to set the damn clock.

Do I see a trend of software becoming simpler? Yes and no.

Let’s look at cars. Many people think Ford’s Model T was the “first car”. It wasn’t. Or they think it was the first mass produced car. It wasn’t that either.

One of the big reasons for its success however was because it was simple to fix. Owners could often fix it themselves and buy parts at hardware stores. Handy, especially when the concept of car mechanics wasn’t widespread yet.

You’re not fixing your car today. They’ve become exponentially more complex. But, now there’s a push back to simpler cars. Tesla simplified the dashboard by removing most of it. And if your Tesla needs improvements, many things can now just happen automatically with software updates. Like “Chill” mode that was released yesterday which provides a smoother, gentler ride.

Or look at CRMs. We have plenty of people who come to Highrise because they need something simple for their small business. They don’t need to learn another thing on top of the billion other things they’re juggling to run their business. But a couple years go by and Salesforce catches their eye. It’s got a ton of reports that might improve their business. Artificial intelligence!? Who doesn’t need that we’re told.

But then we see many of these Salesforce jumpers, come right on back to Highrise. “We realized we didn’t need all that stuff. The new things just got in the way.”

So, if you’re trying to strategize on what’s going to be trendy in business and software next year, I wouldn’t worry about “simple”. It might not be as buzzy today as it was yesterday, but it’s always in.

P.S. You should follow me on YouTube: youtube.com/nathankontny where I share more about how we run our business, do product design, market ourselves, and just get through life. And if you need a zero-learning-curve system to track leads and manage follow-ups, try Highrise.


Simple trend? was originally published in Signal v. Noise on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.


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