Emergic: Rajesh Jain's Blog

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Customer-driven IT

December 29th, 2002 · No Comments

Says David Moschella in an interview in Business Week:

If you look at the history of the [technology] business, innovations — from microprocessors to word-processing software — have always come from the supplier side, the computer companies making these products. But all the applications that have the potential to drive widespread societal use are much more customer issues than supplier ones, such as making online services that work and having people pay their bills or vote online.

The things that really drive the market are simple applications that 100% or 90% of the people might use — advertising, music, bill paying, health care, voting, and shopping. It’s very unlikely that it will be something that doesn’t have a significant base of activity already. The trick is to get from [the technology] touching 30% of people’s lives to touching 90%, like television, radio, and telephones all have done.

People often look for really exotic applications like artificial intelligence or robotics. It’s almost never these things. It’s very simple things that almost everyone can take advantage of that matter — word processing, Web browsers, or databases. Getting very high levels of acceptance is the key.

Elaborates Moschella on his website: “More broadly, only customers can establish many of the standards and procedures needed for the next generation of interoperable e-commerce systems, be they based upon Web Services, shared industry terminology, or advanced semantically-enabled applications. Indeed, over time, customers will steadily take control of many new standards processes. For these and other reasons, they have become the most important source of new IT-based value creation.”

This is what we need to keep in mind for our Emergic. How can we make people more productive with computers? For example, instead of just saying that there is a word processor (Open Office Write), we should provide templates for documents that people need to create. Given that our target is the next set of users, they are going to be less savvy about usage. We need to simplify their interaction with the computer. Our projects like the Digital Dashboard are a step in that direction.

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