Sunday, September 28, 2008

Move over GenXers - The Millennials are Here

Ever wonder how much our kids influence technology development. Here are a few things to consider:

A recent Harris Interactive survey reports that mobile teens are redefining what mobility will be for all of us. According to Steve Largent, president and CEO at CTIA, "Teens are a pivotal segment of wireless users. As the first generation born into a wireless society, how they use their cell phones and what they expect of these devices in the future will drive the next wave of innovation in our industry."

The study, based on the responses of more than 2,000 U.S. teenagers, reported:

- 57 percent of teens polled view their cell phones as the key to their social life.
- Over half of the respondents agree the cell phone has become a new form of entertainment.
-Texting is the preferred method of communication between teens. More than 1 billion text messages are sent each day with 42 percent of teens polled say they can text blindfolded.

What do teens want from wireless service? An ideal mobile device would include five applications: phone, MP3 player, GPS, laptop computer and video player. Adds Largent, "We've certainly come a long way in 25 years, and we expect teens to be a growth driver for the industry and have a major impact on the wireless landscape for years to come."

Abilene Christian University of Texas will be the first university to provide an iPhone or iPod touch to all incoming freshman – see news release. Students will use the iPod to receive homework alerts, respond to in-class surveys and quizzes, find their professor’s offices with integrated map solutions, and review meal account balances.

A video titled Connected, produced by ACU students, faculty and staff describes their vision of new learning environment and their goal of making these devices a key part of students’ “campus experience”.

ABI Research reports that college students using video-based solutions are driving the first wave of 802.11n deployments on campuses nationwide. The 802.11n wireless network standard (yet to be ratified) provides increased speed, coverage, and reliability, making wireless a viable platform for mission-critical applications.

At the World Business Forum in New York City, Cisco CEO John Chambers spoke of his vision of business innovation, stating that the social networking technologies embraced by young people will drive new business models for corporations.

According to Chambers, “Our children, with their social network[ing], have presented us with the future of productivity”. Chambers said. Chambers believes that the next stage of Internet development will drive a renewed productivity boom - like the one in the 1990s as the internet began maturing, leading to improved decision making and enhanced productivity.

Cisco is practicing what it preaches. According to Chambers:

- Use of internal wikis to share information between business units has jumped from just 4% in January to around 30% now.
- Use of Cisco’s C Vision, an internal YouTube-like video sharing site, has increased 10x in the last seven months.
- Use of collaboration tools is enabling Cisco to significantly increase the number of major projects (in particular the creation of new business) being worked on at once - from two a year to more than 24 annually.

See BusinessWeek coverage and videos.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Complexity of Simplicity

I recently finished reading The Laws of Simplicity by John Maeda, former MIT Media Lab director and now President of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). In this book, Maeda offers ten laws for balancing simplicity and complexity in business, technology, and design.

As a technology marketer and techno junkie, I share Maeda’s opinion that “technology has made our lives more full, yet at the same time we’ve become uncomfortably “full.” So how can we as product designers, product marketers, consumers, and technology users address this conflict? Consider the following:

Law 1: Reduce
The simplest way to achieve simplicity is through thoughtful reduction.

Law 2: Organize
Organization makes a system of many appear fewer.

Law 3: Time
Savings in time feel like simplicity.

Law 4: Learn
Knowledge makes everything simpler.

Law 5: Differences
Simplicity and complexity need each other.

Law 6: Context
What lies in the periphery of simplicity is definitely not peripheral.

Law 7: Emotion
More emotions are better than less.

Law 8: Trust
In simplicity we trust.

Law 9: Failure
Some things can never be made simple.

Law 10: The One
Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious, and adding the meaningful.

Details of these Laws of Simplicity can be found on Maeda’s blog.