The big aha moment didn’t come for me until I strolled through the halls of SXSW this year. Having been at the front-end of a tech startup company, my focus has always been on what software can accomplish – on what the little 1s and 0s can automate for the customer. But at the national gathering of geeks, artists and marketers, it was obvious that the lines are completely blurred for the customer, just as the lines between programmers, artists and marketers are becoming more and more blurred. The customer sees technology as an entire package, a package that includes the image of the company (and how that image reflects on them), how they are treated by the people of the company, and what kind of information the company shares with them. A tech company could have the biggest, most intricate, innovative software product in the world, but if the content, service or marketing isn’t there, the software isn’t going to be adopted.
During a session on HTML5 for Film, the film makers on the panel talked about how the technology used to deliver their film affects how the audience experiences the product (film). In the audience’s mind, the code behind the delivery of the movie is an integral part of the quality of the movie. And vice versa – the information provided about and within your software, including the information the user is supposed to help provide, affects the customer’s experience of the product.
A recent comment on an article about the limited adoption of google plus mentioned that the mistake google made was not to import the user’s existing content from facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, etc, into google plus. Google, being the tech company that they are, focused on how the technology works. The customer’s experience using the software, however, was greatly hampered by the lack of content.
Letting the user share about their software experience has also become embedded into the technology identity. Although normally a tech company would see sharing, tweeting and facebook-ing about their product as marketing, many customers consider the ability to share about their use of technology an integral part of it.
Technology companies that focus just on the functionality of the software will see less and less user adoption as the software marketplace becomes more mature.