Going back to basics: Why simple technology is taking over

By Phoebe Barker

Image by cocoparisienne from Pixabay
Image by cocoparisienne from Pixabay

Recently the StoryShare offices installed a new coffee machine. This was surprisingly eventful, as it turns out many of our team are rather big caffeine fans.

The first job following the arrival of the new coffee machine was to get it set up. The machine was elaborate, with enough buttons and levers to fill a TARDIS, and yet not a single function made clear.

Once squeezed precariously in between the microwave and the sink, there was much debate as to what button did what. It was so complex that within no time at all there were two project managers, a finance administrator and our CTO huddled around the machine. Crucially the set up process took much longer than anticipated, with several undrinkable coffees made before anything came close to resembling a cappuccino.

At one point during the ordeal our CTO even declared:

“Why does technology have to be unnecessarily complex?”

It’s worth pointing out that these difficulties were experienced by some brilliant technological minds; individuals with significant capabilities and understanding. They’re also individuals who know their coffee. So why did the set up process of this machine take so much time? Is the failure by the user? Or by the manufacturer?

Too many buttons

In a world where attention spans are shrinking and information about literally anything can be accessed immediately, the human race is riddled with impatience and expectation. For the younger generations, including millennials and Gen Z, most technologies come so naturally they feel like an extension of the body. We’re barely into the 21st Century and we’ve become a country where information is instant,  change is constant and limits are a thing of the past.

With our time feeling increasingly more precious, and the ability to do more with less, there are new expectations for speed. This couldn’t be more present than in the technology we use. If we can’t have it immediately, many of us find we don’t want it at all.

While the need for speed grows in the technology sector, so does the expectation that function, ability and features should do so in parallel. This creates conflict, because at some point trying to do more in less (time) just stops being feasible.

Many employees face a daily struggle navigating across ginormous intranets that can barely carry their own functionality. Employees are being asked to engage with brand new tech without really knowing how to use it. For a lot of them, it’s simply not obvious. After all, what’s the point of a book if you can’t read the words?

Is it time to take a step back and remember that less is more?

Can you use a printer without going through the set up process? Or work your way through a website without someone there to talk you through it? Those who get a new phone, would you expect it to take a long time to get it up and running? Have you ever needed to read a manual when downloading a new application? Or sat through a tutorial before hopping on the tube?

Nine out of ten times I bet the answer is no.

It’s amazing how much better an experience is when you can just get on with it. 

The things that work the best and are the most impactful from day one are the ones which are simple. As Leonardo Da Vinci says,

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

Workplace tech

When it comes to technology at work, prioritise need and intention. Work out what you need to problem solve and improve the issue. Keep this the focus, and rather than getting distracted by design and extra “cool” features, sort the basics and share them with the biggest audience possible. If you’re worried it’s not enough, it’s still a foolproof way to start. Once you’ve got the basics down you’re in the best possible place to gradually grow and introduce more functionality, should you need it.

The message is clear: If you want, speed, security and scalability, keep things simple. At StoryShare, we read you loud and clear.


About StoryShare

StoryShare exists so employees can love their work.

StoryShare is a SaaS Communication and Learning Experience Platform optimised for mobile. The platform delivers ‘Netflix style’ communication and learning experiences to improve Employee Engagement and better equip people to do their jobs. The service can reach any employee, anytime, anywhere, on any device.

StoryShare is deployed at leading brands including Unilever, Accenture, Covestro, Renault and Upfield.