User-centric part #1

You know there’s trouble when Gates (aka Microsoft) “gets” it. They don’t do things by halves.

In this (very short) article he says:

Everything we do now, we have to be user-centric, not device-centric 

If he doesn’t “get” it, then what he has in mind is to improve the user-interface of Office 12 and Windows to expose more stuff to users.

If he really gets it, then he intends to completely change all applications everywhere in a VASTLY more fundamental way.

The writer of the article obviously didn’t “get it” at all – he/she named the articles “Gates: Yes, We Get It, the Future Is Online” and that’s entirely wrong. The online bit was last century. This article should have been named “Gates: Yes, We Get It, the Future Is User-Centric not Device-Centric”

Here are some changes that will occur within the industry:

  • Most applications currently look and work the way admins want, not the way users want. Changing the colors of windows really isn’t customisation.
  • The user is permanently “sandboxed” into a very narrow space of functionality. The sandbox will be removed. Users will set the boundaries.
  • The application will not be a defined thing, but a collection of tools which the user combines and recombines until they have it the way they want it. Where does blogging begin, when you consider flikr and other yahoo features? And what are all of those when you take into account Yahoo! 360.
  • Mashups are cool, but most people can’t do it. Only the geeks. Mashups will take off when a mashup is as simple as dragging this thing onto that – and a connection is made between the two. I know it’s not the current model of mashups, but it’s a user-oriented mashup.
  • Sharing will explode when mashups are that easy (see above) and the change in relationship that the user created is then able to be shared with other users.

What underpins all these technology changes is the phenomenal rise of the individual. The individual is saying – if you don’t let me do it my way, I will move to another vendor who will let me do it my way. So there is a mad rush to let the user do whatever they want.

There are an enormous number of companies and projects already in this space.

For this reason I am about to move 600 photographs from one storage-display site across to another one which has far more features and benefits that I want.  Ugh. 600. And then move the text.  Reindex it all. Categories. It could take forever… but the features are so much better – I guess it’s got to be worth it? It is. I think so.

This change from device to user-centric reminds me that I read a book about GE and how they refocussed from their “devices” to services. They began to make heaps of money again after that change. They added a service (a monthly cost) for each device. For example, a hospital might buy an expensive machine costing a fortune. The insurance for the loss of life (should the machine fail to operate) would be astronomical. So GE sold the customer a webservice where the GE systems monitor the device and technicians are sent out BEFORE the device fails. Clever.

The changeover from device-centric to user-centric is uniquely Microsoft. XBOX 360 is tremendously user-centric, games have been user-centric for a long times (what do you want to wear, fight with, carry, drive, etc.)


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