TechnoVision 2014 – Zen Of The Task

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You Experience #2 – Zen of the Task  Don’t create confusion by building your traditional GUI and fixed workflow approach into your mobile app. It’s no longer about the process, it’s about the task at hand. Make it easy for your customers and employees to handle single, focused tasks, supported by the features on their […]

You Experience #2 – Zen of the Task
Don’t create confusion by building your traditional GUI and fixed workflow approach into your mobile app. It’s no longer about the process, it’s about the task at hand. Make it easy for your customers and employees to handle single, focused tasks, supported by the features on their devices. Don’t over-engineer the app and don’t try to put too much functionality in it. Rather, create a new app to serve a specific need. Follow the ‘Elephant Route,’ the shortest, most effective route. Keep it simple, it’s the task that matters: ‘there is No Process.’
This weekend, I had a deep discussion with my son about priorities in life, organizing work and, most importantly, the art of self-discipline. He was proud to have a good ‘work/life balance,’ spending two hours on homework and three hours on TV and gaming daily. He claimed to have a great way of organizing his work, being able to memorize everything on the spot and perfectly capable to put and keep himself to work.
His school results were nevertheless declining and our joint analysis showed that in effect he only managed 1.5 hours of effective schoolwork every day. Although he spent more time at the table with his homework, this was not leading to effective study. It turned out that the greatest issue he had was concentrating on the task at hand, as well as setting a clear task for himself. And even if he knew what he wanted to achieve, he had great difficulty keeping himself focused. This was particularly due to the books he needed to study, which were full of side topics, pictures and other distractions.
Although age is clearly a dominant factor in the story of my son (it will all go away eventually, right?), I am convinced that we face similar issues in the business context.
We try to achieve our objectives every day, but we often find ourselves distracted or confused by all the information and events that keep coming in by mobile and other channels. There are many things we could be doing at the same time and often information technology tempts us with many options and potential actions to choose from.
This is the reason why the world of personal productivity (think Bullet Journal and Getting Things Done) thrives as never before, as we are desperately looking for better ways to achieve our goals. Most of these methodologies focus on bringing everything that needs to be done down to clear and simple tasks – tasks that can easily be defined and lead to specific, tangible results typically within a short and pragmatic time box.  
This certainly also relates to creating a highly individualized, focused ‘You Experience.’
There are many experiences to be supported – from desktop to mobile – and with more and more alternative channels popping up, organizations tend to overflow them all with the same information, options and actions to be taken. This leads to ineffective behavior – both by clients and employees – who might easily be frustrated by the complexity of an application or seduced to take side steps, continuing to circle around the task at hand without actually finishing it.
If you want your clients to engage, to interact, to buy, and if you want your employees to be productive and results-oriented, you need to supply them with simple apps that focus on the task and nothing but the task.
This requires a fresh look at your processes, as mobile channels are not just another way of getting access to yet the same information and applications that used to be available through laptops and desktops at home or at the offices. Yes, mobile channels often break the dependency on location and time. But they also give way to potentially many concurrent, competing streams of information and events, all screaming for attention.
So break the process: provide your clients and employees with piecemeal apps that help them to achieve a very specific objective. Supply them with all the contextual information they need beforehand, so they don’t need to search for it.
Think mobile first and design the process – if any – from there, rather than simply providing your existing, complex processes with a mobile front-end. 
It’s also crucial to differentiate between providing information and facilitating a task. They can involve quite different channels. You might, for example, be capturing your run performance with the Runkeeper app and sharing the analytics and discussing them with your friends through more complex web applications. Some of the most successful mobile apps have taken this approach (notably Snapchat, the people who heroically turned down a $3 billion offer from Facebook).
Keep your apps simple and basic. Empty your processes. Find options, actions and information you can get rid of. Have a ZEN state of mind about it.
It’s all about the task.

This contribution by Frank Wammes 

Part of Capgemini’s TechnoVision 2014 update series. See the overview here.

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