simplicity-view-articleI wrote a brief article last week about Amazon’s Echo Show, the latest smart home gadget. What impresses me most about the Echo Show is its simplicity. From my perspective, the Echo Show’s lack of complexity speaks volumes about Amazon’s understanding of the market.

What Jeff Bezos and his colleagues at Amazon really understand is that nobody really wants complexity. At this particular moment in history, simpler is better and simplest is best. We don’t need more complexity in our lives; we need less.

Google and Apple haven’t quite come to terms with the anti-complexity trend. They are still producing elegantly designed and beautifully engineered marvels of technology. Frankly, I think they’re behind the curve. Their tech might be ahead of Amazon’s, but their understanding of the market is limited by their fierce need to stay on the bleeding edge.

Don’t get me wrong. I respect companies like Google and Apple. But from my perspective, they’re trying too hard to prove how cool they are. As most of us learned in middle school, trying to prove you’re cool is almost always a losing strategy.

The folks at Amazon have given up trying to act cool. They just want to deliver everything you could ever want to your doorstep, as quickly as possible. They want to make your life easier and simpler. That’s why they invented Amazon Prime and one-click shopping. Amazon gets the zeitgeist – simplicity is cool, complexity is uncool.

There’s a lesson here for technology executives and business leaders. Your customers, colleagues, partners and suppliers want you to follow Amazon’s model and make their lives simpler. If you can’t deliver simplicity, they’ll find someone else who can.

From an IT perspective, that means choosing systems that are simpler – even if when they might have fewer features or be slightly less efficient than other systems. It means pressing vendors and suppliers to simplify their products and services. It means shifting your focus from the underlying technology to the user experience. 

At its heart, simplicity is in the mind of the user. Today’s users don’t want to push a bunch of buttons or enter lots of information to get what they want from an app. They want a one-click world. That’s the new gold standard.

It’s easy to look at Amazon’s Alexa and say, “Wow, it’s not as powerful or as smart as Google Home.” Nobody I know believes that Amazon’s smart home products are the smartest on the market. But lots of people seem to understand that Amazon’s products are simple and easy to use – and that’s exactly what they want.