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Eric Wright

Simplification - Reducing Operational Costs by Reducing Clicks

As I came out of the keynote at the Nutanix .NEXT conference, one thing that really hit home about the message of Nutanix and many vendors, is that reducing the clicks is reducing the cost. In my day-to-day work, I spend a good portion of my day looking into automation and reduction of manual workloads. Quite simply, my job is to reduce clicks.

Seemingly simple, right? Exactly!

The Benefit of Simplification

Reduced friction is something that we hear about in on boarding a consumer into a new product. Less friction means that they have an easier time getting the new product up and running, thus easing the path to adoption. Ironically, the next process once you reduce the friction is to do something that sounds quite the opposite: make it sticky.

Easy ButtonAll this talk of friction, stickiness, and simplification may seem like odd generalizations about how vendors think about consumers. It sounds simple because it really is that simple. And the goal of the process at both the on boarding side, and usage side, is all about that very thing: simplification.

If you find an online forum that lets you interact with someone, but in order to leave a comment it requires an email verification, new account setup, filling out forms, using a Captcha to confirm you are human, it can be a bit of a process. Then sometimes you finally get that all set up and the link from your confirmation email takes you to the main page of the site and you can't even remember why you were there in the first place.

Imagine the same process, but it says "login with your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google account". Here's a hint: simplified, frictionless, and odds are, high engagement because of it.

Complexity is just a Number of Simple Steps

The way that we look at a system to simplify it is to break down the number of complex steps into smaller, simpler steps. In a web product, this could be the reduction of login from custom forms down to using a third party one-click solution like that mentioned above. In software, you could organize a few common processes into the same page. Using a test group to walk through how they sign in and use your product will quickly tell you whether you've simplified it enough as you can see their frustration if they can't find something they need.

At the store we have the same idea. Making the parking process better, the checkout process better, adding price checking bar code readers in the store, all being done to simplify the process of purchasing from that store.

Process Flow + Automation = Simplification FTW!

You'll probably notice a common theme among much of what I write about. The concept of understanding process flow touches everything I do in my job and outside of the office, I continue to spend time reducing technical debt and applying the Theory of Constraints in order to do so.

It is a daunting task to simplify things sometimes, and we get overwhelmed by the idea of spending extra cycles when we are used to just repeating a process ourselves. If that were the most effective solution then software and applications to reduce friction wouldn't exist. But they do, and you can probably imagine why as you work through your day wishing that you could just click a button and have some tasks take care of themselves.

It isn't that the task will take care of itself, but you can use a platform that creates a simplified approach to a complex task, and this is where the win comes in. The reason that Uber exists and succeeds on its model of supply and demand for drivers and customers, is in great part due to how simple the process is to engage Uber drivers. Open the app, click the type of Uber you want, and request your driver. Beep! Your driver is en route. That is simplification at its finest.

In the Data Center, Clicks are Cash

Reducing clicks means reducing person hours spent managing a resource. That means reducing the reliance on human interaction to perform rudimentary tasks, and those same person resources can dedicate their time to innovating new solutions to drive the business better. Perhaps, even to reduce some clicks themselves with additional scripting and automation.

When you take a look at any software that is succeeding greatly, there is a good chance that it is in large part due to reducing clicks. Surprisingly simple statement, but then again, that's the point :)

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