My Case for Simplicity

I recently finished Kevin Kelly’s “What Technology Wants”. Normally I would have written a post about it, but the book covered so many things and went into such depth that it would have been too much of an undertaking, plus I try to keep my blog posts short. There was one thing he wrote about though that has stuck with me and has been on my mind since I finished. Kelly wrote about the fact that all technology is constantly, almost organically moving toward more complexity. He demonstrated this in many ways, but he didn’t need to for me, because I’ve seen it happen in my own systems over the last few years. In the name of automation, I’ve added countless software applications and customizations that ultimately require support and upkeep in and of themselves. Many of them are necessary and absolutely worth it, but in some cases I’ve added systems that have actually caused me more work, albeit in a support role instead of a manual role. Looking back though I have to ask the ultimate question about these systems which is: am I working less as a result?

The answer in some cases was a surprising no. I’m so enamored by great software and cool new tools that I can sometimes be blind to their ultimate purpose. Or maybe I envisioned that I would use them to their ultimate capabilities but then never really did. So what’s the appropriate response? In my opinion, if they aren’t serving the purpose of saving you time, and you’re paying for them, you should phase out of them, no matter how cool they are. Think back to when you first started. How many tools and software applications have you added since then? Are you still as busy as you were when you started? What happened?!

So what do you need if you want to go back to the basics? You needs an order management tool, an inventory management tool, and a store platform with all the payment processing bells and whistles. Isn’t that how you started? Of course some of us require other things depending on our situation, plus the marketing tools that work for you, but these are the basic requirements of any E-tailer. How many e-commerce software companies are you sharing your profits with at this point in the game?

This is of course a risky stance to take as someone who sells e-commerce software, but our software falls easily into the category of things that actually save time. That’s about the only purpose of it! You could do the same thing with a spreadsheet, but it would take hours every week to do what can be done with a mouse-click in Marketplace Partner.

Simplicity is always the best business strategy out there, and we should all regularly review our business for any unnecessary complexity. Just take one night to think about it as if you were going under, I guarantee you can improve your setup.