New innovation challenge: From managing complexity to facilitating simplicity

A few weeks ago I did pitch to a startup accelerator about a project I want to start. This project has to do with social media monitoring, or in my language, “a sense-maker”.

One of the questions that was posed to me at end was: What will make this different?

My response: I aim to make this as simple as possible. (At the moment all I have is a mock-up, no live app)

Hold on, don’t leave yet. This is not a post about my idea, although it kind of is 🙂

Because as a social media power user, I get to play with all sorts of tools that help companies manage their social network presence, I also get to see where the gaps are. There are plenty of social media management tools out there. Too many to count. And most of them, do the same thing: manage your social network presence.

But not all of them, are any good at doing it all (do-it-all’s rarely reach greatness).

The best one at helping you manage it all is Hootsuite. I think it has the best combination of tools and interface so that you can really use it and not get confused. And, yesterday I found out just how good it is.

Early Monday morning Hootsuite’s publisher function went down. That meant I couldn’t schedule tweets with its publisher function. It also meant I had to look for an alternative for just this function alone.

That meant I had to use Sprout Social for scheduling tweets.

Sprout Social is one of those “I can do this too” apps. It strength lies in its search function. Scheduling capabilities. This meant that what took me 4 seconds (yes I count them) to do on Hootsuite, it took me 13 to do on Sprout Social.

Add these up to 10 – 20 scheduled tweets and you can start seeing how much time you’ve wasted setting them up. Simply put, Sprout Social is a pain in the butt at scheduling tweets.

If were to draw an attribute map for Sprout Social, its scheduling function would not be a differentiator!

But see, that is the point of testing different tools. It is the only way you’ll know how one is better than the other. It is how you will know if you can really live without your preferred option. You must also remember that these all-in-one tools are designed to help you manage complexity. And, that is the problem. In fact, I think we should move away from managing complexity to facilitating simplicity.

How? That is what I’ve been exploring for some time now. If you have any thoughts, let me know :).

But what I do know, is that there is an opportunity for meaningful innovation when you can make something simple. And, there’s an even bigger opportunity when you can help your users become simplicity nuts themselves. That will not only make them better, but they will make others better as well.

So here’s a question: What is that thing we can do to help make our customers’ lives simpler, less confusing, less alienating, more  efficient, more meaningful and just plain better?

P.S. I know there are plenty of other tools out there like Buffer and Tweetdeck to help you schedule tweets but I wanted to use one which was similar to Hootsuite. I took it as an opportunity to see if it would persuade me to switch.

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