The value of simplicity in business

Today DesignfulCo. has a guest post from Simon Dale, a passionate design thinker in software technology sector. He shed his insight on simplicity in a B2B context and a holistic view on how business can benefit from achieving simplicity. 
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“There is no greatness where there is not simplicity, goodness, and truth” ~ Leo Tolstoy

In a B2B context, simplicity has been a study of experts and academics for a long time, mainly aimed at reducing the time and cost associated with doing business, initially through the relentless pursuit of standardization.  Henry Ford pioneered much of this thinking and applied methods.   A modern business striving for simplicity focuses on a methodology called Lean, which expands on the principle of standardization but adds the dimension of value, aiming to embed a culture of continual improvement in a product or service in everyone in the organization.  Lean essentially strives to deliver the best outcome to the customer in the shortest time, and is the favoured methodology taught in both established large enterprises as well as cutting edge startup companies and entrepreneur training programmes.  For the current reference text of this see The Lean Startup by Eric Ries.  Whilst being difficult to achieve in full, the results speak for themselves.  Examples such as Dropbox deliver a really simple service of high value to its customers.   At the other end of the scale, large enterprises such as SAP have adopted Lean methods to accelerate product development and delivery, reducing average product improvement cycle times from over 18 months by two thirds or more.  Not only does this bring value to the customer more quickly, it has also measurably simplified the way people work.

Simplicity in the 21st century also goes well beyond a focus on in-house processes, but clearly into the customer experience as well.   With an ever increasing recognition that Design is a highly important consideration in almost every business, the value of good design in the simplification of any product or service has been exemplified by the likes of Apple and is attracting a new wave of investment, again in all kinds of businesses.   Almost every startup company these days has professionally trained designers in its team, and large enterprises are either investing themselves in this area, or being advised to do so by the leading management consultants.  All of this is clearly rooted in the topic of simplicity, and being directly connected to various business key performance indicators.

Asia Pacific focused Senior Software Executive
Head of Technology and Innovation, Asia and Japan
SAP