Ed, of the Wii BI and SDN fame, posted recently on enterprise application simplicity (not)
I used to think I was half way competent until I recently tried to order a pen and some laser printer toner using the newly implemented procurement application at my workplace. Boy, was I wrong; it turns out that I must be flat-out, stupid.
Sure, maybe I am naive due to my lack of knowledge of the big, bad, mean ol’ enterprise process, but somehow I doubt that Amazon would agree that their business process is so simple. Amazon hides it’s complexity from it’s users. They make it as simple as possible on the surface, because from a customer’s perspective, all you really want to do is buy a book. Do you really care about how Amazon’s supply chain works, what standards they use to reduce their TCO, or the backend complexities of their rating and review system? If you had to worry about that stuff, then you would head on over to the local, physical bookstore like in ancient times.
This week I finally splashed out on a new coffee machine at home. Most of my German mates have a coffee machine that would not be out of place in Armani’s latest concept shop. I was afflicted with serious gadget envy.
On Saturdays, as well as polishing cars and lawnmowers, they dismantle and polish their Titanium Jura, Saeco, Krupp or Gaggia machines. The coffee is normally fabulous, assuming that the maker is practised but it is a good idea to phone ahead if you would like a cup. I tend to ask for tea instead.
I had a different approach. I’d seen a Nespresso machine at Sig’s house last year. I was impressed by the small footprint and the ease of use, but I was a little concerned about the capsule system. I spent the coffee machine budget on bicycle components instead.
Then last weekend, I popped around to another friend’s spot in Heidelberg, and he has two coffee machines. A huge shining chrome machine with separate multi-consistency grinder and milk steamer, and more switches than an Airbus cockpit. He also has a Nespresso cube, which they use “all the time”.
I went home, googled a bit to check prices and features and ordered a Nespresso Delonghi cube on Amazon.de. It arrived the next day, and within 5 minutes of opening the box, it was making delicious coffee. It came with a couple of cups and some samples, and the next day a big box of coffee capsules arrived from Nespresso, 12 different types of coffee, to suit all tastes, and fancy wooden display box…
There are a lot of parallels here for us enterprisey software types to look at.
1. The capsule, although proprietary, provides flexibility (who has 12 different types of coffee on hand?)
2. The capsule provides price transparency- 32c per cup.
3. There is little maintenance as the capsule deals with the waste. (I would like a recycle option though)
4. The UI is very simple, only two buttons. The complexity (strength and bitterness of coffee) is built in to the capsule selection. The capsule hides the complexity from the user. The colour coded capsules make choice simple.
5. The machine has a very small footprint and elegant design. It looks a lot more expensive than it was.
6. Nespresso now has a recurring revenue stream from me, as the cost of switching coffee brands is now higher, as I need to buy a new machine to change, but not only that, coffee moves from a supermarket purchase (very competitive and whimsical ) to a subscription.
7. Nespresso’s concept, marketing and online experience is brilliant. Well done Nestle. The use of the web as the main distribution channel for coffee? Who would have thought it would work? I bet they had big arguments about channel cannibalization and so on. The history of the development is here. But proof is in this number, it rocks: 25 % annual growth since its market introduction in 1988.
8. Clever partnerships with machine makers. Nestle worked with machine designers to create machine concepts. Very close collaboration, leveraging partner expertise and brand to create design classics. Nestle was smart enough to know that it needed machine partners to make this hip enough for shallow, image-conscious folks like me to buy them. Design is a part of the Go to market.
The system is remarkably simple yet flexible enough. In one word, elegant.
So, when designing enterprise applications and their go to market, we need to think Nespresso.
I was planning to do some sort of SOA-SaaS metaphor but I’d need more than another espresso before attempting that.