Doing ‘simple’ the hard way

Oliver Tuszik, Cisco
Oliver Tuszik, Cisco

Billy MacInnes argues that as products become easier to use, getting them to market is becoming more of a challenge

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15 September 2021 | 0

Complexity. It’s bad, right? Simplicity is what we’re all searching for. Keep IT simple. No one ever attracted customers by saying “let’s make it complicated”.

Strange then that even as we make some things easier, other things that we hadn’t thought about become more complex. It could be that implementing a simpler process on top of, or in place of, an existing one may well involve a level of complexity that no one had considered – or they had underestimated.

Sometimes making a thing simpler means shifting more of the complexity somewhere else, from the front-end to the back-end for example.

 

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It’s not the end of the world. Complexity is just one of those things we all have to account for, it’s like the yang to simplicity’s yin.

This comes to mind because Oliver Tuszik, Cisco’s senior vice-president of global partner sales (pictured), recently described complexity as “the one thing that is destroying their [partner] profitability”.

He was speaking to MicroScope in the context of the increase in routes to market that partners have to manage to reach and support their customers. “In the past, [a partner might] have to manage one go-to market. We now need to manage four or five different rules, which means life is getting much more complex,” Tuszik stated.

He pointed to the rise in the use of cloud marketplaces and managed services as significant additional routes to market for partners to manage. To be fair, it’s hard to argue with that point.

But it’s worth pointing out that those “new” routes to market emerged from a drive to make it simpler for customers to do business with partners and vendors. They also sought to remove much of the complexity for the customer and shift it to the partner and vendor instead.

The complexity behind the technology didn’t really disappear, it was just that most of it was transferred from the customer or customer premises to the partner and offsite premises.

As Tuszik notes, even where this process is making it simpler to set up, implement and deliver the technology to customers, the means of doing it has become more complex for partners to manage.

The process of making technology simpler for customers is ongoing but the question is whether that necessarily translates into greater profitability for partners? If partners and vendors remove complexity for users by assuming much of it themselves, making it invisible to customers, why would they pay for it?

There’s an obvious initial benefit to customers in simplifying aspects of their IT which they will find attractive enough to pay for, but how do you sustain that going forward? If you commodify the delivery of IT and remove the complexity, how do you profit from it, especially if managing the routes to market for IT becomes more complex at the same time?

The good news is that there will always be demand for those who can make things simpler and things will always be complicated, even if it might sometimes be in unexpected ways or through unintended consequences. Complexity will continue to exist or emerge in new forms, it’s just a question of who owns and manages it.

Making IT simple? It’s complicated.


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