In 2010, Apple heralded the end of optical drives from its laptops. Today, I sent off 4 such drives into my trash bin. What does obsolescence remind us about business management?
No, I am not being dramatic.
We had a client event recently and the photographer we engaged sent us a DVD disc with the images he shot on that afternoon. One of my colleagues commented that she could not mount the disc. I gave her another USB cable and no luck either. Then I tried three other drives and all those drives seemed dead too. The only drive that worked was the external DVD drive attached to my computer.
Finally, I copied the images to our networked RAID, and trashed the 4 probably long dead DVD writer drives into the bin. The writing is on the wall.
Likewise, for most of us, we have migrated to using desktops or laptops with solid state drives (SSD) rather than traditional "spinning disc" hard drives. Although SSDs can be very expensive compared to traditional hard drives, they are more reliable and faster for everyday users, unless you happen to need humongous hard drives for some serious image or video crunching.
The writing is on the wall for all things that have moving parts basically, because mechanical motion leads to wear and tear, while solid state devices such as SSDs do not have such mechanical wear and tear.
The concept of solid state memory and the mechanical optical drive can be used as a paradigm of business efficiency.
The more steps in a workflow or business process, the more likely errors or lapses will occur along the process, and the less efficient will be the business. And because of rework and extraordinary audit checks required, the costs of such a business process will be higher than expected.
If we can streamline our business process to the bare essentials, it will be easier to manage such a process and it will be likely we can be more efficient and invariably, more profitable due to lower extraordinary costs.
It is a similar paradigm with design, whether industrial design, graphic design, or architectural design.
Apple is a good role model where simplicity is not only elegant, but compelling, engaging, and attractive. Audi (the automobile maker) is another.
Conversely, there are many designs that are crawling with superfluous elements that lend nothing to good design lines, lend nothing to good usability, lend nothing to material and manufacturing costs, and simply says how little thought or lack of inspiration there was during the design.
In a world that speeds along and throws out the obsolete faster than ever before, we must keep simplicity and efficiency in mind when we are running a business. It is not merely about aesthetics or cost savings, but about better management and better output.