When Simplicity Is the Solution

The Wall Street Journal • 29 March 2013

The curse of complexity. From menus to mascara, consumers are drowning in an excess of choice, while the fine print in credit card contracts has expanded 50-fold in the last two decades. In Simple: Conquering the Crisis of Complexity, authors Alan Siegel and Irene Etzkorn offer several examples of large-scale operations that have made simplicity a hallmark of their customer service, including the Cleveland Clinic and Trader Joe's. Read on for ideas on how to reduce complexity and improve customer experience in any organization.

I think that simplicity can actually command a price premium. Actually it isn't just me. Everybody with an Apple product thinks this. Even though Apple is the poster child for building in empathy, distilling the experience and clarifying purpose I really liked the Cleveland Clinic patient experience example to show how this plays out in a complex service delivery setting. (Michalko)

The Newsonomics of a News Company of the Future

Nieman Journalism Lab • 14 March 2013

Good news. Check out this profile of the Financial Times' FT Group, one of the few news organizations that appears to have mapped out a successful path toward digital transition. Industry analyst and author Ken Doctor says, "It's not otherworldly magic that's happening at the FT. It's just ahead-of-the-pack thinking that has given it a headstart—and now gives it the ability to build second and third generations of its digital business. It is now where fast followers will be in two to five years."

The FT business model may not be directly germane to the changes happening in libraries, but other parts of the way they are managing their movement to digital certainly are. They think their job is to "Do the plumbing" because readers don't care about the mechanics of how they get their stuff—they just want it to be where they are, when they're there. See Lorcan's latest elaboration on putting the library into the workflow. (Michalko)

Google's Trust Problem

The Washington Post • 21 March 2013

Proceed with caution. Heavy Google users are mourning the loss of Google Reader, Google Health and other apps as the tech giant moves on to new ventures. Dependence on one company for everything from e-mail to life organization places users at risk of losing data and access, and it's easy to forget that Google's primary business isn't making your life better—it's selling "you" to advertisers.

You bet they have a trust problem. When they withdraw something the consumer feels betrayed (remember GOOG-411 which turned out to be a phoneme aggregation mechanism); when they implement some new beta thing it's likely they've smashed some company's business model (think about Google Scholar's free Federal and State case law search). (The Easter egg buried in this article was the reference to the Sleep Cycle alarm clock app. It rocks.) (Michalko)

More on Atomization: Why the New Publishers Are Coming

The Idea Logical Company • 26 March 2013

Get ready. Mike Shatzkin's post on the proliferation of e-content publishers illustrates the power of newcomers to disrupt the Old Guard. The printing press began life as a subversive force—now digital distribution is rewriting rules again.

I am a big fan of Mike's blog. It should be in your RSS feed. This particular post is notable for its rich store of links to these emergent book publishers. (Michalko)

Above the Fold Quiz

According to an item in this week's News and Views section, where can you learn about the necessary changes that need to be made for the library to remain an effective and relevant partner in research and teaching?

Get the answer.