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Simplicity is a valuable commodity. People want it in every aspect of life, but when it comes to complex technology solutions, it takes a backseat all too often. However, in the context of cybersecurity, such as identity and access management (IAM) solutions, simplicity is equally essential because friction and complexity negatively impact the user’s digital experience. With 61% of consumers admitting they would switch to a competitor with an easier experience, it’s critical that businesses prioritize simplicity to earn long-term customer trust and loyalty.
Why simplicity matters
When Apple first introduced the iPhone in 2007, it didn’t have a copy and paste feature. BlackBerry offered it, but Apple decided it wasn’t necessary and shipped the phone anyway and sold millions of devices. It was a simple device for their customers. Limiting functionality wasn’t an easy decision for the team to make, but it showed how “simple” wins customers.
Simplicity is important for several reasons. When users can easily understand how a product works, it makes it more accessible and commonly used and can increase overall adoption. This is especially important with technology, where complex products can be harder to understand or frustrating to use, leading to avoidance altogether.
When it comes to simplicity, less is often more. Instead of trying to cram as many features into your product as possible, focus on the core functionality that users really need. This will make the product easier to use and maintain and reduce the risk of vulnerabilities. Each new feature introduces additional security, testing and maintenance costs, so it’s essential to ensure everything makes an impact.
Resist the urge to add more features just because your competitors have them. When a competitor releases a new capability, it’s really hard to understand if that new feature is widely used or if it’s a response to a single customer request. Don’t get involved in this feature battle. Focus instead on making sure your product has the functionality to meet your customers’ primary needs. As you expand beyond your current customer focus, do so with intention. This will help you focus your features and avoid developing “spray and pray” features.
Related: Here’s Why You Should Embrace Simplicity As Your Strategy (And 3 Ways To Do It)
Make simplicity a fundamental value
If you decide to make simplicity a core business value, you need to push your entire team to focus on that approach. Here are some tips for bringing simplicity into your product development process:
- Cross pollination — Product managers need to spend more time with each team, not just engineers. They must work with designers, the user experience team, and the user research team, as well as clients and customer-facing teams. Commercial product managers should plan to spend more time with these teams than with engineering. They should think about business problems and experiences before moving on to the technical aspects. User experience should be your top priority when creating any product. This means thinking about how users will interact with your product and designing it in an intuitive and easy-to-use way.
- Create an overview of the initiative — Any new initiative needs an initial overview. After this is complete, create a “behind the box” explanation. This is something that would fit on a slide in a presentation. Think of it as a board game box. It tells you what’s in the box, a simple explanation of the game and who would like it. The same applies to products. Include what problem you’re solving, who cares, the value of it, and whether customers will pay for it. Within the “who cares” category, drill down further into your ideal customer profile, type of users, affected customer journey, etc. This planning process puts the customer experience first before starting deep conversations about technology. It simplifies the process of determining what the final product will look like when delivered. This approach ensures that the technology is at the service of the solution, not the other way around.
- Roadmap reports — The third tip to create simplicity is to report the status of the roadmap internally. Instead of just using a feature roadmap with a red or green light to show status, start with the different people affected and how the new feature will affect them and their business. This helps change the conversation from what functions are being created for how clients are helped in ways that change their lives.
- Regular team presentations – Encourage your product teams to think simplicity first. Find a forum for your product teams to embrace and demonstrate simplicity in their products and processes. Asking each product manager to present something they’re simplifying helps to exchange ideas across the team and keeps simplicity at the forefront.
- Simplicity as a continuous activity – Simplicity can have a major impact on the success of any product. By keeping things simple and focusing on the user experience, organizations can improve adoption, reduce costs, and improve security. When it comes to identity and access management solutions, simplicity is especially important to improve customer engagement and reduce the risk of vulnerabilities.
But remember that simplification is not a short-term project or a 6-month activity. It’s an ongoing mindset. It must be integrated into everything an organization does.
Related: 5 Ways to Promote Simplicity and Increase Efficiency