Thursday, October 30, 2008

Electronic voting and mobility

Last weekend Finland had municipal elections and electronic voting was piloted for the first time in three municipalities to get actual feedback and experiences. After the election when results were studied, it turned out that about 2% of all electronic votes were lost, probably because of a usability problem in the system. There hasn't been many good reasons why electronic voting is needed, but one reason I've seen is that it solves the problem regarding hard-to-read handwriting.

Today more statistics were published and it shows that in "traditional" voting about 0.5% of votes were not accepted. Electronic voting lost four times more votes than old-fashioned handwritten tickets. Does this make sense? Why create a new system is old system isn't broken? What if new system is worse than the old one?

The link from Finland's electronic voting to mobile applications is not obvious but anyway that came to my mind in a context of creating mobile applications because it is today's sexy topic. I'll not go listing any bad examples here, but I have a strong feeling that quite a proportion of mobile applications are developed because you must have something mobile today to be a serious corporate citizen. No matter does it make sense, no matter does somebody need it or is it usable. Give me something mobile quickly, please!

I once added a new innovation category to the traditional separation of sustaining and disruptive innovations: a "brute-force innovation". A brute-force innovation is something that doesn't improve old system (like sustaining innovation) nor does it change the business paradigm (like disruptive innovation) - it is an "innovation" that has to be done for some (unclear) reasons -  like "Innovate something blue/mobile/soft/whatever for us". It's like forcing a rectangular brick to a round hole, just hit harder and you will do it.

Why I've started to argument reasons not to do mobile solutions, it is still unclear to me... For clarity's sake: I really like good mobile applications in the right context, but I hate applications that are made just because "we must have something mobile".


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