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".


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Small example of a bad process

It's been a while since the latest post - I got a nice(?) idea and I've been developing that during the evenings. Let's see if the idea is strong enough to survive...

First some quick notes:
  • I got my Accredited Symbian Developer status renewed. It's nice to see that I was still able to pass the test although I really haven't been involved with development tasks lately
  • I was re-elected as Forum Nokia Champion for third consecutive year
  • I'll participate in Forum Nokia's events at Budapest between 17-20 November. If you will be there, it would be nice to have a face-to-face chat. Drop me an email in case you'll be there.
Sometimes mobilizing the business process would not be a good idea. That came to my mind when a while ago decided to order a couple of new TV-channels from my cable-TV operator. I logged in to their nice web-based self service portal, made the order and thought that was it. Days went by and nothing happened. Then finally I called to the service desk and asked what's wrong; they told me there is some queue at the back office and my order is not yet entered to the system. Luckily the support lady was helpful and she took my order, activated manually new settings to my subscription and sent a ticket to the back office to cancel my initial order - she also advised me to call next time directly to the support desk . Later somebody at the back office hopefully processed the cancel ticket...

Just think how bad the process was from the operator's point of view, by using the self service portal I actually created more work for their staff than if I just had called them at the first place. In these circumstances it would be good idea to shut down the self-service portal - adding new channels like mobile would be plain stupid (assuming that process doesn't work better for other customers).

This is a simple example how adding mobility to the business process is not automatically a good thing. If the process is broken, don't boost it - fix it.