Easy Isn’t a Feature. It’s a Requirement.

By Alan Gross

One of the most powerful words in marketing technology solutions is “robust. And robust is often followed closely by scalable, extensible, agile, and a host of other important sounding stacks of technology layers. All too often, what’s missing is the most critical word, “easy.” 

Easy to deploy. Easy to use. Easy to understand. Easy to share.

From a business requirements perspective, “easy” may be the most powerful attribute you can sell.

Forward leaning tech attributes convey capacity and flexibility in architecture and implementation. From a business perspective, these words can suggest complexity and cost. But, they simply don’t speak to the end user’s experience. From a business requirements perspective, “easy” may be the most powerful attribute you can sell.

In the wealth management and retirement plan market, new technologies are working to provide millions of people better opportunities to save for their retirement years. Objectively, these are some of the most intelligent, creative, and powerful applications and platforms ever conceived and large sums of dollars have been invested in their development. Yet, for all that they have the potential to accomplish, many will fail if they are not easy to understand, easy to talk about, easy to introduce, and most importantly, easy to use.

New technologies have the inherent challenge of fighting the inertia of the status quo. We are all creatures of habit. We are patterns of our patterns. We tend to do things “the way we’ve always done them” out of automatic comfort. Some of us don’t actively seek better ways to solve problems or improve how we do things. 

A powerful solution with a steep learning curve? Forget it. Need to read the manual? That’s a non-starter.

When a new technology promises a new and better way to live, to work, to save, to create, we have to decide how much energy we’re willing to commit to learning something new. And we make this calculation reflexively in the midst of the busy orbits of our lives. A powerful solution with a steep learning curve? Forget it. Need to read the manual? That’s a non-starter. Get stuck halfway through? That’s game over.

Software development rightly asks the question, “What problem are we here to solve?” Its companion needs to be, “Can we make it easy for users to be successful?” If yes, proceed to the next step. If not, return to the previous question and please try again. .

Alan Gross is president of GSM Marketing, a marketing partner to iJoin and other leading organizations aligned to the shared goal of producing better retirement plan outcomes.