Archive for October, 2009

Do the Simplest Thing You Possibly Can

This post borrows ideas from TPS and metacool but hopes to bring ideas to these ideas to life with a concrete example.

Right now at work, we have a project that seeks to get a better understanding of how small businesses could use voice technology to organize workers and streamline process.  Very cool, cutting edge stuff and quite complicated.  In fact, in order to work with businesses, I’m going to have to set up a VOIP line for each…


Wait just one minute here.  Whats the goal? To understand how small businesses can use voice technology (VOIP, transcription, recognition, etc).  Okay, but is it possible to achieve the goal without actually bothering with the technology?  Seems silly, but in this case it actually is.

In fact, I can provide any one person with a state-of-the-art voice recognition system lightyears beyond what’s on the market today with just 5 minutes of work.  All I need is a home telephone line, an answering machine, and my brain (which happens to be able to process audio files, extract semantic meaning, and transcribe to text).  See, in this case, voice technology has actually nothing to do with the problem you are solving.  It has everything to do with scale.  But when you are just trying to prove that there is a business case, the technology really doesn’t matter.

Now before someone thinks I’m advocating for the proliferation of vaporware, I’m not.  You’ve gotta love the technology too.  Before you get all excited that you’ve just invented the next gazillion dollar industry just because you know how to use an answering machine and can speak english, you need to know that you can get the technology to work.

But my suggestion is this: first, do the simplest thing you possibly can.  prototype your solution.  Then, with all the time you have leftover (because how hard is it to answer phones?) get a real grip on the technology.  Once you have a good understanding of both the customer problem and the technical solution, then you are free to get excited.