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Leo Poll

Leo Poll

PhD – President Akendi UK

Don’t let the old stop the new!

A little while ago Michelle wrote on this blog how bad usability nearly turned her to crime and I am sure she is not alone. However, good insight-driven UX can also prevent crime. Take music streaming. I don’t know whether you have noticed but the music industry has become quiet lately. What a change from the days when MP3 players were introduced. The industry was up in arms about the potential for music theft and they were quite right, music theft was rife and the amount of money lost by the industry was substantial.

But now the music industry is quiet and the convenience and availability of legal streaming services plays a big role in this. Music revenues are up and music theft has dropped significantly simply because it is far easier to subscribe to an online service such as Spotify to get your music fix then to trawl the murky corners of the internet for an illegal copy.

What intrigues me about this success is that it demonstrates that the need to have access to a virtually unlimited amount of music with very little effort clearly beats the concept of ‘owning music’.  So where did the concept of ‘owning music’ come from? The requirement to own music was introduced by the first Edison gramophones and similar devices. These devices were at the time the only technical solution available that could meet the need for ‘listening to your favourite music whenever you want’. Technology moved on and eventually forced the music industry, concerned about the revenues, to let go of the concept of offering ‘music in a box’.

This makes me wonder what other business models based on technical limitations are about to be disrupted. Self-driving cars spring to mind. Just think about the model of car ownership. Do you still need a car or is having transport available at a moment’s notice the real need? If so, then a village owned fleet of autonomous cars would probably do the job.

So, how do we identify these technology-based disruptive business innovations? It is simple. When I teach UX design and my students jump to solutions too quickly I always urge them to go back to the need it fulfills, understand it as well as you can and then come up with more solutions. Same here, take a solution, go back to the core need it fulfills, study it in a solution independent way and then come up with better solutions.

Now all we need to do is find a place to start: banking, transportation, package delivery, domestic services …….. over to you.

Leo Poll

Leo Poll

PhD – President Akendi UK

Since 1996, Leo has been helping organizations provide an intentional customer experience while matching technical innovations to market needs. He uses the Akendi blog to share his thoughts about the challenges of addressing business problems from an end-user perspective and finding solutions that work for real people.


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Akendi is a human experience design firm, leveraging equal parts experience research and creative design excellence. We provide strategic insights and analysis about customer and user behaviour and combine this knowledge with inspired design. The results enable organizations to improve effectiveness, engage users and provide remarkable customer experiences to their audiences.