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Easy, Affordable, but Limited vs. Complex, Expensive, but Powerful

by Kevin G. on October 10, 2014

The topic of simple vs. complex is something that I see every day.  As we go out into our community and talk to different clients of ours, we are constantly reminded of how wonderfully simple yet powerful our products are. However, if you aren’t entrenched in that world every day, you may not realize it. This came to light recently as I was having a conversation with my 11 year old son. He asked a very innocent question, yet managed to make me feel very old like only a child can... “Hey dad, did they have technology when you were a kid?” Really? Did he really just ask me that?  Yep, he sure did and he was dead serious. So I responded by saying, “Not only was there technology when I was a kid, but Man travelled to the moon before I was born!” I then explained how they managed to do that with less computing power than I had in my phone. Not being sure if that was an accurate statement or not, I did a little research. I found out that the Apollo’s Guidance Computer was 1.024 MHz. How does my cellphone compare? 1900 MHz!
 
But that isn’t the amazing part. The truly amazing part of that comparison is that it took a team of NASA engineers and astronauts years of training to learn to utilize and then operate those 1.024 MHz, and my 8 year old daughter has a complete mastery of my iPhone’s 1300 MHz.
 
How is that possible?  Someone smarter than me will have to explain the specifics of that last question. However, I can explain to you the benefits of that being possible.  No longer be misled by “if it costs more, than it works better....”, “if it is too complicated to understand, it must be powerful...” or “this solution is too simple to meet our needs....” Instead, ask yourself, “Can it do what I want, and can I make it do what I want?”  You may be surprised at the answer.  Yes, the advancements in technology make this possible but there is another huge component that you need to consider. Let’s just call it “Economy of Scale”. We all know what that means, but how does it apply to this discussion? Well, how many Apollo 11 missions were there? ONE! How many iPhone 5’s are there? How about 33.8 million sold in the 4th quarter of 2013 alone! So, let’s compare 1 vs. 33,800,000. Now, ask yourself how much easier it is to spread research and development costs across 1 compared to spreading that cost across 33.8 million. To prove my point is that I purchased my new iPhone (1000X’s more powerful than the Apollo’s Guidance Computer) for around $200.  Assuming you are not in the market to purchase an Apollo rocket from NASA, how does that affect you and our clients? Simple, we have a footprint of 28 States with our clients using well in excess of 500 cloud based products like Beacon™, IDAM™, and Permitting™. 500 clients X 12 months per year = 6,000.  So, if our customers want us to develop a new improvement that requires $30,000 of development, it doesn’t cost our clients $30,000.  In the above example, our clients benefit from $30,000 of development (and believe me, that is a lot of development) for $5/month. Pretty amazing, huh?
 
Now let’s summarize. You need to get out of the habit of thinking more money = more capability = more better! (Seriously, I just want to see if I can get away with saying more better....) Instead, we need to now look at the whole picture. Technology is improving at a record pace. Economy of scale presents opportunities like never before. You very well may be able to have an affordable, powerful, yet easy to use solution. Time to join my 8 year old and get on board with technology!