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Good Enough: The Enemy of Innovation

The building of modern technology, application development, and all that goes along with it is anchored in the idealization of innovation. For years, the web and mobile application development has rooted itself in the idea of pushing things forward, building a better world for the people living in it.

Not too many years ago, the market for technology left the boardrooms of large enterprises companies and entered the consumer market. It’s interesting to consider that such things as smart phones and portable devices, tablets and even laptop computers have only become a major part of life for the general public over the past two decades. At the beginning of the 21st Century, we were at a boom for the use of home computing in industrialized countries. Now, around the world, people have handheld mobile devices in the remotest of regions.

This could all be considered a metric for how innovation in technology has brought the world closer together. The idea that creators and developers have stood so long on the shoulders of giants to build the technical connections we have could be viewed as a strong case for pushing the needle forward.

But are we moving in a positive direction? What have been the major technological breakthroughs a person on the street can benefit from? How do the applications we use regularly innovate? Do they at all?

Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be the case.

Just a few years ago, there was a boom in start-ups and tech companies building solid, reliable software and hardware devices. The focus was on making things better and more convenient. Sadly, it seems the focus has changed to making a Minimum Viable Product, something “good enough” to put out in the market, without much thought as to the value it brings to the people who will use it.

The “good enough” stamp on applications and products often means they are rarely fully functioning, often buggy, and don’t deliver a good user experience. There may be a big jump from early adopters, but once the dust settles and the checks clear, the flaws become obvious, and in some cases risk the privacy or data of individuals who were looking for an innovative experience.

This isn’t something recent either. Complacency is an issue that raises its ugly head from time to time. Take a look at our thoughts on the future of Computer Science in 1984 and it’s not difficult to see we work for the now, but innovation can be stifled if there is no reason to push forward.

With the mixture of startups and venture capital, the new get rich quickness of IPO-ing, and pushing forward on fronts an end user never asked for or wanted, innovation seems to have been brushed aside in search of profit. We’ve been seeking the Minimum Viable Product when we should be searching for stability and a product that is usable.

Innovation ends when we can no longer build things people can use. The focus needs to return to the user, or community of users, and away from the money play. Only then can we return to innovation and making the world a better place.