Haiti

My assistant Kathy told me today about donating to Haitian relief efforts by simply sending a text message from my cellphone. The Red Cross, via a company called mGive, has got the major U.S. carriers on board to allow people to very easily donate $10 to the Red Cross via a simple SMS text message.

This led to an “unprecedented mobile response,” and has raised over $10 million in relief for Haiti. With text donations peaking at a rate of 10,000 a minute, at $10 per donation, this is raising $100,000 per minute!

I had been watching the news about Haiti and was heartbroken at what they are going through. I wanted to help. But did I?

Wanting to donate and actually donating are two different things. Deciding the amount, finding my checkbook, writing a check, finding an envelope and stamp, addressing the envelope, mailing it – well frankly it was exhausting just typing all those steps. Not only that but it’s hard to imagine finding 10 minutes in my day to actually do it! This new process cut that time down to less than 30 seconds!

NOTE: If you want to donate simply text HAITI to the number 90999. A $10 charge will be added to your next cellphone bill.

One of the reasons text messaging is so popular is because it’s so simple. Anyone with just about any kind of mobile device can do it. And that’s precisely why it is ingenious to use this mechanism for donations.

By making things easy for people we overcome our natural human “inertia”. This is exactly why I love shopping at Amazon.com. Because of their patented “one-click” ordering and Amazon Prime, which basically gets you products super-fast without worrying about shipping, I buy everything from Amazon, with rare exception – even when they are NOT the best price. Why? I like shopping with them. The experience is flawless, and few things in life are flawless.

Of course another great company comes immediately to mind - want to venture a guess? Apple Computer. I’m a corporate technology person yet in our four person household we have 4 iPhones, several iPods, and three Mac Computers. Why? Mainly because it is much easier for their helpdesk (Me). They can figure it out on their own! One could make a strong argument that Apple “won” the MP3 player wars with two weapons – the iPod and its incredible user interface, and iTunes which made getting music on your device simple. I consider it a hallmark of modern technology when we can create human interfaces that are so intuitive, like an iPod Touch, that a three year old could use it.

There are huge opportunities here for corporate IT. Just a couple examples to get your creative juices flowing:

Making things easier for our clients:

  • How about “one-click” investing?
  • Your account “Tweets” when the balance is low?

Making things easier for our employees:

  • How about sending a text message to get your password reset?
  • How about implementing UI’s on corporate systems that are as well designed and easy to learn as an iPod?

None of this is easy - but “ease of use” always wins in the end!

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