Friday, June 06, 2014

This Week in EID – Episode 7

I think I covered all the TGs this week in just four posts.  It just goes to show you how wide a scope that the Ergonomics in Design team is trying to serve.  We have a great community and we want you all to have a place to discuss practical topics in all areas of human factors and ergonomics.

Monday was throwback day as I waxed nostalgic about my high school part time job as a grocery store clerk.  The post focused on how box cutter design has changed since then.  I don’t use them much these days, but the article I shared showed that in industry, innovation is much more practical than it seems to be in the consumer space, where we just add functions at random to make products seem more jazzy. 

Tuesday’s post talked about the danger we are adding to our environment as we put automation everywhere.  It is not that our robots will become evil and take over the world a la Matrix.  But we have evolved to be very willing to offload cognitive effort whenever possible (I have a future post in the queue on that very topic).  And as we pay less and less attention to the environment because our automation is doing everything for us, we have less situation awareness and we deskill in those areas.  If something does go wrong, we take a long time to notice, are slow to figure out what exactly is going on, and may not have the skills to address it.

Wednesday’s post is a great example of the tremendous insights you can gain if you keep your eyes open.  A life insurance company learned that people who buy standby power generators are good candidates to pitch.  My point was that it is not because of their demographics, but because they have a similar psychographic attribute – they are both risk averse. 

Thursday’s post talked about the fine line between effective marketing and spam.  I fully understand why companies want to leverage customers by advertising to their friends/contacts.  A recommendation coming from a friend is tons more effective than a pitch directly from the company.  But this has to be a permission-based relationship.  Tricking your customers is not a good long term strategy.  That is Marketing 101, so I am really surprised at how many companies fall for this temptation.

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