“Great companies (think Apple app store) follow their customers to the value with periodic fits of leadership. The meaning of the software is what the users do.” – John Sumser

Can you recall the emergence of Google? The financial crash had hit its bottom, the recovery was moving slowly. The ashes of the dotcom era included high rolling Search Engines like AltaVista, Lycos and Northernlight. These companies indexed the web and provided great search results. But, they were never quite enough.

When Google emerged, the buzz was all about the uncanny accuracy of the search results. The competitors provided competent answers. Somehow, Google invented zing in the search output. No one even guessed that it was possible to wow the end user with search results. Although search engines were big before Google, it’s reasonable to say that Google created the market.

Google’s primary brand asset was the delight with which users received their service. Very happy customers generate big word of mouth. Google’s initial success came from showing people what they wanted to see.

That’s the asset they’ve been liquidating. Today, Google search results are composed of things that people want you to see. It transformed from a medium of discovery by searchers to a medium of discovery by advertisers and marketers. The native results you get from Google today are from people who want you to see them. This is the opposite of the original proposition: things people wanted to see.

Google used that initial bit of user joy to build out a suite of product offerings. Each, in turn, begins with joy that evolves towards utility. It’s the underlying formula for Apple’s success…convert joy into long term customers.

With any technical innovation from iPods to intelligent software, an interesting thing happens. The original designers intend for the product to be used in certain ways. Inevitably, users understand the product or service differently and use it as they see fit. Great companies (think Apple app store) follow their customers to the value with periodic fits of leadership.

“The meaning of the software is what the users do.”

What will the software users of today’s intelligent HR Technology do with AI in HR and Recruiting?
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