Recently, I came across an insightful story from the book “The Experience Economy” by James Pine and James Gilmore –
When my mom was young, Grandma would bake her a birthday cake using raw materials – flour, sugar, eggs. It took half a day to make and cost less than a dollar. When I was a kid, my mother made a cake out of boxed mix. What a deal for Mom! It cost about two dollars and took an hour. By the time, I was hyperactive teenager, she had moved our to stage three – she outsourced the cake to a local bakery for ten dollars. Today, when my own kid has a birthday, I have to stage an experience for him and his friends, whether that means a trip to Chuck E. Cheese, Disney Club, or Discovery Zone – and now the price tag is approaching one hundred dollars or more.
The story brings home the point that when it comes to product design, the end customers increasingly demand an “experience” and are willing to pay premium for the same. And that’s what Apple does successfully, if you think about it for a minute. The entire process of unwrapping an Apple product to interacting with the user-interface on daily basis is an experience. It’s like an Disney-themed birthday party.
In my opinion, Enterprise Software, largely seems to be stuck in the Grandma birthday party phase. As Generation Y/Z ,that is used to theme-based birthday parties (and FB, Twitter, etc.), enter the work force in increasing numbers, superior experience will become the core discriminating factor.