RealTime IT News

'Wii Would Like to Play'

The Nintendo Wii. If you don't' have one yet, it's likely on your Black Friday/Cyber Monday Christmas shopping list.

The Wii has been flying off store shelves since it debuted a year ago, challenging conventional notions of technological innovation. Not only is Nintendo's Wii a consumer-electronics success story, it may well also serve as a harbinger of how innovations should roll across the entire technological landscape, even as far as enterprise IT.

The lesson: "Wii Would Like To Play."

That's Nintendo's marketing message, and it makes a whole lot of sense. Nintendo focused on the core value proposition of what it was offering -- namely play -- and focused on improving that experience. So where is the 'play' for Enterprise IT (and technology in general) ?

Think different

In a way, Nintendo's Wii and its revolutionary approach can be compared to Apple's legendary "Think Different" approach, which heralded the release of the first Macintosh computers. Apple took the interface that had been relatively static and non-user friendly and opened a new window (pun very much intended) on computing.

In the gaming industry, Sony and Microsoft pumped billions of development dollars into creating the fastest, most powerful gaming consoles with new processors and graphics capabilities.

And everyone wants faster and more power right? Not necessarily.

Nintendo took a radically different approach to the joystick, a part of the gaming experience that had remained nearly unchanged for over 20 years. Instead of the traditional buttons-dictate-actions approach, Nintendo focused on play, making the actions of its Wiimote and Nunchuk controllers part of the game and the "play."

The concept of controllers mimicking actions is both intuitive and revolutionary at the same time.

How many products releases for IT are littered with Consider the abundant marketing phrases, such as "improved usability" and "ease of use," that litter IT product releases. Technology vendors of all stripes across all sectors understand that making things easier to use is key to success.

But giving more "play," as Nintendo has done with the Wii, is a radically more advanced concept. Instead of just moving buttons to promote ease of use, it changes the way the item is used.

For enterprise IT to embrace the same concept will require it to reconsider how customers use specific tools and technologies.

So instead of focusing on more features and more speed, the lesson that the Nintendo Wii preaches is to step back. Take stock of what the technology is actually about and what it's trying to achieve. Then re-engineer the process to empower the user to achieve the goal for which they booted up the software to begin with.

Google, Microsoft, Apple, Cisco, Facebook and just about every technology vendor in any sector you can think of is after the Holy Grail of intuitive ease of use. Whether any of them will ultimately achieve that lofty goal remains to be seen.

The Wii takes an intuitive use for a control and makes it actionable. For enterprise IT, the corollary may not be as obvious, but then again if Nintendo's technology was so obvious, why didn't Microsoft or Sony do the same thing?

So when you bring your Nintendo Wii to work next week and your boss gives you a funny look, just tell him or her that you're trying to figure out how to apply the lesson of the Wii to your own workplace.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com. He owns a Wii (for research purposes) and will be using it this holiday weekend to learn a few lessons.