Blog The Toothbrush Test

The Toothbrush Test

A toothbrush displayed at a slanted angle

Getting End User Attention Before I.T. Goes Wrong

The problem is that technology is S.E.P.

The toothbrush test, of the famous Larry Page quote, suggests levels of end user commitment to a platform, tool, application or “thing”. The analogy being that the “thing” passing the test is something they use or engage with at least once or twice a day.

For end users, technology is one of those issues categorised as “somebody else’s problem”. Naturally, getting our end users interested in the day to day of the collective value we deliver is a challenge.

As a techie and being around startups quite a lot of the time, I see a lot of really cool tech things that you look at and think, despite the level of techie coolness, this thing is just not going to pass the toothbrush test for the average end user.

Why should we care?

We should care because there is a lot of value being created by IT technologists that goes unrecognised because the UI results in end users that never engage heart and soul.

Without end user engagement projects, initiatives and companies just wither away.

Why we should really care!

The internet technology community should really care — should really get its act together — because our end users are on a journey of what’s often called “digital transformation”. But they are on this journey without the correct tools and little training. They carry a whole load of unrealistic service expectations and price points resulting from decades of low up-front cost services and platforms. Which frustrates most technology providers I know. Including me.

Now that digital transformation has made the internet and cloud services critical to most aspects of consumer and business daily life — expectations of service level vs. value are not often met on either the supplier or end user side.

What should we do?

We need to create our platforms with value propositions and user interfaces designed with the toothbrush test (for our end users) in mind. We need users to get actively engaged with their IT choices of platforms, providers, investment and risks.

But we also need to make the UX convenient, understandable and commensurate with a level of attention we might reasonably expect if we imagined our end user’s daily existence. Graphs of data, pie charts and a fantastic ability to create custom reports of more data in more graphs — perhaps that isn’t always the answer.

Pass the toothbrush test together

We all recognise of course that we need to build platforms that grab and keep our end users’ attention. So, having UX skills in your team is ever more critical.

But — we also need to aggregate our collective value so that end users who consume services from different platforms and providers can interface in one common space.

Let’s build those supplier partnerships, work together and help instrument the information technology space in a way that suits our end users. Suits their ability to understand the significance of IT data and their willingness to spend time on the subject. Before IT goes wrong.

At SeeThru we are building a platform to aggregate the visualization of the entire digital supply chain for end users. It’s our view that this transparency will build collective value for all. We want the monitoring of IT to pass the toothbrush test.

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