Less is more: Neets on prioritising product usability
Neets CEO Michael Jarl Christensen outlines his quest to simplify how users interact with meeting room technology. Charlotte Ashley reports.
Educated as an export engineer, Michael Jarl Christensen dedicated 15 years to the audio world working for the likes of TC Group and Lab.gruppen before going on to co-own meeting room specialist Neets. “What’s always fascinated me is the field between users and technology and business,” explains Christensen, promoted to the role of CEO of company in January of this year.
For the manufacturer, its heritage is instrumental to how it approaches product development. Christensen continues: “For the past six years we’ve been working with the Danish School of Design to use design processes to develop new ideas – i.e. user-centric development so we can bring out products to solve problems specific user groups are having.
“I also think there’s a Danish and probably Scandinavian way of thinking about design. Design to us is not about how products and solutions look, it is very much about how they work for stakeholders that are in the process. So when we develop new products it’s not just about making it solve a problem for our user, but also about thinking about the whole process around it. So, how can we do something clever for the person that’s installing it too?”
Just how does the company approach reconcile both the stylistic and architectural sides of technology development, while offering the right functionality?
Christensen believes in a practical approach. “Many companies tend to be very opportunity-driven when developing products and it all happens in good faith. But really what happens is that you’ve forgotten what the end user actually needed – they didn’t need 30 functions, they just needed five,” says Christensen.
“The days of ‘more is better’ are over and done with for us.”
He continues: “The days of ‘more is better’ are over and done with for us, at least, it’s about creating solutions based on how users interact with technology.” He expands: “It’s about making all these technology opportunities easy for the user to interact with.”
A control company at its core, that has branched into considering the needs of presenters in recent times, this month Neets announced its first dedicated audio offering for smaller collaboration spaces, the SB1 sound bar.
For Christensen, his full circle back to the audio world was a necessary one. “The new generation of presenters and users of AV technology in meeting spaces are video-minded,” says Christensen. “They focus on getting their message across with Full HD or 4K content in a crowd or meeting space, but this mindset requires better audio to match these visuals. Work began on the sound bar at the start of 2016, and the products will enter the market this month.”
With technology options constantly increasing, Christensen believes Neet’s approach of simplifying access and operation to these products will become more important.
“There will definitely be a space for a control company that focuses on the actual user interaction with a complete system and not only parts of it,” says Christensen. “We’re a small fish in the market but we try not to focus on the competition, but on the users.”