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The Power of Aggregation
This is day 4 of my experiment to blog for 30 consecutive days.
Aggregation is one of my favorite concepts. It saves me a ton of time and hassle in both my personal and work lives.
Why shop at multiple online stores when you can go to Amazon, who aggregates both products and other online merchants, and buy everything you want on one site?
Why search scores of websites for flights when you can go to Kayak and compare them all at once?
Why visit multiple social media sites when you can see all of your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn streams on a single interface on Hootsuite?
But aggregation isn't always the best solution. Maybe the user interface isn't quite right for everything that is being aggregated, or some features and functionality may have to be left out to facilitate the aggregation. Or in some cases aggregation isn't even wanted.
For instance, Comcast and other cable networks aggregate hundreds of networks, many of which you won't ever watch (what the hell is Here TV?) under one cable plan. And they bundle cable, internet access, and a phone landline and make you pay hundreds of dollars for it.
Cable is now being unbundled by over-the-top networks like Sling TV and HBO Go.
Another example is Craigslist. You can do anything on that site - find a roommate, sell that desk that's collecting dust in the corner, buy a car, find a girlfriend or boyfriend. But it's ugly as sin and the user interface you'll have finding a job on Craigslist looks exactly like the one you'll have finding a date.
Craigslist has been disrupted by unbundling by the likes of Match.com (dating), AirBNB (finding a place to crash), any job board (finding jobs), UrbanSitter (finding a babysitter) and many other sites.
Even with the aforementioned Hootsuite, one of my favorite tools, you can't do some of the things you can on Facebook or Twitter. Performing Twitter hashtag and people searches really sucks on Hootsuite, so I find myself visiting Twitter.com to search.
Just like everything else, there are two sides to every coin. Aggregation can be a powerful thing, but it's not always the right answer.
So if you're using multiple products to find a solution, and it's a big pain in the ass, you might have an opportunity on your hands to improve it. On the other hand, if you're using an aggregation product and it just doesn't feel quite right, you might also have an opportunity.