Engagement isn’t the future of software

When’s the last time you thought about your hammer? Probably the last time you used it. 

Physical tools don’t ask for your time—they just do their job. Software, on the other hand, is also a tool, but lately, apps are demanding more and more of humans. Workplace software is just as addictive as consumer software, all in the name of “driving engagement.” Much of that engagement is for irrelevant, or worse,

distracting work. The constant red dot, the buzzing notification on your phone, and the chime of one more alert calls us to work that may or may not matter. 

It’s overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be this way. 

A version of this article was first presented as the keynote talk at ZapConnect, Zapier’s user conference. Take a look at the ZapConnect content library for more content like this.

Don’t let software get in your way

Imagine, if you will, a world in which hammers were optimized for engagement. They could maybe make a sound every day, just to remind you that you have a hammer. They could have Wi-Fi, with push notifications, letting you know how many nails you drove in one year ago today. Maybe there’s the occasional note about new hammers you could purchase. 

It’s a silly idea for a hammer. In a few years, people will also realize it was a silly idea for work software. 

People—and businesses especially—will increasingly look for software that’s less like a social network and more like a hammer. The future of software will be focused on enabling workers, not driving engagement. It’s about putting humans back in the driver’s seat. People want software that allows them to have leverage over the work they do. To truly be able to do more things, with less. That means software you can use to do a job, then stop thinking about. 

We founded Zapier on these principles. We want to give people the freedom and flexibility to do whatever they think is most important. When they automate their manual work, they can pour their regained time, energy, and attention into the most important aspects of their lives. It could be reinvesting in their business, spending more time with their family, dedicating more time to hobbies, or anything in between.

Let your apps work for you

The best employee is one you can trust to do their job without a lot of oversight. People who save you time, rather than take it up. Software should work the same way. You should be able to hire software to do a job, then trust it to get that job done without a lot of effort on your part.

5 things you should automate today

Start automating

Automation software is a great example of this. Creating automated workflows takes some time upfront, but after that, it works in the background. Zapier users save time every month, whether they log in to our website or not. 

This is the future of software: apps doing more for us instead of demanding more from us. And ultimately, this shift will empower the next generation of creators. 

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