Just like in pharmaceuticals, IT teams and end users use technology and applications off label. And, in extraordinary times, necessity is the mother of invention – you see heightened human ingenuity and even more creative off-label tech adoption.

Smart companies embrace the use of products that the original designers never intended or imagined. They will often incorporate off-label use in conjunction with future product releases. In some cases, the product is re-marketed, changing the primary use.

Twitter is one of these infamous examples, originally designed for users to post what they were doing. Users found more value in posting ideas and links. Twitter adopted and changed the question from “What are you doing?” to “What’s happening?” One user created the idea of hashtags to address the lack of categorization and to make it easier to find ideas they care about. Hence, the hashtag was born of one user’s desire to create channels and group conversations.

Mobile carriers developed texting (SMS) to provide a notification service about network issues. What the carriers failed to realize was that users would latch onto the service to start communicating with one another. So quickly in fact, that many of the carriers had no mechanism in-place to charge customers for the data usage.

Web analytics showed users often use the browser address bar and the search box of a search engine interchangeably. Google pounced on the behavior for Chrome and enabled the ability to perform searches in the address bar with what they have dubbed the Omnibox.

In our socially distanced world, one new example of off-label use is the Zoom video conferencing system. While intended as an easy-to-use business meeting application, consumers have found new uses. Zoom nightclubs, classrooms, virtual dance parties, and happy hours are sprouting up across the country and the world. Driving the application’s success is the ability to setup breakout rooms (smaller groups) within the same meeting. The downside is that participants are unable to move around the rooms without the help of a host.

Is Zoom working on incorporating features to accommodate this off-label use? Time will tell.

MeriTalk is embracing the off-label use of technology to bring the Cyber Smoke networking community back together. While we can’t currently hold the May Cyber Smoke in-person, we are looking for ways to hold a virtual event in the near future.

Ingenuity thrives in difficult times. Tech consumers will look to see if a solution exists and find new uses for existing solutions to meet the problem at hand. Some of the best features and uses of applications come from the end-user and their off-label use.

“See” you soon, maybe even in a Zoom breakout room.

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Jamie Burdette
Jamie Burdette
Jamie Burdette leads the MeriTalk development team and has more than 20 years of experience in the implementation of internet technologies, websites, and web applications. He has managed the development for a wide array of sites including e-commerce applications, intranets, extranets, CMS solutions, and business process applications across dozens of industries. Jamie spends his free time on the golf course, working on home projects, and reading history