When technology is so impactful and ubiquitous for our lives, it ends up disappearing in the background of everything we do. It becomes an invisible part of the operating system of our lives.
Electricity has become in most of the world such an invisible technology. The very mundanity of plugging devices into a wall to power them is a testimony of how important it is. By extension, you know that a technology has reached its full potential when it becomes dull to everyone. Who’s still bragging about having an electrical oven? But then, lose this magical, always-on technology, and you’ll vividly remember how you much you depend on it.
This is where we are at with ‘digital’.
Digital ‘whatever’ is so deep down integrated into our lives that it has become meaningless –and to be entirely honest rather embarrassing– to brag about it. Is your company digital? Congratulations: my morning weather forecast is, my movies are, my relationships with my tax administration are, and probably my goldfish as well by now.
Whether you’re a startup or a multi-billion-dollar tech industry, there’s an immense virtue to push your vision far enough in the future so that you think of your tech as invisible. Retro-engineer this future perspective to now and you might just be able to refocus your business and find where to create new added value on the market.
And if you happen to be less ambitious –or momentarily less resourceful– you could at least remove the ‘bling’ effect of your technology. Not embarrassing yourself again at launching 3D TV sets, contactless payment cards, self-balancing individual transportation systems, or augmented reality devices.
I’ll be giving a class on focusing businesses and co-managing a workshop on added value at the Innovation by Design Master this week at the ENSCI Paris. I’ve learned long ago that thinking of key technologies has needing to be invisible, is a powerful connection to many powerful design approaches. And, although we’re not going to discuss this topic directly, I’m curious to see if we’ll get there anyway on the projects the students will have to work on.
Until then, I’ll try to finish my full keynote on “Invisible Technology.” Stéphanie and I were a bit swamped these last months, and also, booked for quite a few private keynotes and exchanges with different industries. This keynote is one of those, but we already got the green light to share publicly. Hence the friendly teasing.