The Future is Here, It is Just Not Evenly Distributed.

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There is a lot of talk of the Art of the Possible and what this really means five years from now. Creating and communicating a vision is a key part of user experience. Most clients want to know what is happening (best guess) for the next two years. For good a reason. Making the wrong decisions and investment could kill their business. They want to know that the system and the technology they are implementing will still be relevant when it is complete.  

Just a few short years ago most CTOs wanted stable mature platforms. They would not even look at products that did not have a strong track record of value and performance. There is a shift to conversations with start-ups, to provide new tools. Innovation is the buzzword of the day. There is a shift towards using innovative tools in a modular “swap in and swap out” style ecosystem architecture. This is a long term strategy that involves less risk than getting locked in to a single platform.  

The Dot.com boom of bust of 1999-2002 happened because the consumer infrastructure to support it was missing. Now it is the consumer that is driving it.

One person’s future is another person’s past.

A lot is being written about the kids that are growing up with digital. It is not just about them. A lot of people are zooming ahead. Historically there have always been early adopters. The difference is that in most cases the masses eventually caught up in the consumer technology. Being the first family on the block to get a TV was a big deal. It took years before the TV invaded every house in the neighbourhood. In between each wave of technology people had time to catch up and adapt.

This time the pace and the amount of technology is less like a serious of waves and more metaphorically like a tsunami. There is a worry that the early adopters are zooming so far ahead that there is a possibility that the divide may be deeper and wider as to put some people and companies at a disadvantage.

Not everyone has the mindset for digital. This is not about code or doing digital but about integrating into every day lives so this it is just there in the background.

People not Companies are Zooming Ahead

This time the speed of innovation is happening so fast that it is not just people that are falling behind but companies.  The bigger the company the more likely it is to be encumbered with old systems that creak and have out dated systems. This a huge challenge in the workplace. Given the current economy companies and government agencies are cash strapped. If a company has IE 6 there are now in the less than 3% of the population and on the wrong side of the technology divide.

Some People get Left Behind Others Choose to Stay Behind

Noahs ark

Is IE6 still holding the web back to State of the Ark?

Getting everyone online is still a huge challenge for government services who want everyone online to drive more efficiency through self service. The benefit to companies of getting people off more expensive channels of telephony and in person makes financial sense. There are challenges as research into user behaviour points that for a lot of people this is unworkable. This is not do with solely with economic reasons.

It is because not everyone wants to be online. For every person who seems to be online all the time there is another person saying “put that away” and treating technology as an unwelcome invader into their personal space.

Getting people online is not about cost. It is far more complicated. Some people do not want to be online. I have encountered people so hostile to technology they see it as this unwanted invader in their lives. Attitudes toward technology differ. The  younger “digital natives” will eventually become the more dominant strain (for a lack of a better term). Even among the younger digital crowd thought there is still a spectrum between the truly engaged and the ones that more passively engaged.

Moving Beyond Mobile

It is not enough given the speed that new apps and gadgets are coming out. The pace of innovation is having a profound change to our lifestyle.  The further a person is on the scale the more profound the changes. The convergence of mobile, social and digital trends We are moving to an internet of things. Not just smartphones but a whole range of devices. It is estimated that by 2020 there will be up to 50 billion connected devices and each consumer will have approximately seven devices connected to the Internet.

The New York Times has an interesting article on “The Kitchen Table of the Future“. In this vision the time spent around the kitchen table would be about “swiping through stories, ambient commerce and the quantified self”. This is already a reality for a lot of people now and has been since the iPad came out almost two years ago.

Waitrose has introduced a bar code scanner for self service in store shopping. The device is easy to use and has the added bonus of adding up items and they are added and alerting customers of savings on multiple items. It would be interesting to know how the take up progresses.

Beyond just making phone calls or sending text messages, people regularly look up directions, research products while in-store, chat and compare with friends and family, search for deals and pay for a coffee using a mobile phone.

These intelligent, always-connected devices and the consumers using them to their full potential are pushing merchants to react quickly, or die. Businesses that don’t have a mobile commerce strategy are losing out on significant revenue, and that’s only going to continue to accelerate.

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