Experts talk about a technological revolution. All around us, the world is changing. Connectivity is coming into the mainstream. Our lives will one day soon be surrounded by artificial intelligence and automated machines. It seems like we’re being pushed along by a rapid wave of technological change.
Amidst it all, it’s easy to forget the role of the consumer.
Throughout the history of industry, consumers have fuelled adoption. People accept and reject technologies, and it therefore profoundly affects the progression of technological change. Right now, we’re in the midst of Industry 4.0: an era of technological expansion in the workforce.
Industry 4.0 will change the way we interact, and communicate, with one another. Technology has an unquestionable role in economic and organisational growth, but consumers are still the ones pushing for the change.
Consumers have control
Companies implement and adopt technology based on customer demand.
If a service or product:
- Is in high demand
- Improves the customer experience
- Makes the process more efficient
Then it will, eventually, become adopted on a widespread basis.
Let’s consider popular services like Uber and Amazon. They were adopted quickly and globally because they catered to a customer demand.
Companies constantly change based on consumer wants.
People as drivers
When a technology becomes popular, people take interest and companies adopt it.
However, there’s a problem here: the hype cycle, coined by Gartner.
The cycle has five stages: innovation, expectation, disillusionment, enlightenment and productivity.
This cycle does not mean that the technology won’t be adopted. Many widely adopted technologies (such as the internet) experienced this. Hype isn’t inherently a bad thing, but it can cause problems.
Here’s the example you probably saw coming: blockchain.
With blockchain, Gartner’s hype cycle will look something like this:
Hype is a double-edged sword. Cryptocurrency was overhyped, and it was still in its nascent stages. Blockchain was pulled into this. While cryptocurrency uses blockchain, it does not represent it. Blockchain has a multitude of abilities, while cryptocurrency only has one.
This isn’t to say that cryptocurrency has no value – that’s an argument for the leaders of the world.
When crypto crashed, blockchain’s reputation was hurt. But why? Blockchain as a technology didn’t have much to do with the value of cryptocurrency.
Hype, therefore, harmed blockchain. Now it’s struggling through disillusionment.
How do we solve the hype problem?
We love hype. We don’t love dealing with the problems that surround hype.
The problem is multifaceted. Hype can mean the failure of a concept. Generally, though, technologies that lose out to the hype cycle are those that had little substance in the first place. The hype was largely talk – and backed by very little technological aptitude.
The hype problem is usually solved by large companies who adopt a concept despite criticism. Companies see the use and potential of a product, even though society treats it with scepticism. People control technology movements, but often it’s corporations that finalise the deal.
We are drivers – for better or for worse
Consumers have a strong impact in whether a technology becomes accepted or not, but they’re not alone. Businesses have responsibility. Corporations and their consumers are the two most powerful movers in the world. Between companies and consumers, they lift certain technologies up and discard others.
We can bring value to technology through our own actions. It’s up to us to decide whether that’s for good or for bad.
Let’s think today about the technologies we want to support. Check out our product STAMP.