Technology Moves Too Fast to Care About

Ziba’s holiday gift to clients and friends is twelve thought pieces, with corresponding video summaries. These were only released to the public as each month of the year passed. I am Mr. July.

The video below provides off-the-cuff insight (read: I didn’t have time to prep any notes) on how the rate of change in technology excites us, but can also cause a myopic view and tech-led invention.

Today it is more important than ever to redouble our efforts on identifying and clarifying the context and purpose for which technology is being applied. Tech for tech’s sake is not just in danger of being a gimmick or missing the mark value wise, but can waste valuable resources in undermining belief in a fledgling technology.

It is important to shift our focus from the features and technology of something, towards the outcome and benefit that things provide. Service design seeks to remove steps, and one of them is often to create magical black boxes of technology: What do people care of how something happens compared to why they want something to happen?

Take the example of a car sharing scheme; there is digital infrastructure, physical cars, member cards and scanners, and human service staff. How technology choreographs these things together is of less importance to us than the fact that we get access to a car where the app says it is.

Moreover, the tech bells and whistles that go into making a car special are far less important to users, because amongst other things, they don’t own it, may not notice it in one trip and they can choose a different one next time. This represents a huge challenge for the car industry, which will one day soon have to switch from an ownership model to a subscription platform. At least that’ll do for planned obsolescence.

The technology that is important in our lives is somewhat hidden, but it is the organization of the system around the user and the digital and human service platforms and principles that make the design and delivery of the service feel fluid and satisfying.