“Innovation” by definition is the introduction or improvement of new goods and services. By this logic, if your entire product model is not focused on honoring these metrics, your product shouldn’t be taken into consideration by any consumer to start with.
Not to sound too straight to the point, (I've never been known for my subtlety) but innovation should be the basic model of any valuable business.
Over the course of the past year, I embarked on an accelerator program, exposing me to some of the craziest technologies I couldn’t imagine existing outside of science fiction—from robot bees to combat extinction, to American Sign Language-translating gloves and far more wacky things. After seeing these technologies, here is something I can guarantee: we are no longer limited by technology. We sent civilians to space. We have self-driving cars. The future is here, and in actuality, it’s been here for quite some time.
Now in saying this, it’s important to understand that I’ve also encountered many revolutionary technologies in perpetual standby mode because the public wasn’t yet ready to consume them. Yes, instead of taking advantage of things that could make our lives or even our jobs easier, we are still humans, and we crave ease and familiarity. Especially when these new approaches feel overly complicated and esoteric.
To illustrate this point, consider the following, eh, anecdote. In 1995, Bill Gates went on the Late Show with David Letterman to explain this new thing called “the internet”. To the great wonderment (and perhaps disbelief) of the audience and Letterman himself, Gates said that the internet would allow people to broadcast whatever they want, to whomever they want. Letterman replied with disdain that they already had radio, TV, and tapes for all of these things, eliciting huge plaudits from the audience.
In 2021, this sounds hysterical, and we can make jokes about Letterman’s attitude here, but in truth, this same situation is repeated with nearly every single product I’ve ever encountered. Humans are humans, and as such, we tend to be skeptical of—and perhaps even intimidated by—big technological revolutions.
As a marketing person, I love to talk about innovation. But as a person who loves technology, I can guarantee that the most important thing about innovation is the WAY you lead the technology, and the manner in which you PRESENT it to your users. Can they see how your new coffee pods/tablet/SaaS platform makes their lives simpler? Can they envision themselves using it and how it will fit into their daily workflow? Does the thought of NOT using your product, now that they know about it, cause them great FOMO?
If you can't bridge this gap, your innovative product will be stuck on standby forever. The fact is, the turning point for every innovation is predicated upon how easy, intuitive, and accessible you make it for the consumer. If you can make it accessible to the average consumer (in your target audience, of course), that’s the gold mine, that's where we should focus our efforts.
As my first year at the accelerator comes to a close, I’m reflecting on everything I’ve learned in this time, and I'm so happy that my team at anecdotes intuitively understands these core principles and better yet, puts them into practice. Technology is, at its best, an enabler, a tool to make LIFE better. And this is what we hear from customers all the time; that thanks to the simple (and super pretty!) UX/UI, people actually enjoy using it—which means that they are enjoying their work lives just a little bit more than they did before. To me, that is awesome. Just awesome.
This all reminds me of a sentence I like to use in my everyday life: “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” Albert Einstein is the guy who said that and I believe we can trust him (I heard somewhere that he was a genius). The biggest challenge is taking something utterly complex and deeply technical and distilling it into something beautifully simple. It’s how you deliver the UX/UI that counts as the true success of a product. If you can explain it to a six year old, now that’s knowledge!