Purposeful Tech: Humanity First, Then Technology
In 1992, it was unfathomable what the world wide web would bring to software development. In fact, software vendors in the business of delivering DOS-based applications were scrambling as Microsoft Windows 3.1 was rapidly redefining their industry and technology.
Many Independent Software Vendors, or ISV’s, filled the graveyards of bankruptcy, while those who adapted went on to success. Ironically, many of those successes were entombed later in their own coffins as the web browser became the preference for application delivery.
There is no bigger disruption to momentum as a radical change in direction. If you can manage these changes and leverage momentum in favor of emerging technical trends, market disruption may occur and result in meaningful success.
I’ll be very plain. It’s tempting, seductive even, to latch onto technological specifics and completely miss how they are irrelevant or soon obsolete. Oftentimes, the underlying human needs met by those technical specifics are extremely valuable and immutable for a product.
Always value technology for its benefit to humanity and never as an end to itself.
Mastering delivery of human needs allows for accurate measurement of an emerging technology trend against the value you provide today. Your hair should stand up on end when someone cites these “reasons” for an application:
- It’s on the web.
- It’s a mobile app.
- It’s blockchain.
- It’s AI.
Human needs are constant
Those may be product implementation or delivery mechanisms but they are not reasons. Human needs are the drivers for any product. You may re-target the technology every five years but human needs are constant. Take for instance:
- Enabling recreation.
- Fostering communication.
- Providing a sense of belonging.
- Removing the mental or physical effort needed to achieve some goal: Labor, learning, retrieving information, increasing understanding, etc.
- Better adapting or weathering change.
If you think of highly successful applications and products today, I’ll wager almost all of them fit these categories in some way.
Remember, people assess value to technology based on their perceived needs. If they don’t find it valuable, it won’t be. Instilling this idea in technical teams may be a challenge but worth it.
Jacob Harris is Exponential Impact’s chief technical adviser and director of engineering for North America for Cherwell Software. A technology professional and leader since 1996, Jacob been the architect behind large-scale solutions for retail systems, healthcare services, public education, procedural geometry and physical science. He is a panelist for the National Cybersecurity Center on the topic of blockchain and its impact on the industry. For several years, Jacob has advised organizations on technological impacts of emerging technology. He holds multiple Microsoft certifications and is a University of South Alabama alum with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in physics. Jacob’s views are his own and not endorsed by his present employer.