How We Get Comfortable with New Technology
Technology is funny.
It’s a part of the human story as old as humanity itself. And yet every time we invent something new, we experience an uncomfortable reckoning with the fact that every technology we add to our lives takes us further from our roots.
Fire is a technology. Shelter is a technology. Brick is a technology. And so is artificial intelligence that analyzes sales conversations and provides real-time recommendations for how sales teams can communicate more effectively.
It’s all technology.
So how do we decide what technology we’re comfortable with and what technology we’re not?
The first thing worth noting is that it’s rarely ever a decision. As a society, we don’t decide that we want a technology; the technology just shows up. An unmet need exists, and technology rises to the call.
We didn’t decide that we wanted nuclear energy. History was enduring its most intense and violent war, and the United States military decided it was willing to do anything to win. Now we live in a nuclear world.
We didn’t decide that we wanted smartphones either. Steve Jobs just went ahead and invented one, and now Statista estimates that more than 3 billion people in the world own a smartphone. Whether we like it or not, and even though almost none of us planned for it, smartphones transformed all of us into walking Internet connections. Everything we say, text, email, search, and even where we go is tracked. More than 3 billion people in the world have accepted this as a fact of life.
The spread of the smartphone highlights one of the most interesting truths about technology: once it’s invented, it can’t be uninvented, and it takes on a life of its own.
So what does the life of a technology look like? Lots of folks have researched this question, and our description of technology’s life goes by lots of names, including the “adoption curve”, the “diffusion of innovation”, and the “technology adoption lifecycle" to name a few.
All of the descriptions reveal a common theme: we accept new technologies as we become familiar with them. We are uncomfortable with e-scooters until we see them dotting our streets and watch our friends and family zipping by. We are uncomfortable storing our precious files on the Cloud until we hear that 10 other people we know are doing it.
If you’ve invented a truly novel technology, take this as a lesson: be everywhere as quickly as you can. Make your market feel as though everyone’s already embraced your invention.
And then before you know it, everyone actually will have.
Marc Bernstein is the CEO of Balto Software, a speech analytics development company, leveraging Artifical Intelligence to optimize phone interactions for sales and customer service through live call guidance. Learn more about them at www.baltosoftware.com