The landscape of human endeavor is replete in products, services, and activities that enhance our lives, our businesses, and relationships. Time and again, however, we have seen the effects of the products, services, and perspectives on which great success has been founded to lack the elements necessary to sustain prosperity. During the occasions we experience protracted declining success, we often pause to consider how we may improve what we offer to society and in what ways technology and processes can be improved.
We do live on technology. As a catalyst to action and, at times, an active agent for change. More often technology is the way we channel our intentions and needs in communication, knowledge, resources, and personal satisfaction. Acquiring these things through technology has been a principle effort of our society, in all its forms, for many years. Today, we can see a wider payoff on the horizon. Benefits of our efforts include greater abundance of created goods and services. Automation, increasingly pervasive, that shortens the distance between intention and outcome. An increased potential to live more prosperously.
With all that is available from technology, what more can we ask? Long ago, you may have thought that we have reached a high enough level in technology to address all our concerns. Of course we know that the point is not technology but about us. As people are in a state of change so must the technology follow changing intentions. Perhaps intentions change because people want more out of life as represented or channeled through products, services, and activities of various kinds. We are not designed to be perpetually satisfied. How might we address this through technology?
Some organizations may offer clues to the way forward. If we trace the emergence, development, and application of technology, there seems to be a notable process at work. This process is one of specialization followed by evolution, integration, generalization, and more integration. We can observe that value is maximized towards the end of the cycle involving generalization and integration. Quality, the element that defines a technology’s suitability and desirability, is typically defined at the beginning of the cycle. The more successful enterprises are those that can maintain quality at the end of the cycle towards convergence. Considering convergence activities, we see examples were the largest participants of industry acquires more than just capabilities. They acquire an expectation for greater quality and vision that will produce beneficial change.
Cycles of change do have their downside for some. With the shift in technology, some have lamented the decline of industries where things are made. We may consider however that we are not ending our creation activity but are changing what we make. An increase in abundance, automation, and a more connected society has produced an opportunity to pursue activities of a different nature. The question we must ask ourselves is if these new activities offer the rewards and benefits in a wider and more sustainable way. The ideal outcome will hold for the introduction and application of greater innovations. Supporting that are activities and paradigm shifts hinted at in the drive to convergence.
What is the way forward? The way forward is an approach to products, services, and activities that is more integrated rather than specialized. A simple example is the closer relationship of hardware to software in technology. More broadly and beyond such classifications is an emphasis on converged solutions regardless of industry. The key decision begins in determining which elements are to be emphasized, combined, and developed. The result is an approach to creation that links together and refines various elements that produce services, products, or activities that deliver better value and support more sustained prosperity.
By Michael Gautier, 2007