Innovation can fundamentally change the world in a matter of years, while culture, economy and technology can constantly shape the world to better accommodate products, ideas and tools that lead to innovation.
I believe this decade we have been more receptive to change, while at the same time, change has been more accessible and had a deeper impact on people living anywhere on Earth. We still have a lot of problems left to solve, from past innovations that we didn’t understand or use efficiently. The following list of revolutionary things is not ordered, no hierarchy is implied. Enjoy and share it with your friends!
1. Tablet Computers
Although the touchscreen technology for commercial use is more than 2 decades old, the more recent tablet computers got the best of it with the launch of Apple’s iPad last year. Tablet computers revolutionized the whole idea of “user experience” and redefined human-computer interaction, making it a more intimate and intuitive experience, while also challenging designers and developers create more usable and responsive interfaces for applications, games, browsers and websites. With tablet computers, interaction is built around natural gestures and control is manifested directly, through touch, not through peripheral input devices that require users acquire new skills to use them. Interestingly, RSS readers and aggregators became more popular with these devices, which are mainly for people who consume, rather than create content.
Although entered a viable market viable during the previous decade, the breakthrough of accessible, usable and fun-to-use smartphones happened in 2007-2009 when the first touchscreen mobile devices, with integrated cameras, web browsers and mobile apps caught the attention of a very responsive population. Surely the rise of smartphones was strongly conditioned by the release of functional, user-oriented, intuitive operating systems and applications. For the past three years smartphones have facilitated above-average growth in global handset shipment. The 3G revolution happened instantaneously, giving mobile carriers and internet providers new reasons to attract and retain customers. Nowadays, people do not choose voice and data plans, they choose devices with great interfaces and open platforms (ability to add third party applications).
I love it when absolutely intangible things become the killer products of the year. Webapps are makeshift because they add fast, real-time computational capabilities to devices that have traditionally been considered static receptors on which third party clients would plant their own little software to do the job. Webapps can be perfect cash cows for start-ups and established tech companies, as well as excellent market catalysts and trend setters. From analytics to social media sharing, from organizers to productivity enhancing tools, webapps reflect the market trends and create more opportunities for faster, more performant web products to be developed over time.
4. Cloud Computing
Cloud computing is revolutionary as a tech business model and as a framework for development companies, especially those who have adopted agile methods. Cloud computing helps businesses convert capital expenditure into operational expenditure and prepare the market for subscription-based plans that allow savvy customers access vital data about their own business, accounts and about the competition for limited or unlimited periods of time. Cloud computing makes it easier for business owners to scale up rapidly and reach out to markets globally. Cloud computing is an epitome of green capitalism: the value created can greatly overshadow the initial resources invested.
5. Social Media
It is pervasive, it is fun, it is insightful and it can be integrated with business and marketing strategy, media and social campaigns. People may still be apprehensive of using social media and may not understand why it would change the way they do things. Ten years ago the adoption of social media sharing tools on one’s website to drive in visitors and communicate with broader audiences online is something that no marketer would have thought of before the rise of online social networking. Today, social media channels use APIs to become more profoundly embedded with all the other web products and entities.
Soon it will become invisible and therefore part of our lives and of everything we do.
What I think is absolutely amazing about social media is that it helped people connect outside the choreographed media environment: from Barack Obama reaching out to people during the course of the 2008 U.S. election cycle to users reporting about different events in real time, thus providing a different, inside-look at what was really happening; from starts and celebrities revealing things about themselves directly to tens of thousands of followers to thought leaders making statements that would influence public opinion – that is the real power of social media and that is what connection is all about in a world still divided by material and immaterial boundaries.
There are several other revolutionary things, web and tech related, and even more outside these two extremely dynamic environments of our world today. One of the books I look forward to read is Open Services Innovation by Henry Chesbrough. I have already enjoyed reading Open Innovation last year. I think the SaS business model will dominate the rising markets for the next few years. Again, I think this decade’s legacy is not entirely free of dangers and there are so many hundreds of years old problems we continue to struggle with, but I hope that responsibility and empathy will get the best of us and we will manage to drive sustainable innovation and create a brighter and safer future to live in.