How do you define great technology? To me, it’s the technology that’s so intuitive you’d be excused for thinking it had always existed. Over the last 20 years the technology and applications of technology that have most consistently changed our everyday lives all have this in common; think streaming services, smartphones, services like Uber or Deliveroo. Great technology should improve our everyday lives, it should make daily activities easier and enable humans to have better experiences.
The standard I measure all technology to – including everything we build at Hullabalook – is: Can my Mum use this (without any help) and will she enjoy using it? Considering the fact my Mum once confidently told me that she didn’t have the internet on her phone- only Instagram – that bar is pretty high.
Ask people what amazing technology looks like and most will paint a more dramatic, scary picture. AI stealing jobs, virtual or augmented reality experiences, or Matrix-esque simulations that are controlling our every move. For some reason, our cultural expectation is that you will recognise groundbreaking technology because it will be completely alien.
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But here’s a secret – those technologies might be super cool, they might be part of a distant future but they aren’t the innovations that the market needs right now. If you’re a startup building solutions like this, it’s going to be hard to drive revenue because – guess what? It’s my Mum, people of her generation (and a bit younger) that have all of the capital and disposable income to spend.
Great technology isn’t just cool to look at. Great technology enhances the human experience. Technology shouldn’t be elitist – only available to people who can afford access to the latest devices, it shouldn’t be ageist – usable only by people who have grown up with smart devices and it should never discriminate against people who are time poor due to difficult work or caregiving responsibilities.
It’s time we democratised technology. So here is my PSA:
Startups: Build stuff that the broadest group of people can use. I promise that your Developers and Engineers will get the biggest kick out of seeing people actually using and enjoying what they’ve built.
Customers (in our case, retailers): Your customers (consumers) will tell you that they want a tool to show them exactly what a product will look like in their homes, or see exactly how an item of clothing will fit… but what they’re not saying out loud is that they want this without any extra clicks. They want it to work on their smart phones, they want to use it on a bus and they definitely don’t want it to require multiple devices.
Investors: Great technology isn’t something that’s described with so many buzzwords, you don’t truly understand it. Great technology enables everyday experiences. Building something that looks complex is pretty easy – building something that changes the game and looks so simple that you think it’s always existed … that really is pretty difficult.
Written by Bryony Elliott, Co-Founder at Hullabalook