At the strategic foresight research and consulting firm FutureInFocus.com, our mission is to help organizations think critically about the future to make better long-term strategic decisions.
Our specialty is studying what’s likely to be on the horizon in the next two to 10 years, and sharing our findings through a subscription-based foresight research service — as well as custom research and consulting offerings.
So it is with great gusto that this fall we published an update to our “Technology Values” research, which features the values that drive consumer demand for technology.
In September, I had the privilege of sharing that study at the 2015 Foresight and Trends Conference in Los Angeles. I hope you’ll review and discuss the findings with your colleagues with as much energy and excitement as the audience in LA did.
Scroll down for a synopsis of my speech. And click here for even more information, including examples of each Tech Value.
As always, feel free to contact me with questions, thoughts, and ideas: Michael@FutureInFocus.com. Here’s to the future!
12 Values Driving Consumer Demand for Technology
The Power of Technology Foresight
For more than a decade, our team has studied how consumers around the world are responding to changes in technology. Our goal is to share this research with corporations that are building tech products and services, and marketing them to consumers.
For example, consumers want to have a say in the design of the products they are buying, so how can companies incorporate that creative input into their strategy?
Until very recently, this research — which was developed in large part by the University of Houston’s Dr. Andy Hines in 2006 — had been shared only with our subscribers. This year, we decided to update our findings and make a portion available to the public.
Why? Because we think that the 12 Technology Values will serve as a springboard for inspiration and innovation for all companies that are interested in staying on the cutting edge.
Following are the 12 Technology Values broken into four categories:
I. It’s All About People
The first three values are about designing for people and giving them a say about the design process.
1. Appropriateness: The idea that products and services will need to be suitably designed and delivered to match the different needs of different consumers. And while that may sound obvious, think about how many products are overextended into a one-size-fits-all approach. Here are attributes of the consumer to keep in mind:
- Life stage — which is especially important with an aging global population
- Physical and mental abilities — which includes literacy
- Geography — and the restraints posed by some locations and infrastructure
- Economic situation
- Cultural, ethnic, and religious practices
2. User Creativity: The notion that consumers will increasingly want to modify, augment, and influence how their products are created and used. You can see the proliferation of social networks — such as Pinterest and Instagram — that allow users to be creative and express themselves.
We feel it will become more important to create products that can take advantage of these impulses and give consumers ways to put their creative energy to work for you.
3. Personalization: Consumers will increasingly look for products and services that align with their individual needs and preferences and give the consumer the power to alter or adapt features.
This includes a variety of areas, from personalized food and medicine to media and entertainment.
II. Helping Consumers Regain a Sense of Control
The next three values focus on helping consumers regain a feeling of control over their lives.
The global economic slowdown created feelings of uncertainty that still linger, and consumers report feeling overwhelmed by the increased pace of life. To remedy that, products need to offer:
4. Simplicity: A growing value for consumers who are dealing with information overload, time stress, and growing technological complexity. Simplicity is about making technology easy and almost instinctive for consumers to use by reducing choices and unnecessary steps, and narrowing clutter.
5. Connectedness: Consumers expect to have access to people and information continuously. At some time in the near future, we might even want to call connectedness something like “convergence.”
We’ve moved from an era where connectedness meant access to websites and email to the world of personal mobile devices and social networks, and connectivity will continue to morph and be redefined again over the next decade. This is where machine-to-machine connections are going to be a bigger part of the connected world and thus a bigger part of people’s connected lives.
6. Convenience: A mainstream concept. We’re all familiar with the consumer demand for convenience. What’s driving this demand is increasing time pressure.
Many people feel they have less time to manage rising levels of activity, information, and choices — and the result is an accelerated pace of life. This belief that more needs to be done in less time drives — and will continue to drive — the search for convenience.
III. Increasing Performance
Consumers are looking to technologies to help them perform better in all areas of their lives. These three are about performance:
7. Efficiency: Doing more with less. Efficiency in the context of our Technology Values is about helping consumers manage resources — including natural resources, money, and even attention — as consumers seek help processing increasing flows of information.
Companies have recognized the value of energy efficiency in everything from cars to mobile phones to smart thermostats (like the one Nest sells). But efficiency can also relate to things like healthcare.
8. Assistance: Helping consumers extend their natural abilities, both mental and physical.
Assistive technologies can offer aid to seniors whose capacities have diminished with age and offer a boost to healthy individuals looking to maximize their productivity.
9. Intelligence: Of course, intelligence is going to be part of the performance group as well. Consumers are increasingly going to look to shift the burdens of decision-making and remembering to the devices and services they use.
This is already starting to happen as life gets more rushed, our attention becomes more fragmented and strained, and we look for ways to offload some responsibilities.
In the past, we added our travel plans to an online calendar — but now Google sees that you reserved a hotel room and automatically adds the date and location.
Things start to get interesting as systems and devices gain the ability to be contextually aware (aware of the user and the environment) and predictive (able to guess what you want or need it to do).
IV. Protecting Your Customers
The final three Tech Values have to do with offering protection to your customers in different ways. Specifically:
10. Protection: Catering to the safety and security needs of consumers.
The unceasing emergence of new threats creates new demands for technologies, which consumers are increasingly looking to for themselves and their families, their homes, their wealth, and even for their digital possessions. And don’t forget about protecting privacy.
11. Health: Protection for the mind and body. Consumers will increasingly expect technologies to help them achieve a healthy lifestyle. As we’ve learned more about the effect of environment and behavior on our health, we’ve become less reactive and more proactive — encouraging healthy behaviors to prevent disease and illness.
With the advent of new sensors, cloud computing, and information processing, new health technologies are beginning to emerge that will empower consumers to take their health into their own hands.
12. Sustainability: Improving quality of life for the consumer, while at the same minimizing the use, waste, and pollution of natural resources. We also see the definition of sustainability expanding beyond just environmental issues to encompass any present or future threats to overall well-being — such as poverty, poor education, and social unrest.
Former counsel for Siemens Peter Solmssen explains that, “Sustainability is about survival. It means clean water and clean air, but it also means having an economic system that works for everyone. It means having responsible citizens, both corporate and individual.”