Hint: It's not dogs.

For years, business needs have driven the proverbial bus when it comes to technology, but slowly that paradigm is beginning to shift...

Who's Really Driving Tech Innovation?

Date: February 19th, 2015
Author: Penny Thurnau
Tags: Technology, mobile phones, cell phones, mobile devices, BYOD, innovation, business, consumer

For many people, getting the latest and greatest new phone or device might come years after the product has been on the market. It’s new to the consumer market, but what we might not realize is that businesses have been privy to this technology for years. In fact, you can point to just about any individual consumer technology and find a very specific business purpose in its origins. 

For years, business needs have driven the proverbial bus when it comes to technology, but slowly that paradigm is beginning to shift and individual consumers are starting to influence the functional development of the devices they use.

A brave new (mobile) world     
After 10 years of work and a $100 million investment, the first mobile phone hit the market in 1983 for a whopping $3,995. Motorola came out with the DynaTAC 8000x and the doors opened to the world of mobile communication. What enabled Motorola to create this early piece of technology (that has become an essential in our everyday lives) was a compelling argument for funding. 

Even as recently as the 1980s, when it came to technology, it took a business to push for new ideas. Beyond the business push, it took a good amount of money to even bring any new idea to light. After this mobile phone technology hit the market, phones were only used by those who could afford the technology, the business professionals. One author recalls the height of the “yuppie age”, which ranged from the mid-to-late ‘80s, when an earthquake struck San Francisco and a group of young stockbrokers were forced to the street amongst the rubble only to continue their business calls on their mobile phones. It wasn’t until after the phone technology became more mainstream, easier and cheaper that the product trickled down further than business professionals looking to improve their bottom lines and ROIs

Trading places: Consumers in the driver’s seat
The consistent theme through not only the launch of cell phones, but for many products, is that businesses pushed for the new technology because that technology had a very business purpose. Only after businesses got ahold of the new products and utilized them for a while did they catch on with the consumer market. Three decades later, the drip effect from business to consumer has been altered with the implementation of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) by numerous companies. 

This push for BYOD works in the favor of businesses because it enables employees to work outside the office. This sounds like another example of the business to consumer drip, but if you look at the issue, this is just as much about the employees wanting the convenience of their own devices.

So what does this mean? It means businesses are having to adapt their communications infrastructures to their employee’s needs, and in turn, technology vendors are developing functionality to accommodate this shift. Take unified communications platforms for example: The same smartphones, laptops and tablets people use in their personal lives are being used in their professional lives, too, and that requires apps and software.

To sum it up...
While the role of the technology pusher has switched since the ‘80s, consumers cannot solely claim to be paving the way for new technology. Investors are still inclined to give money to the companies with innovative ideas for technology. Consumers and businesses are pushing each other into developing better products. This, of course, ends up working out well for both groups, because like they say: The more (technology), the merrier!