Ultimately the greatest reward, both financially and in fame, comes to the pioneers of new products. At its best, this situation is exemplified by the development of new product categories, not simply refinements or revisions of the status quo. The biggest brands today, from Apple through to Coca-Cola all illustrate this. There is no doubt that the greatest products and product innovations today are in the field of information technology. Any doubt that the most influential and economically disruptive categories of development are here will be be dispelled by the demonstrable impact that the smartphone and social media have made over the last decade.
The real question, of course, is where will the next new product category come from: what will it be? New product categories are notoriously difficult to project. It is their very non-obviousness which makes them startling, new and interruptive. It is also what tends to make them come from the very last place(s) you might look. A successful electric car did not come from any of the leading car companies. The iPhone did not come from any of the large players in telecommunications. And Facebook didn’t come out of the expertise born at Microsoft or IBM. Instead, each of these phenomenal sucess stories came from the unique, sometimes stubborn vision of outliers in nascent industries who refused to participate in paradigms of the status quo.
The best new products–and the most successful–solve real problems in a way that no one has thought to previously address. Often, the problem(s) solved come as a cluster of needs, which appear to be insoluble, even unrelated. Existing hegemonies may appear to counter-indicate new solutions. The logic of the status quo is not a good tool in opening a window to new product categories. While new products frequently do employ existing technologies, they do so in a way that is new, unexpected or even impossible according to the status quo. A simple truth is that a linear projection of the past will not produce breakthrough categories, products, or the concommitant fame and fortune.
Today there is a cluster of issues in information technology around user experience: UX, that appears insoluble. Some of these include privacy, security, ease-of-use, consistency of experience and monetization models that support the new economy, rather than existing ‘big corporate’ interests. This list is by no means exhaustive, in fact the issues of UX and information architecture which supports are so thorny and seemingly complex, they have been labelled a ‘wicked problem’ by more than one in the industry. Yet such problems are soluble. You only have to look at the electric car to see this. People said you can’t have electric cars because there is no infrastructure to support charging them. And you can’t have an infrastructure because there are no cars needing one. And yet Tesla, seemingly flying the face of logic, solved both of these issues and today is valued higher than either Ford or General Motors, the two largest auto manufacturers in America.
So, we beg the question, where does the opportunity in UX lie? What new product category will be created to solve today’s wicked problem? How will this new category work to solve these interwoven troubles and why has this not already been done. Finally, what will be the impact?
Bryce Winter is a brand specialist with a broad focus on design and development of better information communications technology. With a 30 year professional background spanning digital sales & training, graphic & advertising design, display & merchandising as well as large-scale branded events; nothing is insignificant to Bryce in the development of superior UX. Bryce’s leading edge contributions to digital forms are primarily in the field of archetypes.
Bryce has worked with luminary and leading brands like Virgin, Chanel, TD Canada Trust as well government, not-for-profits and small business. Bryce is an autodidact polymath and a student of art, architecture and ontology as well as of physical form. He is the CEO of GENR8 Technology Group Inc. and Chief Architect of the GENR8 ELEV8R project.