Too many technology sites act as if technology was some rare bird, chirping away in its tropical jungle paradise. Technology is research, technology is science, technology is the insular sub-culture of geeks and their geeky high-tech ways. If you don’t know Linux, you can’t be in our club.
There’s a point to all this, of course. The world of high-tech is its own special world, and it depends on research and the scientific method and a sense of discovery.
But we should never, ever forget that technology is fundamentally a business concern. Nifty gadgets have to be marketable and research into new tech should be driven by market needs. This is as true for software as hardware, as true for ways of interacting in the social space as for mobile devices.
Here’s an example: For years, science fiction writers speculated about a money-free society. Cash, they assured us, would one day be as quaint as the barter system. Yet, despite the technical ability to be cashless coming closer and closer, we all still relied on money at least some of the time–or at least, physical representations of money. That’s what a debit card, just as much as a paper check, is after all–a physical, tangible pseudo-money.
The reason we still needed (need) money is because there was no compelling business reason to replace it.
Enter Paypal. What was necessary to create Paypal was the success of eBay. Once a business could become more successful by introducing a purely electronic and non-representational means of payment, then that business developed that technology. Now, Paypal is the payment standard for many businesses, far transcending its eBay origins.
The Lesson: When the business need arises, the technology will emerge.
Now take that lesson to your own technology development process.