Baffled and frustrated by technology? There's a video for that
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- Alex the Semcon puppet explains the Intenet of Things
- Wooden lounge lizard sings it like it is
- Funny take on a serious problem
- Smart products built with no consideration for user benefits
The quid pro quo for the privilege and pleasure of being a comms journalist is the understanding and acceptance of the fact that for literally every day of your working life you will be bombarded by PR company press releases, phone calls and emails extolling the virtues of one technology over another and the superiority of one technology company over another. Frequently the innovation presented turns out to be a technological dead-end and the marketing focus then shifts to the next great breakthrough, and then to the next and so on ad infinitum.
The same old cycle of overconfident expectation followed by over-exuberant hype followed later by barely-acknowledged and underplayed acceptance that the hot-air has cooled as it has risen and the over-inflated balloon is drifting back down to earth where it will land with either a bang or a whimper (depending on the actual value of the product or service rather than what the publicists would like it to be), is repeated time after time after time.
It is reminiscent of John Bunyan's 1678 allegorical story of "The Pilgrims Progress" except that instead of the "Wicket Gate to Deliverance" and the "Slough of Despond" the technology industries have to make it from the "Peak of Inflated Expectations" through the "Trough of Disillusionment" and on, hopefully, to the "Plateau of Productivity" as defined in Garter's "Hype Cycle".
Negotiating a path through all the verbiage, over-statement and embellishment of the global comms sector is difficult and mind-bending enough for a seasoned journalist but for those outside the industry the welter of claims and counter-claims, initials, abbreviations and techno-talk gobbledygook simply baffle people and leave them wondering what the hell is going on and what it all means.
Indeed, new research from Inizio/Semcon shows that 60 per cent of citizenry who do not work in the high tech industries are overwhelmed and frustrated by new technology. They feel that ever-more advanced technologies that they don't understand are taking over their lives and determining their behaviours whether they like it or not and IoT is currently THE area that most concerns them.
Technology should add-value for end users, not cause them frustration
But help is at hand from the Swedish-headquartered multinational technology company, Semcon Global, which has a refreshingly different take on how high-tech impacts people. The company first reassures its audience by telling them that "Just because it's connected doesn't mean it's smart." and rams the point home in a very amusing video which TelecomTV commends to your viewing.
Semcon's tongue-in-cheek approach is irreverent and amusing but serious all the same. People increasing feel tangled-up in technology and 50 per cent of respondents to the research survey said that frustration with devices and products had led them either to switch to other, easier to understand and easier to use alternatives or give up on them altogether. With 30 billion connected IoT gadgets forecast to be in place and an emerging market with a value estimated at US$ 1.9 TRILLION by 2020, this is bad news for the industry. As Semcon says, "While the things we are surrounded by are becoming increasingly connected, to reach the true potential of smart products, it's the users, not the things who need to be connected with first. This way, we make sure we develop connected products that are really user-friendly [and] based on human needs and behaviours."
Markus Granlund, SEmcon's CEO and President says, "Many so-called 'smart' products seem to be developed with no consideration whatsoever for user benefits. Connected technology offers fantastic potential, but things need to be done in the right order. Technology should add-value for end-users, not cause them frustration. Unfortunately, lots of money is currently being invested unnecessarily in product development that fails to meet users actual needs."
His observations are backed-up by recent research by Accenture which indicates that many consumers are sceptical in the extreme in regard to the value and efficacy of connected products as well as what they should use them for and why.
Semcon has also launched a helpline (+46 10 178 22 10) that anyone can call to chat with the company's usability experts, or simply have a rant about frustrating and apparently useless technology. I'm about to call it myself. It's an emergency. My robot vacuum cleaner seems to be trying to hump the fridge and the washing machine is filming it and posting the action on social media and I can't seem to turn it off.