We frequently hear things like, “The next mobile device will have an X percent bigger screen than the last one.” Do these things sound impressive anymore? Not in a world where a new device update hits the market every couple of months, if not weeks. At the recent Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), people weren’t that excited (at least not as excited as usual) about the announcements coming from Cupertino. Why? Because the device market has been all the rage for so long and there’s not as much innovation left to really pique our interest. Let’s take Apple for example. It got us thrilled with its iPod and then with its iPhone and then again with its iPad. But what happened after that? Bigger iPhone, smaller iPad, and AppleWatch. Do we see anything truly innovative jumping out of the box? Umm …well, no.
This leads us to the question: What is innovation then? Does it always have to be something huge, or glaringly visible? Usually, we tend to associate innovation with the “next big thing.” But that’s not always the right way to look at it. I’ll explain why.
Innovation is Not Linear
Innovation has often been described as a step-by-step process, but that’s not always the case. In real life, innovation is dynamic, complex, and chaotic. At the same time, innovation is no longer a “thing” to be brewed in huge scientific labs; it can be born in a garage. It can stem from an unmet market need, from a dissatisfied customer, or even from a failed product.
Facebook and Google are great examples of how seemingly small ideas can become innovation milestones. None of them started with the mission to change the world. Instead, they focused on solving a problem, or finding a better alternative to existing solutions. This is the beauty of small innovations. They take on immediate concerns and help to build a solution or a better way of doing things.
Innovation is in the Eye of the Beholder
Whether an innovation is big or small can be relative. An innovation that’s life-changing for me might not matter to you at all and vice-versa. For instance, some people may find the launch of an iWatch to be a big thing, while others (like myself) may be excited to try out the new iOS.
Also, when it comes to innovation, does size matter? Some people may agree, while others may not. However, the mobile revolution is the most apt example of how innovation may be taking place on smaller surfaces, but is by no means a small innovation.
The Future Lies in Small Innovations
We live in a tech world where many innovations we hear about now and in the future re going to be smaller. And, no, it’s not just about nanotechnology. It’s about the cloud and a host of other technologies we use on a daily basis.
The changes are going to be smaller and more subtle. For instance, we’re already in the habit of using multiple devices every day. However, the experience of going from device to device still isn’t as seamless as it should be. This calls for a stronger tie between a device’s hardware and software. As such, a potential area of innovation in hardware is in making it more compatible with software and enabling more flexibility to the user. This may not seem as big as perhaps a design overhaul, but its impact on the way we live and work will be extremely valuable.
From longer battery life to apps that use less device memory to wearables that connect more seamlessly with mobile, etc., there are many small yet significant innovations that may not make it to the headlines or cause a media frenzy. Still they do address our problem at a more granular level and that’s what matters.
Innovation will be an endless cycle and we will always be jumping for joy when the next big thing comes along. But, as the demand grows for technology to be more agile and flexible, the small changes may have a greater contribution toward enhancing our work and our lives.
This blog was originally seen on Ricoh blog.
Daniel Newman is the Principal Analyst of Futurum Research and the CEO of Broadsuite Media Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise. From Big Data to IoT to Cloud Computing, Newman makes the connections between business, people and tech that are required for companies to benefit most from their technology projects, which leads to his ideas regularly being cited in CIO.Com, CIO Review and hundreds of other sites across the world. A 5x Best Selling Author including his most recent “Building Dragons: Digital Transformation in the Experience Economy,” Daniel is also a Forbes, Entrepreneur and Huffington Post Contributor. MBA and Graduate Adjunct Professor, Daniel Newman is a Chicago Native and his speaking takes him around the world each year as he shares his vision of the role technology will play in our future.