Innovation - an incremental journey
Like many others working in a digital environment, I was drawn to technology from a young age. I was fascinated with how things worked and spent a lot of time taking my toys apart to figure out just that. I wasn’t nearly as good putting them back together, but the process fostered a passion for the future. To this day, I’m amazed at what we have been able to create, but I’m even more hopeful for what’s ahead….
A few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to attend the Email Innovations Summit that focused on two things: my love for innovation and the email industry, which has been my happy place for over a decade.
The problem is that I had some unrealistic expectations. I went in hoping to spend two full days immersed in technology that was “ground breaking”, “cutting edge” and “mind blowing”. This was entirely my fault, though, because I KNOW that innovation is incremental.
“Innovation is about an effective application of technology that solves both business and customer problems.”
I’ve since spent some time reflecting on my experience and re-examining what it means to be truly innovative and the conclusion that I’ve come to is that the entire concept of innovating is far more than just hacking away at creating new code or products.It’s about an effective application of technology that solves both business and customer problems.
Over the years at Striata, I’ve had the privilege of working with new technology and have even been lucky enough to work directly on some of the products that have been developed.
I have worked on push technology that delivers secure documents straight to the inbox and allows multiple types of payments within a click or two on receiving the email. Striata has also developed storage and compression enhancements that allow large amounts of documents to be stored securely with very little overhead. All of these innovations emerged in response to necessity; however, invention does not only come from necessity. It may also come about by challenging the status quo. It is important to focus on the small incremental changes even if they go down a (calculated) path to failure that may lead to something totally different.
The mobile phone
The example of this journey I love the most is the mobile phone. I remember the day when my dad first brought home a bulky Motorola cellphone. It had no purpose other than to make a call. We spent a lot of time calling the house phone and vice versa, having calls from the back yard to the living room, just because we could. At the time, I think most people were satisfied with the leap in technology that allowed them to be a phone call away from anywhere.
Then came SMS, followed by camera phones, then multimedia messaging, Internet, touch screens, apps, HD screens, ultra-HD screens, etc. If it wasn’t for the minor changes along the way and the innovators that took us down this road, we wouldn’t even be worrying about mobile optimized email today.
What I’ve learned since that conference is to think BIG but act small. We probably don’t know where we’ll end up with one minor change made every day or week but we will know when we get there.
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