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The approach to high-tech innovation

By Jean-Claude Elias - Aug 02,2018 - Last updated at Aug 02,2018

There are those who do not hesitate a second and embrace a technological innovation as soon as it is available — come what may. They boldly go for it, with the idea that you simply cannot go wrong if you swim with the powerful tide of technology. This way they are certain to stay ahead of the pack.

And then there are those who take a careful approach to anything new in the high-tech digital world. They prefer to wait and let others take the risk, pay the price of experimenting. They like to see how the market reacts to the innovation and how things develop with time. It is not just a matter of not spending money on high-tech on useless hightech, but more a question of not wasting time and effort on elements that may not prove so successful or that may not make it through the years.

Who is right and who is wrong?

There are countless, huge successful stories in Information Technology (IT). Some of them have changed our life for good and in a radical, dramatic way. At the same time, there are also several stories of failures (or semi-failures to be honest), of innovations that were short-lived. Of course the first count is infinitely higher than the second.

From software operating systems like Windows 8 that was quickly replaced by Microsoft with Windows 10 because of its shortcomings and not-so-good new ways, to Napster Internet client, the Palm Pilot of the mid-1990s, HD DVD media, and Nokia’s Symbian operating system for the early smartphones, the history of digital technology is full of ideas that did not last long. Those who blindly went for them wasted time and energy.

Last year Time Magazine published a story about these “non-successes” that it called “The 20 Most Successful Technology Failures of All Time”, and fool.com wrote another similar story titled “The 10 Biggest Tech Product Failures of the Last Decade”.

Against these rather sad stories about disappointment, one can always and rightly wield Windows 10, Dropbox, SSD drives, USB-C, fibre optic Internet, the latest high-end models of smartphones by Samsung and Apple, online banking, Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, WhatsApp, touch screens, and so forth.

The fact is it is impossible to foretell how and in which direction an IT innovation will develop, what kind and what level of popularity it will reach, and if it is here to last. Even IT gurus, even seasoned industry analysts cannot.

One way to go is to trust global numbers &general statistics. Given the high number of successful innovations and the relatively low number of high-tech failures, chances are that an innovation will be a success story rather than a failure. On the other hand a moderate, balanced approach seems to be what makes sense most.

Another way is to evaluate the objective usefulness of a new product, what it could bring you, personally and in a practical manner, if it ever proves to be great and here to stay. If you estimate that the innovation is important to you, then the risk is worth taking. Otherwise you may as well wait till the world has experimented with it before you take any decision regarding its usage.

In the end you only can tell if you were right or wrong after at least a couple of years of using a new IT product. Unless of course it happens to disappear earlier than that.

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