Smart Technology 10 Design Implications for Founders

 In Benefit Venture Blog, Entrepreneurship, Insights

Smart TechnologyHow dumb can smart technology be? Many products are described as smart, without smart technologyfully explaining in what way they can be smarter than the people who use them. The recent Boeing 737 Max crashes seem to implicate the plane’s smart stall prevention software. If true, the product designed to be smarter than the pilot (user) may raise questions about many embedded software systems. The manufacturer may think they are smart, but users can be disappointed, or worse .

I experienced a more mundane example. I purchased a smart technologySony TV, convinced that it would be better than others, because it would connect directly to the internet. Indeed most TVs are now described as smart. However, assuming the smartness of the TV was a big mistake.

Amazon has decided to stop providing HD streaming on my smart technology TV, or so I was told by Amazon’s customer support agent in Costa Rica. I guess they hopedI would buy an Amazon Fire device; a miscalculation, since I bought a Roku. This was the only way to continue watching Amazon Prime, Netflix and the rest.

10 Implications for Founders

  1. Assume that your customers are smart. Thus avoid being too clever by designing products which take over customer decision making, through using smart technology. By all means give them assistance in making good decisions through the provision of software or apps, but do not take over their steering wheel.

  2. Take a detached view about where there are opportunities for partnership with other suppliers that may facilitate positive customer experience. This may involve generosity rather than self-interest—and make smart technology redundant.

  3. If your innovation using smart technology gives you the potential to be exclusive, or even monopolistic, weigh your advantage against value for the customer. The cries for breaking up web behemoths, like Amazon, Facebook & co is not a future that you should risk.

  4. Online services or apps created by startups may put the business at risk. For example, IT smart technology can enable amazing products such as remote doctoring. However, medical consulting online may result in misdiagnosis that would not have happened face-to-face.

  5. Make sure that your offer does not simply include smart technology because it can. Maybe a watch, or an old-fashioned mechanical timer, is a better solution than an Alexa device for cooking times.

  6. Ask whether simple is better than smart. Many products with smart technology have features that are never used. While I may be attracted by them, as an older person, I often find that the so-called smart technology features are overly complex to use.

  7. Reflect on whether smart tech is worthwhile from a customer usability point of view. For example, does it make any sense to download an app for the functionality of a microwave oven. Reading the cooking instructions on the packet saves the extra step.

  8. Consider whether a smart technology addition really makes the consumer’s life better in some way. For instance, my new car is a computer on wheels. When the smart tech fails by telling me something is malfunctioning, it may be that it is not actually happening. It can be that the smart technology has itself malfunctioned. I either worry unnecessarily or ignore the message that appears on the dashboard.

  9. Decide when a well written printed user manual is more efficient than a touch screen. Often instructions on the screen are difficult to follow, or too many options are offered, and produce customer frustration.

  10. Do not forget intuition. A user’s intuition may very well be a more effective input to decision making than an algorithm built into the smart technology artificial or machine intelligence.

Ideas to Help Founders Think Effectively About Smart Technology

As well as the many benefits of smart technology, there are risks, too. Founders would do themselves a favor by reading a lot before jumping into the field. Here are some places to start.

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