It’s easy to take technological innovation for granted. Every year, it seems, there are new gadgets, digital platforms and tools that enrich our lives or make once-challenging tasks convenient. We’ve come to expect a world where things improve incrementally – or occasionally drastically – year over year.
Therefore, perhaps the easiest way to understand the value of technological innovation is to imagine a world without it. Imagine a world where things stop improving; inventors stop pushing the boundaries; everything stays the exact same as it is.
But let’s get at the title of this article another way. Let’s venture to understand the value of technological innovation by exploring how it positively impacts consumers, industries, companies, and society on the whole.
Innovation Improves Goods, Services and Standard of Living
Alluded to in the intro, technological innovation improves goods and services. By extension, it also improves the general standard of living among consumers.
Take the internet as a radical (and popular) example. Before internet ubiquity, most things operated manually: businesses, governmental organizations, educational systems, healthcare systems, everyday tasks, etc. It’s challenging to quantify the internet’s impact, but most can agree that it has vastly improved our quality of life. People bank online, doctors research online, financial services weave their way through online spaces, and educators leverage online tools to offer a higher standard of education.
Innovation Can Facilitate Consumer-Centrism and Democratization
Technological innovations often favor the consumer. Most innovators want to be disruptive, and the best way to be disruptive is to offer consumers what they want – especially when the powerful incumbents can’t or won’t.
Therefore, the story of technological innovation is the story of increasing consumer-centrism and democratization. Take Nobul as an example, a real estate digital marketplace that shifts power towards buyers and sellers, introducing “transparency, accountability and simplicity” to the real estate transaction process.
CEO Regan McGee was clear about his motivations and parameters for innovation. “A lot of people claiming to be disruptors and innovators in the industry are doing the exact things that have been done for decades… I’ve never seen anybody doing close to what we’re doing to create a consumer-centric experience,” he said in an interview with Toronto Life.
Disruption Elevates Industries
Disruptive innovation happens when an idea radically reshapes how an industry relates to its consumers. (Consider Uber’s effects on the cab industry, for example). While these disruptions can be troubling for incumbents at the time – who made their money from the old ways of doing things – the knock-on effects of tech-driven disruption are a net positive for industries.
They force change. They don’t simply allow companies, even massive corporations, to skate by on incremental improvements. Instead, disruptive innovations raise the bar for everyone working in that particular space.
Technological Innovation Solves Pressing Issues Like Environmental Sustainability
Finally, technological innovations can help solve pressing issues facing humankind. As McKinsey reports, current tech innovations like public electric transport, accessible solar power and cutting-edge carbon capture technology are drastically improving our efforts in the fight against the climate crisis. Without the innovativeness and creativity of some thinkers, there might be nothing to mitigate our impact on the environment.
As the points above illustrate, technological innovation has the power to make things better. It improves daily life, essential services and business practices. It creates a more equitable and accommodating space for consumers, like real estate consumers. It elevates industries. And it can even help save us from ourselves. Technological innovation might be a regular feature in modern life, but it isn’t one we should take for granted.
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