What people really want from new technology

posted by:

Howard

Did you spend part of late December fielding questions about bitcoins and 'tick tocks', AI and GPT (GPS)? You did? Time with the family does tend to trigger conversations about technology. But the root of this Q&A isn’t what it seems.

Over the holiday break, my mum and I watched my 17-month-old son operate (and then hide) the TV remote with surprising ease. An hour later, we were still deep in conversation about connected TV, electric cars, and the future of the world (he made a number of valuable contributions via gurgling noises).

Now, my parents are pretty tech-savvy. They use Uber, watch shows on Netflix, and send money internationally via Wise. They've even hired software developers to build tools for my dad's company.

Yet while many people they know are terrified to even try online banking (!), my Mum is still worried about falling behind.

She’s not the only one.

I've spent thousands of hours creating and running learning programs on all kinds of technologies, for all kinds of audiences - interns, CEOs, marketers; banks, nonprofits, supermarkets; even CTOs of tech companies. And just last week I was running show floor tours for executives attending CES in Las Vegas.

Something counter-intuitive keeps coming up. For just about everyone, their goal is never to be an expert. It's not even to be able to use the technology.

A bit like the toddler with the TV remote, they’re seeking a sense of ease. They’re seeking confidence.

The most effective path I’ve seen to building this - for those of us old enough to talk - is simply in being able to have better conversations.

As a client said to me recently while discussing the design of a new training program: "No one likes to feel stupid."

I believe that's a universal truth.

In a world that's simultaneously more connected yet more isolated, there's an urgent need to demystify complex topics and create more dialogue.

This applies everywhere: in your training program; at the industry conference; in your product's user guide; when you're interviewing a new hire.

Prevent people from feeling left behind. Create ways for them to have better conversations. Give them space to explore. You may be amazed at what happens.

Because no one likes to feel stupid.