A popular proverb contemplates that necessity is the mother of all invention — that a need or problem encourages creative efforts to meet the need or solve the problem.
The notion appears relatively simple. In fact, one need not look past an episode of “Shark Tank” to find a Shark critical of a product or service in search of a problem rather than, as the proverb would assert, the other way around.
I am finding that in our technology-driven culture the solution doesn’t always solve the problem.
A recent online food order highlighted the example. An app was downloaded to supposedly save time and add convenience to the ordering process. We had a defined mission of a simple carry-out order.
After several minutes of clicking through options and frustration with the process, I picked up the phone, called the restaurant, which gladly took the order in less than a minute. My family enjoyed a good-natured ribbing of Dad being a bit too old-school. Perhaps they are right, or just perhaps, in my waning youth, I seek the path of least resistance.
I recently purchased a smartwatch. I love the idea of a future that sheds the larger smartphone and replaces it with a much more convenient wearable option. It would appear that a bright future — especially in the payment’s world — rests in the device we wear on our wrist.
That said, I am finding that several of the apps are either too basic or slow to hit the target. What started as a potential way to add convenience has instead become a device I enjoy fiddling with while in line at the store or going way old-school and using it as a traditional time piece.
It is hard to fault the producers of the technology, however. Consumers, like myself, have made their work much more challenging. I have asked the provider on many occasions to solve a problem that I have yet to identify.
Our fast cycle system argues that by the time a consumer defines the need the opportunity already has cycled past. On other occasions technology couldn’t deliver better. I enjoy not having to shuffle paper tickets from pocket to pocket at the airport and being able to track a walking distance automatically. What would the world be like without the technology of Steve Jobs?
Having Alexa give me the morning run-down of news, weather and on demand music is a comfort I enjoy. What makes Alexa appealing to me is the effective delivery of simple functionality. The skeptical nature with which some approach technology is likely generational in nature. The aging human appears to have less patience with technology. What might appear to some as a minor glitch to some serves as a major frustration to others.
I remember vividly the frustration my parents had while trying to program their first digital watch. Aside from hearing a few new vocabulary words, I recall “Seriously, are you kidding me. Grrrr …” Then, my laugh only youth could deliver. Now that I think about it, it was the same laugh my kids had the weekend with the carry-out order where Dad went old-school and called the restaurant.
Today, however, marked a first. Leaving my wallet in the car, I used Apple Pay on the wearable and it worked flawlessly at the store. Life might come full circle.