My innovation blog, New Florence, turns 12 next month. Across 5,000+ posts I have seen many patterns and memes, some of which have led to books like The New Polymath and Silicon Collar. It has also made me realize so many innovations excite, then fizzle, and are reincarnated a few years later.
As I try out my iPad Pro, I am getting the déjà vu feeling over and over again. Using the Apple Pencil to write and have the Notes Plus app translate that takes me back to the early 2000s when I saw John Dean, then CIO of Steelcase doodle away on his HP Compaq TC1000 tablet. He would share his digital notes with every one in his meetings. It takes me back even further back to my Palm Pilot and its Graffiti software and its humble stylus, so much more affordable than the $ 99 Pencil.
The Nuance app on the iPad recognized my voice right away as I spoke into a Shure MV88 mic. No training needed – such a contrast to the Dragon app my wife tried a decade ago and gave up because it was too frustrating to train. Yet, for long interviews for my books I still plan to use Rev.com and their human transcribers. May be some day, Nuance or Siri will be good enough for me to dictate to during my daily walks. But I am not holding my breath for that to happen any time soon. Think Amazon has nailed it with Alexa and Echo? Here’s some feedback “If someone shouts my name—Alex—across the apartment, it will activate Alexa, although sometimes Alexa will also be activated by arbitrary syllables in ordinary conversation. And if she starts doing something annoying, you’ll have to shout “Alexa, Stop,” six or seven times.”
The Kindle and the Texture apps on the iPad allow me to do much of my book and magazine reading in digital format. But did you know that Bob Brown envisioned the e-book reader in his 1930 book, The Readies. In the decades since, there have been a series of readers from PARC, Sony, and others. Look, however, at adoption - printed books (and related printing, shipping, and other jobs) still account for two-thirds of all books sold in the U.S. and an even higher percentage overseas.
The individual apps on my iPad show gradual evolution from decade to decade. The iPad tablet, itself, is a gorgeous device and the range of apps it supports is breathtaking. In itself that is revolutionary and provides a lesson for corporate IT.
An executive recently challenged me. He said what’s the big deal with cloud applications? They fundamentally don’t change journal entry, payroll, and a bunch of other processing. He is right. If you just take a handful of cloud apps as-is from vendors and implement them the impact on the enterprise is not that dramatic.
But what if you took the iPad approach and packaged hundreds of cloud, social, mobile, analytical apps and redefined a wide range of processes? You would have something unique no competitor could duplicate.
What if you also took the Wash, Rinse, Repeat approach to every app every few years? Part of the challenge for IT is we have been stuck with software which was written decades ago. We have imprisoned our business processes with that technology when we should have taken the gradual improvements that the tech industry delivers every few years.
It’s lot more work but much more in rhythm with the tech industry’s own cadence.