Wired, Differently

Product companies, no matter how visionary or big, just stop connecting the dots after a while and then spend their time ‘maintaining’ a product built 10 years ago. To my mind this difference is important because a product built even five years ago is going to really struggle to connect to anything today, keeping the whole company busy looking for sticky tape and mud-balls to plug each leak and twigs to build bridges to newer platforms that think, behave and perform in a different orbit.

I think we are living in a very very defining age. And by that I mean right now every definition itself is being redefined, merged, annihilated and recreated with every passing quarter.

I am a limited-perspective layman and end-user who uses a whole lot of technology. I am your regular buyer and I am, very sadly, not burdened by all the ‘inside’ technical knowledge that evoke the Eureka! and A-ha! when one starts understanding the significance of the phone you are using and the fact that it connects all parts of your world in that little sleek, slim bar that fits in your palm.

I gave up chasing the ‘knowledge’ a few years ago after buying a couple of good phones and systems and apps and realising a better one’s turned up a month later.

My tech friends say there’s a turf war on and consolidation is ongoing and that sooner later the Big 2 (or 3 or 4) in technology … but what they don’t know is that there’s at least one tech wiz living in every building of the society I live in. My society has 6 buildings. And we are one of the far-flung regions on the outerskirts of Pune in India (Pune is a significant IT hub and satellite-metropolis 200 kilometers from Mumbai).

I have a friend in Bangalore who moved there from Delhi via Pune. He was an eLearning designer. I hired him twice for companies I worked for and also wanted to hire him a third time. I have no idea why he keeps in touch with me, but I have a feeling the next time recruitment comes up between us, he will be the one hiring not me.

I have several such friends in Mumbai and Gurgaon who are now building products, all cutting some edge, all with a market somewhere and all plugging into some or all known mega platforms and systems in their domains. And if there’s something that they are not compatible with, the companies will make it compatible overnight or within a reasonable time period if a potential client needs it.

So what is the point of all this rambling? Well, I think soon there’s going to be only one non-techie living in my building (that would be me). And while Google and Apple and Microsoft will probably continue to dominate mindspace worldwide, the big product companies will not be able to sell me anything because the other 23 apartments in my building will probably meet most of my tech needs. And it is likely that the rookie who will quietly sneak up on the Big 4 is probably working away on some inane system or workflow or connecting dots that most people don’t know exist.

I’m quite sure there is a rookie coming that will shake the tech world in this decade. And he or she won’t be from a big company system, not even Google. Nope. This ones probably going to be that 3-year-old kid in your neighbour’s house who looks through you and talks to your iphone or Android and laptop and … and makes them talk to him or her.

I think the next big thing in technology will be a generation of people who create and use technology like we use bread, milk, cars, phones, and iPods. We are product consumers dependent on technology; they will be intelligence consumers who will embody technology.

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