Chart: from Igniting Growth in Consumer Technology, Accenture, 2016

The Futures Company’s CEO Mark Inskip has a piece on VentureBeat arguing that consumer tech has reached a tipping point – but tech companies are still doing the same old things. We’ve published a shorter version here.

Despite a seemingly endless stream of tech disruption over the past decade, we’ve finally reached a moment when the next big thing might be a long way away.

Why? Because consumers seem to be overloaded with gadgets and aren’t finding the value in the devices they already have.

Take smartwatches – 13% of consumers said they planned to buy one in 2016. Not bad until you consider that this figure is only up 1% on 2015. It’s the same for other wearables like the Fitbit, and a similar story for virtual reality tech (10% in 2015, 11% in 2016) and drones (6% in 2015, 7% in 2016).

Experts acknowledge that there’s unlikely to be a big spike of technology disruption coming anytime soon. “The dialogue is changing from what’s technologically possible to what’s technologically meaningful,” said Shawn DuBravac, chief economist at the Consumer Technology Association (CTA).

That’s because we seem to have reached a point where there are too many gadgets with too little integration between them. As a result, consumers are finding that they are complicating their lives rather than adding any practical value.

Providing consumers with context

Consumers want technology to understand their needs, wants, and moods; to help them manage their own world; to help them navigate their way through the wider world. So the next great disruptor is likely to be about integrating the tech we already have, probably focused around the smartphone.

Essentially, we’re entering a post-connectivity world. Everyone under 25 expects everything to be connected and to be placed into context. They are not interested in the gadget but in what it can do for them.

So what can tech brands do? The answer is: they can provide consumers with this context.

This needs a fundamental change in their approach: a shift from spitting out new devices to putting the consumer’s needs first through introducing common languages, open standards, shared APIs, universal connections, modular designs, expandable platforms, and more.

To make the most of the benefits smartphones and other mobile devices bring, connected to all the information in the world, people have changed how they behave. Now businesses need to catch up. They need to shift from knowing what’s technologically possible, to understanding what people want to do with their devices.

The full-length article can be read here on VentureBeat.

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