Having just read the Steve Jobs biography I was struck, not only by his rampant egomania, but also by how much of what he innovated in his work influences my everyday world. I write this on my Mac Book Pro (sorry all you MS readers!), whilst texting on my iphone (I am a multi-tasking kind of gal) and was earlier listening to my ipod on my run. Yes I know it’s all been said before, but it is all rather marvellous isn’t it? (And just as a sideline, I can’t be the only one thinking that casting Ashton Kutcher to play Steve Jobs in the biopic of his life, currently being filmed, is a hideous mistake…) Apologies, I digress. Back to the topic in hand, as one of the, if not the key innovators of our times, Jobs grew Apple from nothing in his Dad’s garage in Palo Alto, California, or better known to us plebs as Silicon Valley. Right person, right time and definitely right place, came together to create one of the biggest companies in the world.
So while we may think that we are currently living through one of the most innovative periods in the history of modern technology, are we actually mistaken? Have all the great innovations of our lifetime already taken place years ago and we are currently riding high on a wave that actually began way back in the late 70s and early 80s when Jobs and Gates were first creating their empires?
Now this discussion is one that could run and run. However, it opens up one particular stream relevant to today’s seemingly constant emerging technological market and it’s a biggie; is innovation dead? Bloggers have argued recently that true innovation no longer exists as we once knew it. Start-ups are producing rehashed versions of Facebook, social media sites with a twist, nothing new. However, others argue that with sites such as Pinterest and Instagram, innovation comes in the form of an up-to-date, online take on something we already do in the real world. For example, ripping out pictures we like from magazines and sticking them on our wall or as with Pinterest, repining them on our own online pinboard and sharing them with other like-minded pinners.
Now I personally don’t think innovation will ever die, there will always be a need and desire for new platforms and ideas. But the way that this innovation will occur has and will continue to evolve. Areas of innovation, such as Silicon Valley, are no longer as relevant as they once were. Anyone remote working from anywhere in the world can have the same impact as anyone working in one Californian, bean-bagged office.
The Cloud provides the ultimate tool in innovation. It allows us to become freer to pool resources, save on hardware and create remote network infrastructure. Companies will migrate to using hosted exchange and shared servers to free up their time and creativity to deliver that next innovative idea.
Perhaps start-ups emerging today will continue to change my everyday life in the future. But there’s one thing for certain, innovation isn’t dead, it’s just looking upwards.