Technology and the Emperor’s new clothes

Carrying out a survey recently it struck us that technology is still creating upheaval despite it being an integral part of consumers’ lives.  Here we take a look at the impact of technology for the research industry as well as society and businesses in general.

The emperor’s new clothes.

We have recently being speaking to journalists about their perspectives on the industry. Time and time again a tension emerged between old and new media. The new video and digital platforms bemoan a lack of voice despite their growing audience share. Print journalists feel overlooked and out of favour, as the industry is wooed by the ’emperors new clothes’ of younger new media journalists. Parallels can be seen across many industries and the world of research is not immune to this.  How many times do we see posts on how online qualitative is better than face to face, how older researchers feel threatened by new technology and so on? We think this misses the point. Each has its own value and role.  Online delivers an incredibly rich insight into consumer behaviour.  The beauty of the face to face is when a researcher can really intuit what is going on.

Ripples in the global pond.

In fact we can observe how societies accommodate new technology across other geographies too. Technology has been a real enabler and game changer but at the same time it ‘disrupts’ or even ‘disintegrates’ norms, be they commercial, societal or behavioural.  From an anthropological point of view it’s fascinating to see how different societies handle the ‘disruptions’ associated with the mobile phone. In the West walking along the pavement has transcended into a daily ‘dodge the smart phone users.’ Look to Asia and the societal desire for structure has lead to smart phone ‘pathways’ in China with a clearly delineated direction of ‘travel’. Similarly the politeness imbued into Japanese society imposes a strict mobile phone etiquette.  Signs on the subway dictate conversation must be conducted in the corridor or at the carriage end.

Worldwide ‘disintegration’

And so to cases where technology is having far reaching implications. There is no better example here than Uber. The recent ruling that drivers are now employees is yet another challenge that the proposition has faced since its very initiation. It has such strong consumer resonance globally and yet has unleashed a furore among the taxi establishment. Not to mention the environmental and logistical implications of the proliferation of Uber operators on the street.  No doubt the proposition researched well but it is questionable whether the brand could have foreseen the consequences of its success even through thorough due diligence.