Blame Steve Jobs. Apple’s former chief officer redefined luxury in media technology, and that influence has now seeped into all realms of technology. Today, the way technology helps define you to the world at large and how it represents a unique aspect of your personality can dictate its success.
Device-makers now spend much of their time pushing tech trends, like voice control and futuristic security, with a focus on how those features relate to a particular perspective and way of life. This personalization of otherwise esoteric scientific and technological breakthroughs has transformed common tech trends into major cultural movements. Snapchat, for instance, is every bit as much a societal phenomenon as it is a technology company.
That said, the modern connection between pure tech and pure culture is as important for IT as it for the marketing department. IT can only keep networks running smoothly and securely if those networks interact well with consumer tech—and consumer tech is constantly incorporating new, more personalized innovations. Three new innovations, in particular, are having an outsized impact on tech—and culture: artificial intelligence, blockchain, and blockchain-based cryptocurrencies, like bitcoin.
1. AI transforms the relationship between user and technology
These days, many of the most advanced features of modern devices don’t actually run on the devices themselves, largely due to the advent of sophisticated AI. Neural networks and machine learning algorithms, colloquially referred to as AI, are extremely powerful and can solve problems that have vexed human engineers for decades—like how to quickly and accurately transcribe words in spoken language to allow for voice-controlled technology. These AI processes are extremely intensive, so they’re often handled on the server side, not within a device.
Customers, especially luxury consumers who are eager to switch over to new ways of living, now interact with AI-enabled technology in a more intuitive, almost trusting manner. When speaking questions aloud rather than typing them out, users phrase things more naturally. One study found that users are 30 times more likely to issue a direct command to their device via voice than through typed search.
AI, voice recognition and response AI in particular, is fundamentally changing how the most empowered and lucrative tech customers use their technology—and, in many contexts, how they think, as well.
2. Blockchain brings a high-tech mindset to the masses
A lot of ink has been spilled trying to explain what blockchain is, but for most people, it’s more important to understand what blockchain can do. Blockchain technology allows for highly secured hosting of information or execution of computer code. That security is strong enough to even protect against meddling from the individuals running the blockchain. This ability allows blockchain-based services to ask for the trust customers previously only granted to human institutions.
In simpler terms, blockchain is changing what people think technology can accomplish. A variety of projects are aimed at using blockchain to more fairly manage employment contracts, administer social services, and even count and secure national-scale voting. It’s turning every would-be entrepreneur into a tech futurist with an eye to disrupt the status quo.
And it all started with a coin.
3. Cryptocurrency rethinks the digital wallet
When talking about the possibilities of blockchain, bitcoin inevitably comes up. Bitcoin is the simplest use of a blockchain. Instead of paying a fee to a bank or other financial institution to transfer funds, it uses a blockchain to securely execute these simple transactions. Bitcoin quickly took off, soaring in value from fractions of a cent to tens of thousands of dollars at its peak.
That wild success led to a flurry of new cryptocurrency projects, including many bitcoin-branded spin-offs. Whichever one a user chooses—and many luxury tech consumers choose more than one—the crypto-coin is the means through which the service is profitable. This fact birthed a proliferation of side-technologies, like cryptocurrency “wallets” for secure storage of precious digital assets. For the luxury consumers who want to stay at the forefront of tech trends, buying, keeping, and spending these digital dollars is a necessity in the post-blockchain world.
Even IT needs a luxury wrapper
Since it’s most people’s gateway to tech, these trends affect IT to a surprising extent. Though users should already be enthusiastic about security and workflow improvements, the average user still needs to be convinced to act in their own best interests. Thankfully, modern luxury tech trends have prepared high-end customers to hear what you need them to hear.
It’s all about dressing up an important feature so users can understand how that feature relates to them on a personal level. Take, for instance, the campaign behind HP’s printer endpoint security solution: The Wolf. Though it’s ultimately the high-end security features themselves that are the real selling point, a more personal narrative helps users understand how those features will affect them.
AI is already transforming endpoint security through automation and quick-response mechanisms, and someday, blockchain will likely do even more to protect the most vulnerable devices. For now, though, users are interacting with advanced technologies more in their personal lives than professionally. Their habits with respect to these technologies, their styles of input, and their levels of trust are dictated not by IT but by corporate marketing teams.
It’s crucial the IT department understands how the average network user wants to interact with the tech around them, so it can design its processes accordingly. Advanced new technologies are making consumers more demanding and impatient than ever—but those same technologies are also giving IT the tools it needs to meet those demands, and even exceed them, without sacrificing results.