Breaking our own rules

While putting customers at the heart of innovation is key, the swift pace of tech development sometimes calls for a different approach.

We hate technology. So much so that we started Future Foundry, after running multiple product development studios, based on the belief that you should always start with thinking about your customer first. It's all about zeroing in on what customers really need, coming up with solutions for their problems, and tweaking those solutions until they're just right. This mindset is huge because it's all about putting people first, not just the latest tech craze. It's a pretty solid principle we stand by here at Future Foundry.


But hang on... in this ever-changing world where stuff like the metaverse, AI, and blockchain are the new kids on the block, we’ve got to ask: Is it ever OK to ditch the playbook and kick off with a tech focus?


Turns out, it's a yes from us. 


Sometimes, shaking things up and starting with the tech can actually be a smart move. Recently a client came to us with this exact challenge. They were curious about how all this advanced tech could affect their target audience, in this case the younger generation who are navigating through some pretty tough times. We recoiled in horror initially but soon realised that sometimes it’s worth doing things back to front, just for a change.


The mission wasn't about fixing a specific issue with tech but more about getting up close and personal with the tech itself to really understand what it's all about.


Why Start with Tech?


Well, before you can even think about how these technologies could tackle real-world problems, we’ve got to get the basics down. Understanding the ins and outs of these technologies is key for a few reasons:


  • Cutting Through the Hype: Let's face it, new tech often comes with its fair share of buzz and confusion. Starting with the tech helps clear the air and makes these concepts a bit more accessible for everyone.
  • Spotting Opportunities: Once you've got a handle on what these technologies can (and can't) do, you can start spotting ways they might solve customer problems in ways you hadn't thought of before.
  • Staying Ahead: Taking a deep dive into new technologies helps align your innovation game with the latest trends, making sure you're not lagging behind.


Only by getting a good understanding of the different technologies did the cogs start turning for the team. It was fascinating to see those ‘aha’ moments when suddenly we were matching problems with solutions in a way that wouldn’t have been possible previously.


Navigating the Tech-First Route


But just diving into technology without a plan can lead you nowhere fast. Here's what we did to keep it productive:

  • Set Clear Goals: We were clear about why we were exploring these technologies. Whether it's to boost your team's skills, find a competitive edge, or just keep up with the times, having a clear purpose keeps you focused.
  • Learned Together: We organised workshops and ideation sessions to spread the knowledge. It's about building a shared understanding across your team.
  • Experimented: With a basic understanding in place, we started with small experiments or pilot projects to see how these technologies can address real-world issues. This approach can uncover some pretty interesting insights.
  • Considered Ethics: We always tried to consider the bigger picture, like the ethical implications of using new technologies. It's crucial to weigh the potential benefits against the possible impacts on society and the environment.


Did We Make the Right Call?


For our client, starting with the tech led to some pretty exciting discoveries. By building a solid foundation of understanding, we found new ways these technologies could be used that we hadn't thought of before. For example, we explored using blockchain to make funding more transparent (they’re a non-profit) and how AI could supercharge how we engage with young people.


This journey also helped demystify these technologies for the leadership team, leading to more informed decisions. Plus, it ignited a spark of innovation within the organisation, inspiring everyone to think creatively about using technology in their work.


Wrapping Up


While putting customers at the heart of innovation is key, the swift pace of tech development sometimes calls for a different approach. In situations where there's a big gap in understanding new technologies, starting with the tech itself can open up new possibilities, simplify complex ideas, and pave the way for fresh innovations.


Taking this tech-first approach was a game-changer for our client, especially given their unique situation. It's a reminder that in the fast-paced world of corporate innovation, being flexible and ready to adapt to new contexts is super important.


Now, with a better grasp on tech, we're in a great spot to tackle real customer problems, armed with new insights and a clear vision of what's possible.

Need a hand with marrying up the right tech with real customer problems? Contact the Future Foundry team here.

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