Innovation and disruption are probably two of the most overused words in tech PR. Journalists visibly cringe when they hear them. But our clients want to use them at every opportunity they can to describe a new technology or a product. And, let’s admit it. We do too.
“ACME widget is the most innovative solution in the market.”
“ACME widget has the potential to disrupt our entire industry.”
It goes on and on. Mobile World Congress focused on The Edge of Innovation in Barcelona earlier this year. Media outlets list their top ten most innovative disruptive technologies routinely. Even CES, the monster consumer tradeshow of them all, honors promising companies and individuals with its “innovative” award and calls itself, [cesweb.org/innovation]“The Global Stage of Innovation.”
Surely, the thesaurus has more words to describe exciting inventions, unparalleled progress and groundbreaking trends so that journalists will not roll their eyes in response. The problem is “innovation”” and “disruption” so easily capture the changes technology has brought to the industry in the past ten years. They are the perfect words to describe the iPhone, Facebook and Twitter, self-driving cars and high-flying drones. Alas, what can be more innovative or more disruptive?
Well, a lot.
What could have possibly been more innovative and disruptive than when Alexander Graham Bell made the first call in 1876 to his assistant and said, “Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you.”
In tech public relations, we often see and try new devices and technology first. It’s tempting to call all of them groundbreaking. Knowing history, these seemingly hot items will most likely be tech footnotes compared to the real earth-shatterers like the original phone of the past or even today’s iPhone. Both innovative, they disrupted our times. Not all technology is like that. Far from it.
While most new technologies are not earth shattering, they move our lives. We have software that enable us to work in real time with colleagues across the globe. We have smart home appliances that turn on when we pull into our garages and turn off when we drive away. We have body monitors that tell us whether we are getting the best sleep possible.
These technologies might not be the most innovative or disruptive, but they may make our work lives easier, our personal lives more pleasant or even healthier. And that’s okay too. We just need to find the right words to describe the technology.