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Launching Tick Tock Tech – Commentary from the FleishmanHillard Tech Practice on the State of the Industry

January 25, 2022
By Alison McNally

I am a textbook Xennial – a proud member of a micro-generation born between 1977 and 1983 who literally came of age with the internet. I’ve seen the rise and fall of tech over and over, how it’s paved the way (MySpace, anyone?) or drifted into the sunset (RIP BlueRay). The hottest ticket items don’t stay that way for long and lifecycles are shorter or, in some cases, completely unpredictable.

It is this rapid pace of change driving the launch of Tick Tock Tech: a content series focused on what’s really happening at the cross-section of tech and healthcare, consumer lifestyle, privacy, automotive and more.

I was personally inspired by the new musical about RENT creator Jonathan Larson – “Tick, Tick…Boom!” Both the film and the play it’s based on parallel the time Larson spent trying to produce “Superbia” –  a sci-fi rock musical inspired by George Orwell’s “1984”(1949), and centered loosely around an inventor living in a dystopian future where people live attached to their “screens” watching the lives of the rich and famous. Sound familiar?

How did Larson dream up something resembling social media in the 90s when the thought of a phone small enough to carry in your pocket was unimaginable? Would Orwell even believe that real online influencers would willingly open their lives up for strangers to watch their every move – and out earn some corporate CEOs in the process? Yes, the tech world evolves pretty fast. But despite this rapid change, it struck me that nothing is really ever entirely new.

Maybe it’s because we are still fresh off the Second Life founder weighing in on the metaverse and another fairly predictable CES, but it seems like we see the same trends and concepts surface time and time again. Sometimes they stick and sometimes they don’t. So, is innovation really about chasing forward momentum – or is it about revisiting and reinventing something enough that it becomes applicable to new demands and issues?

Everyday technology touchpoints impact our lives in big and small ways. We live, work and communicate in ways Jonathan Larson and his inspiration George Orwell couldn’t have imagined. With each new advance, another once-dominating technology seems to go into hibernation – destined to reemerge, and possibly even improve. It all comes down to application and deployment.

As we counsel technology brands – and brands that are using technology for a competitive advantage – we must always be asking some seemingly basic yet critical questions to understand if we have a real compelling innovation story:

  • Why should people care? i.e. What real-world problem is this technology solving that no one else can?
  • What makes it better? i.e. What differentiates this technology from other solutions in beta or on the market?
  • Who needs it? i.e. Who are the true target audiences and/or people making the buying decision?

Why? Because in a space that moves so fast, the survivors are those that are truly paving a new path forward.

So, over the course of this year colleagues and I will bring you insights on how tech is continually evolving and shaping our everyday lives. We’ll examine what is fueling the next cycle of innovation and reinvention by exploring the good, the bad and the weird. What’s new and what’s new… again! And maybe even what’s truly innovative.