Ugly duckling technologies

Ugly Duckling Technologies – How many people know or care about where their electricity or water comes from or where the waste they generate goes? As new, more sustainable technological solutions for managing our society’s inputs and outputs get developed in direct response to the ever increasing challenges of resource uncertainties, environmental stewardship and plain old economic competition how aware is the general public of what it takes provide these services as all seven billion of us cling to this little planet trying to extract more of what it has (or doesn’t have depending on how you look at it) to offer?

I am willing to bet that it’s not many, not by a long shot and really why should they? For the most part people buy the services that may or may not contain a sustainable technological solution. Their demands are simple but inflexible, it just has to work. It doesn’t matter if ghosts played pass the message to make cell phones work as long as the call isn’t dropped is basically the approach.  For technology companies this could be great news or it could be horrible news. If your technological solution is ‘drop-in’ i.e. it can be integrated into the existing infrastructure without too much hassle for those responsible, provides a significant benefit  and offers the same performance guarantees to their clients then you’re almost set. If however your technological solution requires significant changes to behaviour or infrastructure and the resulting service comes without that guaranteed uptime then you need the support of the general public to permit their elected officials to change the way things are done with all the associated growing pains and risks. Woe be on to you and your technology if you are counting on the electrical outlet or the bathroom faucet to mobilise your supporters.

The bottom line is that many sustainable technologies are invisible to the public. Unless your solution looks like a Tesla Model S don’t count on throngs of adoring fans. Recognising this is one of the key steps to understanding what the communications strategy needs to be for the technology you represent

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