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Genie Internet and the first wave of mobile internet
The mobile internet still lacked an adequate infrastructure. I joined Genie Internet, one of the UK’s first startups which was launched inside of BT Cellnet. I was responsible for music, games and entertainment, working with many forward-thinking media brands such as Virgin Music, EMI, MTV, Ministry of Sound, Endemol and Channel 4, all who were looking to grow through developing more meaningful connections with their audiences, not through the web but through their mobile phones.
Genie Internet is where we developed new thinking around value ecosystems and platform-based business models. Because we were mobile network-agnostic, an extremely politically controversial business decision, these partnerships allowed us to develop cutting-edge services which could reach the entire UK population, such as G-Live Music, presented by radio DJ Jo Whiley, which gave bands and artists direct access to their fans years before Twitter had been conceived. It was incredible to have this opportunity in one of the UK’s first startups at the intersection of new technology, digital platform development and the design of trans-media experiences.
The level of growth in the global mobile phone market was truly exponential in the 1990s, exploding once SMS messages could be sent from any network to any other network in 1999. Data speeds improved, new value added services were launched, you no longer needed to be technically confident to configure the handset, and of course Apple would launch the first iPhone in 2007, having brought the Orbitor’s lead UI designer Don Lindsay rom Nortel in 2004 to help develop the user interface.
Companies still not heeding Steve Job’s warning
The world of telecommunications, like every other technology industry has of course gone through a revolution since this first wave of mobile internet was developed. But even though the power of the technology has improved exponentially, our approach to design has not.
Now that digital transformation is an imperative for every business or organisation around the globe, I see many leadership teams making the one fatal mistake that Steve Jobs warned about. They are starting with the technology, as packaged by vendors, and not with the experience they hope to offer to either their external customers or their internal employees, suppliers, partners and ecosystems.
Secondly, while society has become ecologically and socially aware of the global challenges we now all face collectively, the conception of growth is still fixated on the singular dimension of financial results. While the financial side of any organisation still remains extremely valid and necessary for its sustained operation, for the last twelve years, my work has involved developing a new vision of organisations, one that we term the ‘amplified organisation’.
Within this vision, we seek to understand growth both qualitatively as well as quantitatively. Through this expanded view, growth, innovation and impact can all be developed through the three movements of elevation, scaling and amplification.
What Deep Tech means
Holonomics’ Deep Tech Discovery process for example starts with the elevation of an organisation’s core value proposition, by ensuring that it takes into account the organisation’s core values, future-fit ESG indicators and the five universal human values of peace, truth, love, righteousness and non-violence. The elevated value proposition is then located within a more systemic description of the strategy which is defined through financial, environmental, market, process and people dimensions.
Deep tech organisations scale their value propositions through platforms. Their success comes from leadership teams possessing platform vision, the understanding of the architectures, enterprise operating systems and digital backbones necessary for platform-based business models to succeed.
And finally amplification of an organisation’s impact is achieved through new waves of innovation which are the result of deep thinking—an emergent design practice achieved through an expanded form of consciousness, valuing the lived experience of differing groups and communities, and the five universal human values.
Innovation and technological progress based on this qualitative conception of growth result in inclusive and empowering solutions, rather than the proliferation of platforms and technological solutions which are designed to control and exclude.
2022 will be the year of the metaverse but I can see so many parallels with the development of the first smart phones where the proposition and value to people was yet to be truly discovered. At this moment in time metaverse solutions are still based on traditional economic models of the scarcity of resources, despite being digital, and there are still questions of personal safety for children and adults alike.
However, I see so much potential for humanity, and my work is dedicated to helping organisations achieve this collective vision through our expanded conception of deep tech.
I am looking forward to sharing with you all much more of these ideas, vision and practices in these articles. As we co-create our collective future together, I thank Technology Magazine for providing the space to expand and amplify our thinking of what technology is and how it can develop in true service to humanity.