It’s not a faith in technology. It’s faith in people.
Steve Jobs made this comment in a 1994 Rolling Stone Magazine article. He was responding to an interviewer who asked if he had as much faith in technology as he did when he started out 20 years earlier. At a time when the rest of the computer industry was answering similar questions in terms of processing power, storage capacity and transmission speeds, Jobs was focused on the real breakthrough – customer involvement.
In the second half of a career that prematurely ended last October, Jobs used this philosophy to change the way the world consumed and interacted with information – not by making gadgets faster and more powerful – but by making people want gadgets that were faster and more powerful.
As our industry increasingly turns to technology to change the way we interact with and consume energy its alarming that this key insight from the most influential technologist of our time is not evidenced more often. Im amazed at the amount of editorial space the media and bloggers dedicate to technology companies releasing third and fourth generations of a platform that never found a market in the first place”…(and for that matter, how much venture funding they receive).
Im not saying that that technology companies are not newsworthy, they are – as providers of the tools of progress. At the end of the day, energy customers will decide if the smart grid succeeds or fails, or is even built; which brings me around to why Im writing this blog.
For the last 30+ years as an energy industry entrepreneur Ive tried to build companies that help large institutional and industrial companies innovate their energy systems in order to lower costs and improve operations.
I cant say this experience has made me an expert on technology, but I am pretty familiar with the energy systems, safety procedures, and operational priorities of large energy users; and their relationship to utilities and the energy grid. More importantly, Ive built long-standing relationships with THE PEOPLE who are expected to buy and use these new technologies.
Big thinkers in the industry occasionally seek out my opinion on trends and investments in the energy industry. Over the years some of them suggested that my perspectives on these issues might be interesting to others, so I started this blog.
Im calling the blog “On a Tangent” for two reasons: because the name of our company is Tangent Energy Solutions; and as a friendly chide to an industry that sometimes treats the customer point-of-view as an off-topic departure to the larger conversation.
In my next entry I’ll discuss how Demand Response came close to getting it right with customers…until it started doing it so wrong.
Until then, the following provides a larger excerpt of the Rolling Stone interview with Steve Jobs as well as a link to full article.
“Nevertheless, you’ve often talked about how technology can empower people, how it can change their lives. Do you still have as much faith in technology today as you did when you started out 20 years ago?
Oh, sure. It’s not a faith in technology. It’s faith in people.
Technology is nothing. What’s important is that you have a faith in people, that they’re basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they’ll do wonderful things with them. It’s not the tools that you have faith in – tools are just tools. They work, or they don’t work. It’s people you have faith in or not. Yeah, sure, I’m still optimistic I mean, I get pessimistic sometimes but not for long.”