Commentary: Steve Jobs' influence on our industry

By Brian Ardinger

When I was asked this morning to write about the influence of Steve Jobs, my first thoughts were that no words could really do justice to his overarching influence. Every bit of technology from kiosks, to digital signage to mobile has some of his fabric woven into it. From popularizing the graphical user interface to the latest Siri personal assistant technology, Steve has led the charge to make technology more personal, more powerful and more human.

I, like many of those I've talked to in this industry, are here because of Steve Jobs and his influence. He got us excited about technology. He gave us the tools to build businesses. He made us say, " WOW" over and over again.

Think Different
When I was working at Gartner living in Silicon Valley, I had the opportunity to go to Steve's introduction of the original iMac. Apple was dying, and the invite wasn't too hard to come by. I didn't know it at the time, but I had the opportunity to witness the rebirth of Apple firsthand and the power of design, technology and experience that would touch lives for generations to come. What struck me, though, was the power of Think Different to change the world; to fear less and differentiate more -- to be bold and to lead.

We've seen this Think Different influence in our industry in the explosion of new companies and ventures focused on creating new ways to engage and interact with consumers. From self-service checkout stations that speed service to interactive digital signage that make it easier for consumers to get the information they need, Steve's influence is there. Even Apple's move into retail itself has redefined the shopping experience and what "good retail" is all about and the industry has followed.

Get rid of the crap
My daughter was born a week before the launch of the first iPhone. My gracious wife allowed me to go stand in line to be one of the first to get one. By two years old my daughter could use the iPhone to navigate through photos, play games and even talk to Grandpa - all by herself. She thought TVs should work the same way and would swipe the screen to change the channel. That was the genius of Steve - to boil down the experience to its simple, most intuitive essence - to make the technology itself melt away and leave you with the results you wanted. He got rid of the crap and left us with something that even a two-year-old could use.

In the world of digital screenmedia, Steve's influence has helped us focus on new ways to streamline transactions, build easier ways to find information in-store, and eliminate waste by leveraging technologies for customers and employees. The industry has improved and evolved in everything from content design to ease of installation and technology integration.

Dream big
When I think of Steve's influence I think not about the technology, but about the culture and experiences that those technologies enable people to create. He gave us the vision to dream and the tools to create. He challenged us to dream big and gave us the means to make it happen.

More than anything else, Steve's influence has raised the bar for what a good customer experience should be. We in the industry are taking heed and moving this vision forward.

Steve, you will be missed, but know that your seeds you planted will continue to grow and that your influence will not go unnoticed.

Brian Ardinger is chief marketing officer at nanonation and president of the Digital Screenmedia Association Follow him on twitter (@ardinger).

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User Comments – Give us your opinion!
  • Bruce Davies
    Nice piece Brian.

    Steve's influence is in just about every aspect of my personal and professional life; I'm woken by an iPhone; how I engage with colleagues and customers is frequently streamlined by his influence; I garner knowledge - such as the sad news of Steve's passing - through an iPad or iBook; retail customers present the Apple retail experience as the industry gold standard, and let's face it, the success of our entire industry is predicated on the achievement of combining function and performance with an asthetic that delivers what end users want.

    Apple design's influence is everywhere, and that influence is very much Steve's legacy. I'm proud to have been part of the 'Think Different' generation. Thanks Steve. RIP.
  • Craig Keefner
    Nice. We had the Rainbows at my O&G company. Made the XT & ATs look sick. Then a few years later I was one of the first to get a NEXT workstation. My other stations were Windows 3.1, OS/2 and Solaris. The NEXT was object oriented (& eventually bought by Apple). That launched OOP which revolutionized programming and interfaces. He was always creating something brand new, and two steps ahead. The integration of hw and sw has always been the hallmark I think. CraigK
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