From Emerging Technologies to Disruptive Innovation: My Journey Through Tech History - AI Anyone?

Heather Inocencio (CEO)
This gets me fired up! 🔥

“Remember that product managers are responsible for the value and viability of what we build, and those risks are right at the center of this new wave of disruptive technologies.” - Marty Cagan (link to article in comments)

As someone who's been in the industry since before the internet era, I've witnessed technology's rapid transformation and its impact on our daily lives. I remember telling skeptical friends my Big Prediction: “one day, ONE day, you will have to interact with a computer in some form or fashion on a regular basis”. And the majority response I got? “No way. I hate computers.” 😆 That is hilarious now.

I had the awesome opportunity to work as a Product Manager on “emerging technologies” at MCI Telecommunications in the 90’s. My first UX flows intimately detailed where the cursor should go next after a user hits ‘tab’. Cursor flow is important after all. To this day, it drives me nuts when I load a web page or screen and I can’t just start typing where I expect the cursor to be and it’s nowhere to be found. I first have to ‘click’ into a field to find my cursor. WHY???

Telecom was 🔥 back then (really, it was). We had visionary leaders who would talk with us about “the convergence of technologies” (local phone service, long distance phone service, cable, cell phones, internet, news & media distribution) and challenge us to look to the future and figure out what this new technology landscape was “only just now making possible”. I remember when we got video over the internet for the first time. I downloaded a 30-second thumbnail size clip from the tv show ‘Mad About You’. It took two hours and the video was tiny and pixelated but I was exhilarated. I remember working on the first 'Web-Based Self-Service Portal' for MCI customers.

The company was squarely divided on this - half believed it was the future but a loud half believed it was a waste of money, no one wants to have to look up their own account info, people like to talk to other people, you know? They won’t want to have to look stuff up themselves. I remember when the mobile phone in a bag became the tiny flip phone in my hand. But to “text” I still had to type “four-four-three-three-five-five-five-five-five-five-six-six-six” just to say “hello”. Could you imagine that now? I think I’d throw my phone out the window.

Of my long career in Product, nothing excites me more than leaps in technology like what is happening right now. We “Product People” get to really engage our imaginations to create something valuable from nothing in a world that is hard to recognize because we are only just now building it. I’m so glad I get to be here for another huge wave of technology disruption! I wonder what shocking prediction I’ll come up with this time 😜


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