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What is Amara’s Law and why it’s more important now than ever

A problem many tech innovators have is that they don’t know how to manage the natural influx of interest upfront, followed by a massive drop later (when it may really count). Amara’s Law defines this phenomenon. In this article, we’ll be discussing what Amara’s Law is, how it works and why we need to be aware of its presence in our tech-filled future. 

WHAT IS AMARA’S LAW?

Roy Amara was an American scientist, futurist and President of the Institute of the Future. He famously coined the following adage, that was to become Amara’s Law:

“We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.”

Let’s dig into what it is about the emergence of new tech that causes this phenomenon, and how we can be more industrious after knowing how it works. 

THE OVERESTIMATION

When it comes to new technology, like Zoom and other avatar-based platforms used to work and attend events virtually, for example, most people become exceptionally excited. This excitement either comes from one’s passion for human ingenuity or from the fact that the new tech seems to effortlessly solve a problem that relates to them. 

This often causes us to experience some tunnel vision when it comes to the product in question. We’re so enthusiastic, we don’t perceive anything negative. We only see what it can do for us, how innovative and creative it is, and how efficiently it’s going to change our lives and our businesses. Because, at this time, it can do nothing wrong as far as we’re concerned, we hype it up online and to our friends, families and colleagues. They do the same and the popularity of the new tech grows exponentially in a very short period of time. 

Let’s take our example of working from home at the beginning of the pandemic. There were many people who were still going into work masked up and socially distanced, sometimes working in unsustainable rotating shifts to allow everyone to get some office time. There were still others trying to conduct a day’s business using nothing but texts and emails, two mediums where not only tone, but tasks themselves, are notoriously misunderstood. 

Enter Zoom, Microsoft Teams and other contenders (including our own platform, Virtuworx). While not necessarily new, these technologies were only niche products before COVID-19. The working world was so excited to have something that allowed them to communicate, that these conference tools were being used almost throughout the work day by plenty of companies, as well as distant friends and families. 

But, it didn’t take long for the enthusiasm to wear off.

THE UNDERESTIMATION

The world experienced a mass decline in mental health as a direct result of video meetings, now labelled Zoom fatigue. This comes from the stress of starting a new job remotely without having training done in person; constantly being interrupted or apologising for interrupting without the physical ability to see, or even sense, when someone is going to speak; and, most importantly, being reachable by everyone all the time, with the number of meetings and work calls happening after hours rising aggressively. 

This is true of all new tech, at no fault of either the creators or the users. The creators can never know how something will react in the real world until it’s actually there. Users don’t experience positivity bias on purpose; it happens automatically. And this is where things can get dangerous for tech innovations. 

People are so taken aback that something is not what they built it up to be in their heads, that they become angry, swinging the other way completely. Video meetings all day is not good for mental health. Virtual events take a bit more planning and training than physical ones. New products are more expensive; they experience occasional bugs; they don’t do exactly what it was assumed they’d do…

When this happens, there is a chance that people will turn their backs fully, even going so far as to warn others not to engage, purchase or experience.

WHERE DOES THIS LEAVE US?

This leaves not only us as a society using tech, but also tech developers and innovators themselves, to solve the problem of finding balance. At The Virtulab, we have seen this happen in real time with one of our flagship products, Virtuworx. 

We launched Virtuworx as a virtual events platform. This idea took off incredibly well and the market was saturated with virtual event platforms and solutions very suddenly. From there, many of us saw a significant dip in interest. This could be because many event organisers had a difficult time managing the data from their event; advertisers and sponsors didn’t know how to create mutually-beneficial relationships on this new medium, or some platforms didn’t provide the ability to allow them to do so; bad internet connections and older PCs played a massive role in many not being able to make use of these products; and some people just prefer physical events and have been waiting for them to come back. 

We took this feedback to find a healthy balance. We ensured our platform was easy to use for organisers and delegates, offered plenty of opportunities for sponsors, included state-of-the-art analytic capabilities, and had a lite browser-friendly version so that everyone could take part. We also ensured it could work seamlessly in conjunction with a physical event, to offer organisers and attendees a hybrid solution. 

Book a demo today to see how we’re working on defying Amara’s Law. 

READ MORE: 4 virtual event pain points Virtuworx fixes

January 26, 2022

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