Can technology really change behavior?

Images-1This is a subject I have thought a lot about recently.  I am fortunate that I see a lot of businesses that are using technology to change the way we live our lives.  I also think to myself, "will this play in Peoria?".  No disrespect to Peoria because what I am really thinking is how long will it take for this to move out of the excited early adapters of the start-up world to everyone else…and will it.

I do not know the answer but here are a few things that I have witnessed recently which just makes me wonder.  I was sitting in the doctors office this past week and next to me was a woman that I would put to be in her early 60's.  On her knee she had her check book and she was balancing her check book.  It was the exact check book that I used when I was in college.  Totally old school.  It obviously worked for her.  Then she took out of her bag a Filofax where she had paperwork stored including her calendar and address book.  Funny enough she also had an old blackberry and she appeared to be taking information from it and writing it down in her check book and filofax.  My conclusion is that the blackberry was purely for communication purposes. 

In the late 80's I remember walking through the garment center and seeing two random men talking on phones that were as large as their head.  I thought why on earth do they need to be constantly connected like that.  It just seemed utterly ridiculous and of course expensive.  This is certainly an area where consumer behavior has totally changed. 

My brother is embarking on his next career journey.  My sister-in-law asked if he would help her get organized while he was working out of the house with her.  She has her own successful business that she runs out of a home office to be with the kids.  The ultimate balance multi-tasker.  My brother tried to help but she kept saying well that won't work because that is not how I do it.  I know Fred has wanted me to put lists in particular ways so he can have access and analyze the data how he likes to do it and it just doesn't work for me.  I do not think like that. 

I can imagine a lot of ways to make our lives easier particularly when it comes to managing our healthcare or managing our money.  I do believe that when people in college start using certain products as they enter adulthood will be the time when many of the behavior changing options will begin to stick.  Once most people go down a certain path on how they run their lives it is really hard to change their behavior.  Most people do not like change. 

That doesn't mean that the companies that are building life changing technologies aren't exciting, it just means that it will take some time before they scale to the masses.