Is Wellness Tech Actually Making You Well? Musings from The Atlantic’s Humanity + Tech Summit

, Aug 8, 2019

CATEGORIES: Consumer Innovation Group
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A couple months ago I wrote a post about the new technologies that are making our daily lives more wonderful, wholesome, and well… well. We’ve always viewed technology as something that makes our lives easier, even more efficient, but now we see it as having the potential to increase our quality of life too. Whether you’re a woman benefitting from tech that embraces your gender in loud and proud ways, or a vegan who’s finally been legitimized in our food system, there really is a technology for anyone looking to make their life a little bit better.

For these reasons I was particularly excited to attend The Atlantic’s Humanity + Tech Summit here in Boston to learn firsthand from top brands how emerging technologies are influencing the way we live. I heard some of the classic things we all know like “consumer convenience is king” and “experience over everything,” but I was really surprised by the comments on security complications and concerns. Technology may be more focused on wellness than ever before, but brands need to find more ways to put our minds at ease if we really want to be living our best lives!

Technology, Data and the Option to Opt-Out

A poll conducted at the beginning of the Summit showed that 55 percent of the audience felt overwhelmed by the technologies at their disposal today. Not because there are too many options, but because we feel like our privacy and consent, even safety, has been thrown out the window. Anil Dash, the CEO of Glitch, a software company that helps users develop apps in simple and creative ways, opened this discussion. He introduced the group to two major themes plaguing technology – 1) business models are often based on surveillance, and 2) platforms are predicated on disvaluing work, which disempowers employees.

We, as consumers, no longer have an opt-out. We want to use the latest and greatest technologies, but there’s no disclosure on how that technology is using our data. There are no formal warrants or contracts that clearly outline how our data is being synthesized and analyzed. But, how can companies even write contracts for consent when they can’t predict the full evolution of their platform? It’s nearly impossible! How do we fix this? Mitchell Baker, the Founder and Chairwoman of Mozilla, and who we heard from next, clued us in to some possible solutions.

Transparency Supports Authenticity

According to Baker, the most immediate and simplest solution is for companies to be more transparent with consumers. Many companies seem to think success will suffer if they outline when, how, and where they’ll use a consumer’s data. But, being overt with these details can play a huge role in increased adoption and brand loyalty. This message resonates heavily for a PR pro like me. Everything comes down to open communication and authenticity in this industry. The media won’t buy in to half-truths, just like consumers won’t buy in to half secure products. It’s time for brands to start being more honest.

Thanks to companies like Glitch and Mozilla, consumer protection and privacy are starting to take center stage in the technology conversation. Brands are finally understanding that the only way to lock down consumers is if they lock down their security first! We can play a role as marketing and communications specialists too by working with and championing those stellar tech brands that are putting consumers’ concerns first. And, if you don’t know, all you have to do is ask. Honesty is so hot right now.