By Enrique Dans, professor at IE Business School
Jobs has left us a legacy that goes way beyond technology. He has left us with an approach to life and business management based on innovation, commitment and a capacity for work.The way in which Steve Jobs’ legacy has impacted products and industries is seriously impressive. The first personal computers, the organization of windows and desktop on the computer screen, new life breathed into animation films, the revolution of the music industry with a market that everyone said could not exist, a revolution in the mobile phone industry that practically destroyed the previous leader… And more recently the reinvention of computers with the iPad, generating thousands of millions in sales, creating and destroying entire industries, while multiplying the value of the firm by a couple of thousand. And yet I believe that his greatest legacy is the way we now see business organizations, innovation, and the kind of commitment and capacity this involves.
In times when it seems that imitating, repeating, and spending your life doing as little as possible are in fashion, Jobs is the most salient example of what it means to dare, to fight, to do things better than expected. He wasn’t a technology genius. He didn’t need to be. His strength lay in understanding trends, or creating them. His products were always enormous commitments with an element of risk. But they were also born of passion, entering sectors to which he brought the values that his vision of Apple stood for: a focus on the user and ease of use, the design, the total integration between hardware and software that brings life to a device, not stopping at good, going for excellent. He entered industries where there had always been a disconnection between client and technology. In the music industry nobody had been capable of giving the customer a simple and solid means of managing his/her music. His mobile phones combined design and functionality by thinking about a new form of interaction. And then he extended this notion to tablets, placing his famous application shop above everything else, which meant that thousands of small and large firms worldwide are supplying applications (value for the Apple client), and bringing revenues to the firm. Pure genius. The impact of these changes transcends the world of computers or technology. It affects the way we interact, the way our firms are organized, how we relate to brands and information. His products have created and defined some of the key trends of the new macro-industry that feeds digital convergence.
Passionate. Perfectionist. Groundbreaking. Daring. An implementer. A man of vision. The most recognizable face of the digital revolution was all these things according to the people who knew him best. It is an example of what innovation can achieve when accompanied by effort and dedication, and by risk and a lack of respect for established norms. He also taught us the importance of style and design in business, of respect for clients and how to create and keep fans loyal to a brand and a way of doing things. Finally, he gave us a demonstration of how all these ingredients can forge legends. Thanks, Steve, for bringing us fantastic products and model to follow. Each time we remember you we will be a bit braver, and we will dare to take the next step, a bit further, a bit more difficult.