Saturday, December 10, 2005

Innovation in tech markets

Innovation is a constant area for discussion in our consulting practice, I recently had a terrific conversation with Peter one of my colleagues on this. We both agreed that the iPod was an example of great innovation, but struggled to really define why. At the time I was quite frustrated that we couldn't really fathom this.

My take is that what the iPod does " something considerably better than anyone or anything else does it". The iPod was not just an improvement over the Walkman, it was so much better that as soon as it was released onto the market it effectively changed the entire personal hifi industry overnight.

Innovation I guess simply means doing something new and different, it involves craft creativity. But innovation when used in the business and tech sector implies more than that. It implies the 'Eureka!' moment, the moment that a breakthrough is found, more than simply an improvement on an existing situation.

For example I don't think that Solaris 10 is an example of great innovation, but it does appear to be an example of a greatly improved product. Its a lot better than it's predecesors and will bring business value. But innovative....well only in that within Solaris 10 there must have been some innovative moments in the restructring and redesign process.

Where I think we may be missing something, something big, is true innovation in markets, innovation in deployments of technology, and innovation in the way users/humans interact with technology.

At present we see so many overlapping technologies all trying to usurp each other in what they believe to be 'the market', but 'the market' is only 'the market' till somebody defines a new market(the iPod for example), or until consumers define a new market (sms messaging for example). That kind of innovation can deliver an entire ecosystem of new players and impacts in its wake.

Still no closer then to understanding exactly what innovation is then :-)

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