I just had lunch with Cam from Grassroot Networks regarding Entrepreneurialism and where the future lies for big innovation, and I felt compelled to recap some of the things that came to mind.
The first was something I’m going to call Leapfrog Innovation, don’t get caught up with innovating on the current paradigm, instead, take a chance on what the future is going to look like in 3-5 iterative changes, and then prepare a couple of semi-complete offerings that support those future concepts, and then put them in the cellar. Every now and then, when the predicted line changes, dig out the concepts, adjust them slightly, then rebury them. Now, when that time comes when the market is heading to the next big change, dig out your semi-complete concepts, grab a couple of gifted youngsters (or oldsters, it doesn’t matter) and crank them out. This way, you’re first to market, your right on the money, you do it lean and mean, and before anyone else realises, you’ve swamped the market with little to no heavy lifting. The key is that you’ve divested the workload over a long period of time, rather than immediately.
The second is use scurrilous tactics to generate favourable change. The example I was giving Cam was in line with his Grassroot Networks site. There are many social networking sites around now, and as it takes off, you will find anyone with a customer database creating their own social network. Problem is, as I start interacting with all these networks, how do I get a sense for my total “identity”. I need some aggregation point, one where I can have all my social entry points represented, and where I can execute single actions that are transformed into the appropriate social context and sent to a collection of my social network entry points. But to do this, I need those social networks to support some API or programmatic access. No stress! Just find the ones that do, because you know they are interested in the customer (they have no reason to want their members hitting their site to get the value experience), and get them hooked into your portal. Then, use negative hype to get the rest to change; the kind that goes,
“Dear Member, we’d love to help you manage all your social networks, but unfortunately, site x doesn’t support us mediating on your behalf. We reckon they are doing this because they want you to continue to visit their site so as to collect advertising revenue, which is not very nice. The others that we do support are interested in your experience, not your page impression, so you should really think about who you support, and whether they support you!?”
This will achieve two things, both in your favour. Customers will move away from site x in droves to the other sites that support integration, or site x will improve their service and provide an integration layer. It’s good for you because the member immediately realises you care for them, and are not afraid to challenge those who don’t represent your best interests. You’ve not only won them as a long term customer, you’ve won them as someone who trusts you to advocate on their behalf, an ultimately powerful position for any business.
Anyhoo, had to get that down, it’s amazing where this industry is heading, for those who are redefining the box, it’s going to be gravy, for those trying to add incremental value on the old paradigms...well, you’ll always have Paris ;)