My job is selling technology. Actually I'm more of a translator. I sell technology to other businesses and that's where things get weird. There is a bewildering array of tech out there and unfortunately many companies think technology sells itself and the value that the technology delivers should be obvious. Wrong. That's where I come in. I said I was a translator. My job is to translate techno babble into value that customers understand. This blog share my adventures with high tech sales. Selling high tech is fun so come join me on my sales journey!

Monday, 18 June 2012

Obsessive Innovation

Mention innovation and you usually think technology.

Is innovation a good thing or a bad thing? Innovation is change - there is good change and bad change. Some companies change things because they feel that because it's new, there has to be change. Take Internet Explorer - I can't figure out how to do things that I used to do with ease in the older version - it might look less cluttered and simpler. Is this form over substance? Google Chrome similarly confuses me - I cant seem to do some things easily that I used to do back in those pioneering days of Netscape. What's going on?  Am I turning into an innovation kill-joy?

To me, it seems the world of technology has become obsessed with innovation. So let's dig a little deeper.

in·no·va·tion

1. something new or different introduced:
2. the act of innovating;  introduction of new things or methods.

The etymology says pretty much the same - innovation is merely something new. Yet  the word 'innovation' seems to convey some kind of disruptive, model changing, radical kind of concept. 
If innovative technology is merely something that's new, we can more easily accept that new doesnt automatically mean better.
Yes this obsession with innovation makes me wonder "Are we living through an 'innovation bubble' ".   The currency is innovation and everyone has become obsessed with upping the ante on more innovative (read radical) ideas?  Will, like most bubbles, this 'innovative bubble' pop and all the new ideas come crashing down?
I'm beginning to think we are living through a bubble.  I always revert to my old friend Pareto.  80% of new ideas are rubbish.  20% of new ideas will survive.  Only 20% of that 20% (just 4%) will be a success. 
If I type the word innovation on google, I get 413 Million page hits - that's a lot of innovation ! If I looked at one page every second, it would take me 13 years to look at them all...apart from the fact it's a moving target.

The problem I see, is the obsession with innovation hasn't got a purpose other than to be innovative (read new). 
Is innovation just features in disguise?  
Compare these sentences: 
"We've got some new features on our product" 
                             vs 
"We've got some innovative new features on our product".
Innovation makes it sounds more exciting, more sexy.
If I look at some of the new big ideas (possibly hype), I often struggle to get it.  I dont mean that I dont understand the new technology - I usually do understand what it does - I just fail to see the point of why anyone would bother to do it and importantly for me - pay me money for this new stuff. 
Some ideas I get instantly - I can articulate the benefits even if the innovator can't.  The benefit might be cost, simplicity, usability......Customers buy into these benefits - they dont necessarily buy into innovation.

The iPhone user interface is a great innovation - it's fascinating to see my wife pick up cameras or other people's non smart phones and try and do zoom gestures. In fact she gets confused why it doesn't zoom! Here is a clear innovation that is a success - the benefit is ease-of-use. 

Clearly some innovation ends up being still birth - it fails to gather traction since the innovator cannot articulate (sell) the benefit. Yet some innovations seem to gain traction and support without the benefits being clearly understood. Why is that? Is it strong personalities hyping up the tech or do some memes live even though they should die? 

Innovation is fascinating - the challenge I make to all innovators is - make my job easier. 
Think about what benefits your innovation delivers - it saves me a lots of time eliminating the duff ideas !


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