Ideas become innovations, innovations become butterflies

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Processing vs brain storming represents an interesting question. I have personally struggled with the two concepts. Over the years during brain storming meetings I have learned to not critique ideas and concepts. The reason for that being of course it encourages more and more ideas. Its actually a component of the law of innovation.

Corollary 8: Actions drive ideas as much as funding. Ideas are innovations in the pupa stage.

Where actions represent that influencing factor for the idea that could become the innovation. The concept is that ideas are the pupa stage of innovations. Sometimes a pupa spends too much time building a cocoon and never becomes a butterfly. There is no way to cut though the many layers of cocoon to fly.

The cocoon represents both a place of safety for a time while the innovation germinates but also a place of hiding where the innovation may never see the light of day.

In fact if you see the image to the right you will find that there are within the concept of the idea moving to the cocoon five distinct stages.

  1. First is the protection of the cocoon. This in the world of innovation is truly the creation of a working prototype.
  2. Second is emerging to a small audience from the safety
  3. Third is releasing something that is a prototype to see if in fact it could fly.
  4. Fourth is actually spreading and verifying the flight mechanism (wings)
  5. Fifth is an adult butterfly (or innovation) ready to meet the mass market (and given that innovations can lead to innovations perhaps create the next butterfly.)

Now this represents only the concept after it exists. Before when it is still an idea there are steps as well. The cocoon represents the creation of an actual prototype before the prototype there are stages of the idea itself that are relevant as well.

  • Germination of the idea -  (walking, mowing, reading, watching TV, Listening to music, typing on a keyboard, on your cellular phone etc.) something comes to you. There might be a better way to do X.
  • Examination of your idea – you look around to see is anyone else doing this or thinking about this?
  • Socialization of your idea – the risky phase. Many ideas disappear right here. Not because they are bad ideas but because the reality of communication. The wrong thing is said by the wrong person about the idea and it dies for a time.
  • Modeling of your idea – interesting its passed the first three and you are encouraged to put it down on paper and see is it even possible?

There are many pitfalls, problems and in the end things that go bump in the night in this process.

more to come…

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

Kickstarter and Indiegogo projects I believe in…

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Its time for that nearly bi-monthly top Kickstarter and Indiegogo project post. I have three rules for these posts.

  • I am a backer of the project
  • I believe the project will be useful to people other than me
  • I believe the project is a game changer.

Kickstarter:

Project 1 Synek: This first project is near and dear to my heart. Many years ago I was lucky enough to be part of a band of brothers that built and created the Microsoft Certified Architect program. We worked long hours building that certification and the team was simply one of the most amazing high preforming teams I have ever been a part of. At the end of each board we had our fearless leader Andy Ruth would bring some of his home brew to the meeting room and we would sample what Andy was working on. Later Andy and I spent a week in Germany and frankly between the various architect boards and Munich Andy taught me more about beer than I thought possible. I grew to love Andy’s beer. But until I found this project I didn’t really have a way to get that beer to Maryland safely (other than in bottles). Now thanks to Synek there is a cooler made to help people enjoy home brew in their homes. The system they are trying to fund allows you to have a home cooler and their unique system for storing and having the beer available.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1620669801/synek-any-beer-ever-made-fresh-on-your-counter

Project 2 Laser Cube: The world of printers is amazing. Scan and print in 3d. Print in color, black and white whatever you want. Need a Dye Sub printer – easy. Laser etching however has always been expensive. Even on Kickstarter the project usually start at 800 bucks and go up from there. Not anymore – meet Laser Cube. A laser etching printer for the rest of us!!!!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/820277733/laser-cube-an-enjoyable-laser-engraver-and-cutter

Indiegogo:

Project 1 CreoPop: 3d printing is a personal passion of mine. The hand held 3d writing devices are extremely interesting. They do have one draw back they are hot (and they smell horrible as well). Enter a new 3d pen that doesn’t get hot. This project went up and was 100% funded very quickly. It gives people with smaller children the opportunity to allow them to express their creativity in 3 dimensions.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/creopop-the-world-s-first-3d-pen-with-cool-ink/x/3230074

Project 2 Vocore: This one is for the Geek in all of us – a coin sized Linux computer with wi-fi and a dock. Sure you aren’t going to analyze a data stream with this but there are so many other cool things you can do. Eventually this miniature solution could expand further and further into the world of a hand held computer with enough power to make it worth while. Plus its really cool to have a small computer I mean a really small computer.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/vocore-a-coin-sized-linux-computer-with-wifi/x/3230074

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

2d, 3d and now a watch that tells time…

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Technology enables you to do many things. For example today you can connect to and leverage any number of devices to impact the world around you. The movie Spy Kids had some great technology jokes in it. My favorite is they are doing something and the older sister asks the younger brother what time it is. He says “my watch doesn’t tell time.”

I have a bike GPS that connects to my phone and reports where I am, how far and how fast I’ve gone. I have another device (Pebble) that connects to my phone and leverages the Runkeeper application to tell me how far I’ve walked and how fast.

Using the leap controller I can connect to my computer with motion. Using a scanner I can import 2d objects (paper) into the computer and then turn those into active editable text. I can also now scan in 3d objects.

With a simple USB cable I can connect a piano keyboard to my computer and create music. Well it isn’t music per se but it sounds like something created (mostly the sound of cat’s late at night).

I have a webcam so I can connect to other people by Skype and by Livemeeting/Webex etc. All of this of course expands the reach of the computer and technology into our lives.

Technology enables great things. I’ve been talking a lot about the concepts in my law of innovation. One of the great things that technology tools enable is the innovator. Not that a person is a thing rather that their innovations are often things (hardware or software.) The platform for innovation is expanding. In the 1960’s and 1970’s if you had an idea for a watch you could go to one of maybe five companies in the world. Casio which back in the day built the high tech watches, Fossil (where the MS Spot watch was built) Omega and a few others. Now you take your idea to Kickstarter and if others want the watch you are building – your funded and running. That is a huge platform. Indiegogo adds a broader platform as well. But the other side of that is the cost factor.

You can now machine parts, laser cut and engrave objects and print 3d objects for less than 2000. That is to do all three by the way there was a project from Italy on Kickstarter that offered a 2000 printer that did all of that. You can also buy the machines separately (not wanting a one machine Swiss Army Knife approach). In effect what you see in your mind can be created physically. It removes the requirement for the innovator to spend thousands of dollars of their own money machining parts to build a prototype. That broadens the innovation pool significantly as well.

What you can do and what you can see move just a little closer to what you can grab and hold. The question is at some point will innovation have to slow down so that people can catch up?

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

My Cloud Broker, My Cloud Friend…

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What if the cloud term, broker meant partner? A couple of years out (maybe 4 or 5) I see a shift in the market for most organizations. Where today many companies drive to the front door of the various cloud service providers (CSP) and establish contractual relationships and develop connections directly with the CSP’s I think that will change.

In time there will be a layer there that provides structure and value for both the CSP and the customer. That layer will be the cloud broker.

Most of the big broker providers today also provide cloud services. I see that drifting away over time. I believe brokers have to be truly neutral. Not in name (oh don’t worry we will make sure that our CSP services are ranked very low in your system so that they are never selected) but in practice.

Brokers should become the neutral ground where both sides find protection and value.

It’s the transition from a service provider (Cloud Broker) to the earlier introduced concept of Cloud Broker Partner. In that manner you now have an organization that makes money from doing the right things. Talking to their customer’s (which are the customers and the CSP’s) and making sure they can build and deliver services that benefit both.

In the end I realize it is an idealistic view of the possible. But you have to strive towards ideals. You can’t quit just because your up to your neck in alligators. So let’s think about the how of a partner market.

Is it possible today? In thinking about it I have a number of questions that keep popping up. So without further adieu…

  1. Could CSP’s and CSB’s coexist today in a unified presentation of capabilities and value to the customer?
  2. Economically which would be a better pricing model? Transactional with the customer paying and the CSP paying for each transaction in the broker system that selected their services? Or flat fee (the customer and csp would each pay a monthly, daily, weekly or yearly fee to be part of the broker).
  3. How far would the broker extend? To consume the very DMZ itself as I have suggested before? To the edge of the now DMZ? To the core of the customer and csp network?
  4. Can we add another layer onto an already stretched thin network infrastructure?
  5. For the area’s of Ipv6 adoption and data center consolidation are there ways to leverage a broker solution to get there faster? I believe there are.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

Innovation absorption, sales is not a bad word…

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Yesterday I talked about the absorption rate of technology. There are some interesting factors that change the absorption rate that are in the traditional marketing category. There are others that fit into a harder to define “right place right time: category. Today we are going to focus on those two categories.

Marketing your idea always seems negative. I worked in a technical company once and one of the leaders stood in front of us and said everyone is a sales person. Most of the folks got very frustrated with that “sales” has a negative connotation and they didn’t like that. In the end they, the technical people, were wrong. Sales isn’t negative and it is critical. Marketing your idea is a component of sales. The easy way is to have a celebrity spokes person. The best spokesperson is the one who uses your product without advertising it. It’s the concept of creating Buzz about your product. The other way is to have someone with a reputation involved from the beginning of the project. I’ve been a Neil Young fan for longer than either he or I would like to be made public. When it was announced that he was one of the backers of the Pono Music player on Kickstarter I set my personal reminder to bid on it sight unseen. Why? Because that is the music that has influenced me my entire life. That is the kind of marketing you build not buy. The last way you can gain advantage is to seed the ever growing technical blogging world. That takes a little longer and doesn’t always work but it is another option.

Right time right place is the hardest of all and yet if it happens its magic. I think the problem many people have in looking at a marketing position is they truly seek the right place right time model. In the end there are so many ways you can move your idea forward that you need to do all of them. RTRP is a luck issue. You have to be lucky in the end. Luck is a compilation of a lot of hard work. The harder you work the more places you get your name out there the more likely in the end you will be discovered.

Marketing and sales are simply parts of the process that we have to undergo. In the end it is as important the when as the what and how. One of my favorite sayings is that Why drives What and How. In the case of marketing building hype is as much about when as it is why. Go back to my example of the Pono Music player (and yes I did look up what Pono meant, but after I funded the project) I was engaged and intended to back that project because Neil Young was involved. That is the kind of hype you can’t buy. What you can influence however is the more subtle main stream.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

The rate of technology absorption continues to rise…

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I heard an interesting talk yesterday where the pundit stood on stage and said “The rate of innovation is increasing at the highest rate in human history.” I thought about that the rest of the day.

The problem with statements like that is of course half the audience tunes out (like I did) to contemplate the grandiose claim. The other half the audience continues to listen until another claim and by the end if you aren’t an exciting speaker you have an 1/8 or less of the audience listening.

In this case I was thinking about my law of innovation. The things that increase the rate of innovation are the pressures to innovate. The pressures are fueled in the end by two forces. The first force I’ve detailed for the past couple of months. That is comprised of three paths towards failure (stop, move around, just keep pushing through). Enable the innovator with lots of capabilities and eventually innovation will explode.

There is however a factor I realized yesterday. I’ve been shaping the concept of brittle computing for awhile now (longer than my law of innovation). I realized yesterday that what has changed isn’t the rate of innovation per se. That certainly has increased in the past 30 years. There have been great explosions of innovation in the past.

What has changed this time is the rate of innovation absorption by the market. I’ve talked to a lot of people who speak to a 3 year cycle (hype, early adopters and mass market). I do still believe that the hype cycle is long. What I think has changed is the transition from early adopters of an innovation to the mass market.

To me sitting there in the auditorium thinking about the rate of innovation claim, the rate absorption in the end is much more interesting. As solutions are consumed it creates an even broader market . The Pebble watch forced Samsung and Apple to release competitive products, why? The wearable market has exploded and now suddenly everyone wants to wear their health.

Personal food and environment scanners are growing as well. Everything from breathalyzers to scanners that check the content of your food are appearing and exploding. There is a great CloudTweaks cartoon (http://www.cloudtweaks.com) where there is a person wearing no clothes. I have so many wearable’s now I don’t have room for clothes is the concept. The rate of absorption has increased considerably.

I guess in the end this is my rebuttal. The rate of innovation has increased at a rapid rate. Part of that is the much broader, wider and faster river of capabilities innovators have. Part of that is the release of time (work 20 hours a day trying to feed your family and few people have the energy to innovate) the modern world has produced. But finally there is the reality of the market being willing to absorb more and more new technologies. The rate of technology absorption is a critical factor.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

Deep Dive on Corollary 6

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The reality of innovation is not just the cool new idea. The shiny new toy that we can have in our hands that shows we are cool and forward looking. The reality is manufacturing. The process, concept and in the end ability to instantiate a manufacturing floor and build your innovation.

In this transition (idea) to product there are a number of pitfalls. The first is the reality of marketing. Once the idea is real and the innovator begins building this new thing there is a market. The TAM (Total Addressable Market) is the high water mark. The low water mark is the number of people required to get the solution funded and in production. That is normally a significantly smaller set than the TAM.

Limiters:

· Costs more than expected (priced out of market)

· Marketed to the wrong audience

· Large Fortune 500 company announces competitive product

The last one in the end is a game changer. A great example today is the reality of the smart watch. The various announcements by Fortune 500 companies “launching” smart watches has actually benefited the largest of the existing smaller smart watch companies. They have increased their TAM by pricing their product below or near the pain threshold for consumers (normally around $99). With the Fortune 500 entrants in this market is also increases the TAM Cap (maximum). This of course now gets into the world of determining what your true market is.

The gotcha here is missing your market. You can miss by a little, catching only the edge of the leading edge. The risk there is of course if you miss the heart of your market initially you are recovering from there on. Determining what your market is in the end is critical.

Total Addressable Market

· Players

· Marketing and audience

· Finding your innovations TAM

Players make for an interesting initial conversation for TAM. When a larger player enters the market the market shifts. The reason being that company has loyalists that purchase their products as much for the cachet as for the functionality. It does create a larger overall market for the innovation but does not change the innovators specific innovation TAM.

How and what is marketed at that point is critical. There are a number of technical influencer blogs and publications that feature new innovative ideas. Based on the number of aggressive innovation schedules published on Kickstarter and Indiegogo these blogs often call the sites innovations vaporware. A fishing metaphor (make sure you hook the fish) fits well here. If you miss your market it is tough to recover.

When the light bulb was first released the TAM was tiny. Within 5 years the TAM was huge. If your innovation requires significant infrastructure to support it, the time to finalize your TAM may be greater than if your innovation works without significant infrastructure.

Reality here is that Edison, the inventory of the light bulb, had cash. That meant he could sit on his innovation and wait for the infrastructure to catch up. But his innovation was a game changer. When you have a smaller organization that builds the new light bulb they have to be careful that the time to TAM doesn’t engage a much larger competitor to come in and change the market.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow