Unlearning the technology bible to find transformation innovation

Last week I was challenged by a blog reader as over using Geoffrey Moore’s technology innovation curve. In 2006 Crossing the chasm was described by, Tom Byers of Stanford, as “still the bible for entrepreneurial marketing 15 years later” and only last month AIMM produced a  thorough 90 page report that uses the innovation curve categories to track the progress of Enterprise 2.0 technologies:

This report aimed to define Enterprise2.0 and uncover firms perceptions and positions on this emerging technology. Rather than summarize the report you can find views on Niall Cook blog post or CMS Wire ‘Organizations Still Don’t Get Enterprise 2.0’.

Moore’s technology innovation curve acts as a guide to past patterns of innovation and can shed some light of possible future patterns. The innovation curve has become so engrained for such a long period of time, in the timescape of the technology market, the real value is to be drawn from predicting the behaviour and actions of industry groups, who have faith in and play by the rules of a industry standard ‘bible’. I therefore think it is fundamentally important to understand the rules laid down by a gospel of technology innovation, before the patterns generated by these rules can be broken and transformational innovation realised.

By transformational I refer to a changing of the rules of the game as Google has achieved with their run away success ad generating model, much to the annoyance of Microsoft’s Ballmer referring to Google’s as a ‘one trick pony’ in 2007 and Microsoft’s change in strategy the same year, ‘We are ‘hell-bent on succeeding in ads’, Ballmer .   

Ballmer punching air


Naturally the ideas from Crossing the Chasm are not without there weaknesses and the book could do with updating as highlighted in an article in 2007 by Alex Iskold of Read Write Web, however it does offer us an platform from which to predict the cause and effect patterns of both customers and industry players. Players such as Microsoft and Oracle who hold the gateway to the convensional route of the mainstream market. My point is that to find truly significant innovative possiblities we need to understand how a market thinks and then unlearn all we have learnt to really innovate. As Einstein put it, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them”


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2 Responses to “Unlearning the technology bible to find transformation innovation”

  1. Dan Keldsen Says:

    Nick – thanks for referencing our Market IQ on Enterprise 2.0, and the interesting discussion on Crossing the Chasm et al.

    As you say, the Chasm model (or Roger’s Diffusions of Innovation) is not without it’s problems, among them, that many “normal” people haven’t heard of it (although it’s been nearly 20 years – come on folks!), and that it presumes that there is only one path to winning in the solutions game… but it’s still a useful barometer in trying to figure out where people are spending their time, money, attention, etc. in the high-tech world.

    It’s most definitely not voodoo management “theory” – as companies such as Documentum, and now the ex-Documentum crew at Alfresco have clearly ridden that model to great success.

    Lovely quote to end your commentary, always worth a tie-in to Einstein! Although as someone who has stumbled onto TRIZ (the “theory of inventive problem solving” – now over 60 years old) in the last few years, while we can’t necessarily use the same thinking that WE (ourselves or our own companies/organizations) have used in the past to get us to the future, there might be value in looking around the corner at success in your own industry or across industries to see how other ideas might applied to your problems.

    Glad I stumbled onto your site – looks like there is much more of interest here, and I look forward to reading (and commenting) much more in future! Seems that we have quite a bit of overlapping interest.


  2. Nick Barker Says:

    Hi Dan, No worries, it’s very useful to have quantitative survey results on new and existing E2.0 users. Innovation is fascinating, especially in IT with such a rapid speed of change and we are now entering a potentially exciting time with Enterprise2.0 offering alternative solutions to problems which have been around for a long time. It will be very interesting to see how the existing landscape and players of the IT industry change as the Enterprise2.0 evolves and moves through the innovation curve.

    We also cannot ignore the impact of other changes such as Open Source with firms such as Alfresco, Sun and other developing this market space further. Thanks for the reference to TRIZ. James Dyson Cyclone innovation is a good engineering example of moving an invention from one industry to another but as Dyson discovered it can be very difficult to convince an existing industry of the benefits of a new technology and to fundamentally change.

    I’m going to be attending the Boston Enterprise2.0 conference and hope to see you there as I know one of your colleagues is presenting. Thanks for the positive feedback and defiantly keep in touch.



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