Friday, July 8, 2011

About industry dominance and taking a different perspective

At the start of this millennium, the mobile handset industry was dominated by Nokia (in the emerging consumer markets) and RIM, the Blackberry maker (in the corporate markets). In contrast, at about the same time, computer maker, Apple, and search engine, Google, didn’t even have a presence in the mobile market. If you would like to draw parallels, Nokia and RIM were like SAP and Oracle, the behemoths of the enterprise packaged software industry.

Probably at the beginning of this millennium, it was unlikely that anyone at Nokia and RIM even imagined that their dominance might be challenged, let alone their existence questioned. While Nokia and RIM were content with their own world, Apple and Google, were working to create a new industry, which would later get called as the ‘Post-PC devices’ industry. Both Apple and Google were seeing mobile technology in a different perspective – mobile as not just a communication device but as a platform for inconspicuous and ubiquitous applications - a perspective which someone at Nokia or RIM would have only considered impractical.

Today, Apple and Google, together enjoy a fast-increasing and large market share in the mobile market. Both these companies are now valued among some of the largest companies in the world – at valuations Nokia and RIM could never even have dreamed about.

Can the industry change so much in less than 10 years, well within someone’s career span? Why did such a big difference happen? The only answer – someone chose to see things in a different perspective. Who knows may be your company would be the next Apple or Google in your own industry and turn the tables on the existing behemoths. May be you could take such lead in your company and be rewarded. So, let’s not feel shy in thinking different! In Steve Jobs words - Stay foolish, stay hungry!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Innovation and Human Evolution

The collective set of jobs, businesses and organizations today are really us, humanity, engaged in our collective needs -
  • better utilizing our collective resources and
  • defending ourselves against collective threats (diseases, natural disasters, nutrition, etc)-
  • everything else is really the cost of co-existance (e.g. wars, regime changes, etc).

I believe that the nature of our collective needs has evolved and will evolve. I believe that the pace of this evolution will fasten in an increasingly connected and inclusive world. I foresee that this will result in career paths, markets and organizations evolving and dying faster.

I think there is a definite need for us, humanity, to brace for the impacts of this evolution - build faster means to train and engage people, quicker ways to get new products to market and lower costs of organizational failure. Although this might not look like an urgent issue, humanity has a learning cycle and that means we should probably start looking at this evolution and its impact on us sooner.

I sense that in the long term, the direction of this evolution is the change of humanity's enagement

  • from resource cornering (on earth)
  • to innovation garnering (for better utilization of resources, better defenses against natural disasters, etc).  
I think this change, away from 'resource cornering', will not be because everyone will have all resources they need but because collectively humanity would have tapped into every resource on earth, in the future, and therefore there would be not much scope for human engagement in cornering futher resources. Innovation garnering, on the other hand, will continue to engage humanity in continuously defending itself and optimizing resources - e.g. there might always be a disease to discover and cure, there might always be an efficiency improvement on power transmission or such others.

What does this mean for you or me, as an individual? I think it means we should start aligning ourselves, our work and our careers towards innovation orientation - start questioning why something cannot be done in someway, find problems that need solving, etc.