Dematerialization—A Pathway for Innovation

The ability to make products and features smaller is called dematerialization. Dematerialization is a key strategy for innovation and improving what we utilize in business and society.

The ability to make products and features smaller is called dematerialization. Dematerialization is a key strategy for innovation and improving what we utilize in business and society.

Technology is ever-changing and constantly improving. The ability to reduce the amount of material it takes to build the physical things that accomplish digital tasks is revolutionary and, likewise, growing as fast as the industries they serve a purpose in.

A Perfect Dematerialization Example

Wearable technology—which in recent years has increased in speed and memory while becoming one of the smallest computer devices in our lives—is a perfect example of how quickly dematerialization has improved modern technology. Smart watches, among other wearable digital devices, are the current example of how computers have shrunk and ultimately become more integrated in our lives because of how easily they can be worn and ignored until needed. They are lighter, more portable, more economical (in terms of the materials it takes to produce them), and softer in environmental impact.

Prior to the abundance of wearable technology, tablets and smartphones slowly put laptops and desktop computers to shame, as even the most portable laptops used to be several inches thick and weigh six or seven pounds. The market for a smaller, streamlined personal computing device brought us the iPad and the Microsoft Surface; however, today, wearable devices use a fraction of the material and accomplish far more than their ancestors—and cost far less. Plus, your main personal computer—the computer you use the most—had become your smartphone, which was something portable, multipurpose, and a device that supplied you with far more beneficial features than any computer you have used in the past.

Transformation

 A different example associated with wearable technology and smart devices is the progression of recorded music. Decades ago, record players and in-home audio systems were the only means to listen to recorded music. Eventually, car radios came along, where you could hear music while you travel. Soon after, the emergence of cassette tapes and compact discs brought the creation of portable CD and tape players, and the early ‘90s saw the dematerialization of bulky sound systems down to mini-boomboxes to bring outside while you played basketball.

Steve Jobs and the iPod yet again revolutionized and dematerialized recorded music players by allowing you to have thousands of songs in your pocket, though even those were clunky when they emerged. As streaming services displaced CD sales, smartphones and wireless headphones yet again made listening to music at the gym or on a bicycle ride even simpler, though you’d often have to strap the smartphone to your bicep. Finally, wearable technology now allows the same streaming technology paired with wireless headphones, making listening to music anywhere while doing nearly anything completely possible.

Whatever your company has, you can make it smaller—that is, if you want to. On the other hand, we don’t necessarily want to make everything smaller, and dematerialization doesn’t necessarily mean miniaturization. For example, we have the capacity to make our cars much, much smaller, but we may not necessarily want that for all models. Smart cars and some fully electric vehicles can benefit; however, a Ford F250 becoming the size of a Chevy Volt will take away from the hauling capabilities.

So how do you make something lighter without shrinking it completely? Dematerialize components of it, as seen in the newer models of Ford’s GT500. Its components have been dematerialized and are now lighter, making it faster than the Dodge Demon in a quarter mile, while not needing as heavy of an engine. Same size car, faster than ever before.

Ask yourself, “What would we want to make smaller? What would add value by making it smaller?” Take a look at just about everything you have related to your products and your services, and always consider the pros and cons of what you can dematerialize.

Learn about the Eight Hard Trend Pathways to Innovation and how you can identify and develop game-changing opportunities in my latest book The Anticipatory Organization.

Use Anticipation to Turn Disruption Into Opportunity

For the longest time, cable television was a miraculous technology that not everybody had in their homes, mostly because not everybody could afford it. Now, not everyone has it in their homes because YouTube TV, Sling TV, and other new, emerging technologies have disrupted the broadcast industry. So why didn’t Spectrum think of it first? Why did they become the disrupted and not the disruptor?

For the longest time, cable television was a miraculous technology that not everybody had in their homes, mostly because not everybody could afford it. Now, not everyone has it in their homes because YouTube TV, Sling TV, and other new, emerging technologies have disrupted the broadcast industry. So why didn’t Spectrum think of it first? Why did they become the disrupted and not the disruptor?

At some point, Spectrum and many others established a cash cow — a product or service that generates the majority of your income and profits — and got comfortable building a successful business around it while protecting and defending it. The fact that most of us are all busy, focused, and needing to meet or exceed our quarterly numbers keeps us from looking far enough ahead in our industries to see disruption.

In order to thrive in this time of exponential change, it is imperative to actively scan far outside of your industry looking for new ways to disrupt yourself first. When you discover a new technology or disruptive technology-driven trend, it is important to separate what I call the Hard Trends that will happen from the Soft Trends that might happen.

Anticipating disruption before it happens defines whether you’ll be the disrupter or the disrupted, using predictable Hard Trends to create the new cash cows that will disrupt your competitors and grow your future.

Another reason so many companies fail to see disruption is that the strategy most often invoked is to protect and defend the status quo. The amount of time and money organizations spend protecting and defending their current cash cows is astounding, as in the past, this was a valid strategy producing good results. However, digital disruption is different, as it tends to be game-changing with a low cost of entry.

A key to success for an established company that’s facing early-stage disruption is to adopt a strategy of embrace and extend. Spectrum continues to spend millions on bringing in customers for cable, Internet, and phone packages, mostly campaigning on the grounds that you can’t watch sports without cable. Unfortunately, Spectrum and other cable providers saw Internet TV like YouTube or Sling as a Soft Trend, much like Blockbuster viewed Netflix, that could be protected and defended against. It was definitely a Hard Trend. YouTube and Sling have conquered broadcast sports and are quickly leaving Spectrum in the dust.

The assumption that disruption won’t happen to you and your business is dangerous. Today, there are many industries still ripe for disruption. Taking the time to look outside of your industry at the Hard Trends shaping the future will amaze you. Understanding that digital disruption will happen to you if it has not already happened is important.

Ask yourself if you are looking inside and outside of your business. What are your blind spots? What fundamental assumptions about the “way things will always be” do you operate on? And what are you doing to become your own disruptor?

What is a hotel? What is a taxi? What is a bookstore? Companies like Marriott and Barnes & Noble, and even government agencies like New York’s Taxi and Limousine Commission, thought they knew the answers to those questions, and Spectrum and other cable providers are currently thinking the same way.

What do you think you know about your industry?

The connectivity of the Internet has changed so many industries. The emergence of Netflix, Hulu, and even Spotify for music has not only revolutionized the entertainment media industry and consumers’ consumption of said media, but it has also closed up some of the loopholes that fostered piracy of content. They are problem solvers, and now they are solving the problem of customers having to pay exorbitant fees to companies like Spectrum and DirecTV to merely cling to one favorite sports channel.

If these cable providers offered a cost-effective alternative with a price and framework similar to YouTube TV’s, they would be using this current disruption to their advantage. But is it too late for them? Are the days of cable as we know it over? Better yet, will Spectrum shrink exponentially until it’s merely an Internet provider? If so, it’d be foolish to ignore the possibility that a more affordable means of accessing the Internet is on the horizon as well.

Letting your ideas about consumers calcify and ceasing adapting or anticipating is when you start inadvertently digging your own grave, no matter how outlandish the disruption may seem. Believing that your business is immune to changing circumstances is the common thread between all disrupted organizations. The fundamental assumptions of so many industries have turned out to be wrong.

You need to become your own disruptor, your own best competition. Don’t get comfortable. Disrupt yourself, or someone else will.

Which technology innovations could be a game-changer for your industry? Learn how to tell with my latest book The Anticipatory Organization.

Marketers Must Learn to Anticipate Content Trends

Every company, regardless of size, knows they must advertise if they are to grow. Yet with all the money that is being spent, it is increasingly difficult to get your message to the right audience. This is where it pays to be anticipatory. Using the systemic method outlined in my Anticipatory Organization Model, you can ready your organization for the disruptive transformations ahead.

Do you remember when MTV was the best way to get in front of the teen and young adult audience? Once mobile technology became popular, it didn’t take long for that age group to be on the move.

In no time, videos were streaming on iTunes. Though teens continued to watch, viewership dropped. Then came instant messaging, followed by social media. For a time, Facebook gave advertisers their niche audience of young consumers congregated in one place.

That is until Snapchat and Instagram came along.

To add to the challenges of the last couple of decades, smart speakers are now in about one-quarter of U.S. homes, and podcasts are gaining popularity. In fact, about 50 percent of households now say they listen to podcasts, with a majority of them joining the trend in just the last three years.

According to whypodcasts.org, 38 percent of listeners are age 18-34, and 64 percent listen on their smartphones.

What’s Next in Target Marketing?

As technology-driven change changes direction, it is easier, and far more profitable, to change direction with it. “It’s easier to ride a horse in the direction it is going.” That’s what my grandfather told me as a little boy working with him on his farm in Texas.

Every company, regardless of size, knows they must advertise if they are to grow. Yet with all the money that is being spent, it is increasingly difficult to get your message to the right audience.

This is where it pays to be anticipatory. Using the systemic method outlined in my Anticipatory Organization Model, you can ready your organization for the disruptive transformations ahead.

Three Hard Trends and Two Tech Trends to Watch

In my work as a technology and business futurist, I have found the most effective way to approach becoming an AO is to focus on demographics, government regulations, and technology. In addition, it is always good to know which consumer technology trends will stick around. I call these Hard Trends (as opposed to Soft Trends, which may come and go).

  • Demographics drive opportunity. There are nearly 80 billion baby boomers in the United States. Not a single one is getting any younger—a definite Hard Trend.

  • Government regulation is a constant. As a general rule, will there be more or less government regulation in the future? Of course, there will be more, and that’s true regardless of the industry or organization. That’s also a Hard Trend.

  • Technology will continue to grow. From the ever-increasing functional capabilities of our smartphones to the growing use of 3D printing, technology is inevitably going to become more functional, more sophisticated, and more widespread. That’s another definite Hard Trend.

  • Multi-layered media is here to stay. According to research, our attention spans are shorter than ever, and consumers demand instant gratification and quick fixes—not a litany of product features and benefits.

Today, content channels such as social media, Apple Watch, and Google Home provide the perfect vehicles for interactivity at any time, in any place, and with any person.

  • Consumer attention is likely to stay at a premium. At least for the foreseeable future, multi-layered media is here to stay. Consumer attention remains at a premium.

Advertisers know the harsh reality: Running an ad on a major television network and supplementing it with web banner ads is no longer a guarantee of reaching the audience.

If you use my Hard Trends Methodology to look ahead to the future of marketing, you’ll be able to anticipate the fast-moving innovations to come. New devices are likely to be developed, and their connectivity doesn’t show signs of slowing any time soon.

Learn to be anticipatory—start with my book, the Anticipatory Organization, available on Amazon.com.

How to Prospect Customers Using CRM Technology

The key to growing your business is in understanding your customer. Not only in the ways they connect but also how they choose to do business with you. Your business needs to forge lasting relationships with them if you want to stay at the top of their minds. The right customer relationship management system helps you get to the heart of your prospects’ data and uncover their reasons they engage with you. A viable customer relationship management system can help you identify, segment, and align your business to better intuitively meet every customer’s needs.

Who’s your prospect?

In a remote village just shy of Malta, a farmer ran a dairy business, and people traveled from far and wide to buy his cows’ milk. Eventually, the milk demand became so great that the man charged a higher price to afford more animals to increase production. The travelers stopped coming. When he lowered the price, the villagers came around again, and the farmer sold much milk.

The anecdote expresses the farmer had a product and a service that helped people. When they needed food to eat the dairyman had the solution. He understood what the villagers wanted and then he successfully scaled his service to meet it.

Step One: know your prospect

For your business to thrive, it’s important to understand the buyers it can best serve. If your buyers do not participate in your present messages and offers, it may be time to first, reframe the personae you ‘ve determined to be your true buyer in a way that better represents the clientele you want to help.

Your customers have a problem they believe you can solve.

A CRM like Hubspot can provide you the info about how your prospects interact with you through an API that you can implement as you build your business.

The reason that drives your customer’s choices

Boston Company Parlor Skis knew it had a problem many startups have: an existing customer base but no system to gather the information about their behavior. The business’s founders wanted to learn their customer’s individual motivators that made them purchase the kinds of skis they did.

The two-man entrepreneurial team ran their business out of renovated funeral home and began a tracking system to identify the skis people bought and if they’d requested customization.

By using a CRM like Hubspot, they determined their customers were outgrowing the town where the company was, but through isolating their fans’ interests, the company duo discovered the customer who bought their customizable skis were also relocating from the town. This location info gave the company founders something they desperately needed: how to sustain their business when they charted the right information. While they no longer wanted to waste time to try and manually figure it all out.

What their customers were buying, was where Parlor Skis already had data. How they engaged with their business was the crucially missing patterns they needed to understand. Their skis fans were still buying their product—they simply didn’t know Parlor Skis could ship their customizations anyplace.

Step Two: identify your prospects’ truest motivations

Parlor Skis’ solution to syncing their customization to better help their clients: identify your prospect’s strongest patterns by using a CRM like Hubspot that can reveal their truer underlying behaviors.

Your customer’s choices are actually patterns that reflect their wants and from a position of cognitive bias.

Prospects go about their days interacting with businesses and other people and that is before they’ve started their day. What they’ve eaten or not eaten for breakfast, their responsibilities they have to meet before, and how they’ll get back to do them all again the next day collectively have an influence on how they will interact with other stimuli throughout their day—and how they’ll engage with you.

Maybe they will tell you their exact needs but it is more likely they will give the briefest answer to a question or as an immediate choice they make.

It isn’t that they’re untruthful; they’re sharing based upon the experiences they may have had prior to connecting with you. This cognitive bias is something your business can become aware about and then take steps to better recognize by working with a CRM to help and hone in on your customer’s truer wants.

Step Three: segment prospects and group by their behaviors you learn

Segmentation

Parlor Skis applied CRM messaging and a set it and listen model that revealed patterns in their fans’ interactions that uncovered insights about their interests that proved invaluable. Another startup, like Parlor, used the strength of automation to solve a dilemma of individualized engagement that evolved between the unique needs of two different clients: parents and babysitters.

Child sitting company UrbanSitter needed a system that could help them communicate the process of connecting families to people who could sit for them both long term and for last-minute unexpected scheduling.

The brand used the automation savvy of email service MailChimp to shuttle two different messaging series to its customers. Through segmentation, UrbanSitter could onboard each prospect as they moved through the stages of their lifecycle.

By adding an email sequence, the Brand removed the guesswork similarly to Parlor Skies with one significant tweak: it combined email into its CRM to streamline its brand to customer network, then used A/B testing of headlines and in their marketed messaging to further observe its clienteles’ engagement. The result was UrbanSitter saw a 260% increase in their conversations.

Step Four: split test

Conversation

To achieve the boost in conversions, UrbanSitter had to dive deeply into its customers’ engagement. However, it had to deliver a unique conversation for each client. The babysitters needed a welcome that observed the sometimes delicate process of onboarding with a new family. While families needed assurance they’d have a go-to place and platform that understood the rigors of parenting 24/7. UrbanSitter created different email sequences and information silos it shuttled to each client.

Welcome emails personalized to each family saw a significant boost in client response. Conversations that the Brand had with babysitters experienced a dramatic shift from basic introductions to highly aspirational content about what to do next. Babysitters received details about screening and setting up the appropriate legal documentation (filing W2 forms, the correct forms of ID). The Company made certain families were sent reminders that it was available to reach whenever a need arose so it could fulfill expectations.

The split-testing of headlines and body in both the subject lines and conversation proved successful: UrbanSitter grew client memberships while increasing member retention. Today, it continues to spearhead its creative muse thorough giving timely and educational inspiration to two uniquely different types of customers.

To conclude

The growth of your business centers on the foundation of automation and integration in your messaging with your Brand’s core identity that is on par with the product or service you have.

CRM lets you get started from the customer base at the present.

First: determine your prospect.

When you already have a prospect, begin refining your messaging to bring them to your product or service.

Second: identify how they engage with you underneath the platitudes and input on your calls to action.

You will begin to see certain things they respond to and others less. The patterns they engage you with can result as their truer motivations. It’s also when you can deliver more personalized messaging to serve them greater, the more you use your CRM to observe.

Third: at this stage begin to segment as soon as possible. Size of your audience doesn’t matter. How they interact with you on a more transparent level, does.

The CRM you use will help you navigate where you are as you build your customer’ journeys.

Fourth: it’s time to split test where your messages speak to your customers and use the info gleaned from the engagement to improve your business’ efficiency and bottom line.

Hubspot can take you each of the steps or stages.

Use MailChimp or a similar email service to help you tune in to the customers who interact with you as you refine the steps to create customer loyalty.

Consider tapping into your analytics with a platform like Google to learn the touch points your customers are signaling most.

And remember, the goals of your business always centers on the customer, first.

Embracing the Power of Blockchain Technology

We often forget just how much technology has changed our lives in the last few years. Therefore, it should be no surprise that our love of cold hard cash could be the next twentieth-century casualty to fall by the wayside.

During the digital transformation, we have witnessed traditional forms of physical media fall out of favor as users abandoned their treasure trove of CDs, DVDs, books, magazines and even photo albums to partake in an entirely clutter-free life. Digitally optimizing our lives has enabled us to remove shelves, cabinets and dust magnets while we get our entertainment fix from the likes of Netflix, Spotify and the endless list of streaming alternatives.

We often forget just how much technology has changed our lives in the last few years. Therefore, it should be no surprise that our love of cold hard cash could be the next twentieth-century casualty to fall by the wayside.

Over in Europe, Denmark and its Scandinavian neighbors Norway and Sweden are leading a charge toward a cashless society that will see the end of tooth fairy payments for children, but will equally wave goodbye to a world of money laundering, fraud and tax evasion. The bonus of replacing scrambling around for loose change for a purchase, or riding public transportation with contactless payment by swiping a card or smartphone, is incredibly appealing for most users.

The concept of handing over a handful of silver coins in exchange for any product or service can feel quite primitive in our modern world dominated by technology. However, contactless and smartphone payments are not the end-all, be-all payment options, as there is another game changer in the form of a cyber currency. But does this technology disruptor have the power to transform our traditional banking system?

Blockchain is the digital ledger software code that powers Bitcoin. As this system has grown in popularity, the CEO of Digital Asset Holdings, Blythe Masters,has her sights set on changing the way banks trade loans and bonds in a way that could dramatically change the way we look at both business and banking. Blythe delivered a massive wake-up call to finance leaders when she compared the influx of changes to the arrival of the internet when she advised, “You should be taking this technology as seriously as you should have been taking the development of the internet in the 1990s. It’s analogous to email for money.” The speed in which technology trends can go viral illustrates how an internet of finance could become a reality sooner rather than later.

The interesting aspect of Bitcoin is the ability to buy and sell without the need for an intermediary. This represents a paradigm shift in the management and structure of the financial services industry. However, adopting innovation and changing entire ecosystems is not something that the notoriously cautious financial industry and affiliated regulation committees are famed for.

Because this technology has the potential to reduce the role banks play in the lives of individuals, it is understandable why financial institutions are skeptical. However, these developments cannot be written off just yet. They could save consumers and the financial industry billions of dollars while also removing their reliance on middlemen to offer a speedier, modern and more efficient banking experience.

The ultimate goal is to move payments globally much faster while simultaneously becoming more transparent and lowering costs. We will likely begin to witness early adopters making waves in the private market before the ever-cautious big players speak of standardization and implementation. However, there are already a few of them dipping their toes into the water.

According to the PwC, there are already over three hundred technology startups developing ideas that will allow blockchain to revolutionize the financial industry. Big players like Visa and Nasdaq are already investing heavily into a blockchain startup, and there are also plans to modernize the London Market. Lloyds is looking to blockchain technology to improve its data access and reduce costs associated with administrative paperwork.

There are daily stories of heavyweights within the financial industry becoming increasingly eager to capture the tamper-proof benefits offered by a future web-based cryptocurrency. Technology leaders such as Microsoft also have thrown their hats into the ring to demonstrate the possibilities that blockchain technology can offer.

There is exciting potential to completely revolutionize the way in which the finance industry works. But in its infancy, many will continue to exercise great caution before rushing into a shiny electronic cash system that is fully peer-to-peer. The future of cash and pockets full of loose change is indeed looking numbered, as many wonder if in just a few years we will be looking back at our quaint primitive payment methods in the same way many do with physical media now.

Cryptocurrencies that thrive in a transparent environment might seem like a foreign concept today, but the rise of blockchain technology is one Hard Trend that will quickly prove to be impossible to ignore.

Finance trends can be anticipated – when you know how to look. The Anticipatory Organization Model has the power to shift an organization’s operating mindset from the default of reacting and responding to changes coming from the outside in, to a place of empowerment by anticipating and shaping the future from the inside out.

Don’t Miss AR’s Amazing Opportunities

Augmented reality (AR) is a new industry growing at an exponential rate, loaded with opportunities for job creation. It offers a playground for entrepreneurs who want to use the certainty of Hard Trends to their advantage.

Augmented reality (AR) is a new industry growing at an exponential rate, loaded with opportunities for job creation. It offers a playground for entrepreneurs who want to use the certainty of Hard Trends to their advantage.

What’s most exciting about AR is that it is much easier to develop than virtual reality (VR), which requires a lot of programming and photo-realistic graphics in order to create a fully immersive virtual world.

AR takes less time and money to develop. Data is overlaid onto a live view of something, and users can multitask, allowing them to work while simultaneously accessing important information.

Both AR and VR have a bright future, but AR represents a much more dynamic world of opportunity. For example, I use an AR app that allows me to hold my smartphone up to any mountain, and the app will tell me the height of the mountain, the length of the trails, and other useful data that can help me determine where I might want to hike, climb or bike on vacation.

AR can also engage tourists who are in a new city for the first time. When you’re on a street in New York, you can tell an app what type of shoes you’re looking for, and all you have to do is hold your smartphone up and pan around to see if any nearby stores have what you want.

Soon we’ll be wearing AR glasses that are connected via Bluetooth to an AR app that will allow keynote speakers like myself to see the people we’re talking to, but also see their names, and by moving our fingers along the earpiece of the glasses, we’ll switch from no data to full data.

The Augmented Reality Job Market

We are in the beginning stages of a burgeoning AR market. I would highly recommend entering the world of AR professionally sooner than later. The wide-scale application of AR is only limited by our imaginations, and early developers in the field have barely scratched the surface of what is possible.

Given the wide range of industries that will benefit from AR, I predict that in the next few years we will see a multitude of usages, especially when AR glasses hit the market. Likewise, the glasses themselves will be more aesthetically pleasing thanks to the growth of miniaturization. Prescription AR glasses will be made available for those who need them, changing the usage dynamic from smartphone apps to wearables.

If you are considering a career in AR, it’s important to think about the ideal industry that would benefit from it, such as sales, service, maintenance and repair, factories, retail stores, and real estate offices. There’s a market for it in the trades as well, as AR glasses can be used to help people train quickly to become tradespeople to keep up with growing demand.

Within five years, we will see high-fashion AR glasses worn by many people. Data will be more frequently overlaid on our surrounding environment, and video media will be included. It is already possible to 3-D print a 4K camera that is the size of a fly’s eye, and with advances in solar charging, getting energy from ambient light will help us avoid the concern of charging AR glasses.

The Positives and the Negatives

With every new industry there are positives and negatives. In augmented reality, the greatest positive is quite clear: increasing humankind’s ability to make better decisions faster.

However, there is always a downside that we must look to solve before it occurs. The most obvious risk is that you might be paying more attention to the data than to the visual reality and walk into danger. When it comes to using digital technology, there is always a time to unplug. The concept of misinformation also exists, where the data overlaying your environment could be hacked and also put you in danger. Always remember to anticipate risks and think critically.

The future is bright for augmented reality for entrepreneurs and consumers. Ultimately, the industry will develop practical uses much faster than in the world of virtual reality. Virtual reality business applications will find many great niche markets, but augmented reality can be used by anyone anywhere due to the user’s ability to multitask.

The best thing about augmented reality is that you can use it while still interacting with the real world, which is very powerful. It does not encourage us to close ourselves off from our physical existence; it allows us to see insightful information in real time. It will give us a new way to discover the hidden facts that bring the things in our world to life.

We’re only at the base of the mountain of change, and the time to start your climb upward is now!

Technology-driven change is accelerating at an exponential rate, but moving fast in the wrong direction will only get you into trouble faster! Reacting to problems and digital disruptions, no matter how agile you and your organization are, is no longer good enough. If you don’t already have a copy of my latest bestselling book The Anticipatory Organization, click here to get your copy now!

Virtual Reality and Subliminal Marketing

However, if the masses embrace VR as predicted, should we be concerned that this completely immersive experience could lead us once again down the dark road of sinister subliminal advertising?

Virtual reality (VR) has become a reality, as nearly every tech company has created a product that features it, and it is now seen by many as mainstream. Facebook-owned Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR, and the HTC Vive are just a few examples of household names that have launched us into the future of the immersive experience.

There is little doubt that VR has the potential to revolutionize the entire entertainment, tourism and even learning industries if audiences adopt the concept of strapping a device to their heads. At the same time, there will be those who feel instantly compelled to compare the technology to such fads as the first 3D television.

However, if the masses embrace VR as predicted, should we be concerned that this completely immersive experience could lead us once again down the dark road of sinister subliminal advertising?

Applied to VR equipment and other, similar technology, subliminal advertising has the increasing capability of wielding a much deeper impact on the unknowing user. given the vast, immersive characteristics of the VR environment. Consider one concept we’ve seen, where music apps and a smartwatch claim to play subliminal messages at a frequency overlaying music that cannot be detected by the ear, but only by the subconscious brain. This seemingly harmless idea could be incredibly valuable to savvy advertising agencies, as well as to candidates running for office.

Removing the everyday distractions of modern life and locking consumers away in an entirely immersive experience is every marketer’s dream — so before “plugging in,” we should all consider the potential implications of the use of this unregulated technology to manipulate us.

When we take a closer look at the advertising that surrounds us, it’s obvious that subliminal messages are real and powerful, as seen in one 2015 example created by a Brazilian advertising agency. The advertisers placed a billboard of people yawning at a busy metro station in Sao Paulo. This “contagious billboard” was fitted with a motion sensor that automatically detected when commuters were passing by and then displayed a video of somebody yawning.

The campaign aimed to convince passers-by that they were tired by using infectious yawning. The billboard followed the yawning video with this message: “Did you yawn, too? Time for coffee!” If it is possible to convince busy commuters to buy coffee by broadcasting a subliminal message, can you imagine the power potentially wielded within an immersive virtual reality experience that is completely free from distraction?

The gathering of data from our online purchases already allows subtle messaging for influential purposes, so the adverts that pop up and the messages we receive are certainly no accident or coincidence. Everywhere we turn, we are unwittingly subjected to product placements in video games and movies, but we congratulate ourselves on being able to see the messages and resist their pull. However, would we be as resistant to such messages if they appeared while we were completely immersed in virtual reality?

There is an enormous responsibility for any advertising agency considering bringing any form of advertising or marketing to virtual reality. If the consumer experience is in any way tainted by the out-of-date and detested marketing messages from our past, consumers will fail even to adopt the medium.

The main problem is that the current method of advertising is broken, and billions of dollars are wasted on ads that are either not seen or deemed irrelevant to a consumer’s lifestyle. This change in customer behavior is ushering in a new era of marketing called “targeted display advertising” (TDA) that uses consumers’ own data to deliver personalized ads that resonate with them.

Organizations finally have a handle on big data, and they will be able to leverage our mobile devices to learn what we’re interested in even before we clearly know ourselves, based solely on our browsing histories.

As we drift between devices and screens, we have surrounded ourselves with wave of white noise that has become a frustrating obstacle for any advertiser striving to stand out amongst all the distractions. However, a headset that removes any form of outside interruption by pumping sound into a consumer’s ears and preventing his or her eyes from wandering could make subliminal messaging hard to avoid.

Before becoming paranoid about what’s to come, it is important to understand how this technology can also be used for the greater good, too.

Virtual reality can make a positive difference in our lives by opening up fantastic opportunities for learning, rehabilitation, teaching and tourism. But I would like to see more conversations and debates about how subliminal marketing messages should be used in that environment, to help solve any problems before they occur.

What are your thoughts on the immersive experience virtual reality delivers to audiences, and about the benefits and downsides of its being leveraged to deliver subliminal messaging?

To better determine and understand the Hard Trend opportunities the immersive experience virtual reality delivers to audiences, get my latest book The Anticipatory Organization.

Using Mobile Apps to Transform Business Processes

Although mobile applications are commonplace today, most consumers think “personal use” when they think of apps. We all understand that there is an app for our favorite social media site or a card game app we can kill time with while waiting, but in what other ways can apps be leveraged, and who can benefit from them?

As our need for just-in-time information flourishes, our reliance on traditional technological processes has decreased significantly. The shift from personal computers to mobile devices has picked up now more than ever. It is difficult to determine whether stationary computers will vanish into obscurity; however, there is no doubt that mobile devices are here to stay. Our reliance on these ingenious pieces of technology is overwhelming. Tremendous time and energy are saved through the use of a mobile device, as we can access information anywhere with ease.

The expansion of new types of tasks that are carried out using mobile devices has arrived. Smartphones can solve nearly every need of their users, from providing detailed directions anywhere around the globe to enabling access to the cloud at all times. We take these benefits for granted as the opportunities provided by our devices become more and more integrated into our everyday lives.

The information that we seek is not freely floating on our devices. Mobile applications are the key to the success of these devices, as they provide a gateway to our needs as consumers. Whether it’s the weather forecast, the highest-rated local coffee shop, a traffic report, or a stock market update, it’s an app that provides the answer.

At just over one hundred billion, the number of app downloads around the world to date is astonishing. And this number is expected to grow even further in the coming years.

Although mobile applications are commonplace today, most consumers think “personal use” when they think of apps. We all understand that there is an app for our favorite social media site or a card game app we can kill time with while waiting, but in what other ways can apps be leveraged, and who can benefit from them?

The answer is businesses.

I have seen businesses of nearly every size begin to see the potential behind creating an app for customers. Retailers can now move even further online to adjust their business model to the changing times. Transportation services have created apps that convenience users by helping them navigate routes and times, all while providing pricing. Some financial institutions allow their customers to scan and digitally deposit checks from their smartphones. These applications are beneficial; however, they are far from the only practical mobile business apps.

Mobile applications for business processes are now more prominent when it comes to how businesses run from day to day. Applications created specifically for the operational side of an organization have gained traction. The benefits of employing an app for use on a mobile device to transform a business process begin with the very reason we use apps in the first place: convenience.

For example, instead of handwriting notes on data or inventory while out of the office, an application that allows data to be entered on the spot by typing or talking removes an otherwise lengthy process. That saved time can then be better spent visiting clients and prospective customers, providing convenience in an otherwise tedious operation.

Another example of a mobile app for a business’s internal use is one that facilitates mobile sales. For deals that close quickly or unexpectedly, organizations can have contracts signed electronically, no matter where a meeting may have taken them. Presentations and data can be displayed at a moment’s notice if needed, as well. Data on previous deals made with a customer can be easily accessed while heading to meet with him or her.

Mobile apps can streamline processes, including supply chain, purchasing, distribution, or maintenance processes, so that a business can run as productively as possible. With information available on demand via mobile device from one accessible location, organizations tend to increase productivity and identify areas that need further improvement, which can reduce cost inefficiencies while increasing revenue.

Communication and collaboration are improved through mobile apps for business processes, as employees begin to more clearly understand roles and discuss the discrepancies highlighted by the application. Employees instantaneously become more productive, as time is saved through the assistance that mobile applications provide.

Business applications can be purchased and modified by organizations, or designed from scratch to fit the unique needs of a business. By creating a mobile app tailored to its business, an organization gains a competitive edge from having something unique in its industry. There are dozens of businesses that specialize in creating mobile apps to fit the unique needs of their customers.

The ways in which mobile applications can be used is seemingly endless, and right now, mobile apps for business processes represent a growing Hard Trend that every organization should address, as such apps can streamline internal processes. If productivity and effectiveness are your long-term goals, ask yourself how you can use mobility to improve every business process.

Innovation leads to disruption, not being disrupted. Learn more with my bestselling book The Anticipatory Organization. I have a special offer for you.

Pick up your copy today at www.TheAOBook.com

Trends for Every Salesperson

Every profession goes through changes, especially sales. A certain sales technique may have worked in the past, but that doesn’t mean it’ll work today. To be a top-performing salesperson today and in the future, you must continuously adapt to both market and social conditions.

There are several new business trends taking place—all of which affect salespeople in every industry. Understand what the trends are and how to maximize them so you can maintain a successful sales career.

YOUR PAST SUCCESS WILL HOLD YOU BACK.

People who are in sales long-term tend to be successful. However, success is your worst enemy. Being at the top and doing well means you’re just trying to keep up and meet demand. You’re not looking at future opportunities because you’re busy reaping the rewards of current ones. The old saying “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” should be reworked today to state, “If it works, it’s obsolete.” If you just bought the latest device, odds are that the newer, better version is already in existence and about to be released to the public. We must evolve to stay ahead of rapid obsolescence in business.

TECHNOLOGY-DRIVEN CHANGE WILL DRAMATICALLY ACCELERATE.  

While it’s human nature to protect the status quo, you have to understand that technology is changing the future, customers’ behavior, and your company’s reality. If you don’t change, you’ll be out of a job. As a salesperson, you need to embrace change wholeheartedly rather than resist and hold tight to the past. Spend some time thinking about where these impactful changes are headed. Change causes uncertainty in customers’ minds, so you bring certainty to them when you display confidence in change.

TIME IS INCREASING IN VALUE.

Time is becoming more important to people, because we have an aging demographic of Baby Boomers in the United States. Time gets more valuable as you get older because you have less of it. The world is more complex, with much more for people to do with their time. With so much going on, everyone is increasingly strapped for time. As a salesperson, make your customers feel that talking to you is actually saving them time. The list of time wasters is virtually endless, and these hurt your sales and profits. Prove that you’re a time saver and people will choose you over the competition.

WE’VE SHIFTED FROM THE INFORMATION AGE TO THE COMMUNICATION AGE.

Many salespeople rely on static marketing tools like company websites, flyers, and sales letters. These methods are a one-way interface. The better way is to have your sales messages be dynamic. For example, you could have a contest that encourages people to go to your site and enter. Instead of just telling people to buy your snack product, you can encourage customers to go online and vote for the next new flavor, getting them involved. The key is to generate communication, engagement, and involvement through your sales and marketing efforts. Don’t just hand out information; you want to listen, speak, and create dialogue to capture your prospects’ interest.

SOLUTIONS TO PRESENT PROBLEMS ARE BECOMING OBSOLETE FASTER.

Almost every salesperson has been told to be proactive by taking positive action. Unfortunately, you must wait and see to know if a certain action is positive. Instead, be pre-active to future known events. You need to look at your customer segment and identify what types of events you are certain they will experience, and focus your actions on what will be happening rather than on what is happening. Being pre-active also means that you change the way people think. When you put out a new product, it takes a while to catch on because you’re not actively changing the way people think about how the product can be used. Constantly educate your customers on the value you and your products or services offer.

THE VALUE YOU BRING TODAY IS FORGOTTEN FASTER.

Sell the future benefit of what you do. Most salespeople sell the current benefits to customers who already know what they are. Your goal as a salesperson should be to establish a long-term, problem-solving relationship with customers, not a short-term transaction. Your most profitable customer is a repeat customer, so help them realize the long-term benefit of your partnership. Show them how the products and services you offer will evolve with their needs by selling the evolution of your products and services. Sit down with your fellow salespeople to create a list of future benefits that you have for your customers, and then get an idea of where the product and service developers are heading to think of future benefits preemptively.

SALES SUCCESS FOR THE FUTURE

The more you understand and adapt to today’s current business trends, the better your sales will be—today and in the future.

Are you anticipating future trends in your sales career? If you want to learn more about the changes that are ahead and how to turn them into an advantage by becoming anticipatory, pick up a copy of my latest book, The Anticipatory Organization.

Pick up your copy today at www.TheAOBook.com

How Nike is changing the face of retail

The retail apocalypse saw several big-box retailers like Toys R Us close shop but retailers who had taken a technology-first approach weathered the storm. This is very telling of what the future of retail will look like.

E-commerce is often touted as the biggest reason for the retail apocalypse and a threat to the very survival of brick-and-mortar stores. While that is true, the fact that people can now shop online isn’t why retail is dying.

E-commerce has changed the way people shop and their expectations from shopping. 24×7 customer support, product recommendations based on purchase history, discounts and deals and shopping that isn’t bound to time or place.

Big-box retailers like Macy’s and Sephora completely understand the need for such experiential shopping and have implemented Bluetooth beacons to display relevant content to their shoppers whenever they approach a particular product or aisle.

Other small businesses have resorted to using QR codes and NFC tags to support cardless payments, increase post-purchase engagement and attract more visitors to the store.

Sure, Amazon Go and the Amazon 4-star store have a myriad of technology that makes cashierless checkouts possible but it is still far from dominating the physical retail landscape.

You may also like: Retail marketing trends in 2019 that you should adopt

Nike’s flagship store, House of Innovation 000, has outdone them all. A behemoth of a building that is spread across across 68,000 square feet, House of Innovation 000 makes retail come to life.

A living store that evolves

Consumer-backed inventory isn’t an entirely new concept but Nike has displayed a brilliant execution.

The Nike Speed Shop inside the flagship store uses local data to stock its shelves. Re-stocking is entirely based on what the community wants.

Nike also offers a digitized experience without any human interaction in the Sneaker Bar using a digital read-out of locals-only data. But if you’re still a sucker for human interaction, you can always get a store athlete to help you.

The loyalty program is also enamouring. NikePlus members can use their phone to reserve items to be kept in an in-store locker to be picked up at their convenience.

Nike also understands how important it is to customers to carry home a product that has been customized by them. The Arena allows shoppers to explore their Pinteresty DIY dreams by allowing them to choose from laces to decals to embellish their footwear.

Of course, you can do it as a group too. The Nike Expert Studio allows locals to book a customization session in-store or on the Nike App. NikePlus members can have a one-on-one session to find and create and find the right item.

But wait, that’s not all.

The customization doesn’t end with products.

The Arena’s tiles are customizable to such an extent that they can be rearranged at a moment’s notice. As the products evolve, the store evolves with it.

Familiar technology coupled with some fascinating additions

The Nike App offers NikePlus members ‘Unlocks’ when they enter a store or ‘Scan to Try’ wherein you can have an item brought to you in the trial room. ‘Shop the Look’ paves the way for talking mannequins. These mannequins have a scannable code which allows shoppers to see if an item is available in their size.

The familiar scan and go technology is named Nike Instant Checkout at the flagship store that allows you to skip lines and checkout instantly.

5 Sales Strategies Not Found in How-to Books

How do you break through to the next level of sales and become an anticipatory salesperson? Here are six strategies you won’t find in most how-to sales books.

As a salesperson, you’re trained to ask customers what they want in terms of your product offerings. That’s wise advice but it’s incomplete. If you only ask customers what they want and then give it to them, you’re missing the biggest opportunity that has ever come in front of you – the chance to sell innovation.

Technology allows us to do things that were once thought impossible. While it is important for salespeople to ask customers what they want and then deliver on it, all that will do is keep you in the game – not ahead of it.

Chances are your competitors are asking customers the same questions, they’re getting the same answers, and they’re providing the same solutions.

So how do you break through to the next level of sales and become an anticipatory salesperson? Below are six strategies you won’t find in most how-to sales books.

1. Follow the Golden Rule of Sales

The Golden Rule of Sales is to give people the ability to do something they currently can’t do but would want to do if they knew it was possible. In other words, the Golden Rule is to help your customers be anticipatory. It’s called the Golden Rule because it’s much more profitable than simply giving clients what they ask for.

The key is that you have to look a little bit further into your customers’ predictable needs based on where they’re going. Only then you can see unmet needs and new opportunities.

2. Get Comfortable Around Technology  

One stumbling block in selling technology can be that the end user is awkward with new types of technology and related products. But another stumbling block could be that you, as the salesperson, are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with the tech-driven solution you could be selling.

This is where the value of a time travel audit, one of the core components of my Anticipatory Organization Model, can prove essential.

3. Practice Anticipatory Selling

Anticipatory selling offers enormous opportunity for those who recognize that the very nature of sales is shifting and, further, that there are strategies to leverage that change.

One key strategy of anticipatory selling boils down to something I call a pre-mortem. Unlike a postmortem, which is an examination after the fact, a pre-mortem is focused on anticipating objections, problems and issues before they occur – and, from there, presolving them before the sales process even begins.

4. Raise the Bar on Trust  

You need to shift from being a vendor to being a trusted advisor. A vendor simply supplies a product. A trusted advisor supplies true advantage.

When you seek that higher ground and become a trusted advisor, your clients trust you more.

Remember that the future is all about relationships. Relationships are all about trust, and you gain trust by earning it. So never teach people to distrust you by stretching the truth or hiding some pertinent information. To differentiate, you need to raise the bar on trust.

5. Commit to Finding the Customer’s Truest Needs

When you focus on redefining what you already have, you can take your current offering and leverage it to new levels. That’s when you become a sales leader. It’s not because of some fast-talking sales pitch, it’s because of your commitment to your customers and their true needs.

So focus on relationships, trust and truth, and you’ll be able to give your customers tools and solutions they never dreamed possible. As a result, both you and your company will attain new levels of success and realize the profit potential you always knew existed.  

Want more tips for anticipatory selling? Get my book The Anticipatory Organization: Turning Disruption and Change into Opportunity and Advantage, available now at www.TheAOBook.com

Selling Your Ideas Up: How to Overcome Objections and Get Your Ideas Approved

In an era of fiscal and time constraints, is it possible to sell your ideas to company leaders? Yes, but the success depends on how you frame the opportunity.

The first step is to avoid talking about the idea itself. While that may sound strange, it’s the primary sales rule that most people break. You may love your ideas, but the feeling isn’t always mutual. When you’re selling your ideas to others, you shouldn’t focus on your preferences. You must focus on the other person, and here’s how:

  • Understand the pain of the person.

Forget about how excited you are about the idea you want implemented. If you’re going to sell your idea, you have to understand where the other person’s pain is. Maybe they’re dealing with upset stockholders or perhaps sales are down. Do your research and uncover the main challenge they’re presently dealing with.

Once you know the other person’s pain, you can position your idea to sell as a solution to it. Essentially, you have to show the person that there’s a direct payoff to them if they approve your idea. If you know that the CEO’s greatest pain is a lack of communication between departments, then you have to consider your proposal and figure out how it can ease the pain and bring resolve to the situation.

Be sure to state it clearly to avoid guesswork. For example, you could say, “I know you’re dealing with poor internal communications. I’ve come across some things that I believe can help you overcome those challenges so the company can grow.”

Then talk about the new idea in terms of solving the current problem only. Don’t go into all the benefits, functions, features, or costs. Right now, you’re simply getting the decision maker on board with the idea and its problem-solving potential.

  • Solve the predictable problems in advance.

As you have this discussion, you’ll also have to address common objections. Plan for them in advance by figuring out what their objections could be and solve them before the discussion.

For example, if you’re talking to the CEO about your idea and you know budgets are tight, you can deduce that they will say, “This sounds great, but the CFO won’t approve this right now.” However, because you’ve anticipated this objection, you can reply, “I’ve already run this by the CFO because I knew it was important.”

Of course, before going to the CFO, you’ll have identified their greatest pain and presented the idea to solve it. If what you’re proposing is really a solution, and you showed how it benefits the company’s strategic imperatives with a good ROI, you will have a receptive CFO.

The goal is to overcome the potential blocks before they arise.

  • Use the power of certainty to your advantage.

When you’re selling your ideas, the people you’re talking to are thinking risk. Alleviate this fear by remembering that strategies based on uncertainty have high risk, while strategies based on certainty have low risk. Prior to the discussion, ask yourself, “What are the things I’m absolutely certain about regarding this idea? What are the current hard trends? Where is the industry, company, and economy going with or without this solution?”

Make your list the things you’re certain about. For example, mobile devices are quite popular. Is this a trend that you know will continue, or will people eventually trade in their mobile devices for an old flip phone of yesterday? The answer is obvious: people won’t go back. Look at sales trends, customers, the economy, and everything around you. Get clear on what’s a hard trend and what will pass.

Additionally, look at the strategic imperatives of the company and the current plan. Determine if your proposed idea is an accelerator or decelerator of that plan. You want to show how your idea can accelerate the plan and how your solution can help increase sales, innovation, and product development.

Go into your list of certainties by saying, “Here are things I’m certain about in the marketplace and in our company. Based on this certainty, here is why implementing this idea is a low-risk winner.”

An Anticipatory Approach to Selling

It’s important to remind yourself before the meeting that if you haven’t done the groundwork to excite the listener, you’ll lose them. As you’re busy talking about features and benefits, the other person is thinking about costs, risks, and uncertainties. Having a preemptive solution is an anticipatory approach to selling – you’re anticipating the problems, rejections, objections, and concerns so you can overcome them.

Anyone who has worked with C-level executives knows that leaders get excited about many things while carrying the weight of costs, controls, and constraints. Challenge those issues by making what you offer about priority, relevancy, and strategic imperatives to sell your ideas.

Selling, what do you mean ?

Two years ago a start up founder – lets call “A” and I were a having a conversation.

Selling

How is business ?

A. “Our sales are flat. It seems customers take very long time to take a simple decision”.

Why do you say that ?

A. “We have endless meetings – and it is really very frustrating to keep on pitching a powerful value proposition – any fool can see. Yet they dont take decision.”

Little more probing indicated, that they were trying to sell the product B2B2C , B2C, B2B, in short the thinking was that anyone who had a end consumer interface could be a potential. The focus was on last mile instead of the entire value chain.

Limited by resources, many start ups make this mistake of trying everything in spray and pray mode. There was an urgent need to target potential customers based on product -market fit.  Sales resources are expensive and must be deployed after mapping out target segments , and mapping buyer persona’s for improving success probability. A start up can prioritise their efforts by defining a representative  target segment. The following steps should help :-

  1. Define who is your end consumer.
  2. How do they fulfill their need ? How,many touch points must the customer experience to eventually fulfill the need ?
  3. Which touch points are critical in that experience and are currently a time or cost drain ?
  4. Are the dependencies of these touch points systemic or are they insitutionalised ? e.g ., visit to a Pathalogical Lab for diagnostics.
  5. Is the experience ubiquitous ? Any demographic groups more vulnerable than others ?
  6. Based on the above filters you may be able to define your target segment.

While this is important for sales, some degree of experimentation can take place based on strategic business development. This could be based on building strategic alliances and partnerships. Insitutional channels that can seed and nurture the product or service based on complimentary effect. Few days ago a major oil and lubes brand reached out to small automobile workshops for co sponsoring car maintenanance events at subsidised rates. This was win -win for the small auto repair shop and the oil brand.

In order for sales to pick up, it is important to be more customer and market focussed in the initial months. Also budget for sales expenses not as an after thought. Investors like to read degree of commitment, sincerity and openness to change. Selling is nothing but exchange of monetised value. This needs to be explicit.

All the best.

Selling Innovation – The Spark II

This is part of an ongoing series based on the highly rated book Selling Innovation, a guide to structuring a complete start-up revenue capture process.  The book is based on a day-long workshop held at the MIT Enterprise Forum in partnership with Microsoft.  Sections of each chapter will be shared here on The Startup Growth Blog.  Download the complete eBook, blog readers get a special 25% discount with code JA49Y.  

Disruptive vs Incremental Innovation

Truly disruptive innovations do not occur often.  For among other reasons, there are only so many adopters in any given market willing to continually try radically new products and services.  Disruptive Innovations can only target the much smaller early adopter segment of the population, and it requires its users to accommodate the new information or way of doing things into their daily lives.  But while re-shaping the dynamics of a marketplace may seem attractive, many a fortune has been built on incremental innovation.

Incremental innovation is an add-on, value-adder, or after-market creation that has clear application as part of an existing innovation or platform.  It is often easier to sell because adopters need only assimilate a marginally new framework of thinking or doing to find value from the innovation.

There is another key aspect to ‘disruptive innovation’ that all innovators need to keep in mind when the spark of innovation is forming in your mind.  While an innovation may be disruptive to a particular market or industry, the term disruptive is not a value proposition to most people’s ears.  Never before has a user thought their life is too easy and what they really need is to have their safe, familiar patterns of behavior disrupted.

Remember your elementary school days when one kid in the class got sent to the principal’s office because s/he was being ‘disruptive’?  Disruptive is not always good.  In the example from Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen’s the Innovator’s Dilemma, the mini-mills in the steel industry generated great wealth and opportunity for those people who had a vested interest in them.  But there were thousands who worked and gained from traditional mills who were thrown out of job, lost value in their stock portfolio, or otherwise did not benefit from the disruption in the marketplace.  This is not to say that it should not have happened or that innovation is a bad thing.  Rather, especially when selling an innovation into a mature market place, what you are selling may threaten someone else’s job, a way of doing business, or even an entire company.  Resistance to buying may have little or nothing to do with your innovation.

Disruptive innovations are also often first to market, but first-mover status seldom translates into sustained sales advantage.  Few first movers have been able to capture and sustain market share, even ones that were able to scale.  Google was not the first search engine.  Facebook was not the first social networking site.  The iPod was not the first hand-held audio player.  Each evolved from prior iterations of a comparable, but perhaps less sophisticated or less well sold, innovation.

Innovation goes in waves.  As markets mature and successful sellers establish dominant position there are myriad opportunities for disruption – a better way of doing business, a faster tool, a bigger device.  These moments used to occur only every decade or two.  Over the past few decades the cycle has shortened to five or seven years.  And technology now allows innovators to bring solutions to market faster, cheaper, and to a larger audience than ever before.  But if the goal is to become a successful innovator and not a clever inventor, it may be best to wait until the market has told the innovation community exactly which disruptions its willing to live with, much less buy.

As the waves of disruption evolve, innovators can monitor prior efforts to see how certain products with definable features were adopted by customers, and make refinements to better address a now clearer market need.  Eventually, an innovation is layered on top of an existing way of doing business, and integration points emerge among once disparate innovations, which enable new ways of doing things that were once not possible.  Social networks, for example, were once an innovation separate from smart phones, and innovations in each market attracted interest from early adopters and venture capital.  Now, more pictures are taken using the iPhone and posted to Facebook than using any other photographic device.

Scale is also reached at this point of convergence creating larger commercial opportunities.  Incremental innovation becomes easier to identify, quantify, and sell because data exists and can be analyzed to determine the most cost effective path to market, ideal delivery mechanisms, customer service requirements, feature sets, and even price.  Remember, innovation is not invention, and as the old saying goes, ‘pioneers die with arrows in their backs, farmers die rich’.   Being a ‘fast follower’ rather than a disruptor may not be seen as exciting, but it’s a much more reliable path to success paved by giants of commerce.

Is it innovative to be a fast-follower?  Ask Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, or Mark Zuckerberg.  Can incremental innovation lead to success?  Consider Dell or Tesla Motors, were they the first with their innovation?

  • Before you launch or pitch your innovation ask who might be upset or disrupted by your innovation?
  • Download the complete Selling Innovation eBook, blog readers get a special 25% discount with code JA49Y.  
  • Or buy the Print Edition on Amazon