Ah, the innovator's dilemma...
If you have a product that well and truly does X, Y and Z, where X is a feature that conforms and fits into a defined category but Y and Z -- while truly differentiating and powerful -- do not, you're forced to focus on, develop around and hype X, label your product as being X, and not invest as much in Y and Z.
If you miss the market timing and can't afford to schmooze effectively and don't look forward enough with a business model that allows for flexibility, you may make the world's best X, but when X commoditizes and Y and Z are now the hottest "new" square, chances are you won't matter anymore, even if you've had it for years.
The product managers, marketing directors and salesfolk are forced to fit a product within an analyst's arbitrary product definition or risk not getting traction, miss competitive analysis/comparisons or even get funding; ever try to convince a VC that they should fund you when you're the "only one" in the space and there's no analyst recognition of a "market?"
A vendor's excellent solution can simply wither and die on the vine in a battle of market definition attrition because the vendor is forced to conform and neuter a product in order to make a buck and can't actually differentiate or focus on the things that truly make it a better solution.
Who wins here?
Not the vendors. Not the customers. The analysts do.
The vendor pays them a shitload of kowtowing and money for the privilege to show up in a box so they get recognized -- and not necessarily for the things that truly matter -- until the same analyst changes his/her mind and recognizes that perhaps Y and Z are "real" or creates category W, and the vicious cycle starts anew.
So while you're a vendor struggling to make a great solution or a customer trying to solve real business problems, who watches the watchers?
Monday, July 14, 2008
Say it like it is, Hoff!
Hoff's one smart dude when it comes to computer and network security - truly top notch. The context of this commentary was his field, but it's scary how spot on he is with respect to Industrial Automation software - particularly the early stages of FactorySQL and FactoryPMI. Sigh...