Thursday, June 27, 2013

 Press Release: 

Innovation Up, But Success Elusive

INNOVATION ZEITGEIST, a new book by Silicon Valley guru Alistair Davidson guides managers through a world where everybody is inventing the same products at the same time.

Business is entering the era of continuous innovation. Managers are under pressure to launch a perfect new product or service almost overnight. Many companies are doing it wrong.

As a result, by some measures the business environment is worse for innovation today than ever before. With so many companies making lots of little innovations customers are being overwhelmed by technologies that demand too much of their attention and don’t meet their needs.

Davidson’s guide for managers, Innovation Zeitgeist: Competing in a World With Too Many Competitors, Amazon Kindle, June 2013, offers startling insights.

It’s easier to innovate than ever before, but it’s harder to be successful. Current research suggests that 3 our of 4 venture capital investments don’t return the original investment to the VCs; as few as 1 in 10 meet the VC return goals, and only 6-7% of CEOs make it to the IPO or being acquired.

Most companies underestimate the number of competitors developing similar products. The strongest predictor of success is offering a differentiated high value product. Me-too products don’t cut it in a world of hyper-competition where innovation is taking place in both developed and developing countries.

Many so called innovations are just small improvements or uncreative reactions to customers’ “points of pain.” Competitors are likely rushing a duplicate product or service to market. The resulting net competitive advantage: zero.

Products may be seductive to people like engineers and programmers, but services and solutions are more likely to be money makers for many companies.

Companies that  ‘spec’ a new product and throw over the wall to developers, are going to become extinct. Your customers and their customers won’t actually know that they want until they use it, so you better involve them in the development process from the beginning. ‘Waterfall’ is out. Agile is in.

With so many copycat competitors, you better make sure that customers love and trust you. The top strategy for the rest of the decade will be acting on behalf of the customers, not selling them more features they don’t use. You can’t sell useless bells and whistles or behave badly to customers in a world where customers are tweeting, blogging and rating you.

Embedded device, appliance or platform – it’s a critical choice as Nokia and Blackberry have found. Misjudging the shift can blow your strategy apart.

While individual product owner may think their product is simple to use, the reality is that consumers are drowning in information, accounts, passwords, spam and malware. Think “Simplify!” or you will lose your customers to those who do.

If you are selling digital content (video, e-books, music, software, games), the new frontier in marketing is figuring out what rights and services to bundle or unbundle with the content. You used to buy a one-time right to download a piece of music. Today, when you buy music, it can be bundled with the right to download any time or stream from the cloud.

Inheritance is a big problem for digital content. Most consumers don’t realize that their huge MP3, e-book, audio-book, software and games are not transferable. Think upset consumer when a parent dies and their book collection is not transferable.

He identifies ten approaches to privacy that a company can select from to create a better relationship with customers and win them away from the competition.

The next round of privacy issues are going to make the current problems looks small. Big Data means that companies can not only know about what you have done, but can predict what your secrets are and what you will do in the future. That may be OK for what restaurant you are going to, but not so much if they can deduce your involvement in something taboo or embarrassing.

The Internet is so important to business and personal life today, that we can expect new ways of making the anonymous authenticated. He speculates that owning a certified identity, being part of a ‘Tribe of Trust’ will be critical for the Internet to remain useful.

Alistair Davidson consults on strategy and business development. He’s a veteran Silicon Valley entrepreneur who has built and commericalized numerous software products including planning, innovation and strategy tools. He is the author of four books on strategy and technology, and a contributing editor at Strategy & Leadership magazine.


Alistair Davidson Contact Information:                      
Phone: +1-650-450-9011

Reviewer Comments
"Alistair Davidson has written an ambitious, encompassing, and down-to-earth treatise on the current digital transformation.  It’s the best description yet of the digital transformation engulfing us and what we should do about it, written in plain language and illustrated with his own photographs and questions for the reader after every chapter. An iconic, original contribution to the literature on digital transformation that is hard to put down. There is good advice and commonsense written on every page.  Must reading."  Stanley Abraham, Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship, Cal. State. Polytechnic University, author of “Strategic Planning: A Practical Guide for Competitive Success.

"Innovation Zeitgeist is essential reading for any venture capitalist or startup. It forces the reader to consider what they are doing and what they must continue to do that is different than their many domestic or international competitors, a critical issue for successful startups and for high growth companies." Norm Fogelsong, General Partner, Institutional Venture Partners

“Alistair Davidson has produced an insightful analysis of innovation in the digital era.  This book is a must read for executives seeking survival and success in today's challenging competitive arena.” Robert Allio, founding editor of Strategy & Leadership magazine, former Dean of Rensselaer School of Management. Author of Seven Faces of Leadership

A.T. Kearney's clients are all facing the issue of their business being transformed by digital technology.  Innovation Zeitgeist is a great resource for helping our Digital Business Forum clients understand how important it is to actively scope and manage the changes to their business, organizational structure, acquisition strategy, business model and required innovation approaches. 

Michael Roemer, Partner and International Co-head of A.T. Kearney, Digital Business Forum
"In Innovation Zeitgeist, Alistair zeroes in on many of the key issues we see our market research service-industry clients facing - rapidly changing customer expectations, the need for rapid service introductions, more competition, a need to rethink business models and the types of innovation pursued." Jim Hollingsworth, VP Finance and Security, Pacific Consulting Group



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