Category Archives: Innovation

The vicious circle of modern IT product management

I’ll admit it – I have a serious issue with the way most of the tech industry goes about discovering their users’ needs. The fact that I clearly understand why PMs everywhere keep on stepping on the same rake hitting themselves in the face time and time again doesn’t make it any better.

The script would be very familiar to anyone who’s been a PM or worked with one:

  • Identify a handful of key large accounts;
  • Ask key people there what they want you to develop;
  • Develop all the things!!
  • Try to figure out how to make the rest of your potential customer base buy what you’ve developed (a.k.a., “get busy hammering square pegs into round holes”).

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I think the leopard needs a new pair of shorts

VMware appears to be pushing hard into the utility compute space. It is easy to understand – there seems to be lot of peer pressure, both from Amazon and from OpenStack / CloudStack communities.

I don’t doubt they can make it work, but the question in my mind is “is that the best way of doing it?”.

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Sunday Rant: Dear $Vendor, your marketing pitch sucks

In my day job I get exposed to Vendor marketing pitches a fair bit. It can be in person one on one or at a conference, or it can be through marketing reading material; but there appears to be one common theme: they all, almost without exception, focus on the product they’re trying to sell, and its features.

In other words, they are dumping on me a solution, while doing almost nothing to help me to understand whether the problem they’re addressing is relevant to us and our customers. The included obligatory “problem statements”, almost without exception, are too high-level unspecific and do not answer this. And this is just wrong.

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Innovator’s guide to “purple cow” breeding, Part 2

(This is Part 2 of the series. See Part 1 by clicking here)

What sucks about the traditional innovation methods?

In the last post, I briefly touched on the traditional innovation methods, without going into too many specifics around them. Let’s have a closer look at what are the most common methods and what are their shortcomings, and then we’ll see how the methodology I am talking about addresses them.
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Innovator’s guide to “purple cow” breeding, Part 1

Fascination with “purple cows”

As far as I know, the term “purple cow” was coined by Seth Godin, who has a book by the same name. Essentially, it is about achieving success by being exceptional, outstanding, a “purple cow”. During early 2000s, I lived through Ethernet’s meteoric rise to dominance; first as Metro and later as Carrier Ethernet, demolishing everything in its path. A clear example, in my mind, of a true “purple cow”, a major disruption.

Since then, I got increasingly intrigued an fascinated by a process of coming up with a “purple cow” type of idea, spending uncountable hours thinking about it, trying to work it out. (Somewhat disappointingly, Seth’s book didn’t provide any workable pointers to just how one gets themselves one of those cows. It simply says that if you get one, good things are bound to happen. Oh, well.)

You might ask, “what’s wrong with the traditional innovation methods”? Well, for a start, they tend to produce too few “purple cows”, and too many square pegs for what turns out to be round holes. I have strong aversion to waste, and thus just couldn’t accept that there isn’t a way other than “try, fail, tweak, try again”. Yes, I like certainty.

To cut the long story short, it turned out that somebody did come up with a method to breed those “purple cows”, after all. With certainty. In this series of blog posts I will talk about it.

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On square pegs and round holes

Brad Casemore wrote an excellent post about the raising tension between the traditional networking vendors and the ONF, or rather between the “traditional” and “new” ways of doing things in networking, i.e. “distributed” vs. “software-defined”. In this blog post, I would like to take a stab at the questions of “what might have contributed to this?” and “what are the some of implications to mid-market Service Providers and Enterprises?“.

Would you like to miss your boat? Here’s how to do it.

While there would inevitably be many constituents, I am of an opinion that the best way to miss an upcoming disruption is to listen to your best customers. They are largely happy with your products (or they would have walked), and in most cases, when confronted with changes, will inevitably frame their wishes and desires for improving things around the ways they have done things traditionally. This is the very case of the quote that is attributed to H. Ford, where he allegedly says that if he asked his customers what they wanted, they would have told him it was a faster horse.

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Mid-market “Innovator’s Dilemma”

Before we begin, a word of “big thanks!” to Ivan, who has recently plugged my blog on his most excellent site ipSpace (not that it needs any introduction). I guess I should try to turn “occasionally” into a more “regularly”. Time will tell.

But let’s get to it.

Today I would like to talk about something different: innovation. In particular, how badly it sucks when it comes to the needs of IT houses of mid-market companies, and why.

What is “mid-market”, anyway? For the purpose of this post I would like to define it as “anything with more than a couple hundred employees, but with less than a handful of thousands”. Industry doesn’t make much difference – just the size. Yes, it is a fairly simplistic view, but for the purpose of this post it will have to do.

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