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TECH TALK: Technology’s Next Markets: The Deviant Entrepreneur

October 17th, 2002 · No Comments

As we discuss which disruptive innovations can help create technologys new markets and how they can do so, we will take the perspective of an entrepreneur, a deviant entrepreneur (more on this in a moment). My reason for taking this slightly different viewpoint (that of a technology solutions provider than a consumer) is because I genuinely believe that the crossroads where we are at today (recession, layoffs, slowdown, limited venture capital funding, the stock markets at five- and six-year lows) actually creates very interesting opportunities if one is prepared to think differently.

Conquering the emerging markets needs disruptive technological solutions. This is where our deviant entrepreneur comes in. The word deviant comes from its use in a recent book by Ryan Mathews and Watts Wacker The Deviants Advantage: How Fringe Markets Create Mass Markets. This is exactly what our deviant entrepreneur seeks to do take the consumers and enterprises who are at the fringe of todays technology markets and make them the next big markets, creating in the process the next Microsofts, Intels and Ciscos companies who became what they are today because they were themselves deviant in their early days.

Write Mathews and Wacker:

As we use it, deviance is the conscious or unconscious, voluntary or involuntary, following of any path other than the normHistorically, deviant has been defined by normal people as the distance between themselves and the people, products, services and ideas they find all but unthinkableDeviance is the source of all true innovation, growth, and indeed our collective survival. Physical evolution is perhaps the perfect example of deviance in action. Without mutation essentially deviance from an established DNA pattern nature would remain static; mankind would still be scrambling about on all fours; and modern agriculture wouldnt exist.

[Deviance is] why Microsoft beat IBM at its own game; why Xerox isnt the leader in global computation; why the Swiss lost a huge share of the watch industry to the Japanese why Harry Potter became a bestseller list in almost all by itself; and why a one-store Ben Franklin operator named Sam Walton took over global retailing armed only with a used pickup truck and a dog of questionable origin.

Innovations from products, services, ideas, and even celebrity move from the Fringe to the center of Social ConventionHistorically, the Fringe or deviant was largely defined by the mainstream. Today, the Fringe is more and more often defining what the mainstream looks like. At each step along the path of deviant acceptance, markets are created and unique and incremental opportunities exist for commercial exploitation.

Deviance is another word for Disruptive. An entrepreneur seeks to create new worlds, new markets, new futures. He follows the advice of Andy Grove: Take a bit of the future and make it your present. This is the entrepreneur we need as we seek to understand how technologys new markets can be created with what exists around us today, and how computing and communications can be made more accessible to the other 90% of the world.

First though, our Deviant Entrepreneur will need to pass the Three Tests for Disruptive Businesses.

Tomorrow: Three Tests for Disruptive Business

Tags: Tech Talk

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