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TECH TALK: Good Books: The Change Function (Part 2)

July 27th, 2006 · 1 Comment

Tom Evslin wrote about the book: Its important, says Pip, not to confuse a perceived crisis on the part of the would-be vendor with a crisis on the part of the prospect. The oft-failed Picturephone (not be confused with cell phones that take pictures) was an answer to a crisis felt by telcos, not their customers. They needed new high-margin products. TPPA (Total Perceived Pain of Adoption) for this product/service has always been high both because we arent used to being seen when we talk remotely AND because the first users (and someone has to be the first user) cant find anyone else to talk to.

It’s a great read — and a great reality check for those like me who believe in the build it and they will come approach! This excerpt captures the essence of the book:

My aim is to address two key issues that exist in the technology industry today.

ISSUE 1: HIGH-TECH FAILURE RATES STINK
The commercial failure rate of nominally great new
technologies is troublingly high.
That failure rate is consistent with the hatred and distrust
most normal human beings — which I like to call Earthlings
tend to have of high technology.
That hatred and distrust is a bummer since our little planet
can use all the help technology might provide.

ISSUE 2: SUPPLIERS THINK THEY ARE IN CHARGE BUT IN REALITY USERS ARE IN CHARGE
The technology industry operates according to an implicit
supplier-oriented assumption.
That assumption is that if one builds great new disruptive
technologies and lets cost reduction kick in,
markets will naturally appear.This is known as
build it and they will come.

This mentality is a major problem. Adopting a new technology requires changing the habits of users. The industry acts as if change is easy when its actually quite difficult. Users will change their habits when the pain of their current situation is greater than their perceived pain of adopting a possible solution — this is the crux of The Change Function .

I believe that users are always in charge and that supply is a necessary but not sufficient condition for commercial success. Companies and products geared toward this holistic user orientation will succeed at far greater rates than those stuck in a supplier-oriented mind-set.

The goal of this book is to look at what has failed in the past, to understand how the industry came to be in the position it is in today. And, through the prism of The Change Function, to spotlight examples of what might and might not work in the future and to examine a few corporate cultures that seem to get it. But this is not eight easy steps to success. Change is not easy.

Tomorrow: Everyware


TECH TALK Good Books+T

Tags: Tech Talk

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