I was reading some of Christensen’s comments and a point struck me: We need to think of our TC-TS solution as a “disruptive innovation”, and not as a sustaining innovation. When we try and target existing Windows users, we will lose. We have to open up new markets and new users.
I have been falling into the “easy target” trap – it is much easier to talk to our existing customers than get new ones. So, what do our existing customers tell us? They don’t really need it. Either they have the PCs they need or they have the money to buy the new PCs they need or they need support for some Windows application on the desktop. Then, we have to try and convince them to trial this – some may agree but their heart is not going to be in it, unless the manager there is an “innovator” or a “visionary” (to use Geoffrey Moore’s terms from his Technology Adoption Life Cycle). We are setting ourselves up for disappointment and failure.
What we need to do is to target the markets and customers that we can “delight” – the markets that the established PC players do not want or the non-consumers. This is the harder thing to do, because one has to imagine (and make others see) things that do not exist.
I have done this once before – when we were selling websites and advertising for IndiaWorld. We were competing against ourselves. It is tough, because one has to do the concept-selling. This is what we have to do now. It is easier in a sense because people know the value of computers. We are now making them affordable for users who did not have access to it before, and we are enabling them to put the PCs (TCs) in places that were not possible before.
The way to think is by answering the questions raised by Christensen in his recent article in Sloan Management Review:
1. Does the innovation target customers who in the past haven’t been able to “do it themselves” for lack of money or skills?
2. Is the innovation aimed at customers who will welcome a simple product?
3. Will the innovation help customers do more easily and effectively what they are already doing earlier?
4. Are prevailing products more than good enough?
5. Can you create a different business model?