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Archive for the ‘Innovation’ Category

JP Rangaswami’s post on platforms is worth reading. Rather than try to summarize it myself, I’ll just excerpt a few highlights:

His definition of platforms:

  • something that is a foundation, an enabling environment, upon which others can build things, make things
  • something that exists for a specific purpose (or set of purposes), and which invests in capabilities related to those purposes
  • something that then makes it easy for people to use those capabilities
  • something that does all this in a commercial model that facilitates the creation and development of new products, new services, new markets, new marketplaces
  • something that can coexist with other platforms and ecosystems

And a bit more about platform API’s:

Anything that aspires to be a platform needs to engender this trust. So when you look at “platform APIs” don’t be surprised at what they do at their core. They’re usually about a very small number of things:

  • user directories, adding and removing people, grouping and classification
  • identity, authentication and permissioning
  • service and data inventorying, cataloguing and access
  • publishing of things digital
  • distribution of things digital

This is a great piece and much of it centers on the notion of trust – users trusting the platform and platforms trusting other platforms. That’s critical for the kinds of service interoperability that is required for an open cloud computing to succeed.

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“Transitive Novelty”

Woke up today thinking about novelty.  I had just been dreaming about some novelty store and it got me thinking…

Why is it that people care about news from some organizations and not from others? One reason, I’d suggest, relates to an idea I’ll call “transitive novelty.”  The idea is pretty simple. I have some innovation that helps you be (or at least look)  innovative. This can be an important technological breakthrough that makes my customers able to extend that innovation in novel ways. It might also be a trivial trinket that somehow makes my customers stand out as a trend setter among their friends.  It’s something novel that I give to you so that you can be novel. Transitive novelty.

In my work at Groundwire, we use Salesforce to implement Customer Relationship Management (CRM) databases for groups working to build a sustainable world. Salesforce is an excellent example of a company that embraces the notion of transitive novelty – as do many of the best technology firms. Every few months Salesforce rolls out an upgrade of their service and it almost always has interesting new functionality that helps us be more innovative in our work. In our case, we’re even able to pass that novelty on a third time – to environmental organizations, helping them to innovate in the way they engage their constituents. You could even imagine this innovation extending further, with the constituents of these organizations rolling out all kinds of innovation in their communities as a result of their work with these organizations. Look back up the chain though, and there’s Salesforce creating widespread waves of change fanning out in all directions.

So when Salesforce sends us news about their latest new features, I tune in. I do so because I know that their edge can become our edge. My hope is that when Groundwire in turn sends out ideas to our clients, they tune in as well because they understand that our edge can become theirs.

The notion of transitive novelty is highly dependent upon the behavior of early adopters. Early adopters are the people who thrive on having that edge. They’re not afraid to absorb a little risk, to step a bit out there into the unknown because they know that’s where the rewards lie as well. This is as true for technology dissemination as it is fashion. A good designer knows that part of what they’re giving their early adopters is the thrill of being first.

There’s big cache in knowing about these innovations early in the game. That helps explain why tech publications and fashion publications occupy so much of the rack space at the newsstand – particularly airport newsstands where you tend to find more people who make their living by being on this edge.

News is the way transitive novelty spreads. If people aren’t reading your news, you might want to look deeper at how much transitive novelty you’re actually providing as part of that news. It may not be the only way you provide value, but it’s a pretty darn good one.

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