What to Look Out for When Making a Major Breakthrough?

by Ian MacIver Mobile Consultancy

After decades of living through the technical revolution we now all enjoy, there are a few keys points we should always look out for. These are the indicators that lead to the next set of revolutionary changes.  The first one is ‘what do masses of people do today but want to do it in a more convenient and quicker way but do not know they can or want to?’ Seems an odd statement I know. Example would be hotmail when it was first created. At the time when hotmail was getting its first funding, those people who could use email could only used it via their company accounts. There was no link between the email server and a web page. No ability to create a private email account or access it anywhere on the net as it was then. Second one is ‘A fundamental change in the capacity to consume’. If the capacity increases multiply time that of the current consumption rate a major change will occur.  Example from the normal world is motorways or freeways. If you change a normal road to a 6 lane freeway over a 100 mile range we all know people will travel more and use it for many different things we would never have imagined.

How does this relate to new start-ups?  The key question is, does your start-up enhance or change the way people already function today, or are you creating a complete new process/concept that people have never done before? If it is the first one, then your job will be much easier because the customer base is already in the mindset of the product. The hotmail example grew so rapidly because people already knew what an email account was and the demand was already there.  The capacity question is one of the main triggers for new innovation. I have always viewed a world where 100MBs are available at all times in all locations as a major break point for rapid innovation. We are now looking at the roll-out of 4G mobile phone coverage which will be followed by 5G in a few years. It will be able to manage 100Mbs download and about 20Mbs upload depending on the configuration. With this amount of capacity available to your customers, now is the time to think what could be available to the end customer when bandwidth was not a problem. But that is of course what everyone is talking about.  What they are not talking about is; can we use this capacity in a different way.  If you have all this capacity can you now have distributed parallel computing from your customers? Can your customer’s fixed or mobile devices be part of your business? Why do you have to have servers in racks when you already have customer’s devices with spare processing power? Some may remember the SETI program which used spare PC processing power to crunch images from space. It was a great idea with limited bandwidth at the time. Now bandwidth is not a problem can we move into the space where the capacity allows us to distribute the company’s need to process across thousands of customer devices lowering the cost and environmental impact of us running servers? I am sure there are many questions or perceived restrictions in this idea but it is for the innovators to create a situation where new ideas succeed.

A thought I will leave you with for now.

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