Saturday, April 16, 2016

Marketing and politics of innovation

Somebody thought it would be good to make a machine that can add.  Maybe it could add faster and more accurately than we can do mentally or with pencil and paper.  Then, along came the idea that it might be better to make a machine that follows some sort of directions.  We could give directions to the machine to make it add but later we could put in or take out directions to modify and maybe expand the abilities of the machine.  That sounds progressive, right?

It is progressive and we have been happy most of the time with modifications and expansions of our directions and programs, which we usually call "software".  Before really soft ware, we used actually boards of hard material with holes in them that allowed us to re-wire connections and slide different boards in and out of the machine. These wiring boards that equaled changing the internal wiring of the machine were in use in the 1960's and earlier and probably still are in places.

But over time, two new things began to happen.  One was that people noticed a way that the directions could be improved.  If you have a clear way to improve the function of the machine, why not correct its instructions?  So, we get modifications that are deemed improvements.  The other thing that began to happen was more intensive marketing.  If we develop another product, why not tell our original machines to remind users of our great new addition to our product line.  We could do so at the beginning of any session of use.  Ok, maybe two reminders, one for the new, 2nd product and one that others pay us to deliver to our users.

One of the fundamental things about humans is habit.  We build habits with concentration and sometimes, difficulty and attention.  If you put the Save button right up here, I will be disconcerted it you move it over to there.  You may have tons of data from users that the Save button works better for more people when you move it over there but the new location is a pain.

Moving it irritates me and decreases my allegiance to your company and its products and its future.  

Granted, the American consumers, especially the young American consumers, have seen so many clever, exciting and helpful innovations that they are biased toward the new.  We may be able to increase our sales, or at least stop their decline, if we move the Save button over there and explain that the new version of our software is now available.

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