The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that “great” things are only possible if you develop a new customer or user habit. If you focus your development efforts only on meeting an already familiar customer need in an already familiar way, you’re far from creating a global business megahit. Basically all your options rely more or less on the fact that you can provide a cheaper solution to a problem than all the others that are already offering one. That is an extremely high-risk strategy if you ask me.
Innovators have never had better conditions in all of human history
If we don’t seek business ideas in creating solutions to problems that may not even exist yet, it’s very unlikely that we’ll ever truly lead the game. Actually, we don’t even give ourselves a chance to. This doesn’t have anything to do with the next industrial revolution or better: the invasion of technologies that have an extreme effect on the individual and are changing society as never before. Just remember Henry Ford’s comment: “If I’d asked people what they wanted, they would have said ‘faster horses’.”By 2025, practically all electrical devices will be connected to the internet. Click To Tweet
One of my last posts has generated lots of comments. There are two types of comment: that you don’t agree that practically all electrical devices will be connected to the internet by 2025 and that you see no need in also connecting people to the internet. This time around, I’d like to use a single example of use to explain that this may not be so absurd after all. You only need to look at it more gradually. Through gains.
We keep moving the line between providing assistance and creating solutions to problems that don’t even exist yet
Let me use a very specific and practical example. I like to play golf. I’m not interested in counting the number of times a year I take time to play golf, but I would like to know the statistics of all the games I play in a season. So some time ago I bought myself a smart watch that counts my steps and strokes, and tracks the elevation difference I cover, along with exposure to UV radiation, my heart rate, and calories burned. When linked to my mobile phone, the watch also gathers weather information during my golf activities. With a watch featuring several sensors linked to a cloud via my mobile phone, I can collect a range of useful data that allow me to keep track of my golfing fitness and physical activity throughout the year. Even my golf instructor would be happy to get such data (and most likely also my wife). In the future these two will probably be joined by my GP, insurance company, and many others. It sounds perfect. Almost perfect. If you have such a watch, you no longer have to manually collect data on how you play. All the statistics are available to you via the internet at any time and any place – as well as to anyone else you give permission to.
But the problem is I don’t like wearing a watch. Especially when I play golf. It really bothers me every time I swing my club (even if I wear it on my right arm). That’s actually why I never play with a watch, even though I bought it for precisely this reason. Sensors would be a good solution for me. This watch actually has them, but I don’t want them to bother me. So I started exploring and I found it. An almost perfect device, again.
Ralph Lauren has designed a sports shirt that captures real-time biometric information by measuring the amount of sweat, heart rate, breathing intensity, and so on, during a person’s workout. The company also sells golf clothes and so the sensors on this shirt will probably soon be able to measure golf strokes, too. Almost perfect. The shirt costs approximately the same as the smart watch I bought two years ago.
The key factor for the success of any business idea is . . .
Let’s be realistic. Wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t have to use such high-tech shirts, watches, mobile phones, and so on, and have a multitude of apps that capture data from various sensors? It would be much more “frictionless” to me as a user if I didn’t have to think about it at all. If I happened to be interested in my golfing statistics, I’d simply review the data that’s being collected in the cloud. If I weren’t interested in the statistics and weren’t looking for data, cloud data storage or use wouldn’t cost me a dime. In any case, various golf equipment manufacturers would most likely be interested in offering free storage of data on golfers’ activities and would even encourage us to use this service. They could most certainly use these data to improve their segmentation and target their leads more successfully, accurately, and in a timelier fashion. Over time we’d end up taking all of this for granted. But whether this is actually to happen in the next eight years already, as Klaus Schwab predicts in his Fourth Industrial Revolution, I can’t say.The most important success factor for carrying out business ideas is their timeliness. Click To Tweet
What I do know is that this is the direction we’re heading in and that the limits of what is acceptable are now changing faster than ever before. And I know something else. The most important success factor for carrying out business ideas is their timeliness. Arriving somewhere too early hurts even more than getting there too late.