Subba’s Serendipitous moments

February 2, 2007

Why technology or why innovation fails?

Filed under: Business,Innovation,Learning,Model — Subbaraman Iyer @ 1:55 pm

Google’s Adam Bosworth writes a very enlightening piece on Why AJAX failed here. What he says about Ajax is perhaps true of many technology pieces. He essentially attributes failure to lack of complementary assets that are necessary and sometimes critical to get innovation to succeed. There’s a lesson here for all of us. Just because something is cool and exciting and innovative from a technology standpoint, doesn’t mean the users will lap it up.

In addition to the reasons mentioned by him, I guess there are 2 additional factors: One, there has to be a crisis or a real handicap that the users are facing and secondly, is that the new innovation has to reduce if not eliminate the pain of adoption. The non existence of the first and failing to do the second, is a recipe for failure. To be able to do this one has to be a sociologist, not a technologist.

The only issue that I would have with Adam’s piece is that all the assessment is all hind sight. And hindshight is always 20/20. How does one develop the knowledge and more importantly the wisdom to assess whether the new technology or innovation would be successful or a failure.

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  1. Dear Appa,

    First of all, I would like to sincerely appreciate ,your effort to get this
    blog going !! GREAT !

    Two wonderful books which has dealt this subject in detail are
    1) Innovator’s Dilemma and 2) The Innovator’s Solution ,by the Harvard Prof.
    Clayton M. Christensen . Incidentally he also taught us recently in a Executive Training Program at the Harvard University. He is a rare combination of having mastery over Business Strategy, Marketing and Project Management. The second book in particular, has analysed a large number of corporate failures(despite of) and successes (thr) innovation. He gives a few thumb rules explaining when innovation is likely to succeed or not. A good thorough analysis on the above subject.

    Pramod Kulkarni –
    Vice President (Vehicle Progarm and Engineering)

    Comment by Pramod Kulkarni — February 2, 2007 @ 11:22 pm | Reply

  2. Hi Pramod:

    Thanks for your comment. I have read both the books by Dr. Clayton Christensen, though I never had the opportunity to attend to the lectures.

    They definitely provide useful frameworks, but as you rightly point out they are thumb rules. It is quite easy to analyse and determine the causes for a failed innovation and also assess why an innovation was successful. But they are all hind sight and after all the dust has settled.

    Not to take away from Clayton’s scholarly approach, I still find his theories inadequate to explain many failures.

    The current issue that is occupying my mind is whether Windows Vista (from Microsoft) and the iPhone (From Apple) will succeed. My guess is NOT.

    Comment by Subbaraman Iyer — February 3, 2007 @ 1:14 pm | Reply

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