This week, The Economic Times ran an interesting article highlighting how three of the most commercially successful, technical organisations of all time, did in fact ‘borrow’ what was to become their respective USP’s from rival organisations.
The ET suggest that the massive commercial gains of these global giants, is derived from the relatively low cost of research and development they face as the majority of the groundwork, the innovation if you will, had been done for them, they simply imitated very good ideas.
By packaging these ideas in a much more commercially appealing manner, a fancier label, a cooler image, making the product much more acceptable by the sort of mass market that is able to bring in the figures that have made these companies world leaders, they have been able to perfect good ideas.
Think of it in terms of a relay race, with the second to last runner running out of steam just as they pass the baton on to the last. The race is won, and the individual who crosses the finish line is hailed as the hero – no doubt. But does it matter? So long as the end result is the same, do we care?
Google made searching the web better, fact. In doing so it saves me and approximately 740 million more people every day time, and in terms of a consumer product, if you can save people time in 2011, time is quite literally money.
Do I care that some other organisation that I’ve never heard of might have come up with the idea – or at least part of it – first? No. Caring wastes time, and as we have already established I am only interested in activities which do quite the opposite.
Would I care if McDonalds were being sued by the owner of a burger van who claims that it was his idea first to mass produce hamburgers, available within seconds of ordering? No. It’s cheap and quick, any issues outside of that are somebody else’s problem.
So what does this mean for the technical innovator? Quite simply, make good marketers your very best friends, or just don’t bother. Because in this day and age – certainly from a technological point of view – if you don’t have the necessary commercial savvy to take your brilliant idea and effectively package it in a little cardboard box and include a free toy, and make this available to at least a fifth of the worlds population, now. Then you would have been just as well to have never had your eureka moment in the first place, because you can bet your life that all of your considerable effort, and sizable costs, will have been to line the pockets of the Mark Zuckerberg’s, Larry Page’s and Sergey Brin’s of the future, not your own.