This week, I’m happy to present a guest blog written by my friend Phil Bookman, successful tech founder in Silicon Valley turned author of mystery novels. In this blog, he shares some interesting insights on how businesses should work to extend the scope of their technology to address broader issues, rather than falling in love with a particular use case. Read on!
When you invent a new technology to solve a particular problem (we’ll call it Case A), the problem becomes the primary use case of the technology. Any business investment is justified solely on the basis of that use case. The goal of the person in charge of that use case is to exploit the technology and to generate a return. In the process, that business can dictate additional requirements the technology must fulfil.
Rules: The Case A business team needs to fall in love with solving Case A, not with any one particular solution. Do not fall in love with the technology you developed. It may turn out that that technology is just the first step in the Case A business.
Additionally, the corporate office must allocate exploration effort to figure out what other problems that technology may solve. If any one of those problems represents a compelling business opportunity, that becomes a separate investment (i.e. Case B, etc., and the same rules apply),
In the meanwhile, the technology office must build the core technology in such a way that (1) it fully supports the primary use case; and (2) do so generically, i.e. do not preclude other user cases that may become businesses on their own, nor preclude evolution in Case A as you become more experienced with it. The technology folks (at least some of them) should fall in love with their technology.
This model emphasizes competing on the basis of capability (in this case, core technology). Each business (each use case solution) has its own competitors to deal with, because of the way it is positioned. The company as a whole competes on technology.
It’s like in creating a proof of Reimann’s hypothesis, the mathematician ends up creating a string of discoveries that may be used to solve numerous other problems.