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Getting to Market the Hard Way

May 14, 2008


I am not sure whether it is me or them, but I have been in demo heaven the last few days.

After the scrum demo last week, yesterday I was treated to two of the best product demos I’ve seen. One, which was an interactive entertainment thing, was really, really slick. The other was more of an enabling technology, was nothing short of breathtaking.

After playing with this incredibly cool technology, we had a fun conversation about going to market, which stood in stark contrast to the standard social media go to market orthodoxy. Whereas the typical play these days is to spend very little getting a live product out into users’ hands, and then work your way into getting the product right, scaling a user base,deepen the technology, and maybe even become so prevalent amongst consumers that you penetrate the enterprise, every once in a while you still come across a serious technology innovation whose challenge is that it is initially too robust — and expensive — to see mass adoption, and so the go to market is the reverse: start with the high end users who will pay the bills while you figure out the broader applications and dummy down the technology for those applications.

In fact, while there are lots of stories out there about tech products using the consumer as the trojan horse into the enterprise (think email, iPhone), there also are some pretty interesting products that made their way from government/military/industrial R&D down to mass consumer adoption (think Darpanet). In fact, I was told, the walkman descended from a military application. Go figure.

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